Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Eating of The Words

We left the house to get Drano and medicine and came home with four Disney princesses.

I do not know this happened. 

I only know that I am eating big juicy spoonfuls full of my former declarations.

"She won't wear gobs of pink."


"We won't do all that girly stuff like painting toe nails."


"She's not going to be all into princesses. Yuck."


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference: A Woman Fest of the Highest Order

"Remember that we need each other for community, not competition." BooMama

When I started the seventh grade I found myself in an art class with very few people I knew. This was strange in a town of 2300 people, but it happened nonetheless. This was 1992 during the hay day of purple and red Girbaud jeans and eel skin purses. No? It was just us? Anyway. That's how it was.

I was so nervous and self conscience in that class. It turned out to be a cat fest, with all the girls trying to out-snoot each other. It was miserable and I still remember sitting in a corner and feeling awkward and totally uncool the entire time.

 I can kvetch about the men-folk all day long, but sadly, usually it's women who are women's worst enemy. Sometimes life can still feel like a seventh grade art class, with different female factions clicked together, not speaking, judging. Some days, even though I'm a fairly confident 33 year old woman, I still feel like a 12 year old wearing the uncool boy jeans, slumped in the corner of art class.

This weekend restored my faith in women. And while I learned lots of valuable things about blogging and made some really neat connections, what I truly learned is this: when women come together and are FOR each other, amazing things happen.

There were over 100 women at this retreat. I roomed in a cabin with friends I knew, and women I didn't know. I sat at tables and ate with complete strangers. During one activity I spent 60 seconds staring into Sarah Scott's eyes in a way that could have been incredibly awkward for two strangers, but instead was completely hilarious.

I went to sessions and listened to advice, and instructions, and encouragement (which I can't wait to share with you later). But the entire time I was overwhelmingly aware that I was part of something very special. I was experiencing the exact opposite of my 7th grade art class. I was experiencing a woman fest of the highest order.

To be completely honest, I'm a woman with a lots and lots of acquaintances, and very few close friends. It's always been this way for me. After I lost Angela (read this if you don't already know), I mourned for her. I mourned because she was wonderful, and one of the best friends I've ever had. But I also mourned for myself, because up until that point I hadn't had very many close friends in my life. I mourned because after I lost her, I felt that in a way, I'd used up all my kindred spirit tokens. I felt very, very lonely.

And this weekend, as I sat under a pergola and looked at the lake behind the cabin, I felt like my heart has finally healed. I felt like Angela was smiling down on me. I listened to the women in my cabin shrieking with laughter, and I thought about all the wonderful friends I've made in the last several years. I thought about my sisters, cousins, Carrie, Deletta, Laura, Mel, Julia, Jerusalem, Jeanetta, Kristi, and Angela P, among others. I realized I'm not lonely any more. I realized that the kindred spirit friendship door isn't closed to me.

So thank you, ladies. Thank you for building each other up. Thank you for making me proud to be a woman, proud to be part of your circle. I had a wonderful, soul filling time. If you're a blogger and live in Arkansas (or even if you don't, we had several out of state people there), please consider going to this conference next year. You won't ever regret it.

And later this week I'll be back to share how my cabin-mates and I reenacted the spider scene from Harry Potter.

I know what you're saying.

"Oh, that Liz. She's so dramatic."

Yes. I am without a doubt a loud, dramatic, sometimes slightly obnoxious person. But when I say that my friends and I survived spiderpocolypse I am not in anyway blowing smoke up your skirts. So tonight I'm sending out a big cyber power high five to my cabin mates who survived the arachnid scourge of '13.






If we lose our day jobs, there's always pest control.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Comments Section Back Open For Business

I cannot figure out what to do with our half bath.

We got an old scratched, stenciled table for a song at a local antique store. Can't wait to use it as a desk.

The Janester has no problem expressing herself.

I spotted yellow leaves. YELLOW LEAVES!

Also, I'm headed to the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference Unplugged  this weekend! If you're going please give me a shout. I'm excited to meet blogger ladies in real life, as opposed to email. Not that I don't love email. I mean, I can email friends when I haven't showered for days or brushed my teeth and they never know, as opposed to in real life where I actually have to make some kind of deodorant oriented effort. Be assured, I will be socially presentable this weekend, teeth brushed and everything.

On a side note, I've decided to open my comment section back up. I needed a break for a while, and honestly the troll comments really got me down. But, in the past year my skin grew a little thicker and Paxil creates a Star Wars type deflector shield for me. My emotions are still there, but not quite so, shall we say, peaked. Can the anxiety disorder section of the church give me an amen?

But a lot of you have emailed and said that you wish you could comment, and that it creates an "un-social" feel on my blog. That was never, ever my intention. So, comment away. Or don't. Or Troll. I'll be here listening, answering questions or comments, or ignoring them if they're foul. Either way, comments are back. Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading. I appreciate you ALL.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's Only Paint. Not.

*Warning. Griping ahead.

I watch a good deal of HGTV, and I've noticed that realtors really love to say, "It's only cosmetic changes. Just paint. It's an easy fix." Their buyers smile and nod and smile like dummies at the surrounding 3,000 square feet smattered in country blue and mauve trim (in oil paint no less). I want to throw something at the tv and yell, "Stop smiling! It will take years! YEARS I TELL YOU!"

When we bought this house I was just like those people on tv. The entire top floor was (is) covered in fleshy beige and pine green paint with beige oil based trim. I thought to myself, "That will take a while, like maybe six months. But it will look great when it's done!"

Here we are, over six months later, and I laugh at my former, naive self.

I still submit that it will look great, when it's done, in 20 years or so. I blame blogs like Young House Love. Each week they have a brand spanking new paint project completed, or a deck, or a new door. I think to myself, "What is wrong with us? We're so lazy! Why isn't this painting thing going faster?"

 I forget that they are full time bloggers. I forget that they're not coming home from work, feeding the kid, playing with the kid, fighting with the kid over bedtime, putting kid to bed, going back in and singing to the kid, laying down on the floor and softly crying "I used to be a fun person" and then staying up until midnight with a paintbrush in hand and then heading to work the next morning.

See? I told you it was a gripe fest.

I love my sweet baby and wouldn't change a thing.

But painting. Whew.

It's a beast.

Ah. Now I feel better.

Sometimes you just gotta belch these frustrations out. Then those around you frown, and are suddenly frustrated, and say, "Yeah! Me too! We've been trying to lay flooring in the guest bath for two years!" But you've moved on by then. You feel purged and light as air. And then you say, "Geeze, what's wrong with you guys? You're so negative all of a sudden. Let's go get some ice cream."

I vowed that I wouldn't decorate anything until we had painted every room. But I caved. We're still living in our forest green bedroom. Egads I loathe this color. It's like a mallard duck's tomb in there. Nevertheless, I grabbed a hammer and nails and hung all our family pictures in one spot. I'm hoping it makes up for the fact that we don't have a headboard. And even though we're still in painting purgatory, I can see a light at the end of the long, beige trimmed tunnel.

Go ahead. Get your decor gripes out today.

Then go buy a pumpkin spice latte.

You'll feel better, I promise.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's September. Let The Pumpkin Candle Burning Commence Immediately.

Here in the deep south we don't really consider September fall in as much as we're still wearing bathing suits and swimming. But those of us who love pumpkin candles DO consider it fall in as much as we're going to burn those suckers even if it is 400 degrees outside. Plus, they were selling small pumpkins at the farmer's market on Saturday. That was all the green light I needed.

First, I just want to say thank you to everyone who emailed me about my last post. You are some of the kindest ladies I could ever hope to "meet" out here in the blog land, and I appreciate you immensely. I'll be returning emails soon, but I wanted to give a big public thank you anyway.

So. Potty training. It's our world now. It's a new world for Jane, and a new world for us, especially considering we took her potty to a cookout with friends yesterday, and she took the initiative to go pee without prompting, was super proud of herself, and didn't bother to put her pants back on before streaking into the middle of the party to yell at Matt, "DADDY I PEE PEE." So there's that.

I still need to hem the new curtains in the dining room, but they're a lovely jersey fabric that hangs beautifully and doesn't fray, so I don't have the normal sense of urgency to hem them. This is bad. This means they could go unhemmed for some time. Because without a sense of urgency I just shrug, turn on Sharktopus on the SyFi channel and ignore my to do list.

I really do love September. The weather really does start to shift. And somehow it's all so much more fun with Jane. She notices everything. She notices "yewow leaves" and I can only imagine how stoked she'll be for Halloween. Life has changed folks. There are tutu skirts in the living room and a potty chair in the kitchen. There's a tiny wet bathing suit drying in the laundry room, and she insists on having her little toenails painted weekly when the polish starts to rub off. Saturday night I was reading her books before bed, and she reached out, patted my cheek and said, "I love you, mommy."

I cannot imagine what we ever did without her.

I cannot imagine what I did with all that time (although I can promise you I wasn't making good use of it).

I cannot imagine lighting a pumpkin candle without her following me around, sniffing the air, and saying, "Smell good mommy, smell good."

I cannot imagine a world without Jane in it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Big Fat F Word: Failure and Writing

I've mulled this topic over quite a bit in the last couple of weeks. I usually think about it in my down time, like in the afternoon when all my brain cells are gone and I eat roasted peanuts and stare out the window. I also think a lot about the plot line for Breaking Bad, but that's neither here nor there.

There's really no good way to say this, and truly, I suspect it's something you're never supposed to say. Or, at least, I don't hear any other writers saying it. Maybe they're smarter than me, or have more dignity, or maybe, just maybe, they are more comfortable pretending they're always a success. Or maybe they really are.

I, however, have never been good at pretending. I tell it all on myself. And now, thanks to my very verbal daughter, I have a partner who likes to over-truthfully announce, "MOMMY TOOTED" in Target. But yesterday, as I shoveled handful after handful of peanuts down my gullet, and watched a bird fly smack into my office window, I wondered why this particular topic should this be any different. I also felt really sorry for the bird, but again, neither here nor there.

So here it is.

Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, I feel like I failed a little bit at the whole book thing.

Now. I'm not going to tell the world how much money I made, or how many books I sold. And overall, it was a great experience.  But I will say this. If everyone who read my blog had purchased a copy of the book, I might not be writing this post.

It's been hard, to compare book sales, and the number of visitors to this blog, and not feel like I missed the boat somewhere. It makes me feel a little deflated. Because what I do here, for free, is obviously worth a lot of people's time. The book and this blog don't match up. I don't know the reason for that. I probably never will.

So why say it? Why air it here? Am I trying to make anyone feel guilty?

No. Never. Ever. But, there are lots of us that love writing. There are lots of us who have widely read blogs, published articles, and if we're lucky and we work hard, a published book. And for most people, that is the end of the rainbow, the ultimate fulfillment of the fairy tale. No one tells you what comes after.

No one tells you that you will have to be your own one man PR team (well that's not totally true, my agent did a great job of telling me that). No one tells you that you'll have to promote, and shmooze, and pat yourself on the back. No one tells you how stressful it will be watching the sales numbers every week. No one tells you that sometimes, you'll feel a little bit like a failure even AFTER you've published a book.

But I want to tell you that even if you feel like a failure, it's more normal than you think.

It doesn't last forever.

And it will be O.K.

So here I am, two years later. It's easier to realize that not everyone who reads my blog is willing to buy my book. It's easier to accept that the fairy tale dream in my head just wasn't my reality. It's easier to accept that even though things didn't measure up to what I thought they would be, it was still one of the best experiences of my life and I'm so grateful.

I have finally realized that the F word, failure, is all in my head. It's the measuring stick that I dreamed up, therefore, it's the measuring stick that I alone can break.

So lately, I've been writing and working on projects for myself. I've been concentrating on what I want to do, rather than what I think will sell or impress. It's all I know to do. It's why I really write in the first place.

And yesterday, as I sat in front of my office window, eating peanuts, feeling sorry for the maimed bird who probably said, "Hey, look! There's my cousin. Hi Bill.........." and then plummeted to the ground after colliding with his own reflection, I felt finally ready to tell this on myself. I felt ready to get rid of the F-word and move on with whatever comes next in my writing life.

Because you know what? Something ALWAYS comes next.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

House Tour and Miley Cyrus

Some of you dear readers keep asking for a house tour. Here it is. But not really.

I went back and pulled together past pictures from various posts and just stuck them all in one place. So it's not a real house tour. It's more like those fake Barbie dolls with too-big eyes. Or those knock off jeans at Target with labels that are clearly not expensive, even though they're trying really hard.

I'm just going to do what everyone else in our country is doing right now. I'm blaming it all on Miley Cyrus.

And while we're on the subject of Miley Cyrus, can we all just agree that the Thicke fellow in all his Footlocker garbed splendor should be thrown under the same judgement bus? She's a sad, attention seeking, seriously misguided young woman. He's a 36 year old married man who should KNOW BETTER.

But what could he do? I think he should have walked off the stage before participating in something that looked like father/daughter grossness. I'm sad that we live in a culture where men get a free pass instead of a swift kick in the buttocks.

All that to say, Jane, if you become a pop star and behave like that, I'll hobble up on stage and chase you around with my cane. And then I'll fall. And you'll come over to help me. And I'll totally knock your knees out from under you with said cane and we'll both be sprawled out together, beneath the house lights.

You'll look at me and say, "I hope you're happy mother, you've ruined my career."

And I'll say, "I am. Here, put on this sweater."

Don't say I didn't warn you.