I Shot the Gate Keeper and I Don’t Know Where to Hide the Body

Butterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put the phone down, don’t call S.W.A.T., let me explain.

I write…if you’re here, you know that, so that’s a redundancy, sorry. Sadly, I ‘m not alone in that I have an evil voice over my shoulder censoring every thought my brain generates.

The voice is nasty. Mean. Vicious. “You can’t do that.”

“What do you know about that?”

“That is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had.”

“Moron.”

“How can you write with such atrocious grammar skills?”

I call this voice the Gate Keeper. He filters my ideas and stifles my creativity. He is evilness at its worst.

All creative people, whether writer’s, musicians, artists, sculptors, etc…. have this evil voice. Some persevere despite the voice. Some succumb to the vileness and try to brick in their creative side so they can shut away the pain. Some, like me, do the deer in headlights thing. Freeze until the voice passes and then change direction in hopes of sneaking by the Gatekeeper unnoticed.

The problem with changing direction is that I’m not completing what I want. I’m training my brain to stop creating ideas. I mean the idea gets shut down really quick, so why bother? Some ideas filter out unseen or unheard by the Gate Keeper. But not for long, as I write them down to trap them, the voice starts nagging. If my children are home their noise can drown out the voice enough for me to get things done. But other times, frozen in headlights! .

Well, something happened. I was at the shooting range and the Gate Keeper came out. It told me I wasn’t good enough. I’d never get back to the skill level I had when I shot as a teen. It broke my heart. Yet something happened. A thought escaped. “You can do this. Set the gun down, take a deep breath, and shake off the angst.” I reloaded a magazine, stood there attempting to clear my head of all thoughts and then picked up the gun. I took aim. I took a breath. I fired. The shots were smoother, no more anticipation jerks while pulling the trigger. I even made a butterfly out of the orange center; it looks like its happily flying away. The trailing of the butterfly was before I stood up to the Gate Keeper.

The voice that took up so much space in my mind for so long started growing weaker. Not just with my shooting, but my writing, too. A few months later and the voice is no longer there – just the weight of the body that triggers my brain’s recall switch. I’m not at a loss for ideas anymore. Now, everywhere I look, everyone I talk to, gives me ideas.

Don’t get me wrong the ideas aren’t all perfect and golden. Some are downright stupid…and no, that’s not the Gate Keeper, that’s just my mind letting everything out. Because when it cleans out the junk it unburies the treasure.

All these ideas are freeing and wonderful and I can’t imagine ever letting it stop.

However, I need to get rid of the Gate Keeper’s body. I really don’t want to bury it in the wrong area – don’t want to take a chance of some creepy burial spot resurrecting it. I don’t want to toss it away lightly so I stumble over it later or leave it where another creative soul might stumble upon it. So, dear fellow creatives, where do I hide the body so it’s locked away from me and others?

The Non-P.C. Talk About Lateness

53HWe all have those people in our life that run late, constantly, incessantly, annoyingly late. Like everyone, I struggle to call these people out. I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Today, I’m laying out the problem with lateness. If it changes just one late person’s ways, I feel that’s an accomplishment. If it just gives those who wait on these people a moment of “Thank you!” then, again, I consider that an accomplishment.

Now, I have a hard time getting inside the brain of a late person. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all late at some point in our lives. The average person is on time more than they’re late. I’m talking about those who are late all the time. The rare moments when they arrive on time we freak out because obviously the world is ending.

I assume inside the late person’s brain is something like: Should I wear yellow or blue? Oh I’m running late, hmmm, oh well, maybe red?

That’s my angry thought side. What’s probably happening is some chaotic scramble of trying to get out of the house at a reasonable time. That frustrates me. Most of the people I know are like me…middle age. I cannot fathom how after 40+ years they cannot figure out how to get themselves out at a normal time. They still have no concept of accounting for prep, possible delays, travel, errand stops, and arrival by a designated time.

I’m going to call this as I see it. And late people won’t like it. And it’s not a politically correct view. Late people, you are rude. You are disrespectful to your family and friends. It is utterly selfish to assume people should consistently wait on you.

As a person who has wasted many good hours of my life waiting on late people, I’ll tell you why you’re lateness is a problem.

When you’re coming to visit, especially to enjoy a meal, the host (yes, despite being family or super close friends you are still guests) sets aside a time frame. So if we figure on dinner at four, we assume 3:30 is a good arrival time. We figure you’ll stay 2 to four hours (more than enough for a visit – unless you don’t live within a 1.5 hour driving distance). We get up, we clean our home, we plan the meal, we plan on stopping all our chores and to-dos for your visit. Because we want to devote time to you. We care about you.

Now when you show up late, as in thirty minutes to an hour and a half late, everything is shot. We have no clue when to start the meal, cause we don’t want to over cook it. We don’t want to serve it cold. And Heaven forbid if you’re bringing something and it’s not ready-to-serve when you arrive, well then there’s another problem.  Mind you, we hosts are twiddling our thumbs playing the guessing game of “How late will they be?” Can I get started on a project or no? Instead we sit around with anxiety building because we can’t get involved in something in case you arrive. You are wasting our precious time. And if you stay later to make up for your late arrival, you’re really killing us. We set aside a time frame that we worked within and we planned on this downtime that we now don’t get. Just because you don’t abide by the time doesn’t mean we weren’t already on it. You are taking away more of our precious time.

What if you aren’t arriving at someone’s house? What if you’re in a carpool? Well again, you are wasting people’s time. We are idling gas away waiting for you. We have woken and gotten ourselves ready with the assumption that you will be on time. So when we sit around watching the clock tick away ten, fifteen minutes of our time, we’re frustrated that you didn’t call and give us the option or consideration of leaving without you. And if we are in a carpool because we don’t have a car on a certain day, you’re lateness is like holding us hostage.

When you show up late for a coffee date, we’ve cleared this time to spend with you. You’re lack of regard is like a slap in the face. “Your time means nothing to me. I don’t care that you could have done something else, you must wait on me.”

That’s how we take it. A slap. An ego too big to care about others making time for you. Do you ever wonder why people don’t have you over as often? It’s because we’re exhausted and we don’t have time to waste. We’d love to get together with you, but it’s hard to have respect for someone who doesn’t share respect for you.

That being said. Understand, we still love you. We love you because you’re family. We love you because you’re our friend. We love your sense of humor. We love visiting with you. We truly love you. But we are great compartmentalizers, so while we love you as a person, we still hate you when you’re late.

Not the most succinct or polite point of view, but in all honesty, politically correct responses are wishy-washy and vague.

 

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Completely Unprofessional Input on Sciatica

20160201_163313So I endured a bout of Sciatica right around Christmas. I will say muscle relaxants and pain killers make for a very low-stress Christmas.  Outside of that, Sciatica Sucks!

I don’t think I’ve ever been blase about people who’ve experienced it before, so I don’t believe this is Karma with a big chomp in the rear. However, I understood it was painful. I didn’t understand it can be downright debilitating. Seriously, I’d rather birth twins again. And I didn’t have any pain management for those boys, so that’s got to tell you something.

Long story short, I thought I was over the worst of it. I mean the doctor said it could flair up again 5, 10, 15 years from now. Once every 5 years? I can do that. I mean, I’d rather not, but as long as there is a nice long reprieve, I can do it.

Skip ahead to last week. 36 days from my first Sciatic flare-up. And holy friggin’ snotballs, why am I in pain again? I wish I had an answer, but all I can gather is my body is playing games with me.

Since I’ve been popping more meds than I’ve ever taken in my life and since I’ve been asking everyone who says they’ve experienced Sciatica how they dealt, I figured I’d share what I’ve learned.

First, let’s talk about how you know who has experienced true Sciatica and who hasn’t.

Those who have experienced it start with “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Oh man, that sucks. So sorry.” Really they don’t have much to offer. They’ll share what they did, but they admit, it doesn’t always work. They know it boils down to pain meds and “Godspeed my friend.”

Those who may have experienced it, albeit in a lighter form, begin with a list of things you should do. They don’t wait for you to ask, they dole out the advice like they are experts. And the advice varies: Sit in a hard chair (maybe for that guy, for me that felt like the knife stabbing me in the butt tore straight up into mid-spine). Do yoga (seriously, I’m virtually incapacitated, I can’t even bend over to put a sock on, how the Hell am I going to do any pose outside of whimpering dead-man on floor?).

Then there are those who’ve obviously never experienced it, but think they have. They start with: Yeah, I’ve had that. Usually they just stop there or they up the ante with the proverbial, “I have a high pain tolerance.” This said by a mother who had an epidural with the birth of her single child. Yeah, it’s easy to have pain tolerance when you begin with pain control!

Outside of all the advice: Keep moving, see your doctor, stretch, watch your posture, take an Epsom Salt bath (you know when you can sit for 15 minutes). You will endure lectures from doctors.

To be fair the two doctors I’ve seen were very nice and sympathetic. But you will question their motives later. Let me tell you how.

My first foray to the Prompt Care Facility they gave me a shot of Toradol in my backside. It kicked in within an hour. Damn, that stuff was amazing. Sucks that it has to wear off. The second foray to Prompt Care the doctor said they’d do a shot of Toradol. She’s lucky I couldn’t hop up and kiss her, I’ve never wanted a shot in my rear so bad. The nurse came in ( my pain has been on the left side) she put the shot in my right side. I asked her, “Will that get to my left side?” she assured me it would. Three hours later with no relief I was sure I got the one nurse who didn’t know what she was doing. I called the doctor’s office. Told them it hadn’t kicked in and maybe it had to be on the left side. Since I didn’t think I could trust them anymore I did what any level headed person would do: Put in a text to the family member that is a nurse. Apparently, it doesn’t always work and no the nurse didn’t mess up. Maybe there was a reason they didn’t do the left side. Gee, thanks Sis, kind of wanted you to go kick her heiny.

Now, while at the doctor for the second time, she lectured me to get in to see my primary doctor. I already told them I had an appointment. I even told them I tried to get it moved up, but between her busy schedule and her vacation, no go. I got a few more reminders that I was instructed to go to my doctor. I’m trying, I’m not arguing, I’m really trying. This is when you feel like a little kid and your parents don’t believe you.

Here’s another thing you will learn when you have Sciatica: You will become paranoid that the doctor somehow coded the prescription for the pharmacy to give you a less effective pain killer. Yeah, not my finest moment in life. I did learn that Target Pharmacy lists who the supplier is that doled out your particular med. I did not know this until I searched my bottle over for something different from the previous container. It really doesn’t help, but just something I learned. Also, never call the pharmacy and question their medication. That doesn’t fare well. Just trust me.

Now, I’m not a druggie. Pain killers are narcotics. Since so many people misuse them they don’t give you many. In December I received 10 tablets. I made those last. I even had one left over when the second bout of Sciatica kicked in, so I used it for some much needed rest.

This time, the pain killers weren’t kicking in as quickly. I know I didn’t build up a resistance to them. Cause, again, I hadn’t been popping them as often as I was prescribed. The first round of Sciatica pain killers kicked in within a half hour. These were taking up to 2 to 3 hours. I searched online to see if there might be a defect from this manufacturer. I couldn’t locate anything, but I did come across that druggies grind up their pills to get the effect quicker.

This is sad to admit, but I took advice from a druggie. The next time I woke up in agony, I chewed a small bit from a pill and then swallowed the rest. I don’t recommend this, it tastes nastier than all get up, but I will say, it worked. Again, though not recommended, who knows what I’ve screwed up in my system by doing that.

And that’s all I know about Sciatica. Basically, not much, but figured there might be some useful bits in there for someone suffering. The useful bits being: Just go to the doctor. Don’t try to ride it out. Just bite the bullet and get to the doctor.

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Just Go For It

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I’ve struggled with blog posts over the years. I’ve tried to follow guidelines for building readers. I tried writing in a niche: writing about writing. Writing what I know – customer service, parenting (even though there’s no gauge that says any parent is doing it right). A few times I let random things pop in and just as quickly retreat because I feared stirring up waters.

The problem was, that wasn’t/isn’t me. I like random things that are disjointed and don’t connect. I like learning things I don’t know about. I love sharing what I learn, I love writing what intrigues me. I let fear of not having a tidy niche, fear of offending, fear of losing readers override my desire to blog.

The outcome was a stagnant blog, one that sat and made me cringe because it wasted away for so long. From this day forth, I write what intrigues me. If that means I’m all about parenting one day and all about chiropractors another, then so be it. In the end, I just want to share what I learn so others can benefit from that knowledge. I want to share my thoughts so that maybe others can see a situation in a new light. I want to share encouragement because we all need it. I want to share struggles because we’re all human and we all go through them.

I may upset people or I may make people laugh.  I may lose readers or I may gain readers. In the end if just one thing resonates with one person whether it’s a tip, a smile, a new perspective, then I’m happy.

Get a hammer and break through the walls of fear that are holding you back. 🙂

A New Library In Town: One Stop For Writers

If there’s one thing all writers agree on, it’s that writing is TOUGH. The road to publication twists and dips as we learn the craft, hone our abilities, create stories we’re passionate about, fight discouragement, educate ourselves about the industry…and then start the process all over again as we realize there’s room to improve. But you know what? If you are like me, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yet, sometimes it’s nice to get a helping hand.

Finding a good writing book, a helpful blog, a mentor or critique partner to share the journey with…these things are gems along the writing path.

And guess what? Maybe there’s another resource waiting just up the road called One Stop For Writers.


One Stop For Writers is not writing software, but rather a powerful online library that contains tools, unique description collections, helpful tutorials and much more, brought to you by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and Lee Powell, the creator of Scrivener for Windows.

Could One Stop For Writers be the writing partner you’ve been searching for? Visit Writers Helping Writers this week and see, where Angela, Lee and Becca are celebrating their venture with prizes and some pay-it-forward fun.

 
 

Fun Bits For the Week

The Odd: I think it’s the “again” that makes me snort. Maybe “reporting party” should ask neighbor to share vet, food, and grooming costs?

Odd Call

 

In the “Who Knew?” Department:  Because if I didn’t know this and a lobster started moving, I’d be freaking out.

Frozen Lobsters

 

The Funny: This mom hasn’t figured out rule number one: ask “Where are you?” first. I know this because I did a similar text once. My son still hasn’t let me live it down. He also hasn’t let me live down the time I tried to catch him when he was falling and nearly poked his eye out. On the plus side, I learned to let him fall.

Funny Texts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Motivational: Sometimes you have to ignore the logical side and take a chance…so long as it’s not a life-threatening chance – just felt the need to clarify that.

Motivational

5 Tips for Carpooling

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Over the years I’ve heard of moms who carpool kids between activities and school. Always seemed like a good idea, save on gas, give yourself a breather once in a while, etc…

This year a group of us parents hooked up and decided to set up a carpool. I was thrilled because our kids have been in the same elementary school, middle school and now high school together. They know each other, they are all good kids, and they are all in band, too. Fabulous.

We are two weeks into the carpool and I’ve learned a few things that all moms and dads need to note when setting up schedules.

  1. Do not drink and schedule. We all gathered at one lady’s home. Her husband made us Mai-Tais. Somehow we plum skipped a day. We figured out carpool for Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Friday – before school, after school, to band, from band. Come the first Thursday we realized our error and ended up in a last minute scramble.

 

  1. Get the student’s cell numbers, too. We gathered each other’s numbers and emails. We programmed them in our contacts. The first time a parent was late for after-school pick-up, all the kids were calling people. Chaos. Get all the kids’ numbers. That way you can send a group text and avoid mass parent panic.

 

  1. Plan for backups. Nothing is worse than realizing each family lives by one part of the adage: Early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable. We have one Early family (yes, I am that stressed out parent), we have an On-time family and we have a Late family. Late and Early do not mix. Plan ahead. Make sure you let the late parent know if they aren’t leaving their home by X time, text you, you’ll take your own brood. Knowing in advance helps prevent hurt feelings.

 

  1. Find out if all drivers are okay with all weather. Nothing like realizing too late that one parent doesn’t do snow or anything after dark. Thankfully, we’re all on the same page here.

 

  1. Have the kids gather in one location and arrive at the pick-up vehicle together. This prevents nasty glares from other parents who think you’re twiddling your thumbs in the pick-up parking line. And it makes it easier on the pick-up parent. Thankfully we also planned ahead for this moment.

 

Heed these tips and the carpool will run smoothly. Yes, there will be times when unforeseeable issues arrive, but at least you know in advance for most situations you have a plan.

K.A. Cheerleader: Want to be the Best? Work for it.

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I’ve been watching way too many competition shows lately: Master Chef, Food Truck Race, one episode of America’s Next Top Model (I’m too old for that much drama, I want to go all psycho mom on the people and clean up their attitudes), and some old Survivor episodes.

A common theme is people who want to oust their toughest competitors not by going head-to-head with them, but rather by eliminating via group gang-ups or saving the weakest from the elimination battles. They call it strategy. Here’s my issue with this whole strategy bunk: Strategy is good for things like, you have twelve hours of work to get done and six hours in which to do it. A good idea is to strategize and work out an efficient game plan. Strategy works for those in war: Lives are at stake, so taking out the toughest first makes sense – you do what you need to do to save the life of yourself and others.

Strategy in competition shows is weak. How can you say you’re the best Survivor, the next Master Chef, etc.., when you you’re too afraid to go up against your toughest opponent? How can you wear that title with pride knowing you got through taking the easy route? Saving the weakest because you feel you have the best chance of beating them in the end is spineless, not strategic.

I don’t follow boxing, but I’m pretty sure if someone wants one of those big gaudy belts, they need to work hard, they need to show their skills, they need to train their butts off, they need to compete against tougher and tougher competitors to get to the best. Then they have to beat the best to claim that title.

These reality competition shows just show if you have a chance to get rid of your best competition, do it. Why work hard? You can wear a spiffy badge that says: I MIGHT be the best, but we will never know because I was too wimpy to keep the hardest, toughest competition in the race.”

I think one contestant on the current season of Master Chef said it best: (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t remember his exact line) the pressure tests are where we learn.

Right! When you go up against the best, you have to bring your A game. It forces you to keep pushing yourself and to keep learning and to continue using that knowledge.

If you want to be the best, you have to work for it. Don’t weasel out, earn that title rightfully.

We shouldn’t be afraid of competing against our toughest opponent. We should relish that moment. For that’s what makes us better. That is how we learn. That’s what we salivate and strive to achieve.

Give it your all for your dreams: Work hard, fall, get up, climb higher.

Grandpa Might Come Back

Grandpa Might Come Back

Today I’m sharing a little insight. This isn’t just for writers, this is for everyone. We all have times where we struggle to move forward and finding a mantra that propels us – helps us put one foot in front of the other – can make everything much easier to bear.

I’m in the midst of my first draft on my suspense novel (not the first novel I’ve written – but the one that stands the best chance of publication – possibly). I’m also in the midst of my umpteenth freak-out, for no other reason than I’m just one of those people.

I have a wonderful mentor, bless her overly abundant patient heart, Gabriela Pereira, who has listened and guided and cheered and challenged me. So during our last conversation I had to spill the beans. I was stuck. Not writer’s block – I have a difficult time accepting that, but blocked by my desire to edit.

As the story progresses and I learn more about my characters, things change. For instance, I send my protagonist off to remote parts because of her grandfather. As the story progressed, Grandpa took a backseat – as in from riding in the front seat of the pickup to bouncing along on the tailgate. Somewhere along the way Grandpa completely bounced out of the truck.

In my mind, I could go no further with my story until I corrected this issue. Which meant going back and deleting all hints of grandpa. But, I didn’t want to do that because I didn’t want to lose that word count. But I couldn’t move forward because he’s a goner. The heck if I want to turn this truck around and hunt him down. So forward progress came to a halt, reverse corrections stalled, and I sat in my chair stagnate.

During that call, Gabriela reminded me to move forward. I told her nope, can’t do it. I have to fix this stuff. Then she reminded me that I still didn’t know every nuance in my novel. I don’t need to write old gramps out, for all I know, he might come back.

And that’s the mantra that stuck. That’s the bizarre line I tell myself so I can move forward with writing.

And how does this pertain to you and whatever you may be struggling with? You need to find the mantra that will guide you one tiny step forward. Say the mantra take a step and keep doing that until you reach your destination. Somewhere along the way it will become easier.

Grandpa might come back.

Mark Your Calendars

Coming Sept. 22, 2015

 

Yep, this is happening. I am proud to announce I have a piece (No One Listened) in the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions.

I love these books, I’ve read them for many years. The stories have brought me to tears, made me smile, and produced uncontrollable laughter. Every story has provided a dose of comfort and faith.

I am honored to be a contributor in the latest edition releasing on September 22, 2015.