Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Ragged Edge

The Ragged Edge is a writing conference in Franklin Tennessee in August.  And I am going.

This is billed as the antithesis of 'normal' writing conferences.  It has two clear outcomes (from the registration page):

People who attend will leave either:
  • Brimming with enthusiasm, having learned what it takes, in which case your investment will return much.
  • Terrified, having learned that the writing life is not for you, in which case you may wisely never spend another penny on another class or seminar—an even greater reward for your investment.
The writing life.  Is that what I am seeking? 

I told my husband, in the typical wife/bargaining/spend money speech, that I have only written as therapy or to get other people money (part of my consulting business is grant writing).  In essence, I couldn't remember a time when I did ANY-THING that wasn't for someone else.

So I am approaching the ragged edge of actually (finally) embracing my creative side.  I am making it official.  I am a writer.

Whoa.  Why suddenly am I paralyzed from completing even a simply blog entry?  Why am I petrified I am wasting a huge amount of money on something that makes no sense and will only cause hardship down the road?  What if I go and realize I am NOT a writer?  Then what am I? What if...what if...hyperventilate...huff...puff...


Stop the inner critic. 
Look at the smile on my face at FINALLY stepping up to the ragged edge of a writer's life (combined with a Mommy's life, a political life, a ministry life and a wifey life). the background...quietly 'their' 'that' idea...I can't wait to get started.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

To Ian Upon His High School Graduation From His First Grade Self

Wow.  Mom said I would get bigger and taller than her, but I didn't know by how much.  Dude, you are amazing!

I am writing this letter to you, from your first grade self, because there are a couple things I want you to remember.  This year has been pretty amazing for me and it set the stage for some of the success you have enjoyed over the years.

First, I became a reader this year.  You might laugh now, but remember when everyone knew what those symbols meant except you?  I told Mom how hard it was when everyone knew the answer but me.  Not anymore.  At the end of first grade I am at or above grade level in reading.  In fact I comprehend (Mom says that's understanding what I read) at a 5th grade level!  It took a couple extra years and some extra help, but we did it!  I don't just read stuff-I consume it.  Often Mom finds me bleary eyed after reading my favorite illustrated novel well past my 8:30 bedtime.  I love her favorite author Ted Dekker's "Circle Trilogy".  I hope you still love to read.  Remember my second favorite? "Captain Underpants".  Oh, yeah.

Second, I figured out how to hit a baseball.  Dad says it's one of the hardest things to do in sports.  I do it lefty which sets me up for success.  I hit it so hard that Mom is afraid to do batting practice with me-she's scared I'm gonna take out her face (I almost have more than once!).   In one season I went from bench warmer to starter.  I know you'll catch better than I do now (especially when Mom throws-she's not so good).

Finally, right now Caden is in bed an hour early for yelling and screaming and tantrums.  He's lying in bed-yelling, screaming and having a ginormous tantrum.  It's hard to be his big brother as he takes my stuff and yells at me and gets in my way.  However, it's fun to play with him and he's a really tough wrestler.  Mom says I am his hero and he is lost without me.  As you graduate and move on to what's next, please remember Caden and the role you play in his life.

You made it all the way to graduation.  Take a minute and think of me, your first grade self, and remember how quickly things can change for the better (like in reading and baseball) or how important you are to your brother.

You are also important to Mom.  You don't know it, but every night she comes into your room, straightens the blankets and tells you how much she loves you.  Sometimes she picks up your laundry or trips on a toy.  And sometimes she prays, a tear in her eye and love in her words.  I know, as you got bigger, she respected your privacy more but know if your feeties never got cold at night and your spirit never grew weak, it was because of her late night prayer visits.

Congratulations and remember me-the shorter and quirkier version of you.

Ian (aka-Ian Bee-yan, EbeeGeeBee, Midget Man, Stinky McStinkerson, Good Guy)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blog Bits

There are those little nudges.  Like those I blogged about previously, "Turtles and Roses".  Had another of those, curiously flower related.

My grandmother had a desk in her home beneath the front window.  Atop the scratched and water stained desk perched plants.  She could grow anything.  She chose to always grow African violets.  The most stubborn, often unblooming, fat leafed houseplant God ever made.  When flowering they are stunning with a deep purple or delicate pink or a variation of the two.  Upon her death, my mother was nurturing two African violets in her home too.

This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at church for the first time.  To encourage and celebrate, my newest friend gave me a purple gift bag.  As I knew it would make me cry, I waited to look inside until I was done sharing with everyone and it was time to leave.  Inside was an African violet.  Of all the flowers, in all the shops, she chose that one.  Nudge.

I have a friend who plans large scale community/art/fundraisers for hundreds of people with barely a whiff of anxiety.  However, ask her to plan a party for one of her amazing children and she freezes like a Popsicle.  What is it about planning parties for our children that makes even the bravest mommies shudder?  Why do we spend far more than we should on themes, prizes and games for events only passing in their memories?

For the first time today I attended a party for a child and a family I didn't know.  The guest of honor was a little girl who plays with my son everyday at preschool/daycare.  When her mommy asked her who she wanted to come to her party, she answered "Keegan" (this is how she pronounces my Caden's name).  I got a little note in his cubby, rsvp'd and we were off!  When I talked to her Mom, she said it would be a small gathering of little ones, with my son and two others.  They would do crafts, make some pizza and do some other kid stuff.

When I arrived, my heart sunk.  In the driveway was "The Hummer".  "The Hummer" is driven by a Mommy who is friends with a group of Mommies who ignore my cheerful,  "Good mornings!".  As they drop off their little darlings at the same preschool/daycare they don't acknowledge my presence for their morning, obnoxious SUV side, coffee klatches.  I'm either not good enough or they are better than me.  However, in my newly (and hard fought for) emotionally self actualized state, I walk on by.  Today for the party I had to walk on in.  Damn.

The small fete turned out to be 12 kids and mommies and daddies and aunties.  It was chaos and confusion.  They didn't recognize me out of my morning uniform of ponytail and whatever is clean and laying at hand.  I wisely chose a matching and preppy ensemble.  No make up though, darnit.  The Birthday Mommy kept snipping at her husband and wondering aloud, often to no one, if everyone was having fun.  She was a wreck.  So much so, as I left and her husband thanked me for coming.  I told him, "It was perfect.  And when she calms down please tell her it was perfect too."

What was memorable to this mama was how little the parties these days are about the kids.  It's about the show for friends and families.  It's about comparing and trying to better their peers.  It's all about icing-sweet nothingness that will last but a moment.  I know as I have been a Mommy who threw those kind of parties.

Makes me rethink the upcoming plans for my little guys.  Whilst I was in the Hummer/Mommy/Birthday Vortex, I actually considered contracting with my friends who do entertainment for a living.  I thought of turning my back yard into a child's paradise carnival.  Then I took a breath and reconsidered.  I will be about building memories for my sons.  Memories with friends they love and choose to spend time with.

What the other mommies think don't get to be part of the equation.  And the next morning, when their crowd ignores me by "The Hummer" I'll remember it wasn't my kid who jumped in the wading pool fully dressed or who threw a tantrum because the cupcake was pink or hid behind his mother or tackled kids out of the way of the pinata candy.  It was their perfect little darlings who did that.  Cue the gloating.  (In the interest of full disclosure it was my little darling who burped louder than a Longshoreman at the bar on leave.  But, hey, better out than in, right?)