I’ve Been Thinking

For my birthday, a good friend gave me Maria Shriver’s new book I’ve Been Thinking…

And a lot of what Ms. Shriver was thinking and writing really resonated with me.  Here are a few gems I’d like to share with you:

So today, start where you are – not where you wish you were, but where you are.  The future isn’t here.  This day offers each of us a chance to be the person we want to be.  Not the person we wish we had been yesterday or want to be tomorrow, but the person we already are.”

I’ve learned that living in either the past or the future keeps me up in my head, out of reality, robbing me of the present.”

“It takes courage to push up against the way it is or the way it has been.  It takes courage to push back and be creative with the gift of life.  But that’s exactly what building a life of our own requires: thinking outside the box, being creative, being flexible, facing the fear of the unknown, stepping into it, and being willing to start over.”

“You never know how your story might inspire another.  Share what you wish, save some just for you, and always remember to keep adding new chapters as you go along.”

And these quotes were not written by Ms. Shriver, but she did include them in her book:

I am not what happened to me.  I am what I choose to become.  — Carl Jung

What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  — Maya Angelou

 

When Is A Child Old Enough For the Front Seat?

Not this kind of driving — yet. Photo taken at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

 

At my son’s last physical, I only had one question for his pediatrician:  “What’s the rule about riding in the front seat of the car?”

As it turns out, what my son’s pediatrician recommends and what the state of California deems legal are not the same thing.

You can read about it on MomsLA, by clicking here to read my essay, “When Is A  Child Old Enough For the Front Seat?”

The Words I Use to Describe My Autoimmune Disease

My son and I playing handball

 

I gained a reputation after teaching for a number of years.  I was kind.  Organized.  Structured.  Calm.  Patient.  Loving.

And even though I’m no longer teaching, those adjectives still apply. 

But there’s another side of me.  The side that is sometimes so frustrated, so beaten-down that I feel like channeling Bill Murray’s character in What About Bob? and letting out a long tirade of curse words.  And while I don’t let myself go to that extreme, it still isn’t easy to deal with daily pain and stay calm. 

Instead, I write about it.

Click here to be re-directed to The Mighty to read my latest personal essay, “The Words I Use to Describe Life With an Autoimmune Disease.”

Ellen: A Role Model for Our Family

Even with YouTube available, we still enjoy watching this DVD collection!

Readers,

Here are three fun facts you may not know about me:

  1. I’ve never learned to whistle.  (My students always got a big kick out of this!)
  2. When I was in the sixth grade, I was our school’s Student Council President and was on a very early morning show that aired on what used to be called KCOP.
  3. We use rabbit ears on the rare occasion we watch TV in our home.

I bring up the rabbit ears, because even though we don’t watch a lot of TV, our family does have a favorite television personality.  Ellen DeGeneres.

You can click here to read my recently published essay “10 Reasons Why Watching Ellen Is Good For My Son.

Who is your favorite television personality?  Feel free to share in the comments section!

The Lost Art of Cursive Writing

My son has about a month-and-a-half left of fourth grade.  So if it hasn’t happened by now, I doubt it will happen at all.

And by “it,” I mean learning to write in cursive.

When I taught fourth grade, my students had already learned the basics of cursive the year before in third grade.  We continued to practice, because practice makes better, and I did require some of their assignments to be completed in cursive writing.

Last year, my son didn’t learn cursive writing in third grade.  So during last year’s summer vacation, I spent time with my son, teaching him how to write his first name in cursive.  He writes it beautifully. 

But we still have the rest of his name to learn, the rest of the alphabet to practice.  That will happen during this year’s summer vacation.

Click here to read an essay I wrote several years ago for MomsLA.com titled “The Value of Teaching Cursive.”

Spring

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, March 2018

Here in Los Angeles, we don’t have seasons the same way other parts of the country have seasons.  But when I asked my ten-year-old son to name his favorite season, he told me it was spring.  When I asked him why, he said, “Because it’s my birthday.  And because it’s the best weather.  Not too anything.”

I knew what he meant.  Generally, spring is the “not-too-hot and not-too-cold” season.  And my son’s birthday (which is the same day as my mom’s birthday) lands in the  spring.

This year, though, was different.  This year, my son turned 10!  And while his birthday was a great spring day, there were plenty of dreary winter-like thoughts invading my mind.  It prompted me to write “When Dismay About My Illness Keeps Me Stuck in a ‘Winter-Like’ Mindset” which you can read on The Mighty by clicking here.  (And please don’t forget to share it on social media).

Eat Cake

I wanted a guaranteed feel-good type of book to read so I turned to my bookcase and selected Jeanne Ray’s Eat Cake.  I vaguely remembered the storyline, so I knew I would enjoy re-visiting these characters.  What I hadn’t anticipated was just how much I enjoyed the book, and how much I learned from it.

Here are a few passages that really resonated with me:

Cakes have gotten a bad rap.  People equate virtue with turning down dessert.  There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake.  But that isn’t a person with discipline, that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy.  A slice of cake never made anybody fat.  You don’t eat the whole cake.  You don’t eat a cake every day of your life.  You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious.  You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress.  A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding.  A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life.

My mother was a teacher, and when I say that, I don’t simply mean it was the way she made her living.  She was a teacher in her soul and found that inside every action there was the opportunity for instruction.”

Nobody likes to think they need to be rescued and everybody is grateful when it happens.”

It was worth everything, that moment, that song.  It did the very thing that music can do when it is at its best:  It elevated us and healed us and showed us how to be our better selves.”

I never knew that people could be afraid of good news too.  I realized that good news took you places you didn’t know anything about.  It changed everything as much as bad news did.” 

Everything changes.  Sometimes when your life has been going along the same way for a long time you can forget that.  You think that every day is going to be the same, that everyone will come home for dinner, that we will be safe, that life will roll along.  Sometimes the changes are the kind you can’t do anything about: Someone gets sick, someone dies, and you look back on the past and think, Those were the days of my happy life.  But other times things change and all you have to do is find a way to change with them.  It’s when you stay in exactly the same spot when everything around you is moving that you really get into trouble.  You still have a chance if you’re willing to run fast enough, if you’re willing to forget everything that you were absolutely positive was true and learn to see the world in a different way.

A Little Self-Promotion

I’m not all that good at self-promotion, but for writers, it’s important.  It’s important to let readers know what you’ve written.  And why they should read it.  So on that note:

Friday, April 6th is Fresh Tomato Day.  And I thought I’d use that unique holiday to spread the word about Tomato Slices — An Anthology of Tomato Stories, Poetry, Art, and Recipes.  I don’t like tomatoes, have never liked tomatoes (even though I like ketchup and pasta sauce), so I originally didn’t think I’d have an essay to write about tomatoes.  But, it turns out I did, and it is included in this anthology.

Additionally, The Mighty recently published a personal essay of mine about what my life is like as an “undercover disabled woman.”  Please, help me get the word out and help share it on social media.  Hopefully after reading my essay, you’ll find yourself behaving a bit more patiently when waiting for someone who looks “fine” to slowly cross the street.

A Love Letter To Books

I recently finished reading Dear Fahrenheit 451 — Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence.  The book is “a librarian’s love letters and breakup notes to the books in her life.”

The collection of letters is a clever and unique idea.  Here are just a few of the book’s gems I’d like to share with you:

 

When addressing The Giving Tree, Ms. Spence has this snarky bit to say:

“It started out so sweet with you.  I thought you were about being, you know, giving, and how generosity fills us all up with happiness.  This tree you talk about keeps giving and giving and GIVING and you say she’s happy, but I don’t know. Tree was not happy.  My girl was suffering.  First off, she is the only tree in that goddamn forest.”

 

A short paragraph about the long-lasting effect of Charlotte’s Web:

“I don’t exactly remember, but I think this is the first book I cried over, and I still never kill spiders in my shower.  That’s how you know a book has stuck with you.”

 

In a letter to The Fledgling, Ms. Spence reminds us of the power of reading the right book at the right time:

“You comforted me in a way that no one else’s words could have managed, reminding me of my own natural soul.  Of the person I am when I don’t have to be anything else.”

 

And this thoughtful bit is a love letter to the Public Library Children’s Section:

“You make it look easy, like fun even.  But what you do is hard work.  Important work.  And you’re the only one that can do it.  Kids come to you for lots of different reasons.  These kids have got to fall in love with you.  They need to learn to read, so they can love to read, so they can understand how many different lives they are capable of.  It’s VERY important.  Be a place of peaceful comfort and rowdy imagination and encourage lots of plan making for the future.”

 

 

On the Road to Double Digits

For Ryan’s 3rd birthday, we gave him this tricycle!

In a little more than a week, my son is turning 10.

That sentence, in and of itself, is enough to stop me from writing more.  But I can’t stop writing, because I can’t stop thinking that my son is forever leaving the age of single digits. 

10 is momentous, and my husband and I have been struggling with trying to come up with the “perfect” gift for our son.  I’m not yet telling you what we’ve decided on, but you can click here to read my personal essay “Entering the Age of Double Digits” that explains our predicament.