Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thankful in Every Moment

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all my American friends!  Though some see it as National 'Let's Eat Turkey and Watch Football Day', Thanksgiving truly is about being thankful not just for that day, but everyday.  And not just in the good days either, in the hard days, in the dark times, there are things to be thankful for there as well...but I'll get to that part later.

This weekend has been a whirlwind of family bonding time on multiple levels, across multiple generations, and in multiple locations.  I love the holidays, but sometimes we are rush, rush, rushing to be everywhere that we miss out on where we are!  Luckily, though there were a few hectic times, overall things were good.

Thursday started with baking two pumpkin pies, making an Almond Joy Pudding Pie, and a cheese ball.  Right after I made that cheese ball, I left the room to check on laundry, and when I came back our dog Tigger was nose deep into the bowl!  So that run to the store for the contents was for naught as we got nada of it.  He seemed to enjoy it though!

Later that night, we gathered at my mother's house.  My brother, his wife, and their three daughters came down from Northern Michigan.  My sister, her husband, and four of their seven children were there as well.  This Thanksgiving it was me, my honey, and my kiddo Jake, thought Rich's two girls were definitely missed.  As usual, the men sat around and watched football or played games on their phones.  My five nieces all played together or took photos for their Snapchats and IG pages.  My mom, sister, SIL, and I sat around the kitchen island finishing the food and catching up on life.  For all of us to be together on Thanksgiving is rare, but it was so much fun.

Friday morning rolled around and I stayed far away from any Black Friday mayhem.  In my home, the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas holiday and the day I put up all my decorations.  I got the tree up and got ready to put on the lights, only to discover that half of every strand was burnt out!!  That put a halt to the tree for a day, but, hey, I got some new lights out of it.

We finished the tree yesterday afternoon, with some help from my youngest (hopefully) future step-daughter, and the Dolly and Kenny "Once Upon A Christmas soundtrack.  Our family ornaments always go up first, front and center, then the miscellaneous.  This is our first Christmas since Rich's father passed away unexpectedly this past April.  To honor him, we placed a photo of him among the branches as well as hung his dog tags from the tree (he served in the Army during Vietnam).  He loved the holiday and will be so missed.

After I took a pause on Friday from decorating, my family once again came together, in addition to my aunt, uncle, niece, her fella, and my great nephew. This time it was to visit the zoo.  I live new Toledo, Ohio and every year the #ToledoZoo does a #lightsbeforechristmas event where the entire zoo is decorated in millions of Christmas lights.  It is so beautiful and this year the weather was agreeable to walking around after dark, I think even at it's coldest it was still high 30s/low 40s.  Perfect weather for gloves, scarfs, and a warm cup of hot chocolate as we walked around and saw the animals and the amazing job they do with the lights.  Once we'd walked the entire zoo, roughly 2 hours later, we all went to a great pizza place downtown Toledo called Pizza Papalis. One word - amazing!  And the waitress did a great job taking care of our rambunctious party of 18 people!  It was a fun packed night full of selfies and laughter and just what the holidays should be about!  The only thing missing was Jake and Rich's girls, but next year we will take them too!

Saturday morning started before 7am for us.  Tis' the season - wrestling season!  Yesterday, bright and early, Jake had his first scrimmage of the year.  I had to pick him up from his dad's before 8am by driving 30 minutes east, then we had to go to the school where the scrimmage was, another 35 minutes northwest from there.  Jake did amazing!  He's been out of wrestling for 2 years due to moving to his dad's and then moving back, but you'd never know it by how he performed.  He held his own every match, five total, and never got pinned a single time!  There is nothing more I love in life than to see him out there doing what he loves.  I am a proud #wrestlingmom for sure.  The photo above is just some of the gym where they were scrimmaging.  There were at least 30-40 pairs wrestling at a time.  Sure, it through a wrench in any plans to travel for the holiday, but there was no where else I'd rather be than watching my kiddo do his thing!

Once the scrimmage was over, plans changed several times unexpectedly and we didn't find our way back home until after 3pm.  We had just enough time to watch #OSU beat Michigan!  For us Buckeye fans, we were pretty happy, thought it was a stressful 2 overtimes to get the win!  We all got changed and then went to my aunt's house.  In my mom's family, they all get together for a big family meal.  Usually it is on the actual holiday, but there were issues this year with planning it and it was put on last minute....after my mom already had plans made with out extended brood.  But me being me, I want to please everyone and go...so go I did.

I love my family, I love sharing stories and catching up.  This year was extra special as my cousin Shawna was there.  For the last twenty years, she has not been around much due to her soon-to-be-ex...but that's a different story. Regardless, she was there this time and it felt like we were kids all over again.  Growing up, Shawna wasn't just my older cousin (by less than a year), she was my big sis and best friend.  When we both went to college, we lost some contact.  Thanks to Facebook we've reconnected years ago, but hadn't seen each other in at least 5 years.  I have missed her so much and can't wait to catch up again at Christmas!!  Not to mention, we are already making plans for a girls weekend in May to see our teenage favorites of #NewKidsontheBlock along with #BoyIIMen and #PaulaAbdul!!!

After a few hours of visiting, we left and went back to my mom's where they had gathered to enjoy leftovers and a mega family game night.  We were several hours late (because again I went to the extended family gathering that was schedule after we'd already made plans).  But, we were still in time for a few hours of fun.  The kids played a few rounds of #pieintheface and then the grown-ups took on the kids in several games of #FamilyFeud.  Now, don't go thinking we pulled a fast one on them, because those kids held there own for sure!  It was so much fun that our sides were hurting by time it was over from all the laughter.  I can't even put into words or count so high as to the memories made in those last three days.

And then this morning came...

Remember when I said to be thankful even in the dark times?  Right now my mom's family is going through a dark time.  My grandmother passed away 11 years ago and though we have mostly held the family together, this year in particular, there has been a lot of tension between her kids (my mom, aunts, and uncles).  There are seven kids total.  Though one uncle distanced himself years ago, some of his children still stay involved.  Anyway, this morning a group text went out and some of us 'grandkids' were included, subjecting us to a tension we want no part of.  Feelings were hurt, or hurt more, and things have become even worse.  I go to all the events, mostly because I feel obligated to the family, even if it spreads me super thin with my own blended family.  So though I thought I was doing the right thing last night by going to avoid drama, I still got dragged into it!  AARRGGHH!!!

BUT....even in that ugliness, I still am thankful....because of being agitated by it and all the follow-up texts, I was antsy, so I got outside, into the beautiful 60 degree late November weather, and took the frustration out on my flowerbeds.  So thanks to drama, I found release in making my yard prettier, I enjoyed the sun, I even more enjoyed the soothing shower afterward, and now I am ready to get to writing my for my #nanowrimo!  Had there not been that chain of nasty texts, I would have probably procrastinated and sat in my jammies all day and just thought about working outside, or taking a shower for that matter.

So I repeat, find the good in it all.  I could have ranted about going out of my way to get my son before wrestling, but I saw it as more time with him, I could have gone off on so many plan changes yesterday, but it allowed us to get Lanie for the night and spend more time with her.  Always, always, always, there is something to be thankful for.  Whether it's big or small.

This the season to give thanks, to show appreciation, and to share the joy with others.  So don't get bogged down by the drama and the tension.  There is so much more to enjoy than all that.  Let the drama-makers be unhappy, that is on them.







Sunday, November 20, 2016

Progress - A Little Bit Can Go A Long Way

Hello, Hello!

I guess I took that cutting back on social media to heart for #NaNoWriMo since it's been a few weeks from my last post.  But I have been writing so that is a plus!  Last Sunday alone I read through over 60 pages I'd already written and added another 3500+ words to my goal of 50K.  As of today I am sitting at just over 20K....with 10 days to go, I have a lot of writing left.

The good news is that I have made it to every write-in held by my local NaNoWriMo group, even the 6am event on my day off!  It's been great to talk to other writers who's minds work more similarly to mine, who understand my weird quirks and appreciate where I am at in my journey.

And it truly is a journey, just like life, the writing path has twists and turns and bumps along the way.  I've amazed myself at how I initially thought 1700 words a day would be hard, but when I get in the grove I can easily get it accomplished in an hour!

It's like when you first start running and you get that bust of energy and you feel like you can crush it....but then you get cramps and slow down and think about giving up.  Yeah, that's been me too.  "Oh I'll just skip this day since I did so good yesterday"....multiply that by several days and then I am feeling like I'll never reach my goal.

The thing is, when I stop looking at that ultimate destination and just enjoy the journey I see that I've written 20K words in less than three weeks!  According to the NaNoWriMo stats I've actually done all the writing in 12 days of word counts!  That's a pretty amazing fete.  I own that accomplishment.

I've also began to make time to write.  The local library is open until 8pm on Tuesday and Thursday.  The writing group is meeting on Tuesday nights this month, but I take it upon myself to also go to the library on Thursday to enjoy a few hours of silent writing.  Writing at my home office is fine, but there are so many distractions.  I am loving those few hours to just focus and I may actually start making it a routine, as well as Saturday afternoons.

Don't get me wrong, I love my writing space at home and would much rather work there, but some
times it just doesn't work.  Like this weekend.  We not only have my son and my boyfriend's daughters all weekend, we also have my niece and nephew.  That is a ten year old, two eleven year olds, and two sixteen year olds.  Add in the 3 dogs, 2 cats, and one very loud television and well it's not gone well.  This blog here may be all I get to until all the kiddos (except mine since he lives here) go home.  Love it when we have all of them, and any bonus kids, but also need my quiet time.

Anyway, the book is coming along nicely.  At the very last moment - for real - I decided to shelf the racy book I'm 140 pages into and return to a book I'd neglected for the last two years - it's the second book in the Small Town Series.  Previously it was titled Down For the Count, but I've changed it ...and I actually may change it yet again before the release so I won't say the working title.

I was only 30 pages into that book when I started NaNoWriMo, but I am now well over 100!!!  I've not written it is sequential order, but just started writing the scenes that were most visual in m mind.  Last Sunday, I went back through and started to piece the puzzle together and now I am filling in the gaps...writing the scenes that aren't really spectacular but are necessary to move the story along.  It isn't my favorite part, but, again, it's all part of the process.

I know I have a few major scenes left and I'm excited....like the first time they make love, the way they work through something that could tear them apart, and how their happily-ever-after comes to fruition. It's a story about overcoming the past and finding love is right there in front of you if you just see things differently....at least that's how it works out for Lily and Ty.

I better stop writing this blog post for today and get back to working on the book.  I hope you are all having a wonderful November, it's my favorite month to reflect on all I am thankful for - of which there is a plethora of things to list.  I pray you take time today to remember your blessings, even the ones that were in disguise, and enjoy where you are in your  progression through life.

Thank you for taking time to read my posts, my books, follow me on social media, and enjoy my work that truly is a reflection of my heart.  

Here is what you missed!