Liebster Blog Award

liebster awardThank you George Cramer for nominating my blog for this award. Check out the man that merges the heart of a writer with the soul of a biker at (gdcramer.com).

About the Liebster:

The aim of the Liebster award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. There are no set rules for the award, but the guidelines are as follows:

  1. Copy and paste an image of the award onto your blog.
  2. Write a post on your blog to thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  3. Nominate some blogs for the award. There is no rule for the number of blogs you nominate, but the general recommendation is at least 5 blogs.
  4. Answer the questions from the person who nominated you in your post.
  5. Ask at least 5 questions on your blog for those you nominated for the award to answer.
  6. In addition to the questions and answers, list at least 5 random facts about yourself.

My Answers to George’s Questions:

  1.  Who is your favorite author and why?
 Let’s just go with my latest favorite,  Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. This woman did what I’d love to do. She took her very human experiences in life and created a story that resonated deep inside her readers. She tackled adversity with strength, courage, and a passion reserved for only a rare few. OK, while I’m at it, let’s add Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote, Eat, Pray, Love, because she too, took her life’s struggles and made the most of them while writing about it and sharing with the world how she came out the other side with flying colors.
  2. What has been the most difficult obstacle to your writing?
 Realizing that I have something to say and having the courage to say it.
  3. Do you have a regimen that you follow with your writing?Not at all and the results are, I don’t write enough.
  4. What do you consider the most significant event in your life?There are two equally significant events: the day I got married (23 years ago) and the day my daughter was born (19 years ago). Both days were life changing and involved being as vulnerable as I have ever been.
  5. Who was your most influential teacher?My Life Coach, Reggie Adams who instills the fact that me, myself, and I am (are) truly my greatest teacher(s).
  6. What has been the happiest event in your writing endeavors?
 Becoming friends with these incredibly talented people who write daily and meet the challenge head-on with courage, faith, and passion.
  7. What advice do you have for someone starting a blog?
 Just do it. WordPress makes it easy for ANYONE to have a blog and share what they have to say.
  8. What advice would give on becoming a writer? One of those incredibly gifted people I referred to in question #6 is the very talented up-and-coming author Jordan Bernal. I like her answer to this question best: “Writing is work, writing well is hard work. Know your goal for each written piece and strive to exceed that goal. This most likely will require getting constructive feedback—do it! Learn from others, then draw the line at what you must keep for yourself.”

5 Random Facts About Me:

1) I play guitar and used to play oboe, flute, and English Horn

2) I love to sing – I call myself a “Car Star” – you know, singing in the car to the radio when no one can hear you!

3) I was a majorette in high school

4) I’ve walked on fire

5) I love to scrapbook and have chronicled the last 23 years of my family’s life in over 100 traditional and digital photo albums which include more than 10,000 photos and lots and lots of stories

5 Questions for my Nominees:

  1. What makes your heart sing?
  2. What is your favorite movie?
  3. Where do you like to vacation?
  4. What is one of your favorite books?
  5. Which characteristic do you admire the most in people?

The Nominees:

Jenn Ross at http://www.seejenntri.com/

Elaine Schmitz at http://www.elaineschmitz-writer.com/elaineschmitz-writer.com/My_Blog/My_Blog.html

Joni Zander at http://jonizander.com/blog/

John Kibildis at Jams Music in Dublin, CA at http://jamsmusicdublin.com/blog/

A New Season

(Previously posted as my guest post for the blog “The Responsible One” http://www.theresponsibleone.com/a-new-season/)

Mom died almost eight years ago. Dad has been gone for only two. And every Super Bowl season I am reminded of what I miss most about my parents.

Dad was such a sports enthusiast, but I was not. So I would tune into John Madden on KCBS radio to get the short version of updated sports news for the week. It was enough to carry on a conversation with Dad, Mom at his side. Many of those talks about sports included the question, “What did you think about that Cleveland Browns game, Dad?” Or “What do you think about the Cleveland Indians trading their pitcher?” Despite my parents’ move from Ohio to California, they were still loyal to their hometown teams.

That’s what I miss most about my parents: their loyalty. Mom and Dad were always loyal to the four of us kids and to each other.

The two people who were always on my team, who were always on the sidelines coaching me towards greatness are gone. Dad knew I wasn’t into sports that much and really appreciated the efforts I made to connect with him in that way. Mom cheered me on in her own way by listening intently about my life, my trials and tribulations, and my dreams.

My parents were there for one another through their many illnesses including cancer. The ultimate challenge came near the end of Mom’s life when Dad had to accept her Alzheimer’s disease and care for her with compassion and kindness.  Neither of them wavered in their loyalty to each other.

Life goes on without my parents. Days pass, teams win and lose.  But when the people you’ve known the longest in your life are no longer there to share it, nothing seems the same. It’s like I was traded to another team. The game is still rich with excitement, and experiences are still full of purpose and passion, but the coaches have changed and it’s a brand new season.

My Fish Story

June 25, 2012

Fuzzy Red Socks – A Journey Towards Health

I recently submitted this story to Fish Story Napa River, a local seafood restaurant’s contest for the best fish story. They replied that I had won along with nine others a $100 gift certificate to their fine establishment and our stories will be posted on their fish story wall during the month of July.  I hope you’ll stop by to check out the wall – and I hope you enjoy my fish story.

I can’t say my Dad was a fisherman, but he was always fishing for something, a better way to save a buck, a new BBQ recipe, or a corny joke to make his youngest daughter smile. In this picture, you can’t see me, a 20-year-old home from college on spring break, but if you look hard enough you can see the one and only fish I remember my Dad and me ever catching. On this rare non-humid, cool, clear August day near his home in Canton, Ohio, Dad wasn’t trying to catch the big one.  He was just fishing for some time with his little girl – for him that was the big catch.

Her Parents Were Right

Fuzzy Red Socks – A Journey Towards Health

Some of you might agree that there comes a time in a parent’s life as her child turns 18, when a mother might be searching for some sort of confirmation that she has made good choices for her daughter. The following is one of three articles my daughter wrote for her school newspaper which came out today (in the form of a blog). It suggests that my husband and I “done good” when we chose Margaret’s school where she has spent the last 7 years.

Editorial: Sweet Sentiments

May 2012 by Margaret MacLean

Have you ever climbed the steepest part of the Tim Holm trail to watch the sun set? Have you ever sat on The Swing in those hot months at the beginning of the year and felt the cool breeze in your hair as you swing back and forth?

Have you admired the mustard flowers on the walk up to the Center for the Arts? Enjoyed an ice cream sandwich from Miguel after a satisfying half-hour of stacking chairs for work crew? Been more than happy to welcome a sweaty, dirty, smelly friend home with a huge hug?

Have you looked up at the stars after a late night of rehearsals or sports practices, and wondered how many other kids can see this many stars without even leaving their school campus?

We can’t deny that Athenian is a special place. Strange, yes. Imperfect, yes. Quirky, oh yes. But despite its flaws, I love Athenian for who it really is. That, I would argue, is true love. Loving while seeing the faults, the freckles, and the wrinkles. Loving even without completely agreeing with all of the details. Knowing the details, and wanting to change them simply out of love. I love Athenian for its exquisite natural beauty, for the amazing people I have known during my time here, and most importantly, because Athenian has become home.

I have had my highest highs and lowest lows at Athenian. I have met my very best friends, worked my hardest, and discovered what I truly care about. I have been pushed and pulled in all different directions, and I have emerged as what I hope is a better person. If my twelve year old self saw me now, she would hardly recognize me, but I’m sure she would grow to admire me. I have Athenian to thank for that.

This may seem like a lofty pile of sappy sentimental stuff better suited for Senior Cry Day or the back page of yearbooks. But on a campus that so often loves to change, in a newspaper that so often likes to point out thoughtful criticism, I feel like the time is right for a little bit of love. It’s all you need, right?

Now, as the mustard flowers fade and we eagerly await Dick Bradford’s end-of-the-year poem, the most anticipated moment of any high schooler’s year is fast upon us: summer. For most of us, that summer bliss is enhanced by the knowledge that we can return again in the fall. When the memories of writing two papers at once in the dead of night vanish, the thoughts of returning home to beloved friends and teachers remain.

However, for some of us, we don’t have that security; we can’t count on coming home next year to fresh fruit in the Main Hall and pizza on Wednesdays.  As a senior, now is a nostalgic time of anticipation and excitement mixed with a heaping tablespoon of wistful longing.

So appreciate what you have now. Channel that Zen mindset for a little while longer after you step out of Sam’s classroom. Watch the sun set from hills, have a picnic at Rock City, look up at the stars. Talk a little longer, savor that last bite of corn bread on Soul Food Day, and admire those stormy clouds that pass over the valley before it rains.

Summer is fast approaching, but the future is coming even more quickly and silently too. Though it might take you twenty-six days in the wilderness or even four years to realize it, Athenian is an amazing place. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else, so enjoy it while you can.

The College Conundrum

April 19, 2012

Fuzzy Red Socks – A Journey Towards Health

Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

My daughter is a high school senior who was accepted at 7 colleges. That’s the good and the bad news. Now that the last acceptance letter has been received she has less than 30 days to make a choice and she thinks her Mom and Dad need to learn a thing or two – just like Mark Twain did when he was 14. This college business and the stress it can have on your relationship with your son or daughter can be so over the top – and then what happens? Our kids end up choosing their school based on whether or not freshman can have their cars on campus!

So, how to handle the stress? How to maintain a warm, loving and open relationship with Margaret while communicating with her that her parents really do know a thing or two about all this? How do we limit the stress through the next two weeks when we will be spending more time and money to re-visit colleges, having more painful conversations about what she is looking for, what does she want, how does she plan to make this decision? How to stay cool, calm, and collected while Rory and I choose our words carefully, try not to bug Margaret too much, yet attempt to come to some sort of agreement about how this decision should be made? That’s the college conundrum.

And the best answer I have so far is to resort to all the things that have gotten me through much of the stress over last few years: letting go, listening, and trusting.

I have to let go of the idea there is only one way to choose a college and that my husband and I are the only two people in the world who know what that way is. I have to listen to my daughter when she asks us to let her make this decision her way. And I have to trust that she is capable of making this decision –  and together with her guidance counselor, college admissions departments, a little help from her parents, and her own ingenuity she will choose a college that will work just fine for her.

And when I do all that the college conundrum just might be solved – and Margaret’s parents just might have learned a thing or two.