Taking Writing Risks

I did something a little wacky.  I submitted an article for publication in Brevity Magazine.  Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know what is crazier: Submitting the article or telling you about all it.  The thought of both is making me a little queasy right now.

I submitted a short, non-fiction story.  And as I think back to when I first started this blog; I would have never had the courage to do something like this.  I barely have it now.  When it comes to writing, I am still in a constant state of anxious indecisiveness with every blog post. My “revision” counter for this one has capped out at 25.  Should I hit the publish button? Could I make it better? How do I make it better? Is it good enough? Am I good enough? 

Those questions combined leads to a bigger one.  Is the potential literary reward worth the risk of putting yourself out there?  That is a big gamble.  The idea of having something published is a huge, massive thing.  I don’t care if 5 or 50000 people read the magazine. That is the reward.  But, the risk of rejection?  This soon into my writing venture?  The thought of taking a chance and ending up with a bruised ego, and one that is already a bit blemished I might add, has me reeling. And worried I may have made a mistake.

While the graphic reads “How to”, it may be better read “How to???.”  I guess first things first, I should probably start by managing my expectations.  State my goal and get myself mentally prepared for the probable repudiation.  Now you see, here I feel like I should type something like “Oh, I’m not expecting much.  Maybe just some feedback”.  In fact I did type something similar to that.  I had to delete it. It wasn’t the truth. Obviously, I’m expecting something.  I would have never wasted my time or the $3.00 it cost to submit it if I wasn’t. But then again, perhaps “expecting” is the wrong word.  I think “hopeful” is more apt in this situation.  It’s better to be hopeful than expectant in most things.  I am expecting a response.  I am hopeful that it is one of acceptance and not of rejection. That’s my goal. Yes, that’s much better.

However this pans out, I really wanted to write about it.  This blog has made me think about things in ways I haven’t before. Never in my life have I set personal goals for myself or stepped so far out of my comfort zone.  I’ve never put myself in a position for open critique. Not like this anyway. And even if no one reads these posts. I like to think that it keeps me honest.  It keeps me aspiring to do something or be something more. Take risks. I really love what this has turned into. And if that’s all this ever is, just something I enjoying doing, then that’s ok. But I really hope that I never lose the desire to try for something bigger.

Goals:

Have my non-fiction short story published on in Brevity Magazine

WordPress Goals:

367 views for month of Sept – Current Sept Views: 225

200 WordPress followers by Dec, 31st – Current WordPress followers: 127

Finding a Place and Purpose For Your Blog. And How To Succeed Once You’ve Found It.

 

One question I’ve asked myself from the very beginning is “What is this blog going to be and what am I looking to get out of it?”  There’s only so many posts you can do about not knowing what to post, am I right?  It certainly seems to be a common theme amongst new bloggers.

There must be hundreds of thousands of posts, e-books, courses and probably other super cool types of media that I’ve never even heard of out there offering tips on blogging.  “How to grow your blog”. “How to get more followers on your blog”. “How to convert views to reader engagement on your blog.” But has anyone ever noticed that these “tips” are very much geared towards people who are selling something?  An e-course, e-book, or service?  I have nothing to sell.  That’s not what I’m here for, and neither, I suspect, are a majority of bloggers.  While some of these tips can easily transcend different niches, most of those are common knowledge.  Things like “post consistently” or “use proper tags and categories.”   I have read post after post that promised to help me and my blog grow, and unfortunately, I have yet to find my golden nugget of knowledge that will transform this blog into something more.

Here’s one of my issues:  When deciding on topics to blog about.  Do you rely solely on your passions or do you find yourself leaning towards a genre you know is heavily populated with followers?  For example: Two of the most preeminent niches for blogging is fashion/beauty and travel.  Those niches are filled with amazing blogs that have some of the best content and subscriber stats in the industry.  Sadly, for my, I am neither a trend setter or a jet setter.  I’m more of a couch setter.  As in, I’m gonna set on this couch and binge watch “This is us” all weekend so as to get mentally prepared for the upcoming second season.

As I have said many times at this point, I started this blog because I needed a creative outlet.  Parts of my life were in complete chaos, and I longed for a way to free up some valuable head space that was essential in me functioning as adult human.  As the days went by, and the posts published, lo and behold, this blog achieved just that.  And as I went along, my blog took its shape.  I was finding my niche.  In time, my posts became less and less about a traumatic event that occurred to a family member and they became about different aspects of family relationships, recipes, blogging, and life.  And while I have nothing to sell, I like to think that people may enjoy reading what I write regardless.

So, here’s my plan.  You’re welcome to follow along with me if you’d like.  I make no guarantees that this will help you and your blogging endeavors but it’s good to have a plan nonetheless.

Now that you know your niche, and even if you’re not quite there yet: Figure out what do you want to get out of this blog? What is your desired outcome?

This may very well be the most important thing of all.  But, you need to be honest with yourself.  If you say something like “nothing really, I just want it to be like a diary.” Then you have your answer. However, If that were the case, than presumably you would have your posts set to private, not public…  But that’s none of my business. Moral of the story is, if you’re not honest with yourself about your goals, you’ll never reach them.  Let’s say, you’re writing just to write.  Doesn’t matter to you if anyone reads it, likes or comments on it.  That’s fine, then base your goals with that in mind. But, I’d be willing to bet that once you see those stats moving, your blogging ambitions will change.  And it’s ok if they do.  Don’t be ashamed, or afraid of saying what you really want.  Do you want to write amazing content and become the next Jenny Lawson or Arriana Huffington? Who doesn’t!?!?  While those are some super lofty goals, whose to say you can’t achieve them?

Speaking of goals… Set some!

I’ve actually been putting this into play the last couple of months.  Go to your Stats and click on insights.  Those stats are what I base my goals on.

  • For the month of August, I had 2 short term goals
    • Reach 100 WordPress followers by the end of the month . I kid you not, I achieved that at about 11pm 2 nights ago.  I have 122 followers in total.
    •  Get more than 241 views this month in order to beat last months.  I surpased that goal by 46.
  • Long Term Goals –
    • Do at least 1 blog post every week for the rest of the year.
    • So, something I really love delving into is conversion rates.  This isn’t laid out for you in stats.  It’s an equation you can do on your own if you like analytics.  If you go under your blog post tab, it will show you all of your published posts, their number of views, likes and comments.  I measure how well a post did by dividing the number of views, by the number of likes.  For example, If my latest post has been viewed by 11 people so far and it received 5 WordPress likes, I consider that to be a pretty good conversion rate.  I could go on and on about these sorts of facts and figures, but I digress.  By the end of the year, I would like my view to like conversion rate to be 50% or better.
    • Try to get a total of 200 followers between WordPress, Email subscribers, and twitter.

As of right now, that’s my plan.  What’s yours? Any tips or insight to you’d to share?

 

 

I’ve been nominated for The Versatile​ blogger award?!?!

Thank you to the wonderful gal over at Runaway Nuns and Leprechauns for the nomination of the Versatile Blogger Award.  I was shocked to read the post yesterday.  I’ve only been doing this for a short time, and it means so much.  Now, there are rules that apply to this award.  They are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers of your choice.
  4. Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination.

 

So here we here we go.  Seven Facts:

  1. My eye color changes depending on the weather.  I think this may be fairly common, but I’ve never heard anyone else I know mention it.
  2. I was a volunteer firefighter for several years.
  3. I think that mint flavor should only be in toothpaste or gum.  I don’t understand how people can mix it with chocolate.  Yuck,
  4. I’m pretty sure  I was blocked on Facebook by the kicker of the Cincinnati Bengals. I really love the Bengals and have a thing for kickers. Apparently, he didn’t appreciate my adoration.
  5. I really really despise making lists about myself.  But rules are rules.
  6. I would give just about anything to have a goat named Cheese
  7. I prefer lake swimming to ocean swimming.

 

And the nominees are….

 

  1. Weird Guy With A Dog
  2. Not A Grouch
  3. A Beautiful Disaster
  4. Stitch and Shizzle
  5. The Writers Desk
  6. In The Garden
  7. A Thousand Bits of Paper
  8. Official Blog Of Kristy Gherlone
  9. The Webb Homestead
  10. Cooking with a Wallflower

 

 

A Procrastinator’s​ Guide To Tackling The To-Do List: Blogging Edition

First, A little back story.

I thought of the title for this blog post out of the blue one day.  So I quickly opened my WordPress app and typed it in. I hit save, under the Drafts tab.  Making absolutely sure that I didn’t accidentally hit the publish button.  That is the worst!  Publishing something before it’s ready, aaarrgh. It’s awful!  Anyway, as I was double checking that I didn’t post it instead of saving it.  I got the idea for the super cute graphic.  I immediately clicked on my Word Swag app and created the image you see above. And I LOVE it.  In fact, I love it so much, that I’ve started laying the ground work for this to be a series.  And I am super excited!

As I started typing and formatting this post I found myself back spacing and rearranging sentences a lot.  I just couldn’t get the concept to flow the way I wanted it to.  And then I realized why…. I am a procrastinator.  Procrasntintor’s aren’t usually the ones who write about getting things done.  We also aren’t the type of people to be made an example of when referencing expeditious task completion.  Something weird to note, that this is only in my personal life.  Like getting an oil change, or canceling a subscription. Which reminds me, I never canceled my husbands Dollar Shave Club subscription.  Shit.

Professionally speaking, I couldn’t be more opposite.  I’m known to watch my inbox like a hawk.  Always at the ready for the next task.  For me, there is nothing better than being asked to do something, completing it and sending back a “Done!” email.  My work inbox is pristine.  As I left yesterday for a week’s vacation, I didn’t even have to scroll.  All emails were visible on one page.  That feeling, for me, is pure contentment.

So, how do I get this, and the subsequent series posts I’m planning, to translate from personal procrastinator to every day efficient?   There only seems to be one solution.  I am going to try to fix something, that for the last 33 years of my life, has been one of the most predominant personality traits I have.  I’m going to become “The Blogger Formally Known As A Procrastinator.” You guys, my husband is going to be so effing excited when he reads this.

We’re now at the point where you may be asking yourself “why would I take advice from a woman who admittedly, can barely make a list of “to-do’s” to do the to-do’s.?” And I think that is a very fair question. My answer is this:  This post is meant for the people like me.  The people to enjoy getting things done, but in their own, type B personality, kind of way.  The type of people who may appear disorganized, and lackadaisical to some. But in all actuality do, for the most part,  have their shit together.

The To-Do:  Writing a Blog Post

This blog has been an eye-opening experience.  If you have been with me since the beginning you may recall my post Surviving Succulents.  In it, I wrote about starting projects and not finishing them. And how this project, this blog, was going to be different.  And while I’ve only been at this for about 9 months, it is the longest I’ve ever stuck with something like this.  And I still love it like I did at the beginning.  I think that is one of the most important things for a procrastinator.  And my first blogging To-Do.  Blog about something you love.  Or something that challenges you, whether it be a specific topic or niche.  Maybe even daring to try a different style. Like poetry, short stories or nonfiction.  In my very limited experience, I’ve found that writing about something you love, or something that you have an interest in, comes a lot easier and therefore quicker than something you don’t.

That brings me to my next To-Do, well this is more of a to-don’t.  Don’t force it.  Readers will be able to tell.  One of the followers of my blog recently commented that “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.” And he is exactly right.  Just because you haven’t published a post in a while doesn’t mean that you’re failing or even that you’re procrastinating. Maybe you haven’t found the spark.  I’ve talked about the spark before.  It’s what I consider to be the moment you get an idea that you’re excited about.  When everything just comes rushing to you and you’re inspired. That spark can come at any time and even multiple times within a single post.  For example, I started this post on May 29th.  Almost 2 months ago.  And here I am just finishing it up.  I don’t know what it was about the last couple of days, but a majority of this post has only just been written in that time.  And that’s ok.  I didn’t want to write it to just to say that I posted something.  I wanted to write it to be good.  To be helpful.  Honestly, I don’t know if it will be either of those things, but fingers crossed.

And the last To-Do is to try to set aside time each day to work on your blog.  It doesn’t have to be hours, or at a set time every day.   Even if all you have is 15 minutes.  Go to your blog, under your drafts, and read what you’ve already written.  Add a sentence or two.  Rewrite a paragraph.  Touch up the graphic.  Do research on a topic you’re working on.  Whatever it may be, just DO something within your blog.  I guarantee the more you do that, the more quality content you’ll produce.

So that’s that.  My very first edition of “Turning To-Do’s into Ta-Da’s.”  Now, I am no expert on matters of blogging or most things really.  And while these tips are more common knowledge tidbits than insider secrets.  I hope they offer insight.  I hope this comes off as more of a pep talk than anything.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t worry about what others with think (this is still my biggest hurdle).  Because, from what I can tell, the bloggers who have the most followers aren’t necessarily the people who produce the most content.  And I think, by just doing these very basic things, you will greatly increase the chances of creating an amazing (Ta-Da!!!)  blog post.

 

 

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

A Place For Maine Writers, Bloggers and Photographers

 

Hi there! My name is Darci and am still fairly new to blogging.  I noticed that there aren’t any FB groups dedicated to bloggers in Maine.  I thought this would be a great place to first connect, and see if there may be in interested in joining one.  If there is, than I’d be very happy to get one going.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or would like to be involved. Just comment below!

 

Thanks!

Beginners Bloggers Block

I started out strong. Just over eight months ago.  I was blogging often, having a fairly clear, concise point with each post.  The feedback I got was amazing.  People told me that what I was writing was relatable and how they looked forward to my posts. But, as the weeks went on, I found myself blogging less and less and less.  At one point going more than a month without posting a single thing.

I would still go to WordPress almost every day.  Just under the “Reader” tab.  I would scroll through my saved categories, spending a majority of my time under “Blogging”.   A common post I’d see would fall along the lines of “So, I haven’t posted in a while.” or “Things have been really hectic lately and I haven’t logged in”.  Listen, I get it. I do.  Life gets busy and things come up.  But I couldn’t help but wonder…  Were they really too busy for days, weeks, on end or maybe it’s because they didn’t have something to say? Something they were proud of, or inspired by, or excited about. And by no fault of their own necessarily.

It’s so very easy to rely on an excuse, rather than admit that you’ve maybe lost motivation.  Or perhaps, you’ve been looking for inspiration and have come up empty handed.  I find that so many of my posts have come to fruition because I was inspired by something.  Something happened or I read something.  Whatever it was, was so amazing that it just compelled me to write. To tell the WordPress world all about it.

A few weeks ago, I got the blogging itch.  The one where you need to write something down, purely for the sake of writing.  But, I didn’t know what to write about.  I needed inspiration in real bad way.  So I went over to  Dream Big, Dream Often, to see what the author had been up to. He has a fantastic blog.  Every day he publishes posts that are not only thought-provoking, but also entice engagement from a seemingly very diverse audience.  I’m pretty new to this, but even I know that is no small feat.  And as I scrolled and read, there it was. A simple blog post, about nothing really. It was maybe 3 or 4 sentances long.  In the post, he had asked a question about social media usage. I answered, and in my response, I typed the title of this post.  That’s all I needed, I had my inspiration.

When inspiration hits, there’s no other way to describe it other than a spark.  When I have an idea for a post that I’m excited about, there is nothing that will stop me from writing, editing, revising and hitting that beautiful blue “publish” button.  My eyes light up, you can see the wheels turning and from there, my fingers glide over the alphabet keys with the utmost of ease.  You never know where the spark will come from or when it will strike.  But thankfully, inevitably, it does.  Whether it’s slight or fierce, sooner or later, you’ll have a creative urge that will bring you back from that merciless thing called writers block.

Extra-Ordinary Love

I witnessed something a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since.  While a parents love is unconditional, many of the things they do go unnoticed or unacknowledged .  I asked my brother if he’d mind me sharing a story about him and he agreed.  Thank goodness.

JJ’s road to recovery has been at a slow and steady pace.  A couple of weeks ago, he started having some pretty intense pain in his right hip.  Which happened to coincide with a visit from his two sons.  We knew it was going to be tough, especially since one of the boys was sick.  But, to him, a parent, it didn’t matter.  There was nothing that was going to stop him from seeing them.  So, one night after I got out of work, we headed out to meet their mom halfway.  I didn’t realize that the route lead us through the white mountains.

Every curve of the road, hill and bump made JJ exhale in pain.  And then, when we were at the highest elevation, the snow started and the wind began to strengthen.  I was a mess.  Trying to avoid divots in the road, while staying on it, in a new vehicle.  I’m not a huge fan a driving in bad weather, but when other people are with me, like JJ or the boys, it adds a whole other layer of worry.

When we made it to the meeting place, pure relief came over me.  I told JJ that we needed to find a different route home.  We went to greet the kids and it was clear that his oldest was not feeling well.  He had a terrible stomach ache.  I got them loaded up with the help of their mom and we were on the road to home.  With a different route all set it google maps.

Our trip home was even worse.  We drove in some of the worst conditions, on some of the worst roads I had ever been on.  This new route took us through a national forest, with steep inclines and declines, and black ice everywhere.  We really should have been more thorough in our search earlier.

So, this is where the love story comes into play.  Ten minutes into the trip we hear “Daddy, my tummy hurts, can you rub it?”  JJ had already been huffing and puffing from pain.  The toll the trip there took on JJ was immense.  You could see it on his face and how he moved.  So slowly, so cautiously.   I looked at him, and he started wiggling and maneuvering his body as best as he could to face the back seat, and rub his sons tummy.  And that’s how he sat for the entire 2 hour trip back.  He fought through the pain, nausea and discomfort, so he could comfort his little boy.

While this act may be nothing remarkable for any parent.  They will do anything for their kids.  It was something I was in awe of.  It was beautiful.  To witness a love like that is just something I wanted to share.

I don’t care much for country music, but this post is for my brother.

“I know you have mountains to climb, but always stay humble and kind”

 

 

 

 

 

Why Lularoe? Why now? My “Why”.

 

When you sign on to be a Lularoe Consultant, they ask you to create your “Why”.  Your reasoning for signing up with the company.  It’s not just about selling clothes, or their amazing leggings.  It could be, they are that good. It’s about so much more.  They are a company who motivate and inspire people to work hard and achieve their goals.  They built their brand with ethical business practices at the forefront,  a unique plan for customer engagement, and a beautiful product. So, this is my “why”.

The Backstory

A few months ago, I started to get bogged down a little.  I felt like I was starting to drown. One morning I was reading the news and came across a story about recurring dreams.  The most common one is where you feel like you’re falling.  I had recently started having this dream almost nightly.  The article said that usually means that you feel like you’ve lost control. And it was right, I had.  There was so much going on at home, with my brother, professionally, financially.  It was overwhelming.  I didn’t feel like any one person or thing or task was getting  100% of what they deserved or needed.   I was keeping a running tally in my head of who I had disappointed.  J.J. wanted to go to the store one night, but the dog was sick so I couldn’t take him.  I told him we’d go the next night.  The next night, something came up with Kruno, and he needed something.  But I had already disappointed J.J. the day before so I couldn’t do that two days in a row to him, so that night I had to disappoint Kruno.  My work suffered, my relationships, my health.  One of the biggest reasons we moved home was because of my health.  I was stressed to the max in Colorado.  I was having migraines almost every day.  I had lost feeling in my left arm and leg, and I had a 1.3 cm cyst in the middle of my brain.  Stress does very strange things to the body.  And some of the same symptoms had started happening again. I had to regain control, prioritize, and just get my shit together in general.

 What I realized

As things started to fall into place, and the stress was subsiding, I started to wonder about these episodes.  They seem to come on during times when I was in, what I consider to be, a mild state of depression.  I was down and out, unhappy, a real negative nancy.  In going along with my New Year post, that simply wasn’t going to do anymore.  I desperately wanted to change.  My outlook. My situation.  In order to do that, I had to do some serious soul-searching.  This is my theory:

I decided to take on a second job…  I know, it sounds crazy.  I’m sure most people would think that taking on additional projects or business ventures would be counterproductive.  Hear me out. While I enjoy my lovely little life.  I am truly blessed in all aspects of it.  There does seem to be something missing. It’s hard to put into words exactly what it is.  It’s lacking a little creativity, a bit of a social aspect, a desire to be in control (to a certain degree) of my future and success. I don’t feel completely fulfilled.  And I really really want to be, or at least know I’m working towards it.  Think of your life as a set of gears.  Lots of them, but all different sizes. Some big some small, remove one and everything after that one, will stop. And the end result will never be realized the way it was meant to be if all the gears were there. And maybe that missing gear is an aspect that you unknowingly long for, and just didn’t realize until now. For me, I think  that gear is something that brings a sense of accomplishment and confidence.  And it only took me 33 years to realize how important these things are both professionally and personally.

The Plan

Kruno and I want to be business owners.  We both have an entrepreneurial spirit.  We want something of our own.  Where we get out exactly what we put in.  We don’t expect to quit our jobs and start a business, have it be a success and make six figures tomorrow. But we wanted something to work towards.  We’ve tossed around business ideas for months.  There was always something that held us up.  Not enough time, or space, but mostly money.  It takes a lot to start a business.  But, what we’ve come to realize recently, is there will, most likely, never be the “right” time or specific conditions, for anything.  And if, by chance there is, you only realize it was perfect after its passed. I think this is true for most everything.  I probably shouldn’t be giving advice so early in the game, but at this point, I say if there’s something you want, or feel like you’re missing in life, get after it! (responsibly, of course)  You want to go on a trip?  Book it.  Want to start a new career?  Make the leap.  Want to adopt a child?  Do it.  I am a firm believer of the “everything happens for a reason” theory.  I think this opportunity came along at exactly the “right” wrong time for us.  It’s a wonderful company with a product I believe in.  I think this will give me the exact gear that I’ve been missing my whole life.   And Kruno and I couldn’t be more excited.

When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.                                          – Alexander den Heijer

 

 

These are a few of my biglyest fears….

I’m not one to post about politics, but I’ve had some things on my chest for a while.  All of them are coming to a head. And here seems like as good as place as any to voice them.

The countdown to January 20th continues, and there is no infiltration in sight.  No one is coming to our rescue, no one to deliver us from this evil.  Because, that was our job, the American voters.  We failed, his opponents failed, and like Meryl Streep said “we all lose”.  I was nervous when Bush Jr was elected, even more so for the second term.  And now, I am downright uncomfortable.  I watched his press conference with a knot in my stomach.  I kid you not, nausea is still coming at me in waves.  This may sound dramatic and maybe some day I’ll look back and agree that it is.  But today, I am terrified about what is about to happen.  I know I know, my New Years post was about being a positive Polly.  I’ve fallen off the wagon.  I’ll hop back on as soon as I stop dry heaving thinking about our President Elect.

I have been imagining the possible outcomes. And trying to estimate the probabilities of certain catastrophes happening during the next four years.These are the thoughts that have consumed me since election night.  I work in the finance industry.  When the president-elect makes a derogatory comment about an industry or company, all you can do is sit back and watch. Watch how that stock or sector flails about. While the market is a cycle and goes through ups and downs, the fact that this one idiot and his ignorant opinions, can wreak havoc in so many ways is unsettling to say the least.

Working in the finance industry, I find myself surrounded by men.  Not figuratively, but literally.  My desk is smack dab in the center of the four men I work for.  Throughout the election is was quite clear that some were supporters of the now president-elect.  I can’t count how many times I had to get up and walk away from conversations when it would deviate from the topic at hand to pro-trump bullshit.  Or when they would congregate at MY desk and chit-chat about their choice for president and how great everything was going to be once he was elected.  I may not be the most open-minded person this side of the Mississippi, but….how?  How is this what people think?  What they believe?  This entire election and everything that has come out of it has been just….unfathomable.

So, as the title of this post said.  These are a few of my biglyest fears:

  • Advancements in Equality (all types) will be set back, potentially decades.  That’s worst case scenario.  Best case – is just comes to a screeching halt. We can’t reasonably expect the man who said that a judge couldn’t make a fair ruling because “He’s a Mexican” to truly grasp or believe in the idea of equality.  Or when doing an interview for New York Magazine and referring to the treatment of women said “You have to treat ’em like shit”.  I mean…C’mon.
  • The possibility that the last 8 years will be undone.  When you think about all of the things President Obama and his administration worked so hard for, and that some could potentially be for nothing in a mere 9 days. My god, I feel defeated. And I don’t really have any skin in the game!
  • Immigration.  My husband is from Macedonia and his family is still there.  When we learned that Trump was running for president my husbands first reaction was “I need to become a citizen”.  And he was absolutely right.  But now, questions arise.  Will his mother and father be allowed to visit?  What type of restrictions will be placed, if any?
  • Terrorist attacks, specifically on U.S. soil.  Donald Trump is a joke.  The entire world and it’s leaders know it.  Especially the leaders who aren’t our friends.  I think we have opened ourselves up to be an even bigger target than we already were.  I didn’t think that was actually possible.  But apparently, I was mistaken.
  • My biggest fear of all is for my nephew.  Who, by the way is an avid Trump supporter.  Bumper stickers and everything.  He is in the military.  The president elect’s temperament doesn’t seem to shake him though. But it shakes me to my core.  The thought of him being at the mercy of an overly sensitive, trigger happy, spiteful awful excuse for a human is gut wrenching.  I worry everyday about the probability of him being shipped overseas.  I have nightmares about it. I worry that someday I will get a call from my sister,  and it will be her telling me that my Joshy has been called for deployment.  Please don’t get me wrong. Serving in the military is one of the most selfless things a person can do.  I admire and respect every single service member.  It’s the thought of someone, who dodged several drafts, playing fast and loose with my loved ones life that upsets me.

While President Obama has repeatedly asked that we, as a nation maintain an open mind.  Be optimistic, welcome the new president just as President Bush did for him. I’ve tried and I can’t.  Not honestly anyway.  I can put on a fake smile for a person or family member who wants to sing Trump’s praises in my presence. But, my poker face isn’t that convincing.  They have to see through it, and if they don’t, they are just as oblivious as Trump himself.   I think the only sound advice at this moment is something I’ve written about before.  More than ever, we’ll need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

 

 

 

 

 

Going To The Mattresses


 

 

 

I’ve never seen “The Godfather”. But, I have seen “You’ve Got Mail”. Many, many times. In the movie, Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen, is at odds with a big businessman named Joe Fox, whose company is about to put her’s under.  Unbeknownst to the both of them, they are each other’s secret online love interests.  Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks replies with the following message to Kathleen when she asked him for business advice:

“Go to the mattresses. You’re at war. It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s not personal its business. Recite that to yourself every time you feel you’re losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave, this is your chance. Fight. Fight to the death!”

This post was a tricky one to write.  There are so many variations of what it means to fight.  You can fight for an injustice, for someone’s well-being, or for something you believe in. My family has been tackling some of those lately.


My first lesson about “Going to the Mattresses”

For my entire life, I have been terrible at all sports. Awful. I have no business being on any sort of field or court in a competitive setting.  However, in 7th grade, I signed up to play on our middle school soccer team.  Every sport I had played leading up to this, I had been coached by my dad or his friends at the rec department.  That wasn’t the case this time.

During one match, our team was winning 7-0 and we were in the final minutes of the game.  The coach called my name for the first time that day and put me in as fullback.  The whistle blew and an opposing wing came at me with the ball.  I managed to take it away and kick it in the opposite direction.  A few seconds later the whistle blew again and I had been replaced.  As I came off the field I saw my dad get out of the car and start walking towards our sideline.  I thought “he’s probably coming to tell me what a great job I did, kicking that ball away.” I was mistaken.

“Darci! Get your shit, we’re going home!” I stopped in my tracks, shocked.  He didn’t stop there though.  He then turned to the coach.  “Hey!  You’ve got an awful lot to learn about coaching!” he said.  “You’re up 7-0, and you can’t leave her in there for more than 30 seconds?  You’ve been playing your first string the entire game!”

That was the end of my soccer career.  I was so embarrassed.  I remember crying and dreading going to school the next day.  We are from a very small town where everyone knows everyone.  I knew kids and their parents would be talking about it. Later on that night, dad came to have a talk with me about what had happened.  I believe this was after he had had a phone call with my former coach.  While I don’t remember his exact words, the moral of the story was “That wasn’t right.  That’s not how to be a good coach.  And she needed to know how I felt” My dad lacks subtlety, at times.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  But, I’ll never forget that day and the lesson I learned. He fought for what he believed.  It’s a story I tell often.


 

Our family has fought our share battles recently. All of the varying levels of intensity and for different reasons. Some have been fought as a group and some have been taken on singularly, and even internally.

My mom, for example, has fought for my step-dad every day since September 1st.  He was in a car accident and has been in the hospital since then.  Most of the time he hasn’t been fully awake.  She has fought for an adequate level of care. She has fought to keep him alive, more than I believe the doctors have since the first days after the accident.   She has been at the hospital (with the exception of when my brothers’ accident happened) every day she could since the beginning.  My mom with her vigilante style bedside monitoring, and her demand for answers.  She’s fought real hard.   He woke up last week, and I got a phone call from him. He said, “What’s going on, kid?”  That’s always how he started a phone call with me. It was probably the most amazing phone call I’ve ever gotten in my life.  Unfortunately, he did have a bump in his recovery road a couple of days after that phone call.  But, he’s still here.  He’s still fighting.

Today is the 3-month mark since JJ’s accident.  There is no way for anyone to really understand what he must battle with every day.  There’s no way to measure how much he has to fight on a daily basis.  Even in his first days in the hospital, the doctors and nurses all talked about how tenacious he was.  How much strength and determination he had.  And all that was said before he was able to talk.  My family knew he had all that in him.  But I never truly noticed the degree of it until then.  When he would insist on doing things himself when he had 6 very willing family members in his room to help.  When he would surpass every expectation the doctors had set.  Stand with almost full weight on a leg that he doesn’t have full feeling in.  And most recently, when he was told he wouldn’t be on a snowmobile this year.  He showed them all just how much fight he had in him.

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Just from a personal standpoint, my brothers fight aside.  This is what I’ve learned in the last 3 months:  Fighting is hard.  It is exhausting and often tear-inducing.  And because of the recent uptick of occurrences in which going to battle is required, I’ve had to pick them more carefully.

My brother is home from the hospital.  And everyone in the family is ecstatic. We have been looking forward to this for three months.  We knew that the transition would be tough, but I was totally unprepared for how tough it would be at the beginning.  In one week alone, I have cried at 2 different pharmacies trying to pick up my brother’s prescriptions because of issues related to billing.  I’m sure I looked like a lunatic.  And then, inevitably feel immediately embarrassed and start pleading my case as to why I’m not a lunatic and then probably look like even more of a lunatic then I did at the beginning. It’s a vicious cycle.  Anyway, One of the battles we’ve taken on is making the house handicap accessible.  We have been begging for 2 months for someone to come in an access our house.  Get it set up for him so when he got home, he’d be able to be mostly independent.  We were met with every stall tactic and excuse they had.  And I, having never navigated through anything like this before, fell for it.  At this point, there are 5 or 6 different people or companies involved in this.  The caseworker, the caseworkers assistant, the insurance company, the contractor, subcontractor,  and as of today the owner of a very large home modification company.  Everyone is pointing the finger at the other as to why this is taking so long.  I make multiple phone calls a day trying to figure it out but usually end up more confused than I was at the beginning.  Today, I made an extra phone call.  To a lawyer.  As this process goes along, I’m seeing that sometimes you can’t fight your battles alone. And I need help fighting this one.  There won’t be many more niceties.  It’s not personal.  It’s business.

I have yet to find a manual or script anywhere to offer me any guidance on how to fight. The desire alone, to fight, comes from within.  It’s propelled by a person’s heart, gut instinct, and moral compass. And not very often, do those 3 things combined steer you wrong.

 

“If you’re feeling froggy, go ahead and leap” – Butch Hanson