Monday, January 18, 2016

2015: The Year of Epiphanies

This last year has been a year of discovery.  I've discovered things about my self, my children and others in my family.  It's also been a year of joy tempered with sadness. I turned 55 in 2015 and I celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary. Our second grandson was born and I fell in love again.  Just like no one can really prepare you for parenthood, becoming a grandma is an experience I wasn't expecting to be so life changing.  

This too shall pass.

I know this is an overused phrase, but yet it pops into my head more and more as I age. Whether it's the pain of a miscarriage, or the disappointment of a broken relationship, the situation does get better. We heal, and we survive. From the small disappointments to overwhelming trauma, it does pass. We may have to take it one day at a time, or even hours at a time, but it will get better. Embrace this idea,  because it will help you get through the tough times.

Take a Deep Breath

Slow down. Be thankful. Take note of the beauty around you.  Easy? Sometimes it seems impossible, but when we manage to do it, the benefits are amazing. It clears the head to let us make decisions about the priorities in our life.  

Get to Know Yourself

I have general anxiety and social anxiety. I have also developed periodic depression. Do I wish I didn't have these problems? You bet. I'm also five foot tall. I can wish I was tall and leggy until the cows come home but it's not going to change my height.  The same goes for my anxiety.  I listen to my doctor, and over the years I've learned what works for me and what doesn't. I listen when my husband points out that I'm freaking out over nothing. I've learned to take a deep breath, and my kids remind me if I forget.

This year I've also learned to limit my time with toxic people and situations. I have decided that I want to spend time and energy with my husband, my kids and my  grandchildren instead of those who are toxic to myself and my family. Again, not an easy thing to do, but something that has become a necessity. 

The Joys

In 2015 my second grandson was born to my son and his fiance. Calvin is a joy beyond words. He joined out first grandson, Jace, who will turn three this year.  The three of us had a good first day at the hospital as long as I shared my attention and made sure he understood that grandma has enough love to spread around. 

My children are 15, 21 and 22 now, and in 2015 I watched them grow, mature and learn lessons they needed to learn on their own.  It's hard watching our kids learn lessons. So many times I wanted to jump in and stop them from making mistakes, but I had to trust that we raised them to handle anything that comes their way. 

I see good things ahead in 2016.  It may not always be easy but I know the joys will always make up for the challenges. 


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Getting Unstuck: Timely Advice

This morning I was going through my emails and clicked on a new blog post from the QueryTracker blog. I was drawn to it originally because of my fear of the dreaded "query letter", but it has been a constant source of writing and publishing advice for me during the last year.

The tag line for the blog is Helping Authors Find Literary Agents, but the advice on QueryTracker addresses all aspects of writing.  The blog post that caught my eye today is:

Getting Unstuck

My eyes nearly popped out of my head, considering what I blogged about yesterday. The post is from Jane Lebak (visit her here) She shares her advice on how to get through a period of not being able to put those words on paper. It truly is some of the best advice I've read on the subject. Read it here:

I'm always hard on myself, and I've been told over and over that I should be able to write no matter what is going on around me if I'm a true writer. After reading Jane's blog post, I'm wondering if that thought isn't compounding my fears, making me wonder if writing is my true calling. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Writing, Reading and Sabotage

During the last year I've been stalled.  I continue to read as much as I always have but I haven't been reviewing books. My own fiction sits in a documents folder, waiting for me to take up where I left off. I lost two nonfiction writing gigs which discouraged me on the freelancing end of things. 

Here is the thing: not one person, reader or editor, has said anything negative about my writing. The freelance jobs I lost were because of problems on their end. They hoped to start up again once things changed. It had nothing to do with my articles. 

Certainly it's been a stressful two years with my middle son moving out, becoming a grandmother, my daughter starting high school, my oldest talking of moving across the country for grad school, illness and even death in the family. While all of these things caused change in my life, they shouldn't have kept me from writing. So, why am I stalled?

I've discovered a few things about myself in the last few months. I'm an introvert with social anxiety. Many writers have this same personality, so it's not a reason to stop writing. If anything, it should make me feel more a part of the writing community. Again, why am I stalled?

I am my own worst enemy.

-I edit myself constantly as I'm writing.

-I doubt my ability. 

-I am afraid of failing.

Whether it's my personality, my past experiences or something else, I need to stop sabotaging myself.  I'm starting today by writing this blog post. 

I'm turning 55 next month, and it's time to stop getting in my own way. Yes, I know it's easier said then done. I've overcome a lot in my life including emotional abuse that went on for many years until I was in my late 20's.  

At times I think I'm so grateful for my current life with my husband and our children, that I feel guilty for seeking success. I was given a second chance and found love, a healthy relationship, a loving family and a place where I feel emotionally and physically safe. What more can I ask for?


Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Photo Journey of the Last Nine Months

I basically took a hiatus from writing to get over various anxieties, burn out and then I decided to enjoy the summer.  I think the pictures and their captions will give you an idea of what has been happening:)

The winter was bitter cold and very snowy, even for Michigan, but it was worth it watching my grandson Jace and my daughter, his Aunt Emily (MeMe) play in the snow for the first time. His dad and grandpa were off to the side laughing with us.  

When we weren't cuddling under blankets, we were reading,watching television, playing and laughing.

The long awaited spring finally arrived and we started working on a new herb bed and a small garden plot. Jace tried to be helpful to grandpa but mostly he thought we were playing.  

Late spring and early summer brought flowers, which was one of the first words Jace learned besides Mama and Dad, and something sounding like Grandma (I'm sure of it!).  It's been a long time since I had a little one around to show nature to, and it is as wonderful as I remember it being with my sons and daughter. 

My daughter Emily went to her first semi-formal dance, which also marked the end of middle school.  She turned 14 in February and I'm constantly amazed at her sense of style, her creativity and her intelligence. She reads almost as much as I do, and she reads at a level higher than many adults.  I am, however, in denial that she started high school in September.  

We learned that Jace may like cake, but he doesn't like everyone singing Happy Birthday, whether it's for him or his dad. 

In February Chuck and I celebrated our 25th anniversary with a night out alone, which doesn't happen too often. In July our children threw us a cool party with friends and family with the help of my husband's parents.  They did a great job, and my sister-in-law cooked the food, which was amazing. It was Hawaiian themed, hence the flower in my hair, the shirts and the lei.

In 25 years we've lost friends and family, I gave birth three times to our amazing kids who are now 21, 20 and 14, and we made good friends along the way.  We lived in the city for ten years in a 90 year old home, then moved to the country where we've been for 10 more.  Our grandson was born, and we watched our middle son become a parent while struggling to find his way in the world. I'm so proud of the changes he has made, and the father he has become. It's been a roller coaster, but I wouldn't change a thing.

This summer has shown me that love and laughter keep a family together, while soothing the soul. I'm especially happy that after 25 years my husband and I still "do it" for each other:)


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Modern Musical Movies: Quirky and Whimsical

Let's talk about my love of musicals. I don't love all musicals. Some have me running the opposite direction, screaming in agony. Growing up these were my favorites: 

Mary Poppins 
The Sound of Music 
Doctor Dootle 
My Fair Lady 
West Side Story 
Wizard of Oz 

Julie Andrews is hands down my favorite actress, singer and person in the entire world. Seriously, who doesn't love Julie Andrews? 

 Now, move forward in time to 2013 when I now have a 13 year old daughter who puts up with my obsession with the above musicals, but since she's watched them endlessly since birth, she's looking for her own musicals. This has led to watching a lot of bad musicals over the years including: All of the High School musical movies, Camp Rock and a little ditty called Lemonade Mouth on the Disney Channel. Shudder. 

However, over the last few years we've found a few gems. 


This movie was marketed so wrong it was unbelievable. The trailers made it seem like a fluffy Disney movie with angst and immature humor. It was instead more like an Indy film with many levels including themes of grief, judging others, being true to yourself and friendship. The music was amazing with it's light Ska influence, including a cool version of an old Bread song from the 70's. 


Yes, this is a Jack Black movie. Yes, he's a dumb ass, but the kids are very cool. Many of them were musicians and new to acting. The end of the movie with it's concert scene is amazing, and I couldn't help but giggle at Jack Black as he learns what teamwork is all about. 


It took me awhile to sit down and watch this for some reason, even though my daughter saw it twice with friends. Once I did, I loved it. Well, everything but the two vomit scenes. Really folks, can we skip the puking? No one really likes to see it. The music is great, and I loved the themes used in the plot. Who knew a cappella group could be so entertaining? 


The only word for this movie is adorable. Freaking. Adorable. I know it was hated by many, and loved by few but it makes me laugh and smile. Who can hate her singing Somebody to Love by Queen? The ending after the ending has the entire cast singing and dancing to the Elton John song Don't Go Breaking My Heart is just plain fun. Throw in giants, ogres, elves, dumb step sisters and an evil king. I've never read the book, and knowing Hollywood it probably doesn't follow the story, but it's a cute, adorable movie. Sometimes we just need a bit of cute in our lives.

We have a few other favorites that include Enchanted, Tangled, Mulan, The Cinderella Story (Selena Gomez). My daughter has some die hard oldies that she's loved since she was little:  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web and The Wizard of Oz are movies I know she'll be sharing with her own kids one day.

Do you have favorite musicals?

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Adult, New Authors, 100 Books Later and It's 2014

2013 flew by with the birth of our first grandchild.  It felt like I plodded along on the writing front, though I wrote five to eight articles every month, and managed to keep up with my Goodreads account.  I also edited and partially wrote three gardening ebooks for one of the websites I've been working with, which was a new challenge, but one I really enjoyed.  My grandson continues to be fascinated with books, which tickles me to no end.

I read over 100 books in 2013 and discovered some new authors, which is always exciting.  I never tire of discovering new writers because each one has their own unique style.  Some of the new writers I discovered last year include:

Kristen Ashley
Kit Rocha
Skye Jordan
Codi Gary
Hailey Edwards
Sarah Castille
Jasinda Wilder
Suzanne Wright
M.L. Buchman

2013 also brought us the category of New Adult, which I have concerns about as a mom. I appreciate that most authors have warnings on the blurbs when the story contains adult themes. My daughter is 13 and has told me several times that when she searches for Young Adult the New Adult books are included. Fortunately, we talk about what she reads and she has no interest in reading something inappropriate. However, this is not always the case, and it concerns me that the filter isn't better when it comes to the categories, at least on Amazon. Those of you who've read many of the New Adult stories like I have, know that they can be gritty, gut wrenching and the sex is not for those under 17 or 18.  Hey, I'm 53 and enjoy the new stories, but I'd prefer my 13 year old wait to be exposed the gritty world of New Adult.

This year I'll be writing gardening ebooks for the same company I edited for last year, which is a huge challenge for me.  I'm telling myself it's simply a grouping of articles on one topic, which is no different than what I've been doing.  I'll still be writing home and garden articles each month, and of course reviewing books on Goodreads.  I'm going to try and blog more, but it will have to come after the paid gigs are caught up each week or month. 

Thanks to those who've hung in here with me:)

~Happy New Year!  Brenda

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Time Management as a Grandmother....

I have none-time management, that is.  None at all.  I am learning, but it's hard.  My son and his girlfriend went through nine months of emotional turmoil, angst and the fear of the unknown after finding out she was pregnant.  When the day finally came, they rallied together and supported each other like I knew they could and Jace was born.  It was love at first sight for everyone in his life, and believe me, the waiting room was filled with his fans and his support system.  

My journey as a grandmother has been completely different than the one I had as a mother. I was over 30 when I had my first baby, and 39 when I had my youngest.  Jace's parents are 20 years old, and still figuring out life.  Since last summer when we found out we were going to be grandparents, my husband and I have been constantly reminding ourselves what we felt like at 20-- before we knew each other, when we were struggling with figuring out who we were and what we wanted out of life. 

I'm 53 now, and I've had three pregnancies and two miscarriages, so I've been there and done that, as the saying goes.  I loved being pregnant and remember going through that period of sadness when I realized that time in my life was past. Becoming a grandmother is an experience so different from becoming a mother.  It's my baby, having a baby.  It's my chance to help him, and Jace's mom, to learn how to be good parents.  Notice the word "help".  It doesn't mean I do it for them, or make decisions they should be making.  Help means encouraging them to learn and to "do" on their own. This isn't always easy, but we've been doing well.  

This is Jace today at 7 months old:

I watch Jace while his parents are at work and I'm having a hard time resisting him when I should be writing. He holds up a book, and off I go.... and yes, he loves books.  Our favorite right now is MOO, BAA, LA LA LA!  It's a Sandra Boynton story.  I have one more of hers, and I'm collecting the rest of her picture books as well.  My daughter is 13 now, and we both love her books.  It's so cool sharing books with Jace that his dad, my other son and my daughter, loved when they were small.

Besides cuddling with Jace, I've been writing freelance home and garden articles plus editing a group of gardening ebooks, which has taken much of my computer time. I try to keep up on Goodreads with reviews, but I do have a bit of catching up from last month.  I've been on a Kristen Ashley marathon lately since her books are reading crack.