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#Janowrimo Report

It’s time to officially report on my first ever JaNoWriMo challenge! My goal was to write 1000 words (approx 2-3 pgs in Word) every day for month of January. So, how’d I do?

Break it down: On December 31, I had 19k words for my WIP (Forte‘s sequel). It was good to have this head start. The story was already progressing and it didn’t feel like I had to create something from nothing. My average daily log turned out to be 1200 words — a good length for a solid scene or even a chapter. Lowest day = 600s. Highest was over 1800. I wrote *every day* except one toward the end, and even on that day I was plotting out my next scene in my mind. I logged my progress on Twitter, which helped me stay honest and focused. And being able to post my daily success felt like a small reward.

Although I’d recruited some writer friends to join me in JaNoWriMo, I didn’t hear from many throughout the month. With one exception: fellow Xchyler Publishing author R.A. Smith of the Grenshall Manor Chronicles. Russell and I connected via Twitter almost daily, and I believe we inspired each other to keep writing every January day. Thank you, Russell!

So, now it’s February. And my WIP is at . . . drum roll please . . . 53922! Already a legit length for a YA novel, I have at least two or three more chapters to pen before it’s done. It’s so close, I’ve been trying to keep up my daily writing routine until the draft is complete.

There’s one problem with that routine: I’m kind of boring when I’m writing.

Seriously. The days are cold and I’m hibernating with my computer. Even if the writing part only takes an hour or two, the rest of my day is consumed by thinking about it. Momentum is so important, which requires consistency and focus. It’s like an obsession. On a rare lunch out with my bestie, when she wanted to catch up, I had little to offer.

“I’m, like, hyper-focused on my writing. That’s all. I’m doing the mom thing and I’m writing.”

“So, tell me about your writing!”

“No! I’m too superstitious. I have to get the draft done first.”

You can imagine how riveting the rest of our lunch conversation was. My poor husband. I’m sure he’s eager to have me back.

But here’s the thing — the story I’m working on? It’s exciting! But I’m the only one who’s experiencing it. I can’t wait to get the draft out to my beta readers so I can finally talk about it!

Want to know what it’s about? Here’s a draft blurb of Forte’s sequel:

It’s been two years since Sami neutralized toxic Aquamarine on Skene Mountain, the scar on the hill now a stark reminder of what she’d destroyed. Hoping to make amends, she vows to use her magic to rebuild earthly devastation — to heal the world with her music. Problem is, her magic is lost. Her boyfriend Jason is lost too, as he’s left for college. When Sami attends a summer music program in hopes of finding her magic, she finds her childhood crush Miles is also in the program. Caught in a love triangle, Sami begins to have visions of tragic natural disasters close to home. When these visions turn into reality, it seems the superstorms are not random but caused by someone with specific powers — and an evil agenda. It’s up to Sami to figure out how to use her new magic to halt the next superstorm before everyone she loves is destroyed.

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My brainstorming journal. (Gift from Mom) My loyal writing companion. Its pages would make no sense to anyone but me.

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Reclaiming Twitter

Twitter is getting a bad rap. Every news station is splashing Donald Trump’s latest tweets and using it as fodder for news. No one would be surprised to hear that Trump’s tweeting is not exemplary in any way shape or form. He’s not doing himself any favors by creating all this social media noise. Even his wife has said she’s tried to talk him out of tweeting late at night but . . . (fill in the blank on that.)

Twitter does not have to be a channel for wannabe politicians to bully others or spew their offensive propaganda. It can be useful. I’d like to help rebrand it a little. Here are the ways I’ve been able to make it work for me:

1.Find your lane.
For me, it’s writing and publishing. I joined Twitter in March 2013 in preparation for launching my debut novel. It was part of my book launch plan, along with establishing platforms on all social media. I’m sure to some extent I hoped joining Twitter would ultimately result in book sales, but what’s it done for my writing career has brought unexpected benefits.

I don’t follow celebrities. I follow authors, publishers, agents — big and small. It’s provided a community of support and encouragement, but also it’s offered valuable information. I find more articles on writing, the writing process, writing tips than I do through Facebook. I’ve also found really cool contests that exist only on Twitter, like #PitMad or #Pitmas and I really can’t say enough about the awesome and revolutionary #MSWL (Manuscript Wishlist) Their Twitter feed and also their website has redefined the query process.

Other fave writer’s hashtags: #amwriting #writerslife #writingtips

And my most recent faves: #WIPjoy (celebrating our works in progress throughout the month of January) and of course #janowrimo (January Novel Writing Month)

2.Craigslist on crack.
Through Twitter, I’ve found more than one editor to help bring my book(s) to the next level. Recently, Twitter helped me find a great query reviewer — Christy Morgan — who has opened my eyes to what my query was missing. (Guys! find her @xtymorganbooks or her go to her website)

Another awesome content editor I’ve hired TWICE for two different books is the very talented @cassdunn Cassandra Dunn. 

3.Accountability.
Writing a novel is a huge task. It can feel overwhelming. For most of the process, you’re completely alone — living with the story in your head and on your computer. It may be *years* before it gets to beta readers and you can finally talk about it with someone. That’s why we need to set ourselves up with small rewards along the way.

I’ve heard author Jonathan Mayberry‘s keynote speech at more than one writing conference, and one takeaway for me was how he held himself accountable. He would reward himself after reaching his daily word-count goal. Early on, he’d put some money in a jar and when his first draft was done, he’d take his wife out to a nice dinner. Now that he’s a huge success, he moves money into a special account and when the draft is done, his wife gets a nice vacation. (Something to aspire to, gang!)

I’m not putting money in a jar or moving money, but I am using Twitter to keep myself honest. It doesn’t really matter that not many people will see my tweet. The fact that I put it out there to the world, makes it matter somehow. I’ve recorded it, documented it. It makes it official. I’m happy to report that my tweets do seem to be gaining some traction. Other writers are liking. It doesn’t hurt that my publisher is my most avid retweeter. Shout out to Xchyler Publishing.

Which reminds me . . . sometimes the best connections you find on Twitter are those you already have. Just another way to keep in touch, perhaps.

Let’s reclaim Twitter and make it work for us in a positive way.

 

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Week one – done!

With one week of #JaNoWriMo under my belt, I’m happy with my progress thus far. I started at around 19k words on my WIP and I now check in at 26,430. Hooray! My story is getting so exciting, I’m having a hard time thinking about anything else.

So, here’s where I’m supposed to tell you how hard it’s been to fit in my writing. As we all can relate, our lives are busy here in the Spero household. I’m a mom of three boys who each have different after school activities. While they’re at school, I do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning . . . and teach yoga three times a week. You may wonder how I could fit in all this writing. (It takes about two good hours to crank out 1000 quality words — and “quality” is all relative).

Aside from having the most supportive husband in the world, it’s almost like I have to do it. It’s not a chore and it’s not a luxury. It just is. And what a gift January has been! Every morning, I feel a jolt of adrenaline knowing I will write 1000 words that day. If I don’t get to it until the afternoon, fine. But knowing that I will give myself that pocket of time dedicated to something that feeds my soul — fuels me through whatever else is going on. And after the writing is done, after the scene is down on paper, it’s like my endorphins are on high. I can breathe more deeply. I smile more easily. I’m more patient with my family. Dare I say, it’s  better than yoga.

So, yeah. I think JaNoWriMo has been a success so far.

BTW: After tweeting my first successful day of JaNoWriMo, I clicked on the hashtag to find . . . #janowrimo is a thing!

Apparently, I did not invent the January replacement of November’s NaNoWriMo. Apparently, lots of other writers think January works better for writing productivity, too. There’s already a community out there! So, yay! Also #WIPjoy celebrates our works in progress all through January. Double yay! Here’s a nice breakdown.

Yes! #WIPjoy #janowrimo #writerslife #amwriting

Oh, and I also broke the 1000-follower benchmark on Twitter this week, so I’m on my way to rule all of social media. Ha!

Here’s to January, folks! It may just be my favorite month of the year.

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JaNoWriMo — GO!

Okay, folks! Time to declare our New Year’s Resolutions for 2017. Statistically, most resolutions don’t last beyond January, so mine perfectly applies. I’m not giving up sweets or wine. I’m not promising to workout more. I’m going to write.

Perhaps you’ve seen my post about why I won’t ever do NaNoWriMo since the month of November is jam-packed with holiday festivities and preparations. In that post, I suggested January as a better month to focus on a daily writing routine. JaNoWriMo: January Novel Writing Month. I’m starting 2017 with a pledge to do something I love to do most in the world, every day: write.

I plan to work on my first draft of the sequel to ForteWith 15k words under my belt, Sami is back! She uses her music magic for a much different — altruistic — purpose…only to run up against the most surprising adversary. Throw in a love triangle and a new, urban setting, and you have the makings of a future page-turner. I’m so excited to get my first draft done. If you don’t have a WIP, start brainstorming today for your JaNoWriMo project!

JaNoWriMo will work somewhat differently than NaNoWriMo. There isn’t a website for it. There’s no submission form to log your word count. There won’t be badges to celebrate accomplishments. I’m not starting a national, non-profit community. I’m starting small (with, um, me). But I’d love company! Here are the rules:

  1. Comment below if you’d like to participate, declaring your personal daily word-count goal. For Nano, the idea is to complete a 50K-word novel. For Jano, let’s be realistic but also push ourselves a bit. My daily word count goal will be 1000 words.
  2. After you complete your writing goal for the day, tweet about your accomplishment with the hashtag #JaNoWriMo (and use my handle @jdspero). You will receive e-kudos for your hard work. Not on Twitter? Email me!
  3. In February 1, 2017, one “winning” participant will be chosen to guest star on my blog to share a synopsis and a teaser of their project.

At the end of every week, I’ll post some handy writing tips or a funny story about how I managed to squeak out my quota of words while juggling the schedules of three busy little boys. My job will be to offer inspiration, humor, and wine (ahem…or whine).

That’s it. Easy peasy!

Let’s do this. Who’s with me!

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Small things

“Just remember this . . . We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It means, don’t worry.”

From Elephant Run by Roland Smith


Easier said than done for a mom. Ever since my first child was born over eleven years ago, I’m constantly navigating a world full of dangers I hadn’t noticed before. Not only dangers to my children but to myself as well. I look back at the stupid risks I took in my youth and wonder how I survived. My next breath is stuck thinking about my children doing a version of those same stupid risks, their own variation of “coming of age.” I lose sleep over it. “It” being “everything.”

Since the election, I’ve avoided the news and social media, unable to stomach the information that comes through. It’s, like, worry on a totally different level. I don’t believe I’m being dramatic when my fears of an apocalypse are being realized. I tell myself it’s out of my control. My husband reminds me that as long as our children are healthy and safe and our immediate world isn’t affected, we can’t worry about it.

But, “it” means “everything.” What happens in the world also happens to my children, and I nearly wilt from worry.

Until I get a reality check.

Last night, I got news (through social media, ironically) that one of my high school classmates passed away, losing her battle with breast cancer.

At first, I didn’t believe it. But other posts followed, how her close friends will miss her, her college roommate will always hold her in her heart, prayers going out to her family. A husband and three children. I didn’t realize how sick she was. The last post I remember seeing from Lorien was about her daughter’s success at a horse show. She’d been so proud of her, and I had foolishly thought from the tone of her post that everything in her world was okay.

Lorien and I grew up in tandem at Lake George elementary. She always towered over me. I specifically remember feeling dwarfish next to her in gym class. At some point in high school, we were in the same Home-Economics class. (Home-Ec. Do they even teach that anymore?) We learned how to sew. We made stuffed animals. She made a brown puppy and named it “Roadkill” — which she announced in her signature low voice, followed by her signature deep, chuckling laughter. I’d looked on, bemused at her dry, semi-morbid sense of humor. It was a glimpse of who Lorien was. Just a glimpse. But it’s stayed with me.

Lorien and I weren’t close. In our small school, we were friendly but we didn’t hang out on weekends or anything. I didn’t really know her all that well. Still, her tragic death has shocked me awake.

As I snuggled my children into bed last night, I thought about Lorien. How she was no longer able to put her kids to bed, to kiss them goodnight. She wouldn’t see her daughter in another horse show. She wouldn’t be able to post how proud she was of her. She wouldn’t see her children graduate from high school, college. She wouldn’t see them get married. She would never meet her grandchildren.

What the fuck am I worrying about?

The passage above is was taken the book Elephant Run by Roland Smith. It’s one of my son’s Battle of the Books books this year. I’m reading along with him so we can talk about it and study together.

A small thing. But a huge thing.

Our jobs as moms are made up of these small, beautiful things. Things that Lorien also won’t ever be able to do again. Pouring cereal, packing lunches, signing permission slips, meeting the school bus, driving to piano lessons, monitoring homework, trimming nails, reading stories, doing unending laundry . . .

Guess what, Moms? These small things are *just as important* as the big things. We know this, but we need the reminder. These small things shape our lives and our children’s lives. They make up our world.

We have to cherish every little thing. Celebrate them, even. Every day. Because, my god, they matter. They are everything.


“Just remember this . . . We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It means, don’t worry.”

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6 things you can do to ease election pain

The election result is a shock for us Hillary supporters. There are a lot of us out there. There’s a lot of pain. It takes everything in me to believe in our country right now, and to give Trump a chance. But I refuse to go negative about something I can’t control.

What can I control? Here are six things I plan to do to feel better, starting today.

  1. Raise my boys well. The next four years will be crucial for my children, who will be entering pre- and teen years. In our wonderful family of five, we’ll be dealing with all that comes with that: puberty and confusing hormones, competitive sports, and driving a car — to name a few. Throughout all, they will respect women as equals, without question. I vow to raise our boys with goodness and love and acceptance and hope.
  2. Take care of myself. I exercise regularly, but as I sweated it out this morning, I thought about my body in a different way. As many women probably feel, I’m saddened and hurt by Trump’s comments and shameless objectification of women. I’m also guilty of falling into the trap, objectifying myself. There have always been things I’ve wanted to change about my appearance. “If I could only lose that pesky five pounds, if only my nose were more petite, if my teeth were whiter, if my hair wasn’t so wild…” You know what? It’s all bullshit. I’m healthy. I’m strong. And, goldarnit, my husband thinks I’m gorgeous. My kids think my extra five pounds adds to the snuggle factor. I vow to be kind to myself. To love myself as I am no matter what I see in the media.
  3. Take care of our planet. The continuing devastation to our environment is real. Our efforts in recycling and renewable energy are (excuse the pun) only the tip of the iceberg. There’s got to be more we can do to reverse the damage so our children have a worry-free future, without relying on the government to do so. Coincidentally, I’m working on a sequel to Forte which addresses this very question — where magic is the answer. If only magic were an option. I’m not quite sure how yet, but I vow to take a more active role to help heal our earth.
  4. Be kind to each other. It’s tempting to make the generalization that everyone who voted for Trump agrees with everything he’s ever said and condones the things he’s admitted doing. That’s not necessarily the case, as my husband reminded me. There are many people out there who have lost jobs and are struggling to raise their children — to survive, even. They are angry and fed up with the government they believe let them down. I vow to keep an open mind, to withhold judgment, and to treat others with kindness no matter what their political views may be.
  5. Have faith. Even if you are not religious, the idea of having faith helps during times like these. Have faith in the peaceful transition of power that George Washington bravely set up for us when our country was founded. Have faith in the US Constitution. Have faith in its “checks and balances.” Have faith in due process. Have faith in science. Have faith in God. Have faith in our country.
  6. Smile. Give yourself the gift of a good, healthy cry. And then, find humor in something. In everything! Here’s something: Just think how good SNL will be for the next four years.

I’m not saying all this will be easy. To be honest, part of why I wrote this post is to pull myself out of hopelessness and convince myself to be positive.

Let yourself grieve, and then think about what you can do to feel better. Maybe these six things offer a good place to start.

Girl Power

I’m a proud #boymom. My three boys are my world. From clothes to shoes to toys, our house is all BOY. And I wouldn’t change it for anything. Sure, before children, I imagined raising a daughter. One with curly hair. Someone I could share all my hard-learned girl truths with. I defy any woman who denies feeling the same. But now, I couldn’t imagine life without these boys. And they couldn’t either. They wouldn’t know what to do with a sister.

“Our house would be infused with PINK!” once was said — the P word sneering from his mouth.

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And this doesn’t include cleats. There’s a separate bin for that.

When Christmas commercials are in season, we tease about getting My Little Pony and Twinkle Toes and LaLaLoopsy for each other. Even I’m guilty of that.

But pink has always been my favorite color.

Yesterday, our middle asked, “Who are you voting for for President?”

“Hillary Clinton.”

“But we can’t have a GIRL president!”

“Why not?”

“She’ll make us wear girly clothes and play with Barbies!”

“No she wouldn’t. Why would you say that?”

“Because she makes all the rules and all the laws.”

“Well, did President Obama make me wear a suit and tie and play with trucks?”

We all laughed, but my words felt a bit hollow. The reverse isn’t the same. I’m in a boy world. They’ve seen me play with plenty of toy trucks. I may not wear a suit and tie but I assure you I’m not in a dress every day, either. Come to think of it, it’s all a boy’s world. Historically, we girls have had to fight for equal rights and equal pay and equal opportunity. And “pink” isn’t the problem.

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When my husband gets into one of his teasing jags, my standard comeback is: “You needed a little sister growing up to get all this out of your system.”

Growing up with three brothers, my husband has the boy thing down. He’s like the boy whisperer — able to get to the root of a rotten day or hurt feelings or big-world worries. However, judging from how protective he is of me, a little girl may have given him a run for his money.

My brother and I grew up sharing each other’s perspective. Throughout the confusing puberty years, I know we helped each other quite a bit. When a girl didn’t reciprocate his crush, I think I was able to make it a little better. When a boy on the bus stuck his fingers up my nose, it was my brother who explained that he actually liked me. (Not a good strategy, BTW). We’ve always been able to talk about things we’d never discuss with our parents. Maybe this is why he is now keenly sensitive about girl stuff. He can discuss menstrual cramps or bra-fitting issues with the objectivity of a registered nurse. And he actually looks really good in pink. Oh, excuse me — salmon.

I know firsthand sisters can teach brothers stuff moms can’t. Yikes.

My boys need more GIRL in their lives!

I pledge right now to communicate with my boys — about everything. As uncomfortable it may be, I will tell them what boobs are really for, what a thing called a tampon is, and why girls might send cryptic messages through their girlfriends like modern-day carrier pigeons. And goldarnit, they will feel okay with all of it.

If it comes to be, they will feel okay with a woman president.

No, my boys won’t have a sister. It’s a little late in the game to try again.

But I will vote for Hillary.

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Marathon Monday

The Boston Marathon will always be a profound event in our lives. Today, we pause to think of our friends Bill and Denise as they continue to cope with unimaginable tragedy. Here at home, we remember my husband Anthony running for Team MR8 in 2014 — my emotional tribute can be found here.

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I admire my husband for countless reasons. His running the marathon for the Martin Richard Foundation was one of the most memorable and touching events of our years together. Recently, we’ve learned that it was a miracle he was able to run at all.

This past November, excruciating shooting pain down his right leg led us to several doctor’s appointments. X-rays followed. Then, a diagnosis: Spondylolisthesis. Essentially, the base of his spine — his L5 — is out of place. Like a train car that slid off its tracks. Take a look for yourself:

Spondylolisthesis

This condition is usually caused by trauma, like a car accident. That doesn’t apply to Anthony. Doctors believe he was born with it and it’s gotten worse over time. High impact activities — i.e. RUNNING — aggravate and exacerbate the problem.

While training for the marathon, Anthony had chronic pain down his leg, which we attributed to his IT band. He had a roller and specific stretches to help, but mostly, he just ran through the pain.

Let me say that again: He ran through the pain. This wasn’t a pulled muscle or cramp. This is a spinal chord injury. He ran through nerve pain. When his doctors heard he had run a marathon — the Boston Marathon no less — with this condition, they were shocked.

With the diagnosis, Anthony was told he would never be able to run again. For most people, that might not be a big deal. For us, it was. It is. It wasn’t only a form of exercise, it was a lifestyle. It was therapeutic. More than once, it was a spiritual experience. With three young boys and a high-stress career, running was an efficient and easy way for Anthony to keep in shape. Not to mention — fun. Running races of all distances was something we both looked forward to continuing for years to come. How many times had he told me: “I can’t wait to run a 5K with the boys.” Some of you might know the story: Anthony proposed to me after a run. How much more significant can a form of exercise get?

Hey, let’s be real. This is not the end of the world. We know how lucky we are in so many ways — our overall good health, our entire family’s well-being is intact. We are beyond blessed. This back thing stinks, sure. But we’re staying positive. We hope to avoid surgery. We’re managing the pain that we know now will never go away, but hopefully will not worsen. Anthony’s taking this opportunity to try new things, like yoga — yay! So far, it hasn’t hurt his golf game —whew! Hopefully, he can find something close to that runner’s high again.

This is another reason why Marathon Monday will always be bittersweet for us. But ask Anthony if he has any regrets about running the Boston Marathon in 2014, raising over $25k for the Martin Richard Foundation, and he would not hesitate. The answer would be a resounding no.

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We were the team

“As a grown woman, did you find it hard to convey the psyche of high school girls?” – at today’s book club via FaceTime.

I choked up giving my answer.

In Forte, Sami is included in the “in crowd” when she magically becomes a stellar athlete and makes the volleyball team.

FORTE IN CROWD, cast list

Carolyn once thought to be a romantic rival for Sami’s crush, she’s honest and caring.

Maddie the Uber popular chick, clearly the leader — setting trends and standards for the group’s collective behavior.

Thalia her biggest fan, her spaniel, the follower. Plain vanilla.

Shaunie the pretty, helpful one — gently showing Sami the ropes. Her mom runs the carpool.

Jess the bully — ruthless in her pursuit of getting Sami to push the boundaries.

Sami the newbie — tries to distinguish right from wrong when neither path is clear. Doesn’t know who to trust. Even herself, at times.


I recently moved back to my hometown after over twenty years of being away. Suddenly, I’m running into high school acquaintances at school pickup and grocery checkout, farmer’s market and ice cream queues. Seeing these people I grew up with but still don’t know very well is a strange phenomenon. And makes me consider who I might be to them.

High school is no walk in the park for anyone. Even those who are lucky enough to be in the “in crowd” (that would be me), were entangled in confusing high school politics.

For example (true story): a “good” friend ridiculed me in the cafeteria to such an extent, I hid in the nurse’s office crying my eyes out for the entire next period. That’s just one example.  And I was one of the lucky ones.

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Can you find me? Hint: my hands are in the air.

My bestie since kindergarten and I were talking about all this recently. I took in a deep breath and told her: “We were the team.”

She knew what I meant. She read the book. “No, we weren’t.”

“Yes, I think we were.” But what I should’ve said was: “Well, I think I was.”

Each of my team characters is a part of me as a young girl. As well-liked as I may have been, I know I didn’t always make it easy for some. Perhaps, albeit subtlety, I left others out. At the time, I thought I was nice to everyone. I know with everything in me that I didn’t mean to be mean — ever. But I would put money on the fact that I made some people feel bad, just by being who I was.

Not easy to admit.

This post will piss some people off, maybe. Some will vehemently disagree. “We loved high school!”

Let me be clear: I like who I am. I’m proud of the person I am. It will shock those who know me to learn I was actually really shy as a young girl. My childhood was a blessing in countless ways, and has shaped who I am today. We are all, as grown individuals, a collection of our experiences. We can’t choose to keep only the good ones.

When the time comes, I only hope I can help my sons navigate high school in a healthy way. As I say to them in my acknowledgments: Let (Forte) give you insight into the complex behaviors of teenage girls. Remember to be kind to them in high school.

*Update: March 25, 2016*

Writing this post unleashed some tough memories that have been keeping me up the past few nights. This morning, my husband challenged my idea that we are a collection of our experiences. He believes that experiences are finite and don’t define who we are. We talked about the Looking Glass Self — the social psychological concept that claims we define ourselves as others see us.

“How much pressure would we put on ourselves if that were true?” he said.

Some of us hold onto our negative pasts so tightly, it holds us back from moving forward. The consequences are detrimental. Clinging to the past won’t allow us to  achieve our full potential, or follow our dreams, or simply believe in ourselves.

I have always been the person I am today. The person I’m proud of. I refuse to be crippled by hurtful memories or how I might think others perceive me — now or back then. I’ve always had it in me to be the wife, mother, daughter, sister that I am today.

The next time I run into someone from high school, instead of getting sucked into a time warp back to 1991, I will show that person who I am today. Maybe we’ll become friends. Maybe not. But I will be true to myself.

Happy EVERYTHING!

When I was single, living and working in Boston, holidays were strange. Unless my parents came to visit, it was uneventful. I didn’t decorate my apartment with stuff only I would see. What was the point? If there wasn’t a celebration at work, I didn’t celebrate. I remember feeling slightly annoyed around most holidays. Sometimes sad. Maybe a bit lonely. For most of them, I wanted to hit fast forward. Get on with regular life.

When I met my husband, things changed. When we went to get our first Christmas tree together, he brimmed with contagious, joyous enthusiasm. He had a this-is-what-life’s-all-about attitude I found intriguing and admirable. I was envious! I wanted to be like him. I still strive to. Then, we entered a whole new holiday level when the kids came. I can sum it up in one word: FUN! I defy anyone to remain a Grinch while celebrating with little ones.

Even if it does put some added pressure on Mom.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Last night, social media suggested I was Slacker Mom. More than one mom friend had made a homemade leprechaun trap. Leprechaun traps? With three young boys in my house, I have *never once* made a leprechaun trap. I scrambled — and redeemed myself by tucking some leftover chocolate coins (from Valentine’s Day, maybe?) under my boys’ pillows. Whew.

But this morning, my Facebook feed is overloaded with photos of kids in green. Not just green — coated with shamrocks. Glitter. Facepaint. Tattoos. Beaded jewelry. The whole bit. I had to scrounge to find clean green shirts for my boys. And they’re only somewhat green, with stripes and logos in the way. Clearly not made for St. Patty’s day. *Sigh*

That old irritation crept back. I couldn’t help it. What was the point?

Now, in honor of my late Grandmom Honey, I have to acknowledge my Irish heritage — even if it’s less than 10% of my genetic makeup. (But, hey, who’s 100% anything anymore. We’re all mutts here in America. Right, Trump?)

It’s not that I don’t approve of celebrating all things Irish. That’s fine. But really, isn’t something lost with all the green and shamrocks and stuff? I mean, are my kids even talking about what St. Patrick’s Day means in school? Or are they just looking for that magical rainbow?

Wikipedia says St. Patrick’s Day “commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.”

Tonight, while we’re drinking green beer and eating boiled dinners, will we toast the actual Saint Patrick? Heck, I’m partly Irish and I’m not completely sure what “Irish culture” really is. How would I expect my kids to celebrate it?

I’m at the public library working on my book, watching moms and toddlers waltz in in their best green. The librarians are decked out, too. I’m zoned in on my screen, part of me wishing for the fast-forward button. (I mean, Easter is right around the corner and I need to get the freakin’ baskets done.)

Out of the blue, one of the green-clad librarians approaches. I tense, expecting a lecture about having water bottles in the library. She isn’t here to reprimand me.

“Happy St. Patrick’s Day,” she whispers, and places an Andes chocolate mint candy by my computer.

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Happy trio: My illegal water bottle, my Andes candy, and my computer.

Oh! My insides do a little flip. I actually laugh out loud. “Thank you!” (I don’t whisper.)

Suddenly, everything turns around. My attitude flips like a switch. A warm feeling comes over me, like a big hug of pure gratitude.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

What’s my problem? If this “holiday” is an excuse for people to wear an unflattering color and try their best Liam Neeson accent — so what? Why not celebrate this day? Why not celebrate EVERY day? Let’s be happy for whatever reason. Be happy for NO reason! Make that Resting Bitch Face a Resting Smile Face! Eat chocolate in the morning — just because!

The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day. I bet if we all look hard enough, we’ll find that magical rainbow has been right under our Irish noses all along.

Now if you’ll excuse me. I have a chocolate mint to eat. Just because.