Monday, January 31, 2011

When the morning is mine

On weekday mornings, things tend to be shortened or rushed. I find a way to squeeze in my morning prayer and have a cup of coffee before I head out the door with the kids, but there’s so many days I wish I could get more out of my mornings, so to speak. As it is, I usually get up at 5 (give or take, depending on when I can get into bed -- I aim for 6 hours of sleep) just so I can have a little “me time” before I wake Jennifer up for school. So “get up early,” while still good advice, is not an option to get more, because I REALLY don’t see myself getting up earlier than that. So I pretty much resigned myself to just squeezing in a couple of “morning joys” for myself before it was time to get the day going, or at least cut down on how long I got to indulge in them.

Today was different. Jennifer does not have school today and Jesse’s time-of-arrival at the preschool is iffy. (It’s 8ish or 9ish.) So that meant I did get more time to do things this morning, because I didn’t HAVE to wake the kids up! Yay!

And what a lovely morning it was, too.

As always, I had my morning prayer. Let the dog out and enjoyed my cup of coffee – but this time, I was able to sit down and enjoy that coffee, instead of grabbing a drink from it here and there as I helped the kids get ready.

Also, I got to have a longer workout. Hooray! I really got into that workout and started to feel bummed when the 20 minutes was almost up. Then I realized, I don’t have to stop after 20 minutes! LET’S! DO! 30! And that’s exactly what I got to do this morning: A 30-minute workout. Awesome! I was really supercharged and revved up after that! Sweaty, too, though, but that’s a good sign.

After the workout, I also got to enjoy a nice, long hot shower. How nice not to have to rush through a shower like always! Even after I got out of the shower and got dressed, the kids were STILL asleep! Yayness.

Another thing I got to do this morning? Enjoy the sunrise – I mean REALLY enjoy it. Instead of looking out the window to catch sight of the sun appearing in the sky as I get the kids ready (or even see it from my car window as I drive Jen to her bus stop), I got to sit in a chair and stare out the window, enjoying a bowl of oatmeal as I watched the colors take over the previously-gray sky. It was breathtaking and so refreshing. Sometimes, seeing those beautiful colors of purple, orange, pink and white light up the clouds is just like catching a glimpse of Heaven.

Watching out the window, I saw the lady walking her army of Chihuahuas along the street. We see her from time to time. It is so cute watching those little dogs scurry along their way.

And, finally, I had a chance to check my email. It was nice to have time to answer emails so early in the morning!

Then Jesse woke up and so started the “busyness” of the day. Yet I went into it grateful for the chance to have that extended amount of “me time” to enjoy before taking the day on, because then I was ready to do the “them time.”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My four-month goals

Today, I was thinking about how nice it would be if I could FINALLY visit the Queen Mary ship in California. I learned that this year marks the 75th anniversary of its maiden voyage. Chances are good they'll have events planned. It's the perfect opportunity for me to promote my book, Spook City, because the Queen Mary is in it! Maybe I'll be lucky enough to do a reading there.

Then I got my head out of the clouds and came back down to earth. With all of the financial obligations we have right now, there is no money for travel. Even if we drove there, we just don't have the money for it! I got depressed. I got even more depressed when I realized it was probably just as well, because I'm not all that on the attractive side, anyway. Why bother going out looking the way I do?

I need a new look. Seriously! A new hairstyle, new clothes and a new figure. To be honest, I am overweight. I just don't like the person I see in the mirror. I need a complete makeover.

Then I realized that my birthday is in exactly 4 months. It's the perfect opportunity to accomplish certain goals that are important to me! So, why not try to reach those goals by then?

I only have a few of them:

1. New me! Get a new look, lose weight and new wardrobe.

2. Get a job.

3. Save enough money to travel to California so that I can visit the Queen Mary.

So these are my "birthday goals." We'll see if I am able to meet them by the time May 25th rolls around. As it is, the anniversary of that maiden voyage is May 27th, so the timing will be just right.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Forgiveness and karma

Lately, I have had forgiveness on my mind. Mainly, forgiving others. I was reading a column about the importance to forgive in the newspaper the other day, and it really got me to thinking. Actually, this is a topic I will occasionally revisit, only because I have had a very hard time forgiving someone that did a Very Bad Thing to me long ago. I thought I had forgiven him, but because it still makes me angry, I guess I haven't.

That column I read really touched a nerve. It stressed that carrying around a grudge was unhealthy, and that even if the person who has wronged us does not ask for forgiveness, then we should still try to forgive them all the same. I know this is true, how carrying around a grudge can be unhealthy. But I just haven't been able to bring myself to forgive that person yet. He has never asked for forgiveness. In fact, he acts like he didn't do anything wrong. And even if I did forgive him, he'd laugh about it, thinking he got away with a crime.

In a way, he did....

The other day, I was thinking more on this. I always keep asking myself, "WHY did he do that to me? Why?" But I know the reason why. I KNOW it. The family he is in loves HIM more than any of the other family members, and he knows he could get away with anything because, in his mother's eyes, he could Do No Wrong. Also, he was the "special" one in the family. He was raised to believe he was superior to others. That is why he did what he did. I understand that. But I still get angry. That should NOT have happened.

But it did happen. I can't change the past. I believe that we can learn from the past and draw strength from it. But that has not happened, with this particular incident.

I also know that, because he is not remorseful, he would just do it again to somebody else. That is another reason why it's so hard for me to forgive him.

But I could write a whole book of reasons why I should not forgive him. The bottom line is, they are only excuses.

I don't need to forgive him for him. I need to forgive him for myself. It does trouble me that I have not.

All the same, this has made me think about other people out there who have had worst things visited upon them by bad people. Parents whose child was murdered. A child who was abandoned by a drug-addicted mother. I know there are people who have had worse. And I wonder, have they managed to forgive the wrongdoer?

I think if they can, then so can I.

And, you know, this isn't about vengeance. I don't want revenge. I just want closure on that part of my past. I want to stop getting angry over it. I want to heal that wound.

And as for vengeance, well, I am reminded of a quote from the Bible: "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." When someone does something wrong to one person, something wrong is done to them. It's the law of karma, which I believe in. You get what you give. I have seen this in action. I have done bad things to people in the past, and I have had bad things happen to me in return. Sometimes, it's the exact same thing I did. (I was reminded of this today, in fact. Someone in my family who stiffed me ended up getting stiffed by another family member. What goes around comes around!) And, in fact, the person who did that to me has had bad things happen to him, too. You know, life has a way of balancing things out. An eye for an eye. So I have no interest in seeking vengeance.

Just...forgiveness. Peace. Closure.

I have prayed on this a lot. I will continue to pray on it. Hopefully someday, I will be able to forgive that wrongdoer. That is the one thing I must do before I can find peace. Forgive.

"When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive."-Alan Paton

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two passions

They say that when it comes to a job, you should follow your passion. And this was true for me for a long time; I followed my passion. That is, writing. Writing was and still is my passion. It will always be my passion. It took a while before I started earning good money each month for my writing. Then the seasons changed. Sales came in less and less. Then it got to where I hardly had any sales at all anymore.

And, ever since, this has continued. Instead of making money from my writing every month, I made money once in a while.

It just got to a point where I was rejected from left to right, or my emails were not being answered. It was a VERY dry spell that lasted for a VERY long time.

And I wish I could say things changed and started to pick up again, but I can’t. Well, I can’t, as far as sales go. But as far as books go? I was flying off the charts! The acceptances came in. These acceptances did NOT mean money right away, but they meant money “later.” And they were “yesses” instead of “nos.”

I think the reason for this shift is because, at one point, I was wishing I could just write books, and not articles. I wanted to thrive as a writer of books, and not have all of these articles to write instead. In some way, maybe I got my wish.

Unfortunately, this shift meant I no longer had money coming in from the writing. I have occasional royalty checks, but they don’t arrive every month like checks from the freelancing did. I want something that brings in extra income every month. Earning money every month from something, ANYTHING, that I am doing, is important to me.

I considered alternatives. Go to school to get training for a job? There’s no money for that. Get a part-time job? Where or how will I get childcare?? On top of that, I have trust issues with strangers caring for my children.

I considered working from home, but have no idea WHAT I would do. I’m not qualified to edit books; I need training for that. (I have a problem of being too wordy, and I think the training would help nip that.) I considered other writing jobs. There’s copywriting, but I HATE advertising and advertisements with a passion. I don’t have a head for technical writing, and don’t feel comfortable with ghostwriting.

What other work-at-home jobs are there? I considered medical transcriptionist, but I heard the pay is not as good as some may think. I thought maybe I could bake and sell cookies, but I don’t have my own cookie recipe. I revisited a T-shirt company idea, but I remembered that involves chemicals and I wouldn’t feel comfortable having that anywhere around the children.

When I was divorced, I cleaned a friend’s house to bring in extra money. I considered hanging up a sign and doing that again, but I realized there was a safety hazard with this job. Number one, I am female. Number two, I am deaf. That sets me up for someone harming me. Of course, I could have a rule about not having anyone in the house while I cleaned, but I didn’t really see that helping matters.

Still, I haven’t left this idea. And it really got me thinking. Cleaning IS another passion of mine. Seriously, I DO like to clean. The problem is, hubby thinks I am not very good at it. In the beginning of our marriage, I spent HOURS cleaning our homes every day. Then he'd act like I didn't do any cleaning at all, or that I did a poor job. So I threw in the towel (if you'll pardon the pun) and decided, you know what? Forget it. I'll clean on my own time. But still, I DO like to clean. Even if I’m not a pro at it. I like to clean. I like a room, a house, being clean.

It saddens me that I am not very good at cleaning. I have often thought that, out of spite, I’d hire a maid to clean for us if hubby felt I was not good enough at cleaning. (Like I could even AFFORD it!!) But, I thought more on this.

Writing is my passion. I did it even when I was not good at it. I kept at it and got better. The same could apply to the cleaning. If I keep at it, I’ll get better. Heck, maybe I’ll get a job cleaning and get better at it from there.

I don’t think it would be fair to abandon doing something I love just because I’m not good at it. If it’s something I’m passionate about, then it’s worth keeping in the picture. It’s worth taking the time to invest in perfecting. Later on down the road, it will be another thing I am good at, and maybe by then it can be something to bring in that extra income.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

15-on and 15-off

As some of my Facebook friends (some of who are also real-life friends) know, Jen had a sleepover at her BFF’s house over the weekend. There was some drama that went down, but not something which could’ve caused Jen to have a physical problem she encountered on Monday morning: Her right arm hurt. A LOT. It hurt her so much, she couldn’t lift it, and she winced every time I even touched that part of her arm.

I took stock of the situation: Was this a typical “arm ache” that would go away? It didn’t look like it. At first, I’d thought maybe she’d slept wrong or had her arm twisted in her sleep. But the fact that she couldn’t even lift her arm was very troubling and pretty much deep-sixed those theories. This was something BAD. And no way was I going to send her to school. Not if it hurt too much to lift her arm! So, I kept her home on Monday.

Later, after the office was open, I called her doctor and scheduled an appointment. Fortunately, they would be able to see her that same day. We ended up at that doctor appointment for two hours, going back and forth for X-rays of her arm and shoulder.
(It is the humerus bone. I joked that there was nothing “humerus” about this situation.) When the doctor had removed Jen's shirt, my eyes almost popped out. The area of her arm that was sore was swollen! Swelling like that might earn a bodybuilder a pat on the back for nice biceps, but this was NOT from lifting weights! And it was not muscle bigness, either. It looked like she had a medium-sized balloon in that part of her arm! This must’ve occurred since the pain had started in the early hours of the morning.

Well, they did the X-rays. The doctor suspected a fracture, but, thankfully, there was no fracture. Turns out there was a bruise on her bone. This puzzled me, that a bruise on her bone would cause so much pain and swelling.

The doctor said to do the 15-on and 15-off ice pack method for her arm and give her Tylenol for the pain. And rest it. (My sister had told me about the 15-on and 15-off method for ice packs when I had bursitis in my hip. Believe me, it WORKS! It worked better than the pain medicine they prescribed.)

So that’s what we did. I spent that day constantly looking to the clock and reminding Jen about the ice pack. By the next day, unfortunately, she was still in pain. But at least the swelling had gone down. Still, because of the pain, we kept up with the ice pack and Tylenol, and I kept her home from school again.

By evening, she was finally pain-free. She could lift her arm again, bend it and do assorted tasks without any problems. Yay!

I was relieved that, after missing two days of school, she finally got to go back today. And, so far, we have not had any reprisals.

When we were at the doctor’s office, we tried to figure out how Jen had gotten her bone bruised. We all threw out a bunch of scenarios. Had she fallen on her arm? Did she bump against a wall? Had someone hit her? Etc. Then she finally remembered that, oh, yes, she and her friend had played in the ball pit at the pizza place they went to for dinner. I was puzzled over why my husband and the doctor accepted this as a source of the bruising, and hubby said she probably hit her arm in the pit and didn’t think about it. I started to wonder just what kinds of accidents and injuries happen to kids in those ball pits. (This was not an inflatable ball pit; it has a surface to jump off of and a hard ground underneath all those balls.)

Also at the doctor’s, while we were waiting for the doctor to check the X-rays, I reminded Jennifer of how it was interesting this happened, on the day after we saw the movie Rookie of the Year. Because she plays baseball, we thought it would be funny if what happened to the kid’s arm in the movie happened to her arm, too. Our interpreter had not seen the movie yet, so we didn’t talk too much about it in order to avoid giving too much away, but we both thought it was an interesting coincidence.

I’m just glad her arm is better now. Maybe the one thing she’ll take away from this is a reminder to be more careful in a ball pit.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Back to the ol' schedule again

Today was back-to-school for both Jennifer and Jesse. For a few days, I had them on their “school night” routine to get used to the new bedtimes and wake times. Unfortunately, Jennifer has been having a hard time adjusting to this change. She has never been a good sleeper at night, as much as I try to help her sleep better. She keeps waking up in the middle of the night and sometimes it can be hours before she’ll finally doze off. (We’ve set it up for her to be able to read her books in bed before sleeping but this has only helped her to fall asleep, and not to stay asleep.) Still, her time to get up in the morning has to happen whether or not she got enough sleep. I set up a routine for her on school mornings where she can still manage to get a little extra sleep before staying awake for the day.

On the other hand, Jesse is adjusting well. I have found that if he doesn’t nap, he’ll fall asleep earlier and easier at night. Of course this means no break for me – but that’s okay. I grab a nap while he’s in school, even if it’s just a cat nap!

The one thing I dislike about going back to this schedule is having to exercise in the dark, get dressed in the dark, get the kids into the car in the dark. It’s aggravating. This morning, as I was buckling Jesse into his seat, I could hardly see the seatbelts!

And it would be nice to get some extra sleep, too. And NOT have to wake up at 5 a.m. But I have found that if I do, we can all get ready and out the door on time. (Well, usually. The problem is that Jesse takes FOREVER to eat his breakfast.)

Today was Jesse’s first day of going to preschool fulltime. Before today, I was DREADING it! How could I stand being separated from my baby for 7 hours?? HOURS! I just couldn’t imagine it. I kept telling hubby I wanted to change my mind and go back to part-time but he told me, “Just do it.” When I dropped him off, I wasn’t fearful. It was just like the many times I’d dropped him off before. But as the usual time of picking him up came and went, and as I kept missing him more and more, I wanted to run over there, pick him up and say, “Let’s go back to part-time!” My arms literally ached to hug my little baby. It was really, really hard. Even though I was busy with the books and running errands, I still missed him so much. And I was sad to have lunch without him. I did call, but just to let Kim know I had to pick him up earlier than planned. And this was NOT because I missed him so much – it was because his dad wanted to see him before leaving for work. (I did ask about him and she told me he was fine. Phew!)

Jennifer got home from school before Jesse did. I went to pick him up and he was contentedly snacking on graham crackers and milk. I asked about how things had gone, if he’d adjusted okay, etc., etc. Overall, it had gone well. And THANKFULLY he didn’t throw a tantrum when I tried to bring him home – as he had before. I think maybe he was ready to go home. I started to wonder if having him there fulltime had been the secret to stop those “time to go home” fits after all.

We all shared about the first day back at school. Jennifer was happy to see her friends and teacher again. Jesse said he had fun at his own school. And I was glad to get a lot of work done on my book.

I’m glad the day worked out well. Let’s hope the rest of the school year will, too.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The number 11

Happy New Year! So here we are, in 2011. I can't help but be a little suspicious about that number "11." Why? Because I'm one of those people who is haunted by numbers. Seriously. You know how there are people who see one particular number everywhere they go? Yep, that's me. I'm one of them. Sometimes it'd get as bad as me always ending up with THAT particular amount of money in my pocket!

And for the longest time, I was haunted by the number "11." I kid you not. It's not so much that I used to live on West 11th. But I'd see that number EVERYWHERE. Of course, I started to think there must be a reason why I saw That. Particular. Number...EVERYWHERE! Then OTHER numbers started to haunt me, too. So maybe it's just the whole "numbers haunting a person" thing, and not so much some reason for the number itself.

Still, I had to think, there must be a reason. Why the number 11? And, after I moved, it was the number 13! So I started asking...why the number 13?

Could it have anything to do with those years coming up? 2011? 2013?

Only time will tell.

Anyway, in honor of 2011, I will now list 11 of my favorite blog posts from last year....

Sunday, January 03, 2010
Save the Earth! And maybe the sun, too

Thursday, January 28, 2010
Special moments

Sunday, February 07, 2010
Meeting W.S. Merwin

Friday, February 12, 2010
Remembering Toby

Friday, May 21, 2010
Pictures from first baseball practice

Sunday, June 27, 2010
The second time around

Sunday, September 05, 2010
And when he was bad

Sunday, September 19, 2010
Living life ugly in a beautiful world

Thursday, November 04, 2010
YOU again!

Saturday, November 20, 2010
Counting on your fingers

Sunday, December 05, 2010
Weekend warrior