Perspective and Practice

I’ve been thinking about this post for 30 days and there was no way to write this in advance. On November 1st I decided to write a blog a day. Tonight marks the 30th post for the month of November. And I’m proud that I completed the goal. It’s been a struggle, I couldn’t’ have done it without the help of my husband in the evenings. November is a very busy month in general for our family and especially since the end of the month leads up to two of the busiest days in my annual calendar, not counting Thanksgiving.

In order to accomplish a blog a day, I had to really think and plan ahead. There were days when I would sit down at 8 or 9 p.m. wondering what I was going to write about that day. Some days the blog seemed to write itself, especially when I could recognize the gift of that day.

My favorite post was when my son got my camera and secretly took photos (A Photographer in the Making). That also happened to be one of the most viewed posts of the month.

The hardest post to write was about the Penn State child abuse scandal. (Little Lost Boys)

My favorite photo project and title of the month was When Frost Happens. This was one of those that wrote itself.

Writing daily has made me buckle down and be disciplined. The rigor of daily reflection brings perspective. This exercise has literally made me stop and “smell the roses.” Blogging consistently makes me re-frame everyday moments. It also makes me consider things more thoroughly and thoughtfully.

For me, writing is probably my single best skill. I majored in communications with an emphasis on journalism. I’ve been in PR and marketing communications jobs for the whole of my professional career. I’ve been in jobs before where my main function was to write whatever needed to be captured. Since my professional career began technology has gone from typing into a word processing typewriter to micro-blogging on Twitter with my mobile phone. Who could have imagined that?

Writing is a skill; it’s a job; and it’s a gift. Anyone can learn to write well but not everyone is a gifted writer.

Writing is cathartic for me. I’ve kept some form of a journal since I was 12 years old. I’ve been working out my emotional tribulations by writing about it almost since I was able form words into sentences. No matter if writing is a necessary skill in today’s information age or if you are a gifted writer, practice makes you better.

The awesomeness of blogging means that you get “published” every day that you decide to write. With the tools available you become a content generator. The downside is that there is a lot more content out there to sort through. But the main thing is to continue to do it regularly. Consistently producing new content is like major league at-bats. The more you’re up at the plate the more opportunities you have to hit a home run.

Happy blogging, Y’all.

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Pink Slippers

Today has been an extraordinarily busy day … so tonight when I came home from a 12-hour work day I put my pajamas on. I figured why bother changing out of my work clothes only to change again later. Part of my nighttime attire includes a pair of slippers because we have tile or stained concrete in the majority of our house. Hard floors = cold floors in winter.

Every year someone in my family gives me slippers, which I love because I always need a new pair by the time Christmas rolls around. My feet are always cold. Seriously, the only thing colder than my feet is me arse. (But that’s another story.)

The Christmas before my son was born my mother-in-law gave me a pink, furry bath robe and matching slippers. The set was like a little piece of cloud wrapped around my very pregnant middle. And of course the slippers were awesome since my feet hurt and were incredibly swollen most of the time. I packed this robe and slippers in my bag to take with me to the hospital when our son was born. What typically is a two-day process ended up being a five-day stay.

While my son was in the NICU, I shuffled down the hospital corridors in my robe and slippers. I looked like a grizzly bear, all grouchy and postpartum puffy. My house slippers were my only footwear, and it was hard to walk, for obvious reasons. And since my hormones were so completely out of whack I could be fearsome to deal with, like the most ferocious of felines.

I still have the slippers and wear them sometimes. But before I left the hospital, my husband dubbed them the pink slippers of fury because of the tangles I found myself in while wearing them.

So now it’s a family joke and all I have to do to “mean business” is to point to my feet in the pink slippers and our little son will say “no momma, not the pink slippers of fury.”

The infamous Pink Slippers of Fury

Manic Monday

The first day back after a long holiday is hectic to say the least. The organization I work for produces a large community event the first Thursday after Thanksgiving. A service organization I belong to has its biggest fund raiser on the first Saturday in December. These two events always fall within the same week and it’s always a three-ring circus at our house and offices. The events themselves require lots of coordination among various parties to make it all happen. We rely on volunteers to do almost everything. And we are thankful to have their help.

There are many community folks who partake of these events without much thought about the planning and initiative it takes to throw a party on this scale. I’ve been planning events for the whole of my professional career. I have an aptitude for it and a great deal of experience actually doing it. The thing about events is that they always happen.  Some how they just happen.  And you can plan and plan and plan, but there are always things that come up that you can’t anticipate.  By experience I know that I have to “plan” to deal with the hitches, as they happen. It’s a lot of work and really stressful, so let’s just say I’ll be so glad when Sunday comes.

Some days I’m envious of my cat…

Pussums, the cat who has it all.

Thanks for “Ponies”

I’m so thankful Thanksgiving is over… it was just the holiday I needed but I’m glad to get back to it starting Monday.

Tonight we had a special treat. We got back from visiting my husband’s family around 6 p.m. Then my parents came to our house about 6:45 with our dog and we got to visit with them.

We got a rare treat when my dad took up the guitar and played two or three songs. They were old-fashioned, traditional cowboy songs. My favorite of all the music my dad plays. Tonight he played a cowboy campfire Christmas tune and an all-time favorite, “ponies,” which is a song about a horse whisperer.

When I was pregnant with my son, every time I heard the song it would make me cry. Personally I think this song should always be sung in a small setting and acoustically. John Denver recorded the song and it’s featured on his Different Directions album. The produced, recorded versions lose the intimate feel of what the song is all about. This is a beautiful song about a cowboy who understands and communicates with horses in a way that no one else can.

Most of us have encountered a person like the one in the song – a person who has a way with dogs, or horses, or babies or whatever it is that can’t speak. If you’ve ever ridden a horse and been in complete unison with the animal, this song will move you.

Ponies

Somewhere out on the prairie
Is the greatest cowboy that’s ever been
And when he lays his hands upon the ponies
They shudder with an understanding skin

And he says ponies
Now ponies don’t you worry
I have not come to steal your fire away
I want to fly with you across the sunrise
Discover what begins each shining day

When the storm clouds in the west
Are quickly gathering
The ponies they run wild there
Before it rains

You’ll see their sleek dark bodies
Brightly gleaming
You know the fire is flying through
Their veins

And he says ponies
Now ponies don’t you worry
I have not come to steal your fire away
I want to fly with you across the sunrise
Discover what begins each shining day

And he says ponies
Now ponies don’t you worry
I have not come to steal your fire away
I want to fly with you across the sunrise
Discover what begins each shining day

And he says ponies
Ponies don’t you worry
I have not come to steal your fire away
I want to fly with you across the sunrise
Discover what begins each shining day

Words and music by Jeffrey Bullock

Thanks Forgetting

Twenty-six days in to a blog a day and I almost didn’t get this one in …

  1. In goes the turkey

    Yep. Fried trukey, y'all.
  2. Out comes the turkey

    An hour later = GBD (code for Golden Brown Delicious)
  3. There’s a bunch left over, still.

    it's at least 10 lbs of turkey
  4. There is still about 45 pages left … and this is part of the reason why I almost forgot to post my blog tonight.

    Forget Thrilla in Manilla ... this suspense rules in Stockholm.

Lots of food, barking dogs, noisy kids, squawking birds and belly aches… I think I really need a detox and botox for that matter. Let’s just give thanks that Thanksgiving is almost over.

(Fried turkey post to come…)

To Catch a Fish

We’re visiting Nanny and Pawpaw this weekend. Pawpaw wanted a new computer so we actually ventured to one of the bigbox stores on Black Friday to find an electronics deal. Remarkably the stores weren’t bad at all – I guess when you go at 6 p.m. all the early birds have gone home to roost.

On our adventure we stopped off at a Mongolian-style grill for dinner. Jdubs has been balking at eating his dinner these days but tonight we had leverage. There was a guy at the restaurant making balloon critters. We threatened Jdubs that if he didn’t eat his dinner then no balloon.

Cute college boy working his way through school just a few balloons at a time.

And this guy was good. He’s a college student at UT-Dallas. Pretty clever part-time job for a college student. Nanny asked if he had to go to a special school to learn how to make balloon animals. He said that he went to the school of You Tube to learn. (A comedian too).

Goldfish on the line.

He made Jdubs a goldfish on a fishing pole.

He told us he was available for birthdays and parties, but occasionally he got invited to bachelorette parties, which could get a little awkward… I guess the single girls wanted something other than a fish on a line 😉

Jdubs did good, ate his broccoli and noodle dinner. Thanks Blue Collar Balloon Guy.

Jdubs is so silly.

Scattered Thanksgiving

Several people have asked me what we were going to make for Thanksgiving. When I say “nothing” puzzled glances follow with raised eyebrows. When your family is far-flung or out of pocket for whatever reason, it’s hard to justify cooking an 18-pound turkey for four adults and a small child.

My grandmother is recovering from the surgery she had last week. The procedure made her weak and tired. I have a family member going through a divorce and another one with a terrible bacterial infection, etc., etc.

So it was just easier and more convenient (and cheaper) for my immediate family go to Wildcatter for Thanksgiving.

A big pile of food ... Tri tip steak, ham and smoked turkey. Mac n cheese, grits, dressing, green beans, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

It was delicious! And we had a spectacular view of the North Texas Hill Country.

View off the southern bluff at Wildcatter Ranch

We had a stellar French Burgundy and when we were done, we went home. No dishes, no leftovers, no nada.

2003 Santenay was lights-out good!

I don’t think I’ll want to do it every year, but I’m thankful it’s an option. We’ll have traditional Thanksgiving feast with my husband’s family over the weekend – fried turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie.

We had a good day, (well other than that fight we had). And it was a beautiful day to be outside in the garden. I worked on long-overdue cleanup and winter planting.

The Christmas tree went up with relative ease. As I write, the Aggies and Longhorns are still battling it out. It’s been the holiday I really needed.