All Reading Is Good Reading

Fourth grade classroom, 2010. The carpet hadn’t yet arrived.

 

When I taught, I always made sure to have a “cozy” library corner — pillows, stuffed animals, and hundreds of books.  Because I’m a firm believer that all reading, however it’s done, is beneficial.

I have always loved to read (you can find me on Goodreads, by the way), and I’m proud to say that my son, Ryan, also loves to read.

You can click here to read one of my latest personal essays “All Reading Is Good Reading – Even Comic Books” on MomsLA.com.

Playing Tourist

The external tank on view at the California Science Center

One of the reasons I appreciate living in Los Angeles is the sheer number of experiences I can provide my son.  We are a museum-going family and visit several of our favorites on a regular basis.

Last week, we saw the only external tank on the planet, and then a few days later, we saw the fossils for the state dinosaur, the Augustynolophus. 

Unfortunately, I think locals sometimes forget to take advantage of all their city has to offer.  So here’s a suggestion for the new year — play tourist.  Visit the California Science Center or the Natural History Museum.  (We were at both last week).  Check out the Petersen Automative Museum or the GRAMMY Museum.  (We were there fairly recently).  And, if you’re still unsure about where to go, check out some of the guides I’ve written for MomsLA.com. You’ll find guides to the L.A. Zoo, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and more.

 

My Year’s Focus

A new year is upon us, but I no longer make new year’s resolutions.  Because, like I told my son, I believe people can make a change, a fresh start, at any time. 

And, like I saw from last year, there really is too much I don’t have any control of.  Last year, I got sick within the first couple weeks of the new year — a mystery illness that was just the beginning of a very health-challenging year.

So this year, I’m trying to stay flexible, or as my son likes to say, “go with the flow.”  Because, really, no one knows from one day to the next.

In lieu of a resolution, I am designating a focus for the year.  That focus is my writing — the personal writing I do here on this blog, as well as the personal writing I send out into the world.  (I’m very proud that one of my personal essays will be included in an anthology titled Chronic Illness Truths that will be published later this year).

Barbara Abercrombie, an author and fantastic instructor in the UCLA Extension Writing Program explains it well: 

“… we all go through strange and painful periods in our lives and one of the reasons we read is to find out how other people, real or fictional, navigate the hard times.”
(This quote is taken from Barbara’s book A Year of Writing Dangerously).

That is one of the reasons I read.  And why I write.

 

Middle Age

Silly picture of Ryan on his ninth birthday! (Under the Mario hat, he’s wearing a birthday crown)

We are days away from a New Year.  My son is quite excited about 2018, because it’ll be the year he enters “double digits.”

I’m trying not to rush things; I’m trying to savor the here and now.  And on that note, I’d like to share my newest publication with you.  “In the Middle” is my personal essay about middle age — my own as well as Ryan being in the middle of his childhood. (You can click here to read it at Parent.co). 

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my work each week.  I appreciate your support. 

May the year ahead bring us all love, peace, and good health!

Holiday Wishes

Our Christmas tree is decorated, and last night we lit the menorah for the last time this year.  My son, Ryan, is super-excited about Christmas, and not only for the presents.  In fact, the other day when I asked him what he was most excited about, Ryan answered, “Giving everyone their gifts.” 

Unlike Ryan, I’m not expecting to wake up Christmas morning with packages under the tree.  Though if I had the chance to ask for a gift, I have a big request.  It’s not easily given, not found in a store, and can’t be ordered from Amazon.

The gift I would most like is good health for my family.  This year has been a really challenging one, for me especially.  I found myself in a doctor’s office, undergoing tests, and/or subjected to procedures almost every month this year.  (The only exceptions were June and, so far, December).  And I’m not talking your run-of-the-mill, routine doctor’s appointments.  I’m talking about procedures that took hours, about referrals to specialists, about tests I’d never even heard of before.

It was hard, in every way.  Hard to be so sick and feeling so unwell.  Hard to wait for results.  Hard to receive results.

But now it’s Christmas time.  And all I really want is to keep us all healthy and safe.

With that, I wish all my readers a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

 

Renters By Choice

I got lucky.  The first time I became a published writer was back in 2004 when the Los Angeles Times published my personal essay, “Paying Rent Pays Off When They Go Home.”  It explained why my husband and I chose to be renters rather than home-owners.  (You can click here to read my essay).

Thirteen years later, we’re still happy renters. 

Earlier this week, we shared a day off together and spent the hours while our son was in school running errands and wrapping Christmas presents.  We began the day with a leisurely coffee and a walk in the neighborhood.  We visited several shops and went out to lunch.  And though we drove to all those places because of my weakened legs, they were all still close enough to walk.  We spent the day getting things done, supporting businesses in our community, and enjoying each other’s company. 

Because we choose to live where we do.  Because we’re renters.

 

Change

From time to time, I re-read books from my home library.  I have hundreds of books, and I don’t remember many of them.  So instead of searching out a new book, I read an old book that seems new to me.  (It’s a good way for me to weed through my collection and decide which books to continue to keep and which to donate to our public library).

I recently picked up Leonard Nimoy’s poetry collection Come Be With with Me. (I have no memory of reading this book, yet I must have at one time because it has a place on my bookcase).

This is the power of books.  On the first page, as part of Mr. Nimoy’s introduction, I found words I didn’t realize I needed to read.

Living things must change. 

I am a living thing which must change.  If I can accept the changes, I can accept myself, and when I accept myself I can enjoy the changes and the beauty of the changes in the garden of my life.”

I don’t accept my changes easily.  Just the other night, I sadly told my husband that I don’t walk nearly as fast as I used to.  People half a block away are soon passing me on the sidewalk.  Some days I just remind myself “slow and steady” is all I’m after.  I may be walking slowly, but the important part is that I’m walking.  Other days, it stings to hear another parent at my son’s school overtake me on the sidewalk and casually call out, “You’re not going to win any races.”  She’s right.  I won’t.  She doesn’t know that I’m trying, really hard, just to get from point A to point B. 

But I am a living thing, and as Mr. Nimoy wrote “living things must change.” 

 

On another change-related note, my son, who attends a Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school, recently received his first report card of the school year.  The format of the report card has significantly changed since last year. 

I don’t like it.  That’s the short version.  To read the longer version of why I don’t like it, you can click here to read my personal essay “What Do You Think of LAUSD’S New Report Cards?” recently published on MomsLA.com.

Thankful

My dad and my son breaking the wishbone!

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m tired of all the ads.  We just got done celebrating Thanksgiving, a day for giving thanks. For showing appreciation for the many blessings in our life.  For acknowledging what we already have.

And yet, my inbox is full of emails advertising specials and sales trying to tempt me to spend money.  To buy more stuff.  Stuff I don’t need.  Stuff that gift recipients don’t really need either.  Of course, I’ll be shopping and buying presents for family and friends.  But not during Thanksgiving weekend.  Not when I’m focused on spending time with my son and husband (when he’s not at work).

It just feels like every year Thanksgiving is getting increasingly short-changed.  More and more stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day.  Black Friday specials start Thursday afternoon.  It’s happening because of supply and demand.  People respond to it.  People go to the stores.  People shop and spend money.  

Our family has a yearly Thanksgiving tradition.  We go around the table, and we take turns sharing what we are most thankful for.  This year, we did it twice — once at my parents’ house for our full Thanksgiving meal and once at our house when we were feasting on leftovers later in the day.  And both times, when it was my son’s turn, he never once gave thanks for anything materialistic.  He gave thanks for us, his grandparents, our food, our home, our planet.

And that’s what it’s all about. 

My holiday shopping will start this week instead.

  

Thankful for Public Schools

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share with my readers a post I wrote for MomsLA back in 2013.  That was the same year I left my twelve-year teaching career, and the year my son began his own twelve-year career as a public school student. 

Click here to read “6 Reasons Why We Should Be Thankful for Public Schools.”

And readers, I’d love to learn what you’re thankful for.  Let me know in the comments section.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everybody’s Got Something

I recently finished reading Everybody’s Got Something, a memoir written by Robin Roberts.  I knew very little of Ms. Roberts’s story, largely because I don’t watch morning news shows.  But her book came highly recommended by a friend of mine, and I’m glad I read it.  So in case you haven’t read it yet, I wanted to share some of the take-aways that most resonated with me.

  • Sometimes you have to go back to basics:  When you are down and you don’t know how to pick yourself up, start where you are.  Left foot, right foot, breathe.”
  • “When you’re facing a health crisis, you crave normalcy.  So much in your life isn’t normal anymore.  You feel reluctant to tell anybody, because you don’t want to be treated differently.”
  • This statement is just oh so true for me:  I just wanted to feel better the next day than I’d felt the day before.  It had been so long since I’d felt normal, whatever normal is.”
  • Ms. Roberts gets a whole lot of credit because she used “my diagnosis to raise awareness…  And in the words of her beloved Momma, “Make your mess your message.  Find the meaning behind whatever you’re going through, because everybody’s got something.”

And I’m trying.  I’m trying to raise awareness, to create some meaning in a medical condition which largely isn’t understood or easily treated.  Because I know it’s not just me.  Whether it’s evident or not, everyone’s dealing with something.