Tag Archives: nablopomo

Sweater of Shame…

Todd in the Sweater of Shame

Meet Todd.

He’s the baby.

Even though he’s not the youngest kitty baby in the house anymore.

He’s always had a most expressive face.

And he’s in trouble for squatting over in the corner by the window, and taking a whiz.

He hopes the kittens get the message that the window is his and he doesn’t want them near it.

He might have gotten away with it, except he did it right in front of us.

Todd is a happy pee-er. And a jealous pee-er. It’s not always a problem, but when he’s in the mood, he’ll pee on something just because he’s so happy, or because he’s so competitive.

That’s when out trots the Sweater of Shame. This isn’t the original sweater, but it’s just as effective.

For whatever reason, Todd is always thoroughly embarrassed by the Sweater.

None of my other cats ever cared enough. But the punishment is perfect for Todd.

Instead of showing off his tail, he slinks around with the sweater on as if to say, don’t look at me!

He won’t run or jump or misbehave if the sweater is on.

And he won’t pee on anything.

But he will sit and search your face for pity.





Filed under NaBloPoMo

It Begins…

NaBloPoMo November 2016It’s NaBloPoMo time of year again. In spite of the chaos and emotional pain this year has been for me, I’ve committed to doing it. In part because writing is part of my therapy in life anyway.

Creating crochet, writing or music. One of those 3 things has always been present to help me get through, sort through, be through.

In childhood, it was my piano that expressed my soul the most. In early motherhood it was crochet that took the brunt.

As an adult, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit and craft at the piano. It requires a living room monopoly to do it and that’s not always possible.

These days it’s writing and crochet the most. And I so desperately need to find voice in any way I can.

Another reason for me not to give up the challenge though is because of the 8-9 years I’ve participated.

The idea that I’m not giving up all parts of me in this journey as a care partner (better label than care giver I think).

And in all these years of taking on this writers challenge, the only time I lost was one year thanks to Thanksgiving Day and no internet access to post for the day. (I have a smart phone now!)

NaBloPoMo was started 10 years ago. So, it’s kind become a part of my soul, being a part of it for so long.

I did take it a step further this year though. I decided to register and commit to posting every day in November for TWO blogs. My usual Aberrant Crochet blog. But also a new blog I’m formulating about glioblastoma.

I registered Frell Cancer nearly 9 months ago and haven’t written a single post yet. Its purpose is to help others who are desperately trying to get up to speed on what glioblastoma (GBM) is, treatments, studies, reality, etc.. Helping others in the GBM community was the point, because there’s so little support for people in that boat around the world. And most people don’t understand how it’s a different kind of cancer than everything else.

Victims always find themselves grappling with trying to educate their families while enduring the shelling that the glioblastoma fight often is. Such a fast, voracious cancer that threatens to destroy your very personality, identity, your relationships, etc.. Everything about you can change into someone you don’t recognize – overnight.

It’s so hard, and there’s a lot of fear. For good reason.

So…. NaBloPoMo will serve as the fire to propel me forward into assembling those posts for that blog. Besides, while I write whatever I want on Aberrant Crochet, I don’t want it to become all cancer all the time. And frankly, there’s a lot of pain in what we deal with in the GBM world. The posts I need to write will not be the most enjoyable kind.

The daily reality of glioblastoma is like living in a fire. It’s not something you really want to experience, unless you need to help someone. Unless you need to understand what families like ours face. These kinds of posts are the kind aimed at helping those who need it, in spite of how sad or shocking it may seem to others. The most efficient way to help those I seek to help most is simply to isolate those posts in one place that makes sense. So, I set aside a place for it. We’ll see how it goes.

Though to be clear, don’t think I’m never going to write about cancer here. I will. It’s more than just a slice of my reality now. And I have information I’m putting together that will help other cancers too. So there will be some cross posting.

You don’t have to be a seasoned NaBloPoMo challenger to know that unless you have nothing else to do, registering two blogs is stupid crazy. Especially if you’re like me and want every single post to count as a real exchange, or a real article. Not a throw-away post to say I posted, but ultimately, it’s crap.

But I think I have plenty I can share. More than anything, time management and structure will be the issue, not words I think.

So… here goes. Today’s the 1st day.

Wish me luck!




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Filed under Glioblastoma, NaBloPoMo

Gratitude: The Key To Saving Someone’s Life?

I was listening to part of an interview on the radio last night about Gratitude.  It was obviously planned for the Thanksgiving season, but I found this one interview compelling and honestly better than many other messages and even sermons I’ve heard.

I don’t know who the man was, but he was a psychiatrist and he talked about gratitude as an essential part of healthy Life and our human makeup.  And that it was the key to happiness.

He didn’t talk about how we should be grateful.  He didn’t talk about gratitude being essential to save your soul, or anything like that.  He didn’t even say anything about how it’s a spiritual principle in the cycle of give and receive.   Though it is.  Or that it was a bad thing to not be grateful.  He did mention that it was a key to happiness, but I thought it interesting how he explained it.

He said that gratitude isn’t just about the fleeting feelings of “YAY!” we feel when something we love happens.  He said it’s also a state of being, giving and service.  And he said that it’s the key to happiness, because that service adds value to our lives.  Not just in hey – the experience of serving was good for me.  But as in the fact that our psyches’ desire to matter.  And when we serve, our psyches’ realize – we matter.  We just mattered to someone we helped.  Even if we don’t think it’s a whole lot, our psyche recognizes this and sees value in its existence.

And that it’s important to respond to those things that we naturally feel inspired by, or appreciate the value of.

He mentioned that one of his primary methods to treat depression and suicidal thoughts was to give his clients the homework of doing good deeds for others.  It didn’t have to be big.  It could be making a point of thanking someone, or making someone smile at the grocery store, or buying a cup of coffee for the fellow behind you.  The point wasn’t about worrying how or anything like that.  The point was to just simply start doing it.  And then increase to more and more times per week.  And soon, that person who once saw no value in their life and no reason to live, no longer felt the same.  And often no longer needed medication.

I thought it was really interesting.  Because it wasn’t about guilting people into service.  It wasn’t about shoulds and sins and the oft spoken clichés of how good it is to see the misfortunes of others so you would appreciate what you have more.   It was simply a matter that our psyches CRAVE to be of value.  It’s part of our very makeup.  Whether you believe that makeup is ordained by God or not doesn’t matter.  And in order to correct the malfunction of devaluing ourselves and our lives, the answer is to show our inner selves that we do have value.  And if what you’re doing isn’t convincing your inner self of your value, then you shift to doing what will.  The key was to do something that you could see made an impact.

I thought this was really interesting, because I think this bleeds into so much more.  Not everyone is suicidal, but many of us live lives we don’t feel are of much value or aren’t satisfied with.  We throw money at things without getting involved, which often removes us emotionally and physically from the experience.  We get too busy and cut more and more out of our lives.  And while we need a balance in everything, it seems that we only value that which we invest our souls into.  Including our communities, our country and ourselves.  I can tell you from personal experience that every time I go through dark periods, I throw myself into service somehow.  I hadn’t really analyzed it too much, but it’s always given me light when I needed it most.

I don’t know.  It’s not like this subject isn’t talked about in so many ways.  And it isn’t like the thankfulness clichés aren’t trotted out every single November.  I’ve heard and studied and parroted these things again and again myself.  But somehow this struck me a little differently this time.  Maybe because there was simply a tremendous lack of judgement in the whole way this guy presented his thoughts.  It wasn’t about right or wrong.  It wasn’t about whether we’ve lost our way as a modern civilization.  It wasn’t about depression being a disease to manage or Thanksgiving being an important time to be thankful.  It wasn’t about sadness or saving the world.

It was simply a loving statement of fact.  We humans need to be of value.  We need it like we need sleep and nourishment.  It’s a need that we are responsible for feeding ourselves.  No one else can give it to us.  It drives what we do and who we are.  And without it, we’ll never be healthy, happy or prosperous.

Know Thyself.

As a man thinks, so is he.

We’ve been told these things all our lives.

Do we understand what they really mean?

Gratitude: The Key To Saving Someone's Life - Aberrant Crochet - NaBloPoMo


Filed under NaBloPoMo

What They Don’t Seem To Understand About NaBloPoMo…

I’ve been perusing the #NaBloPoMo posts for this year’s traditional November challenge.

And I’m surprised.

The amount of people who don’t seem to get what it is and how it works.  What the ENTIRE point of the challenge and exercise is.  And it doesn’t seem that anyone’s doing much to explain anything.

NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) was created as a blogger’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  With NaNoWriMo, the goal is a 50,000 word novel completed in 30 days – during the month of November.  NaBloPoMo’s take for bloggers (who write posts, not books) is to write and publish at least one post every day.  No banking your posts.  No catching up if you miss the deadline each day.  Write and post every single day, no matter what.  If you miss a day, too bad – you lost.

We used to revel in the challenge, create amazing new badges to share with each other, create “earned” badges for winners, donate and award prizes that you had to complete the challenge to qualify for, etc..

Both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo are not about quality.  Though for me – I prefer to limit junk posts.  After all – I might share personal stories, but this isn’t my diary.  However, both challenges are absolutely about that consistency and commitment to write every single frikin’ day.  Even when you’re dry on ideas.  Even when you feel stupid.  Even when you don’t wanna.  Even when your family doesn’t understand.

The goal is to push your writing skills with deadlines and pressure that only you can hold yourself to.  Which amazingly enough, sometimes squeezes absolute genius out of us.

Badge I earned for a different blog for completing NaBloPoMo 2009. (We used to earn badges too.)

But since BlogHer took over the care-taking of NaBloPoMo….  I don’t know….  It just seems like too many people no longer understand the point of the exercise.  I peruse all these posts and see comments like, “__ more until I catch up,” and “Here are my 5 posts for this week.”





Where are the good ‘ol days.


Filed under NaBloPoMo

How To Keep Your Cut Basil Alive Longer

How to Keep Your Cut Basil Alive Longer - Aberrant CrochetYeah, so I thought after all the graphic work I did for my post yesterday (yep – every single graphic in that post is one I designed), today I would do a post that was less intense from my end.

I’m going to share my secret to keeping fresh-cut basil alive and fresh longer.

I love basil.  In fact, I really love basil mixed in with my spaghetti squash, along with a little butter.  Super delicious.   Great in gingerale, gin and tonic too, btw.  Or infused in just a cold glass of water.  And it happens to be a very strong natural anti-fungal and infection fighter too.  And I have some serious mold allergies. So, I like to keep it around for many reasons.  But doing so was a pain in the tush for a very long time, because it always went bad so very quickly in my house.  Like some kind of basil curse.  Until I discovered a secret.  All on my own.

Before I go any further, let me explain an inherently important part of why it matters that I figured out how to keep my basil longer.

It all starts with the family green thumb.  Which I didn’t inherit.

I am not a plant whisperer.  I end up killing plants I try to take care of.  I read up, get advice, try this or that and it does little to green up my very brown thumb.

I have no idea what plants want from me.  <insert visual of me insanely screaming at a plant – I can’t take this anymore – what to you want!>

So usually we (the plants and I) resign ourselves to making a pact: I tell them – you’re welcome here as long as you like, but you gotta fend for yourself.  Because you’re a frellin’ mystery to me.  And I ain’t killing myself for you.

So that [insanity] is the setup you need to keep in mind as I explain this literal secret, as in hidden knowledge that nobody shared with me, that I STUMBLED upon.  In my kitchen, doing my own thing (not online).

Before you suggest it, I tried the whole “living basil” plant too.  I tried the ones at my regular HEB grocery store, my local Sprouts grocery store and I tried the ones at my local Whole Foods.  I read up and I got advice from the produce department people.  I was told put it in the fridge wrapped in paper towels, put it in a dark dry place wrapped in damp paper towels, stick it in a cup wrapped in a cold damp paper towel, let it sit out where it can get light, etc..  I tried all the ideas and advice. And in every case my basil started dying pretty much immediately.

After all this cut and “living” basil wasted, it didn’t take long for me to realize, hey – buy the whole flippin’ plant in a pot already.  Even if you eventually kill it, it’ll survive at least a while and it will be cheaper than buying cut basil all the time.  I felt a little guilty, but not too much.  After all, plants are living too.  And it must suck to get stuck with me sometimes.

How to Keep Your Cut Basil Alive Longer - Aberrant CrochetOK, so after I have my potted basil plant, I learned from a friend who loves to garden that basil has to have the tops cut off before it flowers, or it’ll stop producing leaves.  So you look for a place on the stem where two baby leaves are budding out and you snip the tops off just above that.  Which I dutifully do.

And anything left over, I try to preserve just as unsuccessfully as before.  Once it’s cut, it’s flat-out giving up on me.  So I basically managed it by only snipping just exactly the amount I want for a recipe and nothing more.

Until one day, I realize that both my plants are about to go to flower and I need to cut a bunch of tops.  And there were way too many tops than the recipe could possibly use up.

I didn’t have room in the fridge and I didn’t want to throw them out yet.  So I grabbed a bowl and did something with them I used to do with the kids when they were little and would bring me the tops of flowers with no stems.  I put a little shallow water in the bowl and set the tops in it and left it on the kitchen cabinet.

As it usually goes, I got busy and forgot about the basil sitting on the cabinet in a bowl of water.

How to Keep Your Cut Basil Alive Longer - Aberrant CrochetUntil I found it nearly a week later – with roots!

Let me tell you, I’ve tried putting full-blown stems of basil in water, and it did not work.  They just rotted.  But with just the tops in a little water sitting out and they will eventually root, leaving you with plenty of time to use up those beautiful leaves in your recipes.

So there you go.  Secret to the basil universe.  Go forth and use it well.


Filed under NaBloPoMo

Sometimes It Takes Being MacGyver To Succeed

You know, there’s a neat little benefit that something like the NaBloPoMo challenge gives you, as a writer, and as an individual pushing yourself to grow.

It puts you against a wall.

There are two types of fuel for success in the world: inspiration and pressure.  And while we often crave the first, it’s the latter that we need to value a bit more.  Because it often helps us the most.  Why? Because it forces us to deal with things we would not otherwise choose to.  And we need that as a balanced part of life too.  Not too much of either, but enough of either one.

NaBloPoMo is 30 days, blogging every single day, no matter what.  And of course, when you participate during the traditional November month, there’s always Thanksgiving week in there too.  So you have to make your turkey, and eat and write about it too.

But putting yourself on a daily deadline and making that honor commitment to make your posts count every day is quite something to embrace.  It creates stress, it forces you to be creative under less than ideal circumstances and it gets you to face a task you might otherwise wish to avoid.  And it forces you to adapt when things don’t go as expected.  Even when you have some ideas on what to write about, it doesn’t mean that those ideas will spark and flow the day you need them to.

The same is true in business.  Even when you prepare and have a plan, it doesn’t mean that’s how things are going to work out.  And you have to learn to be flexible.  To think on your feet and not get bent out of shape too easily over anything.

As for writing, I personally have 49 subject ideas in my queue right now.  And not a one of those ideas would flow for me tonight.   So with the clock winding down to midnight and not an idea that wants to say more than a sentence or two, the pressure pot is on.

Then it dawned on me, that pressure pot often squeezes the best out of me.  Because when push comes to shove, and all you have is a rubber band, a piece of gum and a toothpick and the timer is running out, some kind of genius takes place when you focus well enough.

And that’s a lot of what we deal with in business.  Heck, sometimes it’s why we’re in business.  We were put against a wall, our choices were pared down and we were forced to work with a situation that was not ideal or to our liking.  Like getting laid off, or having a child with special needs or whatever.  And we had to come up with a solution and rise above.

Being in business for yourself is risky stuff, and sometimes you have to think like MacGyver in one of those unexpected situations.  How are you going to fix this, or deal with that or avoid those?  The pressure is not often what I would call pleasant, and sometimes it happens as a result of some failure (learning experience) on our part, but it does often in my experience push me to elevate my thinking and come up with a solution.  And I always grow.

So don’t be afraid to feel pressure.  Sometimes it brings up in you skills you didn’t know you had.  Sometimes that wall is more support than you think.  And sometimes even, it becomes your greatest story.


Filed under Business, Education, NaBloPoMo

Help Me Find Some Yarn? Pleeeeeaaaassseee?

Tahki_Savoy_Purple_19_YarnSo I’m on the hunt for a very specific kind of yarn.  It’s a beautiful shade of purple and one picked out by my sister-in-law for her Christmas present.  I’ve been looking for just the right shade of purple for her for months.  It was not easy to find and now here we finally found it, and it was the very last ball my local yarn store had.

TKI-SAVY-019So no problem, I’m thinking.  I can find some on the internet.

Only to my dismay, I’ve discovered that not only has this yarn been discontinued, but I can’t even find it for sale 2nd hand anywhere either, much less from any online store!  At least not in this color!  Even Tahki Yarns tried to help me find more by retweeting my request for help on Twitter.  And I need at least two more balls to make the promised gift.  Ai!

So I’m going to maximize my NaBloPoMo reach and am turning to you for some help.

My dear, dear yarny friends, is there any chance that you have any Tahki Savoy (Merino and Silk blend) yarn in Purple (19) that you are willing to part with and sell to me?  Some list it as Amethyst color with part number TKI-SAVY-019.    The one ball that I have is dye lot 66.  But I’ll take any dye lot I can get.  I’ll even buy up to 4 balls of this particular yarn.

Tahki_Savoy_Purple_19_Yarn2Or, if you don’t have this yarn in your stash, would you be willing to take a peek at your own local yarn stores the next time you run in and see if they have it? Then let me know?

Because I’m having no luck and I’m running out of time to get this present made.  Oh, and before you suggest, I’ve had no luck on Ravelry.com either.

I guess this yarn is seriously out of date, but it’s the perfect shade of purple, with the perfect softness and amount of sheen, and it took forever to find the perfect shade, so I gotta find more.

Thanks my friends, for any help!


Filed under Artist Information & Notes, NaBloPoMo

Happy Veterans Day: Watch Your Language

It had been a long weekend in the Texas sun.  The state guardsman reached for the refrigerator door and a welcome shower of cool air fell over his long military sleeves.

Looking over the grocer’s jugs of milk, searching for the best date, his hand lingered on a handle for just a moment.

That’s when he heard it.

“Kill any babies.”

The tone was aimed directly at him. And it wasn’t in the form of a question.

Quietly the father retrieved the milk his wife asked for and he straightened.  He was on the way home from weekend guard duty.   They would be deploying for hurricane relief soon.  It would mean a pay cut, but that’s what guardsman do. They go where they are needed.  Local relief, wars in distant lands, bringing war criminals before the Hague so they can stand trial for their crimes against humanity; guardsmen and reservists help fill the gap.

On the one hand, it’s sad that our military is paid so small for such great sacrifice and threat of safety.  And yet, you wouldn’t want a military that was made up of people who were only there for the money.  It would be a dangerous thing.  You need men and women who are willing to be of service, to offer a sacrifice of their personal wants and needs for those of another, to help maintain this bubble we live in and call the U.S..  And today guardsmen are depended upon more and more.

So much is given when someone says to Uncle Sam, OK – my life is yours to command.  Not to mention given of the mothers, mates and children left behind.  Not to mention, sometimes even unto death.  Our military needs to know its people love  them.  So to hear something like this is just… demoralizing.

I chose to write about an uncomfortable subject today, in honor of Veterans Day, because it’s a silent abuse that no one talks about.  That father was my husband.  And this kind of treatment of veterans is not often talked about but it happens.  All too frequently.  It happens to the families who support their soldiers.  It happened to me just for “allowing” my husband to enlist in the army guard after 9/11.  Not to mention the persecution against children of soldiers.

I don’t know what the answers are, but the story needs to be told.  It’s bad enough when free people forget to say thank you to those who voluntarily give up their freedom to serve the greater good.  But this other stuff? Whatever it is?

“Kill any babies.”

My husband straightened up, milk in hand.

Taking a deep breath, he looked at the older woman, but only briefly.

He steeled his jaw and pivoted away, replying just simply this:

“Not today.”

To our brothers and sisters in arms and to the families at home waiting for them: we salute your sacrifice and service and we embrace you as our own. We promise to teach our children to value what you give.  May God be with you all and bring you safely home. 


Filed under Editorial, NaBloPoMo

Weekend Fun – Top Search Terms Of All Time on Aberrant Crochet

These are the top search terms that have hit my blog in all its years of existence!
(There are more, I just cut it off at sharing this much.)

crochet spider web pattern
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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, NaBloPoMo

Heartbeat In My Ears…

My true story. 

There’s a heartbeat sounding in my ears.

“See mom, these are the Hot Wheels I want to keep, because they have moving parts.”  The rest can go to the fundraiser.

Moving parts are always more interesting.


I hear the crashing sound of a demolition crew.

Wait….  That’s not right.  I’m sitting at a stop light.  At an intersection on the edge of town.  Nothing but trees and cacti on my right.  I turn to my left.


There’s an infinity in the space between moments.  Did I leave my body?

Heartbeat.  Silence.

My child!

If I left my body, it wasn’t for long.  But I’m frozen.

The pickup driver’s hair is blonde.


My earliest childhood memory takes place in my father’s arms at an amusement park.  My parents told me that I must have been about 18 months old when they took that trip.

I’m staring at a ride that looks something like a huge airplane propeller with rockets on each end.  It’s painted red, white and blue, with one end red, the other blue and a band of white at the axis.

The propeller spins and there is a boy in the blue rocket.  His shirt is yellow.  He’s screaming his head off and I can see a look in his eyes.


A black pickup is hanging in mid-air.  It twists and grows larger.

Fractured glass.

The driver’s hair is blonde.  There is a look in his eyes.

My hand flies out in front of my son.


It’s Friday before Spring Break 2005.  I’m going to see Grandma Dot and Grandpa Jack.  I packed the antique dishes Grandma Dot’s great-uncle gave her, that she passed on to me.  He was the US ambassador to Mexico once and he brought her back this set of white dishes.  I want to ask her for more details to complete the story about these dishes.  She always remembers the stories to everything.  But when I tried to ask over the phone, she wasn’t sure which set I was talking about.

They were last to load into the trunk.

“Darling, let me keep the kids.  I know you wonder if this might be the last time they’ll get to see the kids or not, but you’ll be stressed out trying to keep them away from the breakables at your grandparents.  I’ll keep the kids.  Just go, enjoy your time with your grandparents.”

My husband is wonderful.  Though guilt worries me.  What if this is the last time Grandpa is able to see his great-grandchildren?  But John’s right – Grandma’s house is not child-proof by any means.  I remove the car seats from the back seat, say goodbye to my children and leave them with John.

I always say prayers in the car when I go on a trip.

It’s Friday before spring break and Interstate 35 is filled with college students, excited for the break.  Mid-terms are over and I see kids hanging out of cars at 65 miles an hour whooping up the day.

It’s dangerous.  But I also remember college mid-terms and how delirious they make you feel.  Stress that only the young can take.  Why do we do that to them?

At mile marker 299:  The highway suddenly goes from three lanes to two, with no warning.

Some kids cut off a yellow moving truck; they’re trying to merge and going too fast.  The yellow truck practically stands on its brakes and every car around it suddenly fishes right or left to avoid collision.  There is a full shoulder on the left which only lasts for about one mile.  The young man in front of me and I quickly and successfully move to that left shoulder and safely get by.

Suddenly, there’s a force from behind me that is so great.

Can sounds blind you?

I look to my rear-view and see the demolition hitch.  It’s coming through my back window towards my head.  The white Ford F-350 doesn’t have a grill on the front.  There’s something else attached.  It looks like the front of a snow-plow.

The truck is so much higher than my silver Altima, that it never hits my bumper.  Unbounded, it plows through my back window and seat. The trunk of my car is center-punched down the middle.  Slammed, I collide into the car ahead of me.

For an instant, everything is black.

My hood blows.  Glass sprays like snow.  My shoulder hurts like hell.  My air-bag never deployed.

Just two weeks before this, I saw a little silver car smashed between the highway median wall and a semi truck on the way to the kids’ school.  I came home and told my husband, “I don’t want to drive a little silver car anymore.”

I guess I got my wish.

I start shaking uncontrollably and burst into tears.  I am going numb.


It’s just like a movie stunt, except without exciting music, and without a drumbeat.  Just my heart, ringing in my ears.

The little black truck is hanging high in the air – twisting, flying towards us.

I am frozen.  Caught between stories in time.

My stories.  My traumas.  My time-warp.  The words ring through me, “I just got a new home and now my child and I are going to die.”

And those aren’t spoken words.  There is no “hearing” of them.  They impress on the very soul, like a stamp.  Like a vice.  Punching through the heart and being.

My hand flies out in front of my son.  The truck slams to the ground on its nose and bounces, flipping towards us.

The driver’s hair is blonde.  I’m boxed in.  I can’t back up.

There’s nowhere to go.  I am frozen.

It is silent.


Filed under Editorial, NaBloPoMo, Writing

What’s Your Brotherhood?

Wherever you find a group of people with similar micro-cultures and struggles, whatever the demographic, you will find a brotherhood.

We find it in religions, the military, shared trauma and health issues and by country and state (ask any Texan).  We see it in men, women, sisters, brothers and of course fathers and mothers.

Micro-cultures such as these (and sometimes macro ones) all have something in common: if you are not in the “club” then you just don’t know.

Without shared experiences, the micro-culture doesn’t exist and sometimes it’s difficult to value and envision the very experiences that set someone apart.  Those significant commonalities tie hearts together and separate a group from an otherwise a generic human experience.  If you’re not “in,” you don’t know.

If you’ve never had cancer and never been through chemo, there’s no way you truly understand what it’s like for someone who’s going through it now.  If you’ve never lost a child, no matter how horrible it might seem to you, you don’t know the pain of someone who has.  If you’ve never been abused, had an alcoholic parent or been hurt by a pathological liar, you can’t know the pain and the harm it causes.  That last sub-group of abusers is especially insidious, because there are no watch-dog or support organizations to help the addicted or the abused.  Just as a man cannot know what it’s like to have a monthly period, any more than a woman knows what it’s like to be kicked in the groin.  You can try to equate it to something, but it’s never going to be like the real experience.

If you’ve never been discriminated against, for any reason, you can’t claim to understand what it’s like.  Religiously, racially, sexually.  They’re all different.  If you’ve never been on the front line defending your country (or anyone for that matter), you have no idea what that’s like or what it takes.  If you’ve never lost (or been born without) a body part, you can’t begin to know the battles someone who has faces every day.

It’s just the physical/logical reality of the way things are.

And that’s fine.  It’s normal not to be infinite enough to know what all these experiences are like, inside and out.  It’s normal that there’s a huge diversity of shared experiences and micro-cultures that differ.  That’s where brotherhoods come to be.  And I use that term loosely to cover sisterhoods and mixed-hoods too. (So no griping at me.)

But here’s the thing.  As a part of any brotherhood, there’s an unspoken support code. Whatever one it is that you fall into: Are you loyal to it?  I mean, because of all people, those who are “in the club” are supposed to know.  You’re supposed to be empathetic.

This question occurred to me in particular when it comes to mothers.

There’s no doubt that motherhood (and parenthood) is a unique and challenging role in the human experience.  No amount of research can prepare you for it and no one child is ever identical to another.  But there are so many new experiences and challenges that come with motherhood – ones you can’t get any other way.  And mother to mother, we know.  Or at least we should.  And that alone commands a powerful loyalty amongst comrades.

I think I’ll ponder on these things a little longer and write more tomorrow.


Filed under NaBloPoMo

And Sometimes Things Don’t Go According To Plan…

The idea was that every morning, I was going to start my day afresh with writing.  I would get up early, catch a few newsy reads and then start writing between sips of mellow coffee while the world wakes up.  And then, with satisfying words on screen, I could launch my day feeling meditated, insightful and pumped for the day.

But that hasn’t exactly gone to plan.

And what’s weirder, really, is that I used to prefer to write at night.  It was in the evening that my mind was always so awake and so introspective.  With the day’s work done, my mind would be so free.  However, these days I’m so tired by the time the evening rolls around, I pretty much fail into bed.  That’s right – fail.

So the last thing I really want to do is try to write before bedtime.  Because by then any surviving mellow, insightful brain cells have already passed out, leaving just the cranky ones.  And frankly a few less than intelligent ones.  “Yes mastah. Write a sentence. Let’s see: A……..  S……. e…… n……. t…….” (In your best obedient zombie voice, btw.)

So tonight, while I was feeling cranky about my unexpected day of emergencies, it dawned on me that there are an awful lot of things in my life that haven’t gone according to plan.

I mean, I never set out to make a name for myself in crochet, for instance.  And I never could have imagined a job like social media management.  I mean, how could I?  I was supposed to be Dr. Meek who specialized in the Medieval period of music and literature and taught a mean music theory class, with maybe a minor in astronomy.  And who performed on the side and repaired pianos, because it’s weird that there aren’t more pianists who know something about repairing their own instruments.  I never thought about making money with computers.  Or that anyone would ever care about the way I look at crochet.

I expected my first vehicle to be a little pickup truck, not a motorcycle.  A motorcycle was not in the plan.  And yet, the experiences that first bike and I had were life altering.  Including the time she ran out of gas at 2am on Texas Hwy 80, with not an open gas station around for miles.  And the time two drunks tried to ram my bike from behind with their truck.  Not to mention the pity and help I received from some wonderful mechanics.  Or the impressionable young kids from that Methodist church nursery I worked at, who watched me ride into the parking lot every Sunday to come and help in the nursery.

I moved to Austin to study Music Business and piano tuning.  And instead got married and had my first child.  I worked myself to death in high school and college only to find out not too many people cared and that it didn’t give me any edges in the real world.

We bought a cute little house with the plan to stay there only 2-3 years. Instead unplanned repairs turned up and we stayed 15.

Before marriage there were no plans for military service.  And then 9/11 came.  And before I knew it, I was a military guard wife with a husband overseas.

I didn’t plan to fall down the stairs, and look where that landed me.  (ha)

But the thing is, there are some amazing things that happened, but weren’t according to plan.  And maybe the purpose of my plans shouldn’t have been objects or goals all along.  Because it seems to me that my planning still did something for me, but just not in the way I expected.

Having a motorcycle taught me to be more aware and a better driver under even strange situations.  Being a military wife put me in situations I would never choose, but that showed me my strength and made me appreciate the plight of widowed parents even more.   And crochet?  It’s brought me into the circles of more amazing people and adventures than I could have ever guessed possible.

And I think, that all this has helped show me that planning for ideal pictures of life doesn’t really work.  Instead, we should train and be ready for a journey.


Filed under NaBloPoMo

Sometimes you are not free to tell the world…

Writing is a great way to share joy, as well as work out frustrations and pain.

But sometimes, you can’t go there.  Sometimes you are not free to tell the world that you hurt.

I shed tears today.  Someone lost a child and I shed tears for them.  It’s a pain that brushes like sandpaper against one of my own.  And it consumes me in the moment as I feel to the depths of my soul.

I hold them in my mind as if I hold them in my arms and I weep with them.  I pray and I weep.

And normally, it would feel good to write.  Normally it would make sense to write.  Because somehow in writing, things would get worked out.  Somehow in writing, some sense would be made of it all.

Somehow in writing, a transformation would take place.

But I can’t.  And I surely can’t here.  It wouldn’t be right.  It’s not my life to share.  I feel pain, but the source does not belong to me.

But yet it is on my mind and it is all I can think of as I need to write.

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After-Halloween Creative Costuming!

Caitlin Space Cadet

Caitlin Space Cadet

I just had to share with you a couple photos from our “After-Halloween Costume Party” tonight! I never cease to be amazed at the incredibly talented, interesting and creative people I get to call friends. 🙂  And you know what? I’m so glad that they are not afraid to just be and share their beautiful selves. 🙂

The first photo is of dear Caitlin in her “space cadet” costume. Isn’t she beautiful? I did use a b/w filter on the photo, but her outfit was amazing! That tunic belonged to one of her great aunts and is from the 60’s! What doesn’t show up as well in the filter I used is that the whole tunic is in silver with shiny metallic striping.  So she definitely gets props for the genuine article!  Caitlin’s a Latin major and incredibly crafty and creative.  And she’s been a wonderfully positive influence on my kids for years.  😉  You can check out her work on her blog “Isn’t It.”

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

The second is a photo of my friend Debra’s rabbit friend.  You know how I am with crochet?  That’s how Debra is about quilting. (See, I know lots of crafty, crafty people!)

So anyway, Debra came dressed as her inner child! And apparently this unusual rabbit, stuffed in her backpack, has been her buddy for years. When I looked at him through my camera, I couldn’t help by hear him awkwardly say “Cheese!”

He looks just about as uncomfortable as I do when someone tries to get me to pose for a picture.  “Ok, now tilt your head a little to the right. Turn your chin a little to the left. Now, do a hand stand and hold it.”

Yeah, that’s the feeling alright. I commiserate with you dude.
Thanks for playing.

Jessica as Mirth

Jessica as Mirth

Lastly is a photo of my daughter Jessica, dressed as a character she’s created named Mirth.

Expect to hear more about Mirth and her adventures in the future over on her own blog called Attack Of The Plot Bunnies.

There are plenty more costumes at our house right now, but I will have to take more photos before you can see them.  So stay tuned while I get back to my guests and you have a wonderful night!

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There is nothing wrong with your computer screen. You are about to participate in a great adventure. It’s NaBloPoMo Time Again!

It’s that time of year! Consider yourself fairly warned!

This is nothing new for those of you who have followed me for a while, but for those of you who are new to my annual November habit, get ready for an awesome exercise in writing.  I do this every year!  

Starting tomorrow November 1st, I shall be stepping up my game and madly striving to write 30 posts in 30 days for the annual #NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) November Challenge. But admittedly I don’t do it quite like the bare minimum rules. I actually try to make every single post count.

I’m registered, got my badge up, I’m ready to go.

The first week is usually easy enough, the second week not too bad, come Thanksgiving and well we’re all scrambling to make our daily deadline.  “Excuse me dear child of mine… you volunteered me for what at the school Thanksgiving Feast??”  There’s always more to deal with than initially imagined.

Last year, I flat-out lost the challenge on Thanksgiving Day.  And for the first time ever, I lost it big time. We cooked all day, spent Thanksgiving dinner with family and did not get back home before midnight in time for me to post for the day. So that was only one day, but then with the move and us packing, everything fell apart after that and alas I didn’t get in another post for the 2012 challenge.

SO!  This year will be different!  I will win the goal!

Cheer me on?  Please? :D

Good content, bad content, doesn’t matter for NaBloPoMo.  Though I do promise you, personally – I don’t like to write throw-away posts. I view my blog as a writing exercise opportunity, not a blather box.  So though it’s not supposed to be part of the challenge, I will try to maintain my quality and the interest my pieces have.  And I like to experiment with different styles.

The NaBloPoMo challenge is, in a nutshell, all about making the commitment to sit down, to write and to publish every day, minimum one blog post a day, pushing our writing skills to the max and without exception! Even when all our ideas are dried up!  Even though we have jobs. Even though we have kids.  Even though we get sick.  Even though our Thanksgiving turkey blows up.  Whatever!  Can ya do it?

Think it’s easy?  Let’s see you try.  Join us over at NaBloPoMo.

Why do I participate in this madness every single year? Well, I happen to enjoy writing, but this haiku probably explains it best.

Anyone else?

Leave a comment in this post along with a link to your blog (and brief description) if you’re participating so we can support each other and even so non-participators can cheer us on! (We’ll need it closer we get to the end of the month, trust me!)

Supporters, post your cheers and websites liberally in the comments as well!

BlogHer took over the management of this challenge/contest (yes, there are even prizes) a couple of years ago, so the entry process is a little different from what you might remember if it’s been awhile since you participated. Be sure to read the links below if you want to get involved. It’s free!

The NaBloPoMo main front page here: http://www.blogher.com/blogher-topics/blogging-social-media/nablopomo

This year’s details here: http://www.blogher.com/novembers-nablopomo-here

Badge Here: http://www.blogher.com/nablopomo-november-2013-badges

Good luck everyone!

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )


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It’s All About The Overcoming… Ruminations

Maybe not #Crochet Ruminations, but ruminations nonetheless….

Everything about success in this life is about “the overcoming” of a variety of things. Overcoming is what growth is.

There are folks who seem to think that if everyone agreed, then all pain would cease to exist and everyone would be happy and successful. That somehow disagreement and a positive atmosphere cannot coexist in the same space.

However, I do not find this to be true.

Disagreement is essentially a growth opportunity to overcome something. Whether that is overcoming our own ignorance by learning new things from a dissenting point of view or overcoming the limitations of a single viewpoint by combining several points of view together into a successful bundle.  Whether it’s overcoming by standing our ground in the face of opposition, or simply overcoming the discomfort of being in disagreement itself.

Just because someone disagrees with me or I with them does not mean that harmony does not exist between us.  If anything, every opportunity to be shown another viewpoint is exactly that – an opportunity to grow.

Everything is destroyed and rebuilt every day.

Our points of view, our shedding skin cells, the food we eat.  We must take life, consume it, digest it and purge it.  Or we do not exist.  There is always some level of risk, discomfort and disagreement.

Everything in nature bears this cycle.  Every choice we make is a reformulation based on what we know and experience up to this point.  With every shift of our paradigm, so do we shift… somehow.

And the lesson?  That this moment is always about movement and evaluation.  We do not stop moving, choosing, shifting and evolving. We do not stop.

Everything is about the overcoming.

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NaBloPoMo Haiku

Jennifer over at Another Jennifer had a great idea for a NaBloPoMo post.  A NaBloPoMo haiku!  I enjoyed the yarn related haikus back in August, so I had to jump on writing a haiku for another thing I’m passionate about.

Here’s mine:

NaBloPoMo rocks!
It pushes my writing skills.
I’m my own rival.

I wrote it today, so I’m posting it today, even though I already posted earlier.  After all, with NaBloPoMo you’re not supposed to bank posts.  You must write every single day.  That’s the point of the challenge.

So, here we go.  A second post for today that does not count for extra credit.  Woo hoo! I’m getting wild now!

How about you?  What’s your haiku poison?

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Five Positive Things…

I remember hearing once that humans need an emotional and experiential bank account, just as much as we might need monetary savings.  That every positive experience is a deposit into that bank account.  And that every negative experience draws against our savings.

Since negative experiences use up so much energy (why is that?), it’s important that we have a larger bank balance of positive things to make up for the negative draws that come in life.  It’s our job in life to invest in our positive returns.

However, when the balance sheet gets out of whack, when negative experiences (and actions) outweigh the balance of the positive, we can actually go bankrupt, emotionally and mentally.  The withdrawals finally pushing us into the red and even taking a toll on our physical health.

I believe that attitude is a magical place of being that magnifies our experiences, both positive and negative.  I believe that when we focus on nothing more than survival, we do not really live and do not really fill up our banks.  I believe when we are too afraid to take risks, we deny ourselves potential growth in returns.  I believe that the relationships we forge in this life are gems that accrue interest.  And that the memories and experiences we choose to create are like the parable of the talents.  We are all given them.  How rich and colorful they are is up to us.

No matter what experiences others may place in my path, I have the ultimate power to create any experience for myself that I wish.  And with good tending, those positive experiences beget more positive experiences.  And eventually, my returns are so great.  Like stocks, my “money” begins to work for me to make more “money…” and I am simply rich… if I choose to be.

I don’t believe the Law of Attraction is simply a wishing game, but a life of active investment and participation.

And so…

I choose…

Five Positive Things

1. No matter how tired my dear hubby may be, he comes home to me with an evil smile, a swooning kiss and a love I never doubt.  Today he worked from home, which made it easier with son home sick too.

2. I had the most amazing meal tonight, especially for a Tuesday, cooked by my dearest.  Going out to eat is often a disappointment thanks to him.  He cooks on Tuesdays while I take dear daughter to taekwondo.  And to think we’re saving money!

3. The people at Whole Foods were incredibly positive and polite to me today.  I’m sure they are all the time, but I haven’t been there in a while.  It was nice to have someone cheerfully ring me up.

4. I spent some lovely one-on-one time with my daughter today.  We shared a few jokes and hid a t-shirt for dad for Christmas.

5. My son was home sick today, but between naps and moaning, his fever came down and he read 3/4 of a book and enjoyed it.  Two years ago, he couldn’t see well enough to enjoy reading.  Today, we have just 10 more sessions of vision therapy to go.  (We hope.)

6. (I had to add one more.)  Our house is officially sold in just little more than another day.  I have spent 16.5 years here.  I spent 17.5 years in the house I grew up in.  Change is afoot.

What about you? What are five positive things for you?


Filed under Inspiration, NaBloPoMo

I Need Better Routines – NaBloPoMo

As we draw closer to the official sale of our home and then the purchase of our new home, I am star-struck by the chaos of it all, in a deer-in-the-headlights sort of way.

And realize, I need better routines.

Why?  Because the ones I had before all this *change* have not stood up to the test of anomalies in my life.

After a couple of unpredictable hurdles, my routines have weakened and some even fallen by the way side.  Which means they’re less help anymore.

Good routines and habits are the way to sanity for me and for many high-performing folks.  Some of my friends try to refer to me as organized.  But I know that’s not quite true.  I’m not as organized as it is that I constantly seek organization.  I am in constant pursuit of it; continually studying to find a better way.

Why?  Because I haven’t found it yet.  And because without a good sense of direction, I waffle in the wind.  And I have trouble remembering things.  Habits help me get stuff done so I don’t have to remember anymore.  It just happens.  Routines help me do more than the average bear.  All the pursuit and studying means I have lots of ideas I can share to help others, but not that I’ve found the perfect balance personally.

For now, I find myself finishing many anomalous deeds, but also in need of adding others to my already full schedule.  But when ever I pick up a ball here or there to add to my juggling act, it seems a few must be dropped to wait on the ground.

So I need to slow down and meditate for a bit on the matter.

To let myself visualize the parts of my days, weeks, and the hats that I wear in life.

To imagine how the pieces can fit together again, only this time with the new pieces flung into the mix.

There are times I think a 3D computer model might actually be useful to map out facets and aspects, and help me write a new program for my day.

There are only so many waking hours.  And today I gave several away to others without return.

Having time for others is important, but where do you give and when?

I am beginning to wonder if I should have taken some “vacation” time off from some of my usual duties while handling such larger than life changes.

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The Courtship Behind Successful Blogging – NaBloPoMo

“People are watching you, whether you realize it or not.  The question is: what are you showing them?”  ~ Jeff Goins

You can’t love blogging and not love communication.  If you’re going to blog, you have to embrace the fact that you are entering a world of fluid conversation and community.  Neither of those aspects work too well without a sense of relationship.

There are different types of successful blogs and the relationships behind their success.  Blogging for larger businesses is of course different from blogging for individuals.

If you subscribe to a blog owned by a company, it is likely you do so because you like what they have to sell and perhaps want to know when they have new information, releases or sales, etc..  And as a reader/fan, you likely hope the said business will listen to your opinion when you comment.

It behooves the business to communicate directly with their customers.  You are, after all, their greatest asset, the established customer.  If they want to keep you as a customer, then they should invest in your experience.

When you are an individual, the relationship takes on a more personal pitch.  And make no mistake, successful blogging is about developing a successful relationship.  To create a successful relationship with readers, as with any kind of relationship, your blog must court.

There are of course all kinds of relationships in the world.  The relationship between life-partners, between co-workers, between mother and child and best friends.  They all have variations on their rules.  But they all have a period of getting to know each other.

What are you going to say and how?

Successful blogging is a casual communication skill that rides a balance somewhere between traditional writing skills and effective public performance, whether we’re talking about public speaking, or something less stuffy like the art of story-telling.

So what experiences are your readers having?

If blogging is a conversation, do you do all the talking?  Or do you listen too?  If blogging is about community, how do you fit in?  Are you an active and contributing member?  Or are you the quiet one in the corner who never gets involved or helps with anything?  Or worse yet, the arm-chair warrior who always complains, but never has anything to positive to give?  Or the pyramid scheme salesman of the family?

If blogging is like a performance, what is your purpose?  What information and message are you trying to get across?  And can you keep it succinct?  What emotions and experience do you wish to invoke?  What memories will your reader walk away with?

If blogging is a courtship, what kind of date are you?  Always talking about yourself?  The gossip?  Or concerned with things that don’t matter much to anyone else?  Are you careful about your appearance, manners, behavior?  Are you articulate and a good conversationalist?  Or are you shy and hope someone else makes the first move and then feel disappointed when things don’t turn out as envisioned?

And most of all, are you true to yourself?  (Don’t be a fake.)

If a blog was the perfect date (or best friend), what attributes would it have?

As you ponder on these things, here’s an interesting article I found about the value of blogs vs. traditional print in science.

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