Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sunshine and Rainbows

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? I’m a happy gal who definitely falls into the realm of optimism. In fact, I’m often referred to as “sunshine and rainbows” by those who know me quite well. A moniker I’ve grown to love as I make my way optimistically through an increasingly pessimistic world.

If you are an optimist, then you realize that it is getting a wee bit harder to keep that proverbial glass of water half full. With the onslaught of bad news screaming at you from every news media outlet, you are forever refilling your glass to keep it level, checking for cracks, and keeping it stable so as not to tip over the brink.

“Three boys kill jogger because they are bored,” posts Media Outlet X. “Two boys on bus bully a child to the point of breaking his arm,” reports Media Outlet Y. Both of which are jarring bits of news that gave me pause. Actually, they stopped me dead in my tracks. Where are the sunshine and rainbows in these cases? There aren’t any. You won’t find them there either, because you are looking in the wrong place for something to make sense. Because none of that does. And because if you try to make sense out of it, you are left with a completely empty glass.

Everything is balanced: beach vs. ocean, heights vs. depths, body vs. soul, and good vs. bad news. As I see it, the balance isn’t out of whack, the information is. For every bad thing that happens in my glass in the space of air hovering above the water, a good thing is happening below in a fluid and unmistakably graceful motion. It has been this way throughout history. This, my dear friends, is nothing new.

However, nowadays our information is funneled to us by outlets that gain the most profit out of reporting the worst news. The numbers don’t lie…the more interaction with a story, the higher the numbers. The higher the numbers, the more advertising can be sold. The more advertising and marketing that can be sold, the more profitable the business of reporting news is. On and on it goes – fueled by a bottom line. The incongruous part though, is life is not a bottom line. Oh yes, it has an end, but not a monetary foundation that makes it either worthy of a story or not. It is a story unto itself.

To stay optimistic you have to work harder. You have to search in places that are both on and off the beaten path. Sure you can find the feel-good article from time-to-time online, on your mobile device, or on your TV, but it is usually a buried treasure waiting to be unearthed by those who are actively seeking grace. Or it is found by slowing down your busy life to thank the trees for making oxygen, the moon for providing glorious waves, and a child for taking their first steps.

For every bit of bad news, I stay optimistic by finding the balance and then tipping the scales with the good. For every death, thousands more are saved by a counselor, policeman, good samaritan, soup kitchen worker, and caring teacher. Are they newsworthy? To find out, let’s consider this hypothetical. Choose the headline below you would most likely click on:

“Policeman kills two car thieves by ramming car in high speed chase.”

– OR –

“Policeman visits local school to teach kids about the dangers of drunk driving.”

Face it, you would click on the first one. And yet, while two people – sad in its own right – lost their lives in the first scenario, how many lives were saved by the school visit? Did all twenty of the children in that classroom, or even two of them, take his speech to heart and subsequently make choices that kept them alive? Being an optimist, I’d like to think so.

Rainbows are brought about by a balance between sunshine and rain. So to be optimistic doesn’t mean that you only see good in the world, it means you seek more of it to keep your glass half full – even if you have to fill it with rain.


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The Business of Me

Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. That’s what I feel like these days. Now that I’m trying to put my cubicle life behind me, I’ve entered into The Business of Me. Or, in other words, I spend my days anchored to a boat called, Self-Promotion. It’s pulling myself up and getting that damn boat out of the mooring that is proving to be the challenge.

I constantly remind myself to stay humble. I’ll never get to the saintly level of Mother Teresa, but I try really hard to keep myself in check. The do-good voices rattling about in my cranium will attest to that fact, as well as the angel that sits on my shoulder and whacks me in the head from time-to-time with her perfectly polished halo. So, can a person striving to live a humble life self-promote themselves effectively, or even at all?

On the one hand, I worry that I’m making a menace out of myself on Facebook and Twitter, and in every conversation I have with family, friends and acquaintances that comes around to talking about my book. On the other hand, I have to be “out there.” Living, breathing and talking my way into people’s hearts and minds. Making myself stick, without being unwontedly stuck.

Some moments make the self-promoting all worthwhile; like when a mom tells me her son absolutely loved Theo’s Mythic and can’t wait for the next book in the series. And then some moments, like when I email someone repeatedly to see if their child liked the book and I hear crickets, I feel like a self-promotional nuisance. A literary leech. Much like an unsolicited vacuum salesman standing at your door begging for a chance to come in – I’m worried both I and the vacuum are going to suck.

“You need tougher skin,” is what I tell myself. So somedays I skip the moisturizer in pursuit of calluses that will protect me from – what? The truth? Actually, no. I need to protect myself from people’s opinions and accept the fact that while some folks might adore the book, some just won’t get it. Factors could include the child’s age, genre likes, love/hate relationship with reading, or any number of things that I have absolutely no control over.

Now back to The Business of Me. Step 1: Write a blog post about said subject. Step 2: Use it as a cathartic experience. Step 3: Move the hell on.

In closing I’d like to share my mission statement for my new business. It reads as follows:

Here at The Business of Me we strive to effectively promote and establish a global understanding of the abilities we offer to our clients. We shall constantly worry about being too “in your face,” but will put ourselves in your face, nonetheless, in the sincere hope that you’ll like what you see. We will forever promote the written word as something to be cherished by children, as well as bring smiles to their faces. And due to our membership in the human race, we will write for a kinder, lovelier, more beautiful world. Because we’ve found that The Business of Me just happens to be…also about You.



As I’ve written in past blog posts, my epiphany to write a book and the words that ensued came quickly and easily. The publishing part, well, did not.

Originally I went the traditional route: I sent query after query to literary agents I was sure would not only be the perfect fit, but also welcome me and Theo’s Mythic with open arms. Each one gushing at my expert writing ability and fighting for a chance to be “the one”. Not.

Side note: I am, and always will be, an eternal optimist.

After some very nice, “No thanks, your book isn’t quite right for my list at this time” replies, I started looking into self-publishing. Was it because I felt defeated, like this was my only option? No. I actually fell into it and realized it gave me something I was yearning for – a chance.

There were a few things I wanted to accomplish with my book and I was blessedly able to bring them to fruition via self-publishing:

  • Use my own illustrator. I wanted to use Jeff Hopkins, because he is a childhood friend and is extremely talented. I knew he would be the perfect fit and I wanted control over defining my mind’s creations onto paper. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he could do that for me.
  • Write the way I envisioned the words to fall onto the page from day one. I wanted to use words that would challenge today’s commonplace vernacular, and use a non-linear format that would engage and make children’s brain cells work for the reward. I wanted to hand them a great book; a book that would give them the satisfaction of putting all of the pieces together by themselves. Go kids!

Those are the pluses, here is the minus:

  • I’m having a hard time reaching the masses. So now that I’ve accomplished my goals above, I’m seeking a literary agent to help me with the task of getting my book into the hands of many more children via a larger publishing house. Some agents are open to working with self-published titles and some are not. Literary agents are on the fence with this whole new world, and those who have embraced the possibility of the next “big thing” being a self-published title, are the open-minded and truly optimistic folks I’m looking for. I liken it to choosing a toy license. I used to work in licensing at Hasbro and will never forget the day I was watching a hit TV show in the UK for consideration in the US as a toy license. It baffled me. But my wonderful boss and mentor at the time said, “You don’t need to like it or even understand it, the kids do.” I was watching Teletubbies.

So where is the next great book going to come from? Everywhere. There will be titles that go the traditional route, some that come by way of internet exposure, and some that bubble to the surface of the self-published pond.

Again, being an eternal optimist, I am forever grateful that self-publishing gave me the chance. Now I’m hoping my literary agent is sitting on the shore waiting for my bubble to appear.



20 Thoughts for a Better Mankind

I love quotes. Especially when they are made into pretty little graphics and elegantly placed on Pinterest for the world to see. So I made up some of my own quotes – 20 thoughts for how I like to live my life.

Will they make for a better mankind? Debatable at the very least, yet inspirational at the very most; as many quotes have been for me throughout the years. Here goes:

  1. Be the bandaid, but don’t get stuck on the wound.
  2. If I judged everything by the outside, my heart would never get a place on the jury.
  3. Give a “thank you” wave, because your middle finger only makes me want to look up.
  4. Hold the door. If you don’t, you’re telling God not to open another one for you.
  5. Smile more, because the earth couldn’t survive without sunshine.
  6. Don’t litter or you are trash.
  7. Never say to yourself, “It’s ok, just this one time,” if you want more time.
  8. Give a disabled person a high five, not a lowered head.
  9. Have an opinion. Keep it in your head if it’s spiteful. Put it on paper if it’s respectful.
  10. Don’t carry your heart on your sleeve in case you want to change your shirt.
  11. Rise above, because if you sink below, only you will drown.
  12. Listen with your ears, not with words coming out of your mouth.
  13. Pay it forward, backwards, and sideways.
  14. I pardon you FOR only to GIVE myself peace.
  15. Be kind even in the face of evil, or you will become a mirror.
  16. Wish for world peace, because believing in something, is something.
  17. The earth was here first and you were here second. So putting the earth first is the natural order of things.
  18. Use good manners. Please and Thank You will get you more Welcomes.
  19. Use your hands to make things right instead of your finger to point out what’s wrong.
  20. Be humble. Big heads don’t fit through windows of opportunities.


P.S. If you cite my quotes out of context, please credit me. Or pay cash. Bwahahaha. And please feel free to post your favorite quote(s) in the comments. I’d love to read them!


“Not this time. As soon as she forced the vision out of her head, all of the surrounding air, time, light, and sound bent in space at once, forming a celestial wormhole that encased the DarkDwellers in one massive eruption of her mind.” – Theo’s Mythic

This is one of my favorite quotes from the book. Why? Because it shows how one previously-believed-to-be-flawed character, a Happenstance, has amazing potential. The Happenstances in my book are loosely based on my two nieces; profoundly disabled from birth, yet profoundly spectacular in redefining what it is to live a life.

Happenstance means: a circumstance especially that is due to chance. My nieces are undiagnosed and perceived to be “flawed” by many narrow-minded individuals. They cannot walk or talk. But to me, a life is not defined by what you cannot do, rather, it is the potential within – whether it be latent or obvious. It isn’t packaged in a form you are used to seeing, but make no mistake about it – the spark is there.

Here are a few examples of the life my nieces have lived and what they have breathed into my “normal” world. Essences I would have never inhaled had I not been blessed with all that they are.

  1. Love comes in many forms. We have never heard either one of them say, “I love you”.  And yet, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the love that emanates from their souls is felt deeper than any three words uttered by mouth could ever communicate.
  2. Beauty abounds. Beauty is not defined by perfect makeup, hair swept into undulating waves, or the must-have designer label meant to elevate and transcend the ordinary. True beauty can be found in their smiles. Wholly uplifting – and sometimes mischievous – grins, that are equal to all the joy in the world captured in two magnificient faces.
  3. They are strong. Looking at them all you might see are two weak bodies relegated to wheelchairs; robbed of the potential of perfectly developed muscles, skin, and bone. Yet they have survived grueling therapies, a near-death experience (still classified to this day as “a miracle” by all doctors), and multiple surgeries – one of which left them in body casts from the chest down for two months. So to look at them as weak is to say that the ocean has no greater purpose than to lick the shore. The mighty ocean and my mighty girls have much more strength in them than that.

While the Happenstances in my book are created by lightning, we don’t know by what “chance” my beautiful nieces came to be. They were created out of love, that much I know.  The Happenstances in Theo’s Mythic speak in a manner not in keeping with an adult, but they speak volumes with the warmth, love, and care of a thousand mothers. They are not air-brushed, modified, or reshaped into the perfect ideal of beauty, they are naturally glorious. And although they were created by chance, they bear strength and fortitude to become an extraordinary part of their world – of our world.

So the next time you see a disabled person, look to their core, their gifts…to the happenstance that brought them to us. Don’t spit them out, breathe them in. Their life will teach you more about living than any amount of years or experience ever will. While chance was the catalyst, they happened for a reason.


7-16-15 UPDATE

Last week, my amazingly soulful and giggly niece, Abby, was called away to Heaven. Why? There is never an adequate answer, is there? My heart breaks for her incredible parents and all who loved her. However, it is with full conviction that my heart does not break for her.

To know Abby was to learn that “different” meant extraordinary; that a disability only meant out of the norm and not disabled. My heart is full knowing that she is finally able to realize what it is to walk amongst friends and loved ones, respond to a kind word with her own words, and feel unrestricted movement in every facet of her being. To be free.

We often say that about someone we have lost – that they are at peace and are now free. To Abby, these sentiments carry much more weight than we boringly normal people could ever know. Her transition means so much more than we could ever understand. And her life means so much more to those of us left behind because of who and what she was – special.

Special needs often defines children like Abby. Sure, she needed certain alternative accommodations, but the special needs definition was for us as well – because she was special and we needed her in our lives. In fact, there should be more Abbys in the world. Too often we get focused on the negative; we make mountains out of our of minuscule problems; and we see the good in a cursory manner, but actually pay attention to the bad. I needed Abby and all of her specialness – which I could eat with a spoon – to teach me about what is right in the world and where the priorities ought to be, not where society tells us they should be. Simply put, she set me free.

We will never be the same. Some days I just want to punch something at the unfairness of it all – and some days I thank God for making the right choice for her, even though it was the difficult one for us. Her life and death were altogether amazing and heartbreaking – and one day I pray I get to hear her giggle again. Just one little laugh to know that all is right in this world. Until then, we’ll smile for her as we remember not what we have lost, but what we have gained, an angel.



I Can’t Smell the Roses

Relax: re-lax |riˈlaks| verb, 1) make or become less tense or anxious • rest or engage in an enjoyable activity so as to become less tired or anxious.

I actually had to look the word up because I don’t know how to relax anymore. Tired and anxious I have down pat, but relax? Forgetaboutit. I’m actually wondering if it’s even possible “in today’s day and age” [dun dun dun!] to relax.

Everyone has endless lists running amok in their brains, right? Like when you are trying to fall asleep, and the dreaded List Spigot releases a waterfall of never ending to do’s into your subconsciousness. How, when you’re driving in the car, you suddenly get from point A to point B on autopilot because you were trying to figure out how to get a birthday present, fill out school paperwork, finish a presentation for work, and determine what’s for dinner – all in a day you’ve already totally overbooked.

Case in point: I love nature. Love, love, love, love, love nature. Growing up, I remember sitting on the front hill of my yard and smelling the sap coursing through the veins of the trees. Feeling the freshly mowed grass clipped to a precise height file through my fingers. Even watching the clouds as they whispered the secrets of angels to one another in the sky.

Now, if I try to sit on a hill and take in the surroundings, my once peaceful brain rattles off replies to emails, new shoes for the children to be bought, and, oh yeah, a note to self to check the level in the oil tank.

Have I lost the ability to silence myself or have my senses been dulled with age and responsibilities? Or has technology and “stuff” replaced my beloved nature? Are my computer, iPhone, house, and car really that needy? Because nature isn’t needy. I am the one that needs her to stay whole and well-grounded. But how do I get back to her? To clarity?

Since I can’t seem to smell the roses anymore, I need to seriously weed my garden. Like a beautiful, unspoiled field in the country, its quiet magic is fed by its simplicity. It can breathe. If I built a house, and then a town, and then a city on that field, it would eventually become so complicated that I wouldn’t be able to see the soil that was once its foundation. I would have suffocated it.

I think that’s what I’ve done: Built a beautiful life and then overcomplicated it. I need this to do that. Wouldn’t it be great if we had x to make y easier. Boy oh boy, wouldn’t the kids love to have ______. Quite frankly, I can’t smell the roses because I’ve buried them under ten tons of manure.

So it’s time to start digging. Time to silence my head and reintroduce myself to my heart. It’s time to feel the sting of a few thorns to get to the beauty of the rose; those being my family and my well-being. And as the trowel breaks through the unnecessary layers, I bet it will smell great.

You’ve Been Terminated

Wow. I’ve never heard those words before in my 20+ year marketing career. But guess what? I heard them on Monday. And it wasn’t in a cool Arnold Schwarzenegger voice either. Because, in my head, his voice would have made it a little less real. “Our strategy going forward is such that we no longer have a need for the services of a marketing department,” said the non-Arnold voice to my co-worker and me. Double wow.

I’m a firm believer in fate and faith. One guiding the other on a path unknown to me, but influenced by me nonetheless. And I believe that attitude is everything. So did I get totally ticked off and rip apart my office like Ms. Disgruntled Employee would do? Um, no. Did I cry and say, “How could you do this to me? How am I going to support my family?” Ok, so I did well up a bit, but again I was not angry.

Why? Because along with fate and faith I forge my own destiny. I am not defined by a turndown, rejection, or even a company that has decided I’m no longer part of their strategy. I’m defined by…me. And I like to define myself by writing words that will make people feel better, by the way I nuzzle my children in bed and tell them they are my world, and by saying hi to a stranger in the hopes to erase anything negative that was said to him before our eyes met. To be kind even when all I want to do is scream. To understand that maybe I wasn’t a good fit. To realize that this round peg needs to stop forcing herself into square holes.

So as I turn the corner on the unknown, I’m realizing that I haven’t been terminated, I’ve been liberated. More importantly, as I turn the corner, I’ll look to fate who winks while knowing just what’s going to happen next, while faith takes my hand and tells me, “Don’t worry, my child, it’s going to be ok. Your destiny awaits. All you need to do is turn the page and I’ll give you the ink to write your very own story.”