Mother’s Day

How things have changed.

This morning, I awoke to puppy kisses, my husband brought me coffee in bed, then went out and got me my very favorite breakfast from a local farm kitchen.  It’s been lovely and quiet. My kids will be by in a while and we’ll all go to brunch.  

Mother’s Day is a much calmer affair these days. The kitchen stays clean, and there are no art supplies strewn all over the place. Instead of missing that loving chaos, I embrace today, and the wonderful people my children have become.

Being a mom is all about the journey, and I’m so happy at the way it’s going so far.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms.

 

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#15

I handed in the revision of my fifteenth book the other day. I can barely believe it.

I think about where I was five years ago. My father was dying, and I was spending long hours at the nursing home, making decisions about his care, doing my best to be his advocate and honoring all his wishes. Writing was a feeble exercise, at best. But I often had my laptop with me just to keep me busy. I didn’t really care too much; I had been trying to make a go of the writing for twelve years, and with more rejections than I could count, I was about ready to pack it in.

Dad slept most of the time those last weeks, and I spent a lot of hours sitting by his bedside with my dog. He liked it when Holly came to see him, but I liked it too.  She was a tremendous comfort during a time when I had to make some of the toughest calls of my life. I had my computer with me too, and with Holly at my feet, I made words.

It was on one of those final days that my dad left his mark on me one last time. You see, he made me promise not to quit my dream. Yep…a deathbed request. He went there. On his last lucid day – a little more than a week before he died – he made me promise I wouldn’t give up on writing. So, I agreed. What else could I do? I promised him, and because of that promise, I pushed myself to try one more time to pitch and submit. And guess what? The eleventybillionth time was a charm.

Fifteen published books. 

As Dad would say, “That’s something, Jeannie. That’s something.”

It sure is, Daddy.  It sure is.

 

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Still the Fat Kid

I want to start this by saying I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m writing this because I feel like I have to. In fact, I waited a week to write it because I struggled a little with what happened and whether I should say anything at all because I’m not looking for pity. I’m also not looking to be sold weight loss products or programs, so please don’t go there.

Last week, a student who was in the library during her free period called me fat. She didn’t like that I told the group she was with to quiet down. (They were distracting a student who was taking a test) Most of the kids nodded, and there were a smattering of apologies, but as I was walking away, from the back of the library, I heard it. It wasn’t loud, but it was there.

“Fat bitch.”

I’m pretty sure I know who said it. And I know I was meant to hear it. Oddly, I don’t think calling me a bitch was the intended insult, it was the addition of the word fat. That was the adjective that was meant to wound me. It was supposed to hurt.

It did.

I ignored the comment. And moved on. That’s what we’re supposed to do when we’re personally attacked, right? Sticks and stones.

What I wanted to do was scream, “I KNOW!” I know I’m overweight. I’ve always known. This is not new! Sheesh! My mother pointed out my less than perfect figure all during my childhood and teen years. Forget that I was an athlete, involved in activities, a good student, and I stayed out of trouble. “You have such a pretty face, Jeannie, but…”

But. There was always a “but.”

Now, when I look back at photos from my teen years, I see that there was nothing wrong with me. I was curvy, but my mother didn’t appreciate my curves. Let’s just say, I was not raised to accept my body.

It’s the thing that has made me feel inferior, self-conscious and isolated my whole life. No one understands. I’m an accomplished, well-educated woman with great hair and nice eyes (I know my strengths 🙂 ). I’ve raised my kids well, have a husband who loves me, and loving friends and family.

Still, the fat thing hangs over me.

I can’t go anywhere without a reminder. Movie theaters, restaurants, planes…the seating gets tight sometimes. My doctor would blame a hangnail on my being overweight. It’s exhausting, and discouraging, and as a result, losing is even harder. As I get older, it’s harder. Nothing works and I hate that I feel like I do.

Because all I want is to be a size 12.

The comment last week shouldn’t have affected me, but it really hurt because it was meant to. It was mean, and it hit me where I’m most vulnerable. THIS is fat shaming, people. This. It’s meant to make us hate our bodies.

Don’t give this kid a pass because of her age. She’s plenty old enough to know better. Her comment was nasty and shallow, and she knew it. Now it’s my job to push back the wounded fat kid, and either find a way to love myself the way I am, or find a way to make a change. It’s not going to be easy–no matter how old I get, it’s never going to be easy.

Tell me how you overcame a mean girl or boy in your life. How did you challenge yourself to be better? I’m listening.

 

 

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Life with Riley: 18 months

It’s been a while since I posted about the dog.  Let’s just say, he’s been keeping us busy. If you hadn’t heard, herding dogs are smart. Like super smart. Like there are teens I know who could take a lesson on paying attention from my Collie.

Riley has learned how to open drawers, some closets, and flip the tops off garbage pails. He knows how to hide things and remembers where he put them. He will eat anything, but likes wood the best. Especially table legs. Yep. That’s been fantastic.

It may sound like I’m ready to pack the fuzzball off to Siberia, and last night, when he woke me a one in the morning because he wanted to play, I might have considered it.

But I never would. Just like all my furbabies, Riley has burrowed his way into my heart and he’s not going anywhere.  He’s a big, fluffy, clumsy mess. And I love him. Just looking into those big brown eyes makes me melt. I’m such a pushover.

He’s gentle with my mother-in-law, who’s not that steady on her feet.  He’s sweet with tiny dogs and small children. And if I’m sick or sad, he stays close by, just in case he’s needed.

It’s getting nice outside, so we will be resuming our walks around the harbor and that should settle him some. In the meantime, we’ll keep training, keep the house dog proofed, and keep a trusty squirt bottle nearby for wordless correction.

Raising dogs is not for sissies. But boy is it worth it.

Tell me about your furbabies.

 

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Spring and Hope and Romance.

I love spring. Everything is bright and shiny and new. It’s less gray, even on rainy days. And – okay – my birthday falls in April, so I am a bit prejudice. To me the season is all about hope.

Hope. Goodness knows we could all use a little of that.

Hope is the reason I write romance. I’ve said this often, but in my darkest times…when I was bullied in school, when my father died, when I was fighting off my own inner demons…romances kept me company. They showed me light and love, and made everything more bearable. They gave me hope, even when it was in short supply.

That’s why the latest round of romance bashing, innocuous as it may be, really bugs me.  Romances, like spring, promise new beginnings, when life is at it’s most hopeful.

Sure the numbers bear out why no one should trash talk romance, but how about sticking to the most simple reason of all: romances make people happy. They give people hope.

That’s why this matters. Don’t turn your nose up at what gives someone hope.

In the words of the immortal Susan Elizabeth Phillips, “Life’s too short to read depressing books.” Ain’t that the truth.

Tell me why you read romance. I’d love to know.

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