GUEST POST: “You Are Worth the Quiet Moment” by Morgan Flores

“You are worth the quiet moment. You are worth the deeper breath. You are worth the time it takes to slow down, be still, and rest.” 

Self-care has recently become such a popular topic and I’ve recently embraced it full force these past couple years. We are asked, in a spiritual point of view, to love our neighbors, to love our parents. But, do we love ourselves? Do we love ourselves as passionately as we love those around us?

I’ve watched close loved ones literally love their loved ones to death. They give and give till they are empty themselves with nothing left to give anymore. Their other loved ones who need it the most have been put to the wayside. They are an empty shell and have lost their true purpose and spark who made them who they once were in the first place. 

One of my favorite analogies is the oxygen mask on the airplane. When an airplane experiences distress in an emergency, oxygen masks pop out from the ceiling to assist breathing. We are instructed to place the mask over ourselves before helping our loved ones. In life, if we can’t take care of ourselves first, we will not be able to help the people next to us. 

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.” 

If we do not take the time to fill our cups, we will have nothing to pour out. 

One of the main things people struggle with giving so much, is that there are no boundaries set with the people around them. They want to help so much that they forget that they need help too. Here are ways to set boundaries in your own life:

  1. Name your limits—You can’t set boundaries if you don’t know what you stand for. What do you tolerate and accept? What makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? That will help list your limits. 
  2. Tune into your feelings—There are two feelings that come from letting go of boundaries (discomfort and resentment). When someone makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue that they’re violating a boundary. When someone is imposing their expectations on us, we will feel guilty and resentment sets in.
  3. Be direct—Be direct with how you want to be treated, what makes you tic, and what you won’t stand for. You’ll know the toxic relationship by who takes these things personally.
  4. Give yourself permission—Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; it’s a sign of self-respect.
  5. Make self-care a priority—put yourself first for a change. It’s recognizing the importance of your feelings and wellbeing. 

Putting yourself first gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them. When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend. 

“You owe yourself the love that you freely give to other people.” 

In my second book, The Love We Found, my main character wants to help someone with a life-threatening illness, only to get herself in trouble too. This concept is called “Save the Savior”.  If we put ourselves in danger by helping someone, we are no use to anyone. We actually cause more damage in the process. 

I whole heartedly agree with helping and loving others. But sometimes we get so caught up in other people’s needs, that we forget our own. Why do we get caught up in other’s needs? Because of guilt and shame? Grief? Sincere selflessness? To impress? When will you put your needs first? Do you know how to put your needs first? 

Everyone deserves self-care, self-respect and self-reliance. You owe yourself that. You are a person with passions, dreams, hobbies, personality, diversity, quirks and gifts. You deserve to harness and spend time crafting those things just as much as you push your loved ones to do. 

The term self-care has been around for centuries. But it’s just come to terms with younger generations for whatever reason. Self-care can look different for different people. Self-care is defined: the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

I have anxiety. I’ve always had it. I think it stemmed from my parent’s divorce from an early age. I never did anything about it till my second daughter came along. With the help of medication, my anxiety doesn’t control me anymore, even though I still struggle. And the help of self-care has even put me at lower dosage of meds. How does one practice self-care? 

Here are some things that I do:

  1. Workout for 30 minutes every day
  2. Less screen time (television and phone)
  3. Taking a long, hot shower 
  4. Going on dates with my husband
  5. Going to bed at the same time every night (10pm) 
  6. Reading 
  7. Eating well (and indulging too)
  8. Drinking plenty of water

With these things, I’ve noticed that I’m happier, I’m living more in the moment, I am invested in my children and husband, I am overall a better person not being acted upon. 

Again, self-care is different for everyone. What works for me might not work for you. It also doesn’t have to be doing something. Lying in bed and meditating in the quiet will be enough! 

And I also want to point out that SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH. It’s important. It’s integral.  

I can’t help but to believe that we were put here on this earth to just be idle. We should be giving our loved ones and ourselves the best version we can be. Don’t get so lost in others that you lose yourself. Everyone deserves to be taken care of—including YOU! 

“It’s important to do what’s best for you, whether people approve of it or not. This is your life. You know what’s good for you and remember, self-love takes strength.” 

 

mo

 

Morgan Flores is the author of young adult books including The Love We Lost and upcoming release sequel, The Love We Found. You can follow her on Instagram @morganized_living for all updates on minimalism, self-care, organization and book updates!

 

 

What My Day Looks Like with Two Little Kids

Okay, so a year and a half ago, I made a schedule of what it was like to have one kid. Well, here’s my schedule of what it is like with TWO KIDS. When I was pregnant with my second, I looked and looked and looked for this kind of post… I could never find it. So I MADE ONE MYSELF YOU’RE WELCOME.

*I will note that there is no schedule with the second for the first few months. And then they dip down to three naps a day and it all comes back to you. By the time it’s two naps a day. NO PROBLEM.

yup

8:00 (ish) Wake up, breakfast, get everyone dressed

Honestly, it’s such a mystery when my day is going to start lately. My baby is very consistently like 8-8:30, but for whatever reason these past few weeks my Toddler has been like 7-9. I wake up, I give the baby a bottle. Jack has a waffle, cereal and strawberry milk, (which he wants every day). I have to change everybody, sit the toddler on the potty. Eat breakfast and get ready myself, which is probably the biggest challenge. Showering has to be quick and I’m usually getting out soaking wet to move the baby back to his toys.

9:00 The daily chores

Every day I make the bed and do dishes. And then I have one chore assigned for that day of the week, like laundry or bathrooms. Sometimes I get them done before the baby’s nap. Most of the time I don’t.

10:30 or 11:00 Casey’s Nap

I put the baby down and then play with Jack, but I let him pick what he wants to do.

12:00 or 12:30 Lunch

I wake the baby up. Which always feels mean but worth it to get a mutual nap from the kids later. We have lunch together and if my husband is home we’ll go out somewhere fun.

mccarthyme

1:00 “Recess”

I call this time Recess in my mind. Pfft. That’s probably dumb. But mostly it’s just where I let the kids play rough and tumble for the last little bit before they sleep. During the blistering Arizona summer, I pull out the plastic slide and try to make a fun play place inside.

2:00 Both kids Nap

This eclipse is everything but it’s so hard to navigate. Jack first and then Casey. If I’m lucky I can get about an hour to myself. I *try* to reserve this time for writing, but honestly a lot of the time I’m so tired I end up sleeping!

4:00 Variable. Usually screen time

Whenever the kids wake up I try to keep it chill. I don’t have a set time for this, but every single day I try to have a reading time where I just read the kids books for a while. Right now, Jack is loving “Pajama Time”

pjtime

5:00 Dinner

I learned the hard way that dinner has to be as early as possible or the kids get GROUCHY. I’ve started meal prepping and it’s honestly SAVED MY BUTT. I can feed the kids when I need to and there is still a meal for Daniel when he gets home, I don’t have to worry about staving off the kids until later.

6:30 Some kind of adventure

Okay, so… here I just try to do something fun. Swimming is a good option right now in the heat and I prefer sunset swims because 1) Not as hot 2) Shade. Don’t have to sunscreen the kids! 3) For some reason, we get the pool to ourselves at that time and 4) THE SKY IS SO PRETTY!

If we don’t feel like swimming, we go to the play place at the mall. In the cooler months, we’ll go to the park or something.

8:00 Getting ready for bed

Bath. PJS. Brush Teeth. Prayer. Bottle. Blankies. Bed.

8:30 Both kids go to bed

I’ll probably have to put the toddler back like 600 more times. But then Daddy and Mommy get to hang out! And be so exhausted to do anything other than zone out in front of the TV…

bedtime

5 Reasons I’m Attending an Online Writer’s Conference

Guess who has two sore thumbs from drafting and is attending a writer’s conference?

 

Writer’s Clearinghouse is having their conference completely online. And oh man, I am here for it. Here are my top five reasons why:

#1 It’s a good ice breaker since I’ve never been to a conference before

If you are an itty bitty baby writer like me, everything seems very prestigious and scary. I don’t know why I haven’t tried to attend a conference yet. Maybe it’s the imposter syndrome or the crippling insecurity… (yeah, probably that).

Or going outside in general, honestly. I didn’t even know that was a thing that other writers did. What is a sun? You mean there’s a whole world on the other side of my laptop screen?

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#2 I can attend in my own comfy house

The idea of attending a Q&A with agents and editors while wearing secret pajama bottoms under a desk is exhilarating at best. Not to mention, being a mother of small children makes leaving my house MISSION FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE.

Recently, we moved the baby into his own room and had to get creative with our office space…

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Yes. That is actually a closet. I will be attending a writing conference in the comfort of my own closet.

#3 The networking is more personable

The faculty to attendee ratio is 6:1.

Granted, at a larger conference, you would have MORE industry professionals in attendance. But having a lot of time for personal feedback is pretty dang desirable. And you really get to know the faculty you’re working with.

Authors so often feel intimidated by literary agents that they forget that they’re “shopping” too. You want someone who is going to be the best fit for your book as well as your work style. For example, I’m interested in partnering with more of an editorial agent. That makes these workshops invaluable for me because I can get more of an idea of what and WHO I’m looking for.

And if you want to talk tactical efforts, I don’t think it would hurt to leave a lasting impression on only one agent. The publishing world is so tight-knit that it would only help you to be memorable. (Favorably, of course.)

#4 A free partial evaluation from Writer’s Clearinghouse is included

WCH

Yo. Not a sponsor. But I just really dig on this company, y’all. I’ve been in and out of the query trenches for a year now. AND THEM SLUSH PILE BLUES ARE NO JOKE. I’ve seen quite a few automated rejections in my day.

Writer’s Clearinghouse is an evaluation service done by former editors and agents. It’s designed to let you know how ‘publishable’ your book is. They score your manuscript in twenty different categories picking out your strengths and things that could be improved. (I’m both annoyingly pragmatic and an art educator, so the sight of a rubrics system fills me with such a giddy glee. TAKE THAT SUBJECTIVITY!)

The most delectable part of Writer’s Clearinghouse is that if your manuscript scores high, they will notify compatible agents about it. UM YES PLEASE!

If you are interested in that sort of thing, click HERE for more information.

And finally,

#5 I’m trying to make real, tangible investments into a dream

I have a hard time spending money on myself, so it took a while for me to bring myself to register. I mean, really. How dare I spend this much selfish money on myself, when I could have used it to buy 30 kids meals for my toddler? (…I only understand currency if I convert it into chicken nuggets.)

It was my husband who finally said, “We’re spending this money and we’re investing in YOU.”  And that sure is a true thing. My dream is worth it. It’s not stupid, it’s not irresponsible and it’s not impossible either. Especially if you take actual real steps toward it, instead of just saying you’re going to do it someday.

So, go and do the thing.

… And if the thing for you is this online conference, mention me. Maybe we’ll be in the same critique group together and you can cringe over my first ten pages. It will be so fun!

The FACE

Okay. I’m pretty embarrassed to share this piece of information with you… because it’s going to ‘out’ basically every guy I’ve ever been attracted to.

So, sometime during my mid-twenties, like already married and everything, I was talking to a best friend of mine about past dating life, celebrity crushes and that sort of girl gab… And I told her that I have a really, really specific type that I like physically…

 

REENACTMENT TIME. Two friends having a shallow conversation over a tray of chicken nuggets.

Me: So, every single celebrity and guy I’ve been attracted to has the same face. The Same. Exact. Face.

Her: Haha. Okay, like what?

Me: Brown eyes. Most importantly.

Her: Most importantly?

Me: As big as humanly possible. Freakishly big brown puppy dog eyes.

Her: Is that it? They all have big, brown eyes?

Me: Well… And I like brunettes.

Her: Sure. A natural with the brown eyes. Short hair or long?

Me: You know that sixties hair where it’s like swooped over but still with decent side-burns?

Her: Ooh yeah.

Me: I like cheekbones. Like when their cheeks ball up when they smile.

Her: Oh yeah, that’s cute.

Me: Just a lot of face. An overwhelming amount of face. Like the chunkier the dude the better.

Her: Uh…

Me: And like, I know I should probably be trying to breed out my big nose, but I love long noses. A real man’s nose.

Her: You… you know you just perfectly described… feature by feature… Woody from Toy Story, right?

Me: …

Her: …

Me:

jcena

!!!

 

No, this is not a joke. And no, this is not an exaggeration either. I have no idea why I didn’t put it together sooner. Honest to goodness, not lying or making this up… three of my past love interests have even told me DIRECTLY that other people say they look like Woody (my husband included).

And okay, this best friend I was talking to reassured me that every girl had “A Face”. And she showed me hers. Hers was normal. Hers was like a Ben Affleck looking face. MINE IS A CARTOON TOY OKAY? HOW IS THAT A NORMAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE?

And like the creepiest part of it… is that I have always loved Woody. A little too much. Like once I got a Woody doll as a Christmas present and I actually cried over it. I do not know why I’m so attached to him as a character. I think maybe… loyalty? He’s super loyal throughout the series? (I’ve heard #4 is questionable here. I haven’t seen it yet) But, Toy Story One came out when I was five… which is a pretty impressionable age, right?

lmao

Another theory here. It’s not actually Woody. It’s Daniel. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that I was actively and purposefully seeking Dan’s exact face. Not to mention really specific personality traits that my husband has perfectly. It’s… very odd. I don’t know that I believe in soul mates, but it honestly almost feels like I remembered what Daniel looked like and I was trying to find him.

Either that or I’m really hot for Toy Story. Whatever.

GUEST POST: “Just Start” Annie Cowden

 

JUST START PLEASE!

Hey, you creative geniuses!! You have so many ideas just swirling through your head constantly. So, I bet you can relate to some of these phrases you have when it comes to thinking about making that vision come to life.

Does this sound familiar?

• Once I am more clear, THEN I will start!
• I’m just waiting until I have a little more clarity
• I don’t know what I want yet, so I’m just waiting
• I’m trying to figure out what it is EXACTLY I’m meant to do before I do anything

HOMIES!! I got to tell you something. And that is, this type of thinking can become habitual thinking and it is a straight up trap. As long as you keep thinking that way….no big surprise here — you’re going to keep thinking that way. Waiting leads to more waiting, period. If you wait to decide on one thing, you’ll wait to decide the next thing. And then you will comfort yourself by saying ah I’ll wait till the next go around. I’ll wait till things aren’t so crazy in my life. I’ll wait until ____________________.

There is one small (large) problem with that.

The TRUTH is, is there are not very many guarantees. So you’re betting on something that you don’t know and you can’t know is going to happen. Think about it: Are you waiting to start writing until you have the dream writing office with natural light and a fountain and no kids screaming in the background. Or maybe you’re waiting until you have more free time. (that seems kind of vague to me no offense, but I hear that one all the time).

TODAY IS ALWAYS THE DAY. Today is the day to do something towards getting your creative project off the ground. Because here is the punchline:

“Clarity doesn’t come before action, action comes before clarity”

Now hold up- I understand how this could be confusing when there is so much advice on being specific about your audience, your message, your mission statement, who you are, what you do, etc. But YOU GUYS stop taking labels so seriously. There are not rules in life. You can change your bio and your title whenever you want. You can change it twice a day if you want! You can self designate yourself whatever you want, at any time, without having to ask a soul.

 

Here’s Why You Have to Take Action Before Clarity:

 

When I say take action, I mean- what logistically and literally has to happen in order to make this happen. Who has to be contacted? What do you have to create? What physical things do you need ready?

Now ask yourself, “what is the quickest way to get this done”. Because there’s a whole lot of mojo that goes into getting a book published, recording a song, starting a business, etc. But many people start with the fluff instead of start with the juicy stuff. It’s like you’re spending all your time on the whipped cream and keep procrastinating making the pie which is what you really love doing and what you do best.

So, before I get a song recorded, I have procrastinated because of a gazillion of reasons, but I can sum them up like this:

• The song isn’t good enough yet
• I don’t know anyone who will record the guitar part for me
• I can’t afford it
• I’m waiting until I can find backup singers

Just some typical fluff. Which I know you can see similarities amongst any craft. Here’s the truth though-all of these “excuses” or “obstacles” are either A) Not true or B) can be overcome by taking action on that specific task.

So if the true, ONLY THING STOPPING me is “I can’t afford it”, if that is really honestly and sincerely the truth, then my only focus from that point on becomes getting creative to get the money. My new task at hand is to earn the money. If you will truly do anything for your craft, then these excuses don’t matter. I immediately dig into my skill sets and think what I can offer, sell clothes, reach out to people who need a dog walker or a babysitter, have a yard sale, skip out on a cost I normally buy (sacrifice something else). Because believe me, it’s possible if you want it.
Similarily if my excuse is “I don’t have backup singers yet” or “I don’t know anyone who can play a guitar” then I just need to stop whining about it and say: Okay, well what would an established professional who was looking for a musician do? Journal out all the possible solutions to your problems, and one of them will land home with you. Try one of them or try all of them.

You Are Allowed to Change Your Mind

 

Changing your mind does not mean giving up. I always want you to be honest with yourself. If you truly deeply desired to run a 10K but after 2 weeks had a few bad days and gave up, that’s not the same thing as changing your mind. But if you showed up your best self, made a promise to yourself to follow a training schedule, gave it enough time to give yourself the chance to form a new habit, then you will be opened up and exposed to more avenues of things you love more.

Maybe you stick to the training plan, and because of that you see a class at the gym which ends up bringing you WAY MORE JOY than running. If you wind up choosing the class over training, it isn’t necessarily giving up. However, it’s all about your initial intention anyway. You have to be honest about why you wanted to do the race.
-why you wanted to write the book
-why you wanted to start the non-profit
-why you wanted to be a teacher
-why you wanted to be in the show

Knowing your why will keep you going. So don’t skip taking the time to know your why!

The reason why action brings clarity, is because you are likely doing something you have never done before. So how in the world are you supposed to know exactly what to say, do, wear, when you have not done something before?!?? Sometimes I have ideas for camps/workshops for various musical theatre camps and voice lesson programs, but I avoid going to edit and finalize the flyer because “I don’t know for sure what I am offering”.

Guess what: as long as my flyer stays as a draft on my laptop, then I’m not sharing my musical passion with anyone, nobody’s kids are getting my joy and energizing classes, I’m not getting any money from my gifts, ALL BECAUSE I AM WAITING TO COME UP WITH THE PERFECT IDEA.

So to sum this up, in my case taking action can be WORKING ON THE FLYER. Maybe my very first day I don’t have to print it and hang it up, but every day I work on the flyer, the idea change a little bit. The time length of the workshop changes, the price changes, the concept changes, and the more I work on it, the closer and closer it gets to feeling like home. But I know well enough that there is no such thing as perfect, so once it hits a place that feels good and exciting in my body, I then have to take the action to print out the flyers and hang them up. And no, I don’t know all the logistics, but I will know as I go along.

To writers: When you are writing, you are not writing in permanent marker on something that is going to be hung in a museum with your name on it. You literally can change it, always. But NEVER save a good idea for later. That is the worst thing a creative can do. Because then you are essentially believing you won’t get any better ideas. Do you know how many amazing chord progressions that have come to me that I didn’t make a song with because I was waiting until I was a “better songwriter” to use them? That sounds so silly now!

The next time you feel that dark cloud come over you when you are about to begin a project, say this affirmation:

I have unlimited permission to change this as many times as I want.

We are so weird as humans. We always need permission don’t we? Sometimes just acknowledging that whatever you create isn’t permanent, is so liberating.

ALSO.

It’s very liberating to understand that, so long as you aren’t breaking laws…you really can’t screw up your path that much. We spend a lot of mental energy making decisions because we want to be “right”. Here’s a secret…one decision you make isn’t really going to alter your destiny. If you want to try doing slam poetry, well you might as well try it because we only got like 99 years on this earth so just keep doing you. When in doubt, just bring it back to the now, and ask what excites you most? ALWAYS follow the joy. Always follow the fun.

I am going to leave you with one book recommendation and one song recommendation!

Book: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Song: Follow the Compass of Your Heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY5JTxFt2pM

 

Annie

 

ANNIE COWDEN is a singer, songwriter and motivational speaker. When she’s not traveling the world, she works with teens and young adults who feel deeply inspired to create amazing things in their life. She is a self-discovery leader, adventure-seeking heart follower, and music is her first language. If you would like to learn more about her coaching, please follow her wonderful page on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/AnniesVizion/

A Sappy Post About My Sappy Wedding Anniversary

Guess what day it is?

 

Five years ago TODAY Daniel and I were marrrrrrrried. Woooohoooo! In honor of this sweet, sweet, milestone, I decided to write a sweet, sweet blog post for my sweet, sweetheart. It will be so sweet in fact that it might make you sick if you ingest too much of it… so be prepared. CUZ IT’S ABOUT TO GET ROMANTIC UP IN HERE.

oneiwant

Dan. What up, bro?

Maybe no one else will read this post. And that’s okay. Because today is about you, my love. So I’ve been thinking lately, about all the times you’ve told me how you feel “boring”. And that’s just crazy. For me, you are the opposite of boring. You fascinate me. My life comes alive anytime you come home from work or wake up next to me or spend time with me (when you honestly could be doing anything else at the moment). My heart goes from zero to fifty, like, just at the chance to hang out with you, because you are just a big ball of FUN. And I wish I could think of a better way to say that… like, you know, if only I were some kind of an author or something and I knew how to write words.

I love the way your eyes crinkle when you smile. And I love your laughs. Sometimes you have this high pitched “HA” and then other times you sound like a freaking duck choking on a popsicle stick. I love it though. Like that’s when I know we’re on a super good inside joke, is when we’re both WHEEZING like we’re dying.

I love how at the end of the day when we put the kids to bed, our activity of choice is trashy reality TV with a side of cheesecake. Like, that’s all I want in life, honestly. But I also love the things you watch when you’re not with me. Like, documentaries about lions and people detailing their car or something. Videos with scammers scamming other scammers. And divers collecting stuff in muddy rivers. I just like the small interests you have. I don’t know. It’s attractive to me. Because, sure, like you could be SUPER into sports or something. And be that guy who’s into sports. Or working out or something that is some general interest. But I really like that you like weird things. I like when you want to show me a video about space or tell me a weird fact you learned that day. I really, really love that about you.

OH MY GOSH and how lucky that we have the same taste in movies? I mean, basically. All I want to watch are old movies. And you adamantly refuse to watch the same movie twice unless it’s Black Hawk Down or American Sniper (for some reason?).

dankids

I love the unique way you walk. I love your voice. I loved your voice when you called me up for our first date, even though I basically interrupted you to tell you I was on the news for doing a flash mob. Ah, the way you say my name too. When you’re talking to someone else about me it’s this nice soft “Val”. But when I’m in trouble it’s, “VAL-REE!”

This is selfish, but I really love the way you love me. I love that you confidently tell people that I’m an author. Like as if I already had a successful career or something. And when you want to bring me to all your parties because you think “I’m an ace up your sleeve”. (I wish!)

aww

I love the way you love the kids. You are a great dad. You worry that you’re not. But you really really are. You are always RIGHT THERE to take them and play with them. Give me a break or help me with something around the house. Ha. You are the Starsky to my Hutch when it comes to chores. I’m so incredibly lucky that I married a guy as helpful as you are.

Seriously, and it’s not just me. Like that is your legacy. I think you get a call every freaking day from SOMEONE needing your help and advice. Whether it’s about car stuff, or medicine, or a financial decision. YOU are the person that everyone turns to because you are competent AF!!

dadgrad

You make me happy every single day, with all the puns. And all the pranks. There has not been a single day that I have not laughed since I met you. You are a hidden treasure in a lifetime ocean of day by day challenges. (Another “River Rat” reference?) Just when I think there is no possible way I could love you more, you do something else that gets me. I feel like the Grinch, except my heart is blowing up to like thirty sizes bigger.

I just love you. That’s it. I really do.

I Randomly Generated an Emotional Short Story using only Shrek References

shrek

Swamp Feelings

A Short Story
by Val Manwill

Shrek had always loved the stinky swamp with its bad, bitter boulders. It was a place where he felt lonely.

He was a green, scary, muskrat stew drinker with green skin and large hands. His friends saw him as an old-fashioned, obnoxious ogre. Once, he had even revived a dying, legless gingerbread man. That’s the sort of man he was.

Shrek walked over to the window and reflected on his muddy surroundings. Duloc teased in the distance like fighting dragons.

Then he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Donkay. Donkay was a big donkey with a hideous tail and powerful fur.

Shrek gulped. He was not prepared for Donkay.

As Shrek stepped outside and Donkay came closer, he could see the important glint in his eye.

Donkay gazed with the affection of 3765 ugly fine fairy tale creatures. He said, in hushed tones, “I love you and I want friendship.”

Shrek looked back, even more gassy and still fingering the Shrekish goblet. “Donkay, ogres are like onions,” he replied.

They looked at each other with angry feelings, like two breakable, burnt blind mice saving at a very ogre quest, which had Smashmouth music playing in the background and two shreky uncles swamping to the beat.

Shrek studied Donkay’s hideous tail and powerful skin. Eventually, he took a deep breath. “I’m sorry,” began Shrek in apologetic tones, “but I don’t feel the same way, and I never will. I just don’t love you Donkay.”

Donkay looked god-like, his emotions raw like a prickly, pretty pitchfork.

Shrek could actually hear Donkay’s emotions shatter into 7420 pieces. Then the big donkey hurried away into the distance.

Not even a drink of muskrat stew would calm Shrek’s nerves tonight.

THE END
Many thanks to the plot generator for this piece of important literature:

Literally Just a List of Things I Want to Remember About My Children

So Jack turned three yesterday.

 

They grow up so fast. Literally nothing else they can do fast. Putting on shoes. Picking out what they want for lunch. You know, walking. But growing up… I swear sometimes I look over at them and feel like they look more grown-up than they looked AN HOUR AGO.

So anyway, in honor of my mommy nostalgia I decided to make a list of cute things that I don’t want to forget about how they were at this stage of life.

 

#1 Jack refuses to call hearts by their real name, he insists they are “farts”

#2 Casey’s favorite song is “Skidamarink”. No matter how hard he is crying, he will immediately stop if you start singing that song.

#3 Jack calls grandma and grandpa “grampens”

#4 Every time we go out everyone comments on how happy Casey is

#5 Jack has a major obsession with hats

#6 Casey loves to put toys in his mouth and turn them into actual whistles

#7 Jack has to point out every single cactus he sees… and we live in Arizona

#8 Casey eats his entire weight in blueberries… every day… like at what point does he turn into Violet Beauregard?

#9 When Casey crawls around on the floor, Jack joins in because he thinks they’re “playing doggies”.

#10 Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it’s just going through the motions and you don’t catch these little moments. But it’s always big love and big rewards.

 

HAPPY LIFE LIVING GUYS

My Incurable Beatlemania

So, I have a problem. The first step is admitting, right?

 

PART ONE: CATCHING BEATLEMANIA

 

Honestly, the early sixties hysteria of The Beatles is alive and well… in my freaking soul.

Beatlemania1

For more than a decade I have dealt with random bouts of Beatlemania. Like I’ll have this week-long urge to listen to their albums, watch documentaries, “A Hard Days Night” or even “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” if I’m really feeling it. Just this little burst of Oh yeah! I forgot that I really love them! And then after hours and hours of their music, the excitement dies down and I can go about my life again.

But something happened at the beginning of this year. I got a baaaaddd case of Beatlemania and it NEVER WENT AWAY. It’s been months. I don’t even get what is happening to me.

I can tell you that the timeframe is a DIRECT correlation with the difficulties that Daniel and I have been facing the past several months. It was just this one day, that I hadn’t really seen my husband in a while because of his horrendous work schedule and things were feeling grim. I was buckling Jack into his car seat and … there it was. A CD of A Hard Day’s Night in a box on the floor. So, I took it and listened to it. And I was absolutely and incurably infected.

I don’t really think that anyone knows how bad it really was, especially in those first few months. I mean, actual tears every day listening to their music. Watching the same interviews and documentaries over and over again. Beatles music from the time that Dan left to the time he got home (which was a looooong stretch).

Beatlemania2

Now, lemme just stop right here, because it’s about this point where somebody feels like they need to tell me they don’t like The Beatles. And all I gotta say to that is **IT’S OKAY. YOU ARE FINE.** You do not need to like The Beatles just because a lot of people do. Art is completely subjective. You do not have to be insecure about having a different taste from me.

SEE HERE:

https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/video/john-lennon-interviewed-he-says-people-are-entitled-not-news-footage/100961692?adppopup=true

… Like, I don’t know. I don’t really care that they’re popular or not. I just like them. Their music and the them that make up the group. I’m just into it. I’m into the hysteria and the influence and the history. And dang, the songs honestly just fuel my freaking heart.

 

PART TWO: LENNON THE MYSTERY MUSE

coollennon

Then the Beatlemania grew into something else completely bizarre. A hurricane flood of creative juices that I could not even handle.

There was this influx of story ideas that all came from a weird fixation on a young John Lennon. Which, honestly is totally surprising. Truth. Because if I personally were to travel back in time and hang out with all of them, I can confidently tell you that I would get along with Paul the best. Paul and I have more common interests, I think. Stuff like, literature and theater, dogs and kids, generally being polite to people that don’t deserve it. That kind of thing. So I do not know where John came from. But he is the most aggressive muse I have ever had in my life.

disapproving lennon

I finally started a novel to appease this like, compulsive need. But, Lennon would not stop haunting me every day. Sitting in the effing corner like “When are you finishing the bloomin book?”

“IDK when are you getting off my BUTT! You Liverpool WEIRDO. This doesn’t even make sense to write this. This has no benefit to my branding or career or anything.”

“I don’t care about that, love. I’m tellin’ you. I’m your muse. And I’m not going away until you finish the book.”

“I don’t want to write a book about you. You’re weird.”

“Well that’s a pisser innit? Coz you’re going write it.”

“No. You’re not even fun to be obsessed with. I’ve seen like 15 documentaries about you in the past eight weeks and you know what they all say? They say, ‘Oh, Lennon… really interesting guy’. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS JOHN? IT MEANS THAT YOU WERE FREAKING WEIRD WHEN THEY MET YOU.”

“Alright, listen… can you finish the book by April?”

“Excuse me?”

“I wrote books quicker than that you know.”

“Yeah, but you are… I… John, now be reasonable here.”

“Write the book or keep waking up with Paperback Writer stuck in your head every morning. Your choice.”

“John, please. Think of my children, okay? Think of my husband stuck at work, I’m basically a widow! I have to run an entire house by myself.”

John puts his feet up on the table and pushes my laptop over to me with his Beetle-boot. “Right. Better hurry and finish it then.”

 

… FOUR MONTHS LATER AFTER RE-WRITING IDENTITY CRISIS AND THINGS HAVE CALMED DOWN…

 

“Hi!”

*startles and screams at John’s manifestation on my couch, spilling a bowl of popcorn all over the floor like a campy comedy*

“Right. So, listen. That book you started a few months ago…”

*eyes my hallucination suspiciously* “The one that I’m 40 thousand words into? What about it?”

“I just don’t feel like there is enough of me in it.”

“… I told you I don’t want to write a book about you. And I’m not going to. Go away.”

“So right then, here’s a really fantastic idea… completely new book. But this time. Actually all about me. Joost lichrally a bewk about me this time.”

*throws my ink quill to the ground and flips writing desk over*
Honestly, not sure what I’m going to do. I’m still trying to ignore him. But it is reeeally difficult…

dontlisten

PART THREE: SEEING PAUL MCCARTNEY AND REALIZING A DANG OL’ DREAM

 

A couple of weeks ago, it happened. I saw an actual Beatle, in real life. Like we were in the same room. Singing the same songs. Sharing the same moment.

 

I don’t want to be dramatic but… (see above).

That concert (to me) was comparable to when I witnessed a solar eclipse. It was something that I had always wanted to do, but never thought that I would get a chance to.  Like that guy is pushing eighty. There was not a lot of time for me to snag this bucket list check mark. And then I did, dude.

When he came out and picked up his steely base in his left hand. That iconic chord of A Hard Day’s Night rang out. I SCREAMED. Okay. And I’m not talking about a little “Woo Hoo! Yeah!” I mean it was like an actual uncontrollable piercing screech that rang out through the stadium.

Screamlemania2

And if you are thinking that I flew into hysterics and bawled for three hours like a teenager from 1964… uh, you’d be right, bro. A PACK AND A HALF OF TISSUES LATER. No, but I’m being completely serious. I actually sobbed almost the entire time. The guy on the other side of me actually nudged his date and gestured to me like ‘What year is this??’ The only difference between me and the OG fans is that they’re all like, “PAULIE! WAA! MARRY ME!” And I’m like, “PAULIE! WAA! I’M A PART OF HISTORY RIGHT NOW!”

I can’t help it that I’m a huge nerd. But, hey look. I get obsessed over stuff. I just do. Titanic, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, Pompeii. But this time. This time. I could actually see in person this historical figure that I had come to know so well.

 

Paul: Alright, I’m gonna play a song now…

Literally everyone: YAY! WOOO! YEAH!

Paul: Alright, I’m gonna tell you a story now…

Just me: YAY! WOOO! YEAH! Talk about George Martin!

 

We had a seat right in front of the piano… He came around to play it. Stopped right in front of my section. Pointed up to my ROW. Waved… And made little binoculars over his eyes to show he was looking right in my exact direction.

I LEPT FROM MY CHAIR AND SCREAMED AND RATTLED BOTH OF MY ARMS AND MADE SUCH A DARN SPECTACLE THAT THERE WAS NO CHANCE HE DIDN’T AT LEAST SEE MY MOVEMENT SO THERE I MADE EYE CONTACT WITH A BEATLE AND I WILL FOREVER HOLD THAT IN MY HEART UNTIL THE DAY I DIE.

screamlemania

 

It’s just fun. It’s fun to be in love with a thing. And it’s fun to be so passionately moved in a creative way. I’m sure the Beatlemania will fade away eventually, but I’ll always love them for saving me from just a really crappy year.

Wow. An Apology Plus Book Update

Okay. Dang. Things have been rough.

 

But I am getting back on track now. No more month-long absences. For reals this time.

Remember when I had this clean set schedule at the beginning of the year? Um. Forget about that. Throw that out the window. It’s dead. Unbuckle that dream and step into this dumpy carnival ride of broken hopes

I don’t know where the heck to start anew, so I’m just going to talk about writing first because that’s my baby. . . well, other than my actual literal babies…

So almost every day I get asked if my book is published yet. FOR THE RECORD, I have now created an entire page solely dedicated to my published works. Books that you can buy and read TODAY. But, as far as this one novel. Man. It’s been a hard three years.

headache

 

Um, writing a book is no joke. It’s definitely a long term relationship with your story. The other day, I went back and counted how many actual times I have written this novel and I basically cried into an open carton of ice cream for the next few hours.

 

“Identity Crisis Season One through Six.docx”

“The Other Five Percent First Draft.docx”

“The Other Five Percent Second Draft.docx”

“The Other Five Percent – Third Draft.docx”

“The Other Five Percent Merged Draft.docx”

“Identity Crisis MS Full.docx”

“Identity Crisis New Draft One.docx”

“Identity Crisis Second Draft.docx”

 

Yup. This is the eighth time I’ve re-written this story. The EIGHTH time.

But it’s not just drafts. It’s a lot of other stuff too. My writing folder looks pretty ridiculous.

just ridicky

It’s so much work. And like, do I want to make a whole blog post complaining about it? Not really. But I’m just so anxious to move forward with other ideas. I’ve been working here and there on other books and then coming back, so I have all of these other projects that are just taunting me from the sidelines.

Here. I made a helpful graphic, so you could see how much I actually have done… but not done.

helpful graphic

Also dozens of short stories and poems that haven’t been picked up or developed yet. It’s a lot. A. LOT. So much that I just feel frustrated creatively. But I’m just so freaking tenacious like I NEED to finish this book and have it be a product that I’m okay with. Even if no one sees it and it was all just for me.

Basically, what I’m saying is, at this point unless an industry professional tells me to re-write… this is the last draft. If it doesn’t cultivate any interest this time around, I’m actually fine with that. I have learned so much writing this book, and I feel that I’ve really developed my craft in a way that would have been impossible without it.

I am only a couple of months away from finishing the editing (probably). Then I’ll go back to querying because I solidly promised that I would do that for myself. And yeah, it would be super easy to publish on Amazon or something, but ultimately getting a literary agent is a goal/hope of mine. And I don’t want an agent just for a gatekeeper like I want someone who can help me sort through the sea of ideas I’m drowning in (see above) … (sea above MUAWAHAHBLABLA).

Eh. Anyway. I’ll let you know.

But look. I updated my book’s artwork since apparently, that’s a thing I do now. And re-wrote my ‘blurb’ since this is basically THE EIGHTH COMPLETELY NEW VERSION OF THIS THING.

IDENTITY

What happens when the principal won’t let you quit your school’s honor club? How about teaming up with the school drug dealer to spread the rumor that you’re a hopeless troubled burnout…

Ever since she caught the Student Mentor’s President cheating on her at Homecoming, Elle McKernan is looking for any excuse to get out of her commitments as secretary. When the principal adamantly refuses to let her off the team, she turns to local school psycho Ronnie Gonzales to ruin her reputation and get her kicked off for good! Collaborating with a troublemaker, however, proves to be impossible without making any actual trouble. And to further complicate matters, she finds herself rebounding for Ronnie instead. Will she be able to abandon her mild-mannered ways and step into the new persona she invented? Or will she stay true to herself at the risk of losing the only friend she has left?