Monday, July 15, 2019

Everything My Puppy Reveals about Me


I brought home another baby last week. After months of discussing it, we committed to becoming a family home with two dogs. Meet our puppy, Bear . . .
  


Going on little sleep and a lot of coffee, I’ve been thinking about the kind of influence Bear has had on me in the past eight days. In this puppy stage, she requires a great deal of work, however she’s a pure joy and worth every second I invest in her.

The following are a few reflections I’ve had as I take on the task of raising another puppy.

Bear has brought to light . . .

How I respond to inconveniences
Cleaning up accidents is not my idea of a relaxing summer task. It’s tedious, humbling, and no one ever feels like doing it. But I have a choice how I go about it. Complain with every squirt of Resolve or suck it up and just do it.

How well I function on little sleep
Ha! Let’s just say I’ve been freakishly forgetful lately. Naps are my best friend. I have to be mindful to keep my fogginess and my irritability in check. This is familiar ground. Babies put me through the same test.

My preferred method of teaching
I’m a researcher. My Google feed must have forty different puppy-type searches on it. I want to learn all I can, then adapt my style with what works. I’ve always believed in the philosophy there is no one way. For me there are forty ways squished into one workable, effective way that often adjusts in time.

How willing I am to admit when I’m wrong
I started off following an old school method of raising a pup, only to do a little fact-finding and quickly shift my application. I was wrong. I didn’t like the first way. So I changed.

My ability to trust a little one to learn—to let go of perfection and control
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself she’ll get it over the past week. She will though. I wouldn’t expect a baby to act like a young child. Growing up is hard work. It’s my job to guide Bear through that in a safe and loving environment. That’s the fun part, really—watching her get it and releasing control.

How well I’m able to step back and allow others to work out conflict resolution
We knew this transition could be interesting because we threw two dogs in the mix. They need time to figure out where they stand. There’ve been some dicey moments. 


Then again, there are times we catch them chilling out together like this . . .
  


Most of all Bear has shown me how much love I still have left to give.

Monday, July 1, 2019

This Sign Is an Octopus


I recently wrapped up an intense round of edits and what do I feel like doing? What else . . . painting. After spending weeks completely absorbed in one of my books, I find I need a bit of a breather—another creative outlet. But then I have all this untapped energy and I have to put it somewhere. So yesterday I cleaned through our garage and found this sign I bought years ago.


When we first moved to California, I decided I wanted to decorate with a coastal theme. We’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from the beach so this sign grabbed my attention right away. However, something about the color felt “off” to me. It’s vibrant and I like that, but not quite right for the room I was considering hanging it in.

Then something strange happened. The sign told me it was an octopus, and that it too wasn’t in the mood to be coral-colored any longer. It gave me full permission to strike my wand and brush a new color over it.

Ta da . . .


I like octopus signs.

Happy 4th!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Onward



We’re a soccer house. Every time the U.S. Women’s team takes on a new opponent in the World Cup we are glued to the TV, cheering them on. Over half of us in my family have played at one time or another, so we know the sport well. {My older sister was also a superstar soccer player, earning All-American several times, meeting Pele, and playing for UConn.} We act like commentators, sharing our reviews of stand-out plays and particularly dirty fouls. You’ll often catch me talking to the TV, gesturing wildly. Years ago I had the privilege of taking my girls to watch the U.S. Women play against Colombia in Connecticut. It was a freezing, but memorable experience.


It’s edge-of-your-seat exciting whenever a game is on.

Even more, I’m proud of the team. I’m proud of what they’ve done for women’s soccer. I love what they’ve done for women in general.

Go U.S. Women! We’re rooting for you all the way!


Monday, June 17, 2019

Creative Kindness



I’ve become keenly aware of something in the past few weeks. Some people have a real gift with words and others, well, they falter and flounder. I’ve fallen into both categories when facing someone who’s recently lost a loved one. Words are delicate. And hard to shape sometimes.

I’ve felt a particular gratitude for friends who’ve shown up in creative ways recently. They’ve supported and loved through unexpected means. Their efforts have really resonated with me. Offers to hike. A glass blown ornament in the mail from one dear friend, and from another a bookstore jigsaw puzzle (I tap into my inner nerd and go nuts with jigsaw puzzles). Others threw out book recommendations at a time I was desperate to get hooked on a new novel. Another friend, and fellow author, read one of my books and encouraged me regarding the concept, peppering me with questions born of curiosity. Her investment in my work accomplished something profound. She pulled me back to what I love—a key reason I feel rooted here.

Friends and loved ones have been generously kind. Thoughtful and consistently caring. The kindness has come in all forms. In my weakness, I’ve accepted all of it. And I’ve learned something. Bestowing creative kindness to someone who’s hurting is one of the most impactful decisions we can make. They’ll remember that kind of love.

I know I will.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Six Things Writing & Grieving Have in Common



Losing someone you love has a way of stirring up a lot of reflective thinking. In this quiet season of letting go I’ve been thinking about some of the ways grieving is similar to what I do every day—crafting novels.

Here’s what I came up with . . .

Writing & grieving—

Force you to think about intention and purpose
Whether it’s mourning the loss of a loved one or hunkering down to edit, you spend a good deal of time considering why you or your character exists. Little things start to matter. Like simple acts of kindness. Thought is given to all that came before, every season of life that led to this present place. It’s a soul-rubbing process. An awakening and embracing of what’s to come.

Challenge you to take a step back and look at the world differently
One shot. You consider this as you awkwardly stumble through the reality of saying goodbye to a person or a manuscript. One shot at life. One shot with a novel. Making your words and actions count becomes exponentially more important as this reality settles in.

Require you to get honest with emotion
You ugly cry. You dive deep with the characters, rooting to the real reasons they behave the way they do. Grieving and writing draw out our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities. They push, prod, and poke until we’re raw with pain, driving us to the point we’re willing to let go. There’s a certain surrender grief and creativity share, it’s a beautiful release that feels all at once agonizing and wonderful.

Bring out the historian in you
You research a town. Expressions on people’s faces. You drag out photos of your loved one. Old letters. You take that walk down memory lane. You create a memory lane as an author and student of your characters. Things and moments gone by gain a fresh pertinence. A newfound appreciation.

Conjure thoughts about character and influence
Who do you want to be? Who do you want your characters to be? These questions take on more relevance. How will I impact others? What imprint am I leaving on the world?

Shed light on the unnecessary so easily mistaken as necessary
The picture you forgot to post. The comeback you never got to use. The unwashed dishes or dusty floors. As soon as you commit to life as a writer, if you pay close attention, you’ll identify distractions creeping up from everywhere. These life interferences dress in bold colors when you’re grieving. There’s nothing sneaky about them. Whether you’re working on a book or hurting in the aftermath of a death, the unnecessary will hover. The unnecessary is patient. A constant. There’s nothing quite like losing someone to help you filter through what’s important and what’s not.

This is why I love fellow writers. We’re not what I would call shallow people. We go deep. We dare to be vulnerable. Sure, sometimes we can be a little intense or caught up in our own imaginary worlds, but it’s so much fun leading you into those worlds with us.

My friend Kim Hooper’s book TINY releases this week. I’ve read her work before and she has a way of depicting characters in such an honest and compelling manner. I cannot wait to read this one! I hope you’ll check it out. Kim is a seriously gifted author.




Monday, June 3, 2019

Legacy



In light of the recent loss of my sister I find myself reflecting more than usual. I ask hard questions. It hits me that there’s not a moment to waste. With this in mind, the other night while at dinner, I asked my husband and my three girls what sort of legacy they want to leave. Their answers fascinated me.

One of my daughters surprised me by saying she wanted to be known for being different. It reminded me of something I’d say when I was her age. Something I can even see myself saying now.

Life has been a battering ram lately. Negativity and bitterness slam into me from all angles. I’m determined to fight against it—to tap into a strength I could never conjure on my own. I’m determined to take a different path from the one that tempts me toward anger, jealousy, despair, rage, and all things that distract from a more loving way to live.

The flowers above are growing in our yard. The other day I couldn’t stop looking at them. At first I believed the yellowish-orange roses somehow mysteriously appeared as part of the pink plant. An eye-catching enigma. But upon closer observation, I saw a plant with three stems, three sun-colored roses rising up from the center of the pink plant. It’s those golden flowers that draw the eye. They make the difference. In an instant I figured out why these particular roses captured my attention so substantially. These flowers are an excellent representation of the legacy I want to leave.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Goodbye Makes the Journey Harder Still



My sister Holly passed away last week. I’ve been grieving hard since I heard the news. Words elude me, hiding in a thick fog.

When I was around ten or eleven she told me she always thought of me whenever she heard this song. . .



Songs are especially poignant for me in this time of grief. Much of the soundtrack of my youth revolved around music Holly admired. I miss her. I miss who she was and who she could have been. I miss all of it.

Still, I cling to hope as I simultaneously learn how to let go.

*I hope you have a peaceful Memorial Day. Make memories and be kind to loved ones. Life is fragile.

Everything My Puppy Reveals about Me

I brought home another baby last week. After months of discussing it, we committed to becoming a family home with two dogs. Meet our puppy...