Why did the rabbit cross the road?

Because he's afraid of a squirrel.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Can someone please tell me why a rabbit, one that wears clothes, goes to school, and watches TV would be afraid of the squirrels in the back yard, and furthermore, why aren't these squirrels also wearing clothes and conversing at the library about their homework with their fellow rodents? What kind of hierarchy is this where not all rodents are created equal?

I'm talking about the PBS show 'Arthur'. In this cartoon world it appears some animals have evolved beyond others, even those who in the real world, are of a similar species. But what's even more confusing is the episode where Arthur the aardvark - yes, an aardvark - who wants a pet takes a dog-walking job to prove he's up to the responsibility of dog-ownership. Now consider that one of Arthur's gang is also a dog. If you use this reasoning, in Arthur's world, a human might be seen walking another human on a leash and scooping up its poop in a plastic bag.

I read a book to my daughter the other night where a pig, a sheep, and a cow, all wrapped up in their best winter coats, enjoyed a sled ride driven by... a horse! A human harnessed to the sled might be more logical, but a horse? What audacity! The horse is one of the noblest creatures in this creation and some author has deemed it appropriate to demote him as a slave to a pig.

Now, I could draw a political comparison between these disparities in the cartoon-animal world with that of the poor vs. rich or developed vs. third world. But I won't. I'll just continue to be amused and bemused by the rat, rabbit, monkey, aardvark, and cat living and learning in harmony while their squirrel and bird cousins peer wistfully in their windows, cartoon tears in their little cartoon eyes, wondering when it will be their turn.

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The many hats of me

I need a haircut. The shaggy, steel wool mop that haloes my head is reflected in the screen of my laptop as I sit on the deck this glorious late summer morning.

I also need to finish organizing the new office which until 3 days ago was the kids room. Boxes of books, old files, and decades-old computer stuff, retained "just in case" (or rather "just too lazy") were crammed away in a closet. Now, due to the room rearrangements, they have resurfaced and are demanding my attention. I need to make curtains for the new kids' room. I need to hang out the laundry that's slowly rotting in the washer. I need to put away the clothes that have been sitting in a basket for a month. I need to empty the dishwasher. I need to put two years worth of photos in the kid's albums. I need to listen to another session of my journal workshop instructor training. I need to dig through the heap of shoes on my closet floor and take half of them to Salvation Army (so I can justify buying more). I need to be brainstorming article ideas and getting out queries. I need to pay the bills...

I need to not be sitting here writing this blog.

Ever since I began this blog-ourney I have neglected everything else around me. I send my husband to bed with a "I'll be there soon," and then not show up for another 2 hours. I don't even give the TV my full, undivided attention. And next week I start work. I wonder how I can possibly divide a 24 hour day into so many increments. I feel writing this blog is important (I'm not sure exactly why yet) and I don't want to give it up. But, really, how does one wear so many hats?

The Mom Hat: The shabby one with the unidentifiable stains. It has a big brim and droops in various places. It's worn out and really needs to be replaced but no other hat will ever fit quite as well.

The Wife Hat: The one most often forgotten in the closet even though it is nice-looking and can be fun to wear. It should be worn more frequently.

The Housewife Hat: This one's dusty; hard to get clean. It's very large and kind of overwhelms the wearer. It gets in the way of other more agreeable hats.

The Administrative Hat: The one decorated with numbers and letters. It's an annoying but essential little hat worn for protection of one's assets.

The Employee Hat: This one's new and very smart. It is a good one to wear in public due to it's professional appearance and lack of accouterments.

The Writer/Artist Hat: The one with a veil behind which one can hide. This hat fits the wearer well and is the preferred one in the selection, but other more practical hats are usually (or should be) worn instead. It is very colorful but does have some ink stains.

The Single Gal Hat: Rarely worn, or ownership even acknowledged. It is bright, stylish, shapely and attractive. If worn more often it could revitalize that which is dull, monotonous, and all together too blah.

I really do need a hair cut... maybe then I can cram two (or three) hats on my head at once.

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September Sentiments

September has always been my favorite month. It is a month of beginnings. I came into the world in September and as a child in England, it meant the beginning of a new school year. I actually turned 5 on my second day in Mrs. Goddard's class at Huish Infant School, Yeovil, Somerset.

I have always loved school. While my classmates dreaded those first signs of an oncoming school year - cooler nights, stores with the oh-so-subtle signs blaring "BACK TO SCHOOL" - I felt excitement instead. In high school I would start buying my notebooks and pens in July. That annual trip to Ames was a high light for me. New sturdy spiral notebooks with crisp, bright white pages, colorful coordinating folders, multicolored pens... oh, makes me want to run out to Walmart right now.

As an adult, September holds a new joy for me. Fall. That first telltale kiss of a crisp breeze, the first splash of red on the mountain side, apple trees heavy with fruit. And of course, my birthday. I don't avoid the commemoration of my birth; I like parties, I love gifts, and I particularly enjoy being the center of attention. You can blame this little egocentricism on my mother who has always venerated birthdays as a true cause of celebration; the celebrant is duly honored with gifts, a card, a meal of their choice, and a cake. If said birthday-girl (or boy) is not within hugging distance, then a phone call first thing in the morning must suffice, complete with a harmonized rendition of "Happy Birthday" (thanks to Dad's willingness to oblige his dear wife).

This September, the one that is amazingly only one week away, holds particular significance for me and our family. September 2nd, 2008 will mark two milestones: 1) I am going back to work after 4 years at home, and 2) H is starting Kindergarten.

Yes, I am starting a real, wake-up-to-an-alarm-clock, take-a-shower, wear-a-bra job. And my little baby girl, the one who had no hair until she was 18 months, will, with pony-tail bobbing, board a big yellow bus and drive away from me. She'll be back 6 hours later, but that disappearing back-end of a bus marks the beginning of her full departure from home; from me.

Um... corny! Yes, I know, but true. This is where she'll start to hear and learn things from other kids that I may not be so pleased about when she brings them to the dinner table. And I don't just mean those words we have protected her young ears from; the attitudes, the bad manners, the commericial world of Bratz and Hannah Gag-tana... she may be entering the structured world of school, but it will be a world I can no longer control. My precious baby will slowly grow up whether I like it or not.

If she's anything like me (which I believe she is) she will love school because she loves to learn. I can only pray that school does not turn into a place of bullying or boredom. I hope September becomes a month of happiness for her aswell and that together we can look forward to the trips down the stationary aisle (and I'll try to just breathe real deep and let it go when the Cinderella folders are exchanged for those showing some 14-year-old blue-eyed hunk with a basketball. Lord, help me now.)

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Booster seats and belly buttons

Now's this for a bad day? I almost get the cops called on me and my daughter could have gotten lyme disease.

With one minute remaining to get to daycare on time I discover the only thing filling the space where H's booster seat usually sits is a smorgasbord of crumbs, small toys, and juice stains. H stayed with my parents for the last couple of days and the booster seat never made it back out of their car.

I debate whether to stay home. But I pay for daycare whether T is there or not and I have promised H a girl's breakfast out. I decide to take the risk. It's a two-minute drive on back streets and H is tall for her age. She is, of course, securely buckled in. My plan is to ask at daycare if they have a spare booster seat. Which I do and instantly wish I hadn't. The answer is no, and if we see you leave with her without a seat we'll have to call the cops. Mandatory reporters.

My heart drops. I suddenly feel like a criminal. I've never done anything like this in my life and I never would have if I didn't think my child was safe. After a momentary panic I realize H can still fit into T's carseat. Ten minutes later H is safely - and legally - buckled in a new booster. I silently bless Walmart (which I won't own up to it again if you ask me) for being so close and so cheap. But for some reason I still feel blemished, as if, just with a glance at me driving by, a cop would know my sin.

A hour or so later, H is parading around half naked, various scarfs and oversized shirts draped this way and that. Sitting on the couch I have an eye-level view of her belly button, which in normal circumstances, despite its curly-q cuteness, I would not have noticed. Now, I know my child is usually a tad grubby, she plays hard, but I laugh when I see she has dirt in her belly button. How on earth? I call her over so I can do the mom thing and extract the offending dirt speck.

But it won't budge. Bewildered, I dig at it a little harder - it suddenly becomes a challenge like a stubborn black head or a deep splinter, and as my poor family knows, both of those impairments bring out the evil conqueror in me; vanquish the perpetrator no matter the consequences. So, I'm trying to grasp this strange dirt when I realise what I'm looking at... a tiny, disease-carrying, uninflated balloon that's buried its arrow of a head in my child's flesh ready to gorge itself with her blood. Argh!

A call to the doctor assures me the lack of engorgement means the tick hasn't been attached long enough to create any trouble. Only after 24 hours can they transfer lyme disease. With a quick tug with the tweezers I rip the beast out and all is well.

And all this before lunch...

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Sweaty Puppy: An argument against co-sleeping

I like to sleep, no, I love to sleep.

Our 22-month old has been sleeping in his crib since he grew out of his co-sleeper at 4 months old (yes, he was a "healthy" baby). Last night, whether due to a bad dream or questionable cup of milk, he could not be consoled by the usual kiss, hug, and Pappy-dog. Wedged between two sleepy parents was his nest of choice. I was happy to oblige in order to allow all family members their precious shut-eye.

One problem: Sleeping with a sweaty, restless puppy of a child means no sleep at all. To have a little body using my face as a pillow is more than any sand-man could handle.

When my husband and I were new and still ga-ga over each other, we'd sleep so close he'd wake up with my abundant head of hair in his mouth and up his nose. Gradually over the last nine years, my hair's gotten a lot shorter and the space between us much larger. And god-forbid any extremities should touch in the night! (Unfortunately,) we get far more sleep now.

I had a natural birth, I breastfed, and I wore my babies, but on this issue, I must insist on parenting un-attached. I prefer to have more than sixteenth of an inch between me and hitting the floor. I enjoy tossing and turning at will. Once in a while I even like to roll over and cuddle my husband. But most of all, I - and those who have to live with me - am partial to facing each new, challenging day in mommy-ville with a good stretch of sleep behind me.

So, to all you ardent co-sleeping, family-bed advocates out there, I say "bless you." I understand and applaud your reasoning for wanting your precious ones safely snoozing by your side. But on this one I must let sleeping dogs lie - in their own beds.

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Even Oprah is in on this serendipity thing

Once again my ol' buddy serendipity has popped in to say hello. Not to me this time but through me (and our good friend Oprah).

I have two friends, friends from a past life, a life steeped in religious dogma. Due to a recent relationship, one of said friends is battling with an old demon (not that demon) of the who, where, what and how of religion and spirituality. She is questioning the road she has taken. The three of us have been emailing today with cyber-hugs all around.

13 years ago I left my church. Eight years ago I came to peace with myself. Three years ago I began to understand a new concept of God/Spirit/Universe. A month ago I was finally able to sit in a church and translate the minister's words into my language.

Three years ago I made an amazing connection between journaling and spirituality; intuition, inner wisdom, and God. To sum up in as few words as possible, I believe our intuition/instinct/subconscious IS God. At that time I was attending a small Unitarian Universalist church and I was able to present my discovery to the members. I told of my journey from reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way at age 22 to my aha! moment at 30-something. (A link to this unrevised essay, "Wisdom Within" is here.) Also around this time I compiled a journal-writing workshop that looked at this concept from a non-religious - but inherently spiritual - point of view.

So, to get back to today.

I'm still sick and when I feel like crapola I justify watching TV in the middle of the day. I'd had enough of Curious George so I insisted on watching "mommy TV" for just a little while. Oprah came on talking about "The Gift of Fear:" how we should pay close attention to our instincts/intuition. Although I wasn't really conscious of it at the time, the thought crossed my mind, "yup, there's God again."

When I could longer hear Oprah due to the whining of the kids begging for their show, I turned the station (besides, I didn't really think it was appropriate for them to be hearing about women almost getting stabbed) and forgot about it . Less than an hour later I get an email from the questioning friend. She had been reading my essay while watching the very same Oprah episode. She wrote: "putting it all together now - perhaps that instinct is another way in which God dwells within us and speaks to us."

Weird, eh?

No, serendipitous.

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Green snot and fruit flies

Today I am sick. Husband is sick. Children are sick. Green snot sick. Pull those puffy red things out of the back of your throat and put them on ice for a few days sick.

My eyes hurt looking at this white screen but I will attempt to write a few words.

About fruit flies.

They have to be the most determined little buggers (pun intended) in the insect world. I put every fruit and vegetable in the fridge, take out the garbage, and clear the sink, and still they find something to feed their disgusting little selves on. Walking into my kitchen right now is like trekking through the jungle; you swat through swarms just to get to the coffee pot.

This situation does wonders for my already damaged house-wifey self-esteem. I would never get awarded for my cleaning prowess; cleaning is what I do when I'm procrastinating on some other project in order to get to that project in order to get out of the cleaning. But bugs? Gross.

Tonight we are experimenting with a paper cone, soda bottle and vinegar. So far we have caught 103 (out of 3.2 million).

It's a start.

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Serendipity on a Bike

This move from Vancouver to Vermont is not an easy prospect for 'lil sis. We have been scouring the area and the internet trying to discover the potentials of her new home.

One thing you should know about my sister (let's call her "C") is that she's painfully allergic to malls and other large (or small, actually) shopping areas. I have had the misfortune to be in her presence on the occasion of an allergic reaction. First, almost imperceptibly, her blood pressure rises as indicated by a slight coloration in her cheeks. Then the grumps start, which present as snapped answers to quite rational questions (i.e. which bag do you like better, the blue or the red?). These grumps slowly increase in intensity until the final phrase is reached which can be termed as The Explosion. At this point, when she says, "We have to leave, NOW!," please do. Drop the blue (or red) bag and exit immediately in a calm and orderly fashion.

I mention this only to clarify that the move is not made difficult by the distinct decrease in shopping opportunities in the Upper Valley - far from it - but rather a fear of the lack of community, walkability and get-out-ability. I believe C and her husband would live on top of a mountain if it wasn't for a preference for indoor plumbing (a preference with which I wholeheartedly concur) and a genuine need for local coffee-shop camaraderie (again, I agree).

If not on a mountain or drinking good coffee with friends, C's joy is found on a bike. And this is where the serendipity comes in.

On my reconnaissance mission I had noticed a bike path. Not knowing if it was like the Rutland bike path which begins with great hope but ends 4.3 minutes later in a soggy ball field, we both did some research. C called some organization and discovered at some point in the conversation that her boss-to-be is an expert on said bike path and rides it the 6 or so miles every day to work. To quote C, "It made me very happy."

So, once again, serendipity rides into to save the day (or at least the deflated mood).

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This one's corny

This is a moose. A very large moose. Moose live in Vermont. I live in Vermont. I have never seen a moose. I have followed moose tracks, but no moose. Bear also live in Vermont. I have also never seen a bear. I have smelt a bear and I have heard a bear, but I have never seen a bear.

There are other things in Vermont some people never see.

Some people have never seen (or smelt) the maple syrup boiling in the sugar house or tasted sugar-on-snow.

Some people have never climbed up a hill into an apple orchard where the trees are pregnant with fruit, or looked through the red juicy ornaments to the lake and the mountains beyond. Some people have never hiked up those mountains to look down on the orchard below.

Some people have never canoed on water so calm the hills look down on their mirror image.

Some people have never walked along a wooded path littered with fallen leaves bright as jewels.

Some people have never pulled up to a country store and had their gas pumped and wind-shield cleaned by a man who remembers them from elementary school.

Some people have never seen a road that wasn't flanked by billboards or garbage.

Some people have never bought gas station coffee that was brewed in their own state or fresh homemade cookies baked just a few towns away.

Some people have never swam in a mountain stream cold enough to turn their lips blue in the middle of August.

I may have never seen a moose but I know they're out there hiding under some (very big) trees. I also know the bear is - and he can stay hidden, thank you - but I have seen, smelt, felt, and tasted the other treasures of this state, and while they say, "Welcome to Vermont," more importantly they say, "Welcome Home."

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Mission Impossible: Finding milk at 10PM

Today I was on a reconnaissance mission: Find a town in Vermont for my sister and her family to move to from Vancouver. Ha.

Vancouver: Land of mountains, sea, beaches, city, Starbucks, bike paths, buses, cafes, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. A city where pedestrians take precedence over cars (on some intersections the light turns green for the cars only if a pedestrian is on the sidewalk to activate it.) A city where there are a larger number of bicycles and jogger strollers out on the streets and sidewalks than in all the sheds of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama combined.

Upper Valley of Vermont: Land of mountains, fields, trees, farms, and tiny towns consisting of one street and a post office.

OK, I'm not doing Vermont any justice at all. It is a beautiful state, breathtakingly so in places, and the Connecticut River that cuts through the valley dividing Vermont from New Hamphire is an impressive swath of water. Today we passed highway medians filled with yellow, red and orange black-eyed susans and masses of other flowers, planted and cared for by community-proud residents. There was a field entirely of lupins and sunflowers. White-spired churches, immaculately painted inns and houses and a farmer's market on the green. A general store whose hardware department you can only enter by squeezing beside the deli cooler, that sells home-baked chocolate chip cookies and chinese tea sets, and whose motto is, "If we don't have it, you don't need it."

Yes, there are parts of Vermont that are quaint and quirky, but that doesn't do you much good at 10 PM when you find yourself without milk and that last piece of pie (the blueberries for which you picked yourself earlier that day at one of Vermont's many P.Y.O. farms) is kinda sticking
in back of your throat. No rambling general store's going help you now. You outta luck, sista. I guess you could go milk a cow.

Now in Vancouver, at this point one would step out the door, walk approximately 500 feet down the well-lit street to one of the 22 stores still open at this time of night to purchase the much-needed gallon of milk. Should one be so inclined one could also walk a few more feet to join the ever-present (rain or moon-shine) late-night caffeine junkies at one of the 310 Starbucks on this street.

What is sister dear going to do with herself in the Upper Valley of Vermont? Fortunately, there are bike paths and plenty of hiking trails, and once in a while you'll find a sidewalk to stroll along. And of course, there's family.

But life will be a very different ballgame from that of Vancouver. No big city life here. No mommy stroller gangs. No Indian-Thai-Ethiopian-fusion restaurants.

Hartford, VT? Blink and you'll miss it.

Vancouver, British Columbia? You'll just miss it.

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Just another trip to the grocery store

Every single freakin' time I swear I AM NOT doing this again... and then I do.

Could I possibly still have pregnancy brain two years after the birth of my second child? Apparently, a woman's brain shrinks up to 5% during pregnancy and does not retain its original size until six months after birth. Why would the good lord design us this way? So we are destined to forget every lap-full of projectile vomit, every sleepless night, every "I have to peeeee" in the check out lane. And the greatest trick of all - the amnesia of childbirth. And so we do it again. Very funny.

I should have known how this trip would ensue when I pick the cart with the wonky wheel, the one that makes pushing 10 times more difficult than it should be. This may or may not have been a factor in the Great Tomato Event which occurs a mere 10 minutes into the excursion. As I round the corner from the avocados to onions, an avalanche of cartons and escaped grape tomatoes is suddenly rolling towards me. Red-faced as the offending fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit) I gather the cartons from out of the aisle until an angel in a blue apron comes to my rescue. I briskly head to dairy; we had enough veggies anyway.

Now Son, who thinks he is too old for the front of the cart, is bouncing in the basket. This is fine - as long as I ignore the risk of a shopping cart fender-bender which could send him flying - until the groceries start to pile up. Distracted by Daughter who has removed her shoes to slide along the aisle, I don't notice that Son has discovered the plastic containers of spinach and ham make a fun crunch when jumped on. I catch him in mid-stomp just as the creamer carton is about to pop.

Now Daughter is hanging off the side of the cart, making our turning ability that of a tank. I realize I am burning off every ounce of the chai latte I had just consumed, plus some. Hang on, honey. Meanwhile, Son is test-tasting each of the "nanos" and "opples."

By this time I am feeling exhaustion pulling my muscles down where they are massing in my feet. At the last minute I remember I need diapers, which of course, are in the furthest aisle from where I am. I never buy diapers in the grocery store because I can get them cheaper elsewhere. So, I stand in front of the cute-baby-fastooned boxes, attempting to calculate in my head how much one diaper costs if 80 of them cost $18.99 and if the .02 cents I would save by buying them at the other store is really worth the trouble. [Ear-splitting scream from cart.] I grab the diapers.

I swear I am NOT doing this again...

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Paah- fection

I'm impatient. I'm also crap at not being good at something (there's a sentence for you). My learning curves are supposed to be straight. I want brilliance - immediately. I'm an aspiring writer, I'm learning the ropes, I'm starting a new career. But I have a little friend, a toxic friend, the kind that can send you into therapy: Perfectionism.

My friend Miss P. won't allow me time to figure this all out; I'm just supposed to know.

Positive thinking rained opportunities down upon me, now I have to swim to the surface for some air. My planner is suddenly busting at the seams with articles to write, stories to revise, a journal-training course to complete, this blog to compose; not to mention all the mundane, never-endng household chores and errands. I don't have a time-slot or brain-cell left available for learning anything.

So, for now I'm just going to do what I know best: Write. And I'm going to try to give myself a break; admit to myself I'm a beginner. Let the mistakes happen and the learning begin - naturally. Perfectionism doesn't like mistakes. Perfectionism would rather that I give up than look stupid. But you know what, Miss P.? You ain't sabotaging this one...

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How to get readers for your blog

I don't actually have an answer to that.

But I'm wondering... is anyone reading this blog? Do I sit here each morning dedicatedly babbling to myself? It's OK really, I love to write and having this excuse is lovely.

I have been researching tips on how you get you, dear reader, to come spend some time with me each day. I do think I have something worthy to say - well, some of the time. This article by Darren Rowse is where I found a great list of techniques to draw readers in. See the title of this post? See what I did there? Very sneaky. To the point and something someone might actually search for in google (as I did). Ooo, I feel so manipulative.

The reality is, I can spend time researching and acting on these promotion techniques but the only results I get is a completely wasted morning, a headache, and a pile of laundry still waiting to be attended to. How many times can I attempt to post something in the HTML before I throw the computer across the room?

Think positively...

So, dear reader(s), if you're just joining us, please scroll down... I'm testing the system right now and I believe you will find some interesting reading just a post or two away. And if you find something you like, please let me know so I will know I'm not just talking to myself over in this lonely corner of cyberspace.

Thank you and happy reading.

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Proof is in the pudding

More proof that this positive attitude thing works...

I got offered the job on Tuesday, August 5. Just a week and a half earlier I wrote this in my journal:

"OK, I'm going to pretend I don't need a job and I will start my journal workshop training and get writing and just see what happens... I want to get offered work - someone needs me, I just need to find them so they realize it!"

One day later:

"I'm trying to network hoping something will land in my lap... can I decide NOT to work? Will that leap of faith stir the universe to throw me a rope?"

One week before offer of job as grant writer:

"Yes, you will make money as a writer - YES, YOU WILL."

Not the kind of writing I thought I was talking about but I'll take it!

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I DO believe in fairies, um I mean, serendipity

Serendipity has to be one of my favorite words. Merriam-Webster defines it as the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

A couple of days ago, I walked into the daycare center to pick him up my son and I walked out with a job. Phenomenal. Valuable. Agreeable. Really not sought for.

I'm not kidding. A job - my dream job, no less. There wasn't a position available but my skills (and personality, I guess) convinced the power that be (someone I was referred to because the person I was originally sent to happened to be out of the office) that a position needed to be created for me. And I'll still be able to do my own writing because it's part time.


This has given me an idea... I'm going to record serendipity - even the smallest expression of it - in my own life and those around me. I also want to track the times I have thought positive thoughts and so created positive situations, or when I have made authentic decisions which have in turn brought about authentic outcomes.

Yesterday, I wrote about our move to Mississippi. For whatever reason, when we were packing up to move, despite the butterflies that had taken up residence in my belly, I somehow knew it was going to be OK. I kept saying, "I just want to know why we're being lead in this direction." A year into our move, I was still asking this question even as I was teaching a journal workshop, meeting amazing friends, and writing more than I had in years. Oh...that's why!

We trusted our intuition (which leads us to make authentic decisions) and the outcome was in our favor. I'm not implying our life has been all peachy keen, not at all! During this same time period we had some disastrous real estate problems that almost put us into bankruptcy, we went through Hurricane Katrina (or rather she went through our roof), and I had a miscarriage. Those are the details. But big picture - as my sister-in-law would say - s'all good!

I had given up on getting a job so I was concentrating on what I knew best. I didn't know how we were going to pay our heating bill... I do now!

Phenomenal. Serendipity.

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Something amazing has happened.

The universe saw that I, despite the Fear, was working toward my goal of becoming a writer and journal-writing teacher/therapist; believing in myself and my abilities. I cannot tell the whole story yet as nothing is official.

I have been trying hard to believe in what some call "manifesting" for many years. Long before the book The Secret hit the scene, I had read the same thing over and over: if you do what you love, success will come, the universe will align in your favor... Marsha Sinetar, Julia Cameron, Sarah Ban Breathnach; they've all said it and I've seen it.

I have been journaling for years so I have written evidence that when I have made decisions based on my dreams, not my fear, eventually - the good is not always immediately apparent - the road has turned in that direction, seemingly through no imput of mine... serendipity.

Take, for example, my family's crazy, asinine decision to move to Mississippi, of all places. We quit our jobs, rented out our house and hauled every last one of our belongings 1500 miles south to go live in a swamp. Why? Because we were both unhappy in our jobs (I wanted to be writing or least doing something more creative), we were sick of our drafty shack of a house, and I wanted to be home with our new daughter. Three years later, I am here having pursued various artistic ventures, and continuing to do so. I had to leave home to understand my true dreams and to trust them. To know what I truly wanted in life. And my husband? It worked for him too. He now has a Master's degree and is enjoying a new career.

We've moved back home now; another step out into the dark but one that yielded - and continues to yield - more success.

We took risks - a step away from stability, the known, the rut - and we have been rewarded with a new stabilty. Fulfillment.


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Oxymoron: writing mother

Literarymama.com wants me to explore:

The relationship between becoming a mother and becoming a writer
The influence of motherhood on your craft
The influence of writing on your mothering

It's not a good day for me to write about being a writing mother. Today I want to edit out the mother part.

We began this day quite calmly (that's a qualified "calm") getting ready for summer day camp. Out of the silence (again, silence is relative) a blood-curdling scream rips through the house. I run to the source, but before I can even get out the words, "what happened?" my 5 year-old's eyes bulge and she leans forward, arms akimbo. The words explode out of her usually beautiful, now grape-red face: "I didn't DO anything!" and she bursts into tears.

I stand there stunned by the vehemence, the unadulterated anger coming out of my little girl. Meanwhile, the 22-month-old instigator of the scene is still crying, profusely.

Straining with the pressure of ignited anger, I manage to calmly respond, "I didn't say you did..."

Should have stopped there.

"But you screaming at me like that makes me think you did."

No. No. No. What was I thinking saying that to this little someone who's so highly reactive, so incredibly frustrated. She opens her mouth, wide. I brace myself.... oh, the ringing in my ears!

Needless to say, we were late for day camp and I couldn't write all day. My mood was shot.

All is calm (for real) in our house now - they're both asleep. So now I shall attempt to write about being a writing mother:

The relationship between becoming a mother and becoming a writer: My children give me priceless, endless subject material and then keep me from my computer with their constant needs and wants, frustrating me to all get out.

The influence of motherhood on your craft: See above.

The influence of writing on your mothering: When I do finally do sit at my computer, the world disappears. Their yelling and laughing and smashing of my precious possessions are mere squeaks and creaks in the wind.

Yes, I am a bad mom and a bad writer. Crap.

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What the *** is a SEO and why am I supposed to Digg it?

Is anyone other than me completely, utterly, ready-to-throw-in-the-towel-y overwhelmed by the gad-b-zillion bytes of information you have to pile through on this brain-sucking evil called the internet? (That was a little harsh, it's not completely evil.)

A few days ago I just an aspiring writer gathering the courage to give the nice human mailman a 9x11 manilla envelope containing a letter to Ms. Editor, humbly begging her to accepting my idea for an article. Today my head is exploding with terms like social bookmarking, keywords, SEO, CP, affliate links... lawd help me! I'm just a writer!

In order to make it on the web, apparently you have to self-promote. AssociatedContent.com, where I have some things published, gives you a handy-dandy link to all the 12,032 social bookmarking sites out there in order to do this. One little question... WHAT THE HELL IS SOCIAL BOOKMARKING?? Call me dense, call me a dweeb, call me whatever you choose... but I'm too old for this. You really mean to tell me I'm supposed to register my private information at all these sites so that people can "shout" at me or "digg" my stuff (or just spam me to death)?

I don't want to write articles that are highly searchable (well, I do, but I have a feeling no one in the near future will be Googling "Vermont mom writing addict clueless online"). I don't want to be writing "to the keyword" - I want to write what's in my heart.

I'll keep "Digg"ing a little deeper into this new (to me) universe and maybe one day I won't be such a dodo about it all. But for now I'll keep burdening my neighborhood United States Postal Service employee with those manilla envelopes (the ones containing SASE; the only acronym I truly understand at this point), and I'll rely on my yahoo address book and the family and friends who will read my stuff because I'll disown them if they don't.

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