Darwin’s Writers (A Plea for Word Chasers)

Being an author is being in charge of your own personal insane asylum. — Terri Guillemets

     Writers had to be who Darwin had in mind when he developed his infamous theory of survival of the fittest!  As a writer, today I’m feeling like a fish out of water.   The only way a fish could actually survive would be to adapt to air. This is almost impossible, unless you are of the infamous Mudskipper variety; that is you adapt. 

Don’t believe me?  Click here to see this amazing Mudskipper:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or9NUEroVcE

As a writer, I’m learning a few things about the sport, occupation, obsession, or illness (it varies from day to day):

  • You need readers to feel validated and to avoid a horizontal parking space on the shrink’s couch.
  • You need to set goals; this often involves even more time than the writing takes.
  • You need to decide if you eventually want to make money at it.  When?  How?

These days can the writing ever carry itself, or is all about networking, sharing, and linking?

I’ve discovered, just like exercise, it’s really hard sometimes to write every day, or nearly every day.  I enjoy it about 98% of the time, but I loathe is about 2% of the time.

I enjoy it because I have so much I want to write about.  I loathe it because I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit this:   Every writer wants more readers!    Yet how best do you accomplish this?  In this day of digital information overload, how do you get more people to read your posts?  After all, other peoples’ time is valuable too.

Do you write true?  That is do you write what is truly at your core and in your heart today?

Do you write what you think will be popularAnother words do you write in order to please others and seek to satisfy some mythical audience?

How do you branch out and reach more potential readers?  Are you marketing yourself correctly?   Facebook and Stumble Upon pulls a few folks in, but are there better ways?

Am I over categorizing?  Over tagging?   Should I be more specific or more broad-based?

Is conciseness the key?  Or is detail?

I know you should post often and consistently, and try to hook people with clever titles, and an interesting picture or quote.   Yet, is that enough?

Is your theme eye-catching?

How long did it take you to build a bigger audience?  What was your best strategy?

Maybe I’m just having one of those days where I’m in a state of analysis paralysis and it has rendered my muse positively mute today.  Maybe I’m listening too much to my head and not my heart.

I am curious and seeking other writer’s perspectives on what works for them and what doesn’t.   Or if you are just a reader, and want to pop in and say hi, well that’s great too!

It’s been said that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, but I say, you’re bananas if you think writers write only for themselves.  Like the infamous Mudskipper, I’m hoping to eventually rise above the mud as well as drying out in the sun.

I would love to hear any thoughts from those of you out in cyberspace!  For my readers:  I love you and appreciate you more than you could possibly know.  For my fellow writer comrades:  Keep going.  Never give up.  Stay encouraged.  Keep networking.  Have faith.  Go!

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I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!

Image

When I was a child, I remember my mom owned a book titled “I’m Ok; You’re Ok”.  OK, blogger’s disclosure here:  I have never read the book.  Sixty seconds of research on Amazon clearly puts me in my place; this is a distinguished writer who not only has the letters “M.D.” stenciled by his name, but has sold copies in the millions!  As if psychoanalyzing the dynamics of our parent/adult/child relationships to one another wasn’t totally gratifying, this doctor ultimately skyrocketed to fame with his book and subsequent movie “Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal”.    Second disclosure:  Glad I didn’t share couch time with him!

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to present myself:  Liz, amateur blogger who has zip, zero, nada credentials other than The School of Hard Knocks and The University of Life’s Experiences.   I am an expert in many subjects though; particularly the ones I deem worthy of arguing over.  Everything else is irrelevant.  Capishe?

Anyway, in my humblest of opinions, I really think most people would find ourselves and could skip years of therapy and countless thousands of dollars if they could just read one of dozens of books I eventually plan to write –barring unforeseen distractions of course!   I will call it:

“I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!”

Born just a few decades shy of the new millennium, I, like many of you experienced big life events.  Off the top of my head I remember these events, both external and internal, in a world that started out with time moving slowly. Now time seems to move at the speed of light thanks to the exponential increase in technology and access to world and interpersonal events simultaneously.    This is my truth as I remember it:

  • I turned four in a new house.  This time, it was a two-story home.
  • Our family got a brand new color TV!
  • The next day we saw Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon.
  • Our new color TV became my mom’s CNN when the Watergate Hearings started.
  • I turned eight that day.  “As the World Turns” was suspended.    I was covered in poison ivy.
  • President Nixon said he was not a crook.  I remember he was like the Beatles in this regard; he was famous and he also gave America the peace sign.
  • I repeatedly sat in the scorching heat and was bored to death in the back of my mom’s Impala as we waited forever to get gas before it ran out.
  • President Nixon, besieged by scandal, scowly jaws, and a neck that always seemed to turtle into his shoulders, resigned.
  • My cat had kittens and then my dad didn’t come back one day.  Then my parents divorced.  And I had to give all the kittens away.
  • Life was not always sunshine and lollipops.
  • I turned eleven.  On my birthday my dad stopped by.  He tied a red bandana around my eyes, put a cowgirl hat on my head, and gave me some genuine leather cowgirl boots.  We rode in his Porsche convertible 911 Targa to an unknown destination.  When he took off my blindfold, I was standing at a field near a stable. He had bought me a horse—the horse of my dreams!   I was so lucky!
  • I got the consolation prize but my mom got stuck with all the responsibility of raising me during the height of my future rebellion.  We are still very close to this day.
  • Then Elvis fell off his porcelain throne and died on his bathroom floor.  The whole world cried.  Did I?  I can’t remember.
  • I read CS Lewis’s “Alice and Wonderland” and got lost for a few days.  A love affair with words and imagination ensued.
  • I turned 12.  My horse got very sick.  I lay against her belly and cried copious tears on the hard ground when we had to put her to sleep.  I’m not a brave person, but I learned I could face it when the time comes to tell our pets good-bye.
  • I got my period and then over 900 people died in Jonestown, Guyana.  I do remember crying over that when I realized this scene repeated itself hundreds of times:  Parents gave their kids Kool-Aid.  Then they died.   Why?
  • I started high school.  My friend’s brother drove me to school in a 1970 VW Bus with a silver foot shaped gas pedal.  The van always smelled like reefer, but it didn’t bother me because I had a secret crush on him.  We never talked to each other.
  • John Lennon was assassinated.  Then my mom and I celebrated Christmas, just us two and our cats, for the fifth time.
  • Summer came.  I started liking boys more than girls.
  • Second year of high school was in session and John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill President Reagan to impress Jodi Foster.    Then I got my driver’s license.
  • That summer the sandy haired boy with the reefer bus committed suicide.  He left behind a daughter and girlfriend.  He never knew I liked him “more than a chauffeur.”  I was not a good friend to the sister he left behind.  Death makes people who aren’t grown up yet drift apart.  I wish I could tell her I’m sorry now.
  • Next I dated someone who was immature and sometimes cruel.  I got smart quick.  I dumped him fast.
  • I met my second boyfriend.
  • I worked all through high school.  Then I graduated.
  • A week later I moved out into a brand new mobile home with my boyfriend.  It hurt my mom because I didn’t give her any warning.
  • After four years I married that second boyfriend.  We had ups and downs, and stayed busy with three amazing kids who did every activity under the sun.  We traveled, we camped, we loved, we lost, and we loved again.  The cycle of life’s events big and small, internal and external happened, all over again.  Only this time it seemed to go by even faster, and with more of us.  We have a mostly good life today.  Some say blessed; I do.

Why?

It’s because we’ve both learned how to graciously—well, on most days, accept one another and those around us in the world as they truly are.  That is, “I’m Messed Up; And You’re Totally Wack!”

We both had childhoods that were indeed mostly happy, full of play, and learning, friends and family.  Yet from time to time, we took turns getting suddenly thrown out of “Happyville”.  Leaving Happyville, was always followed up by temporary internments in the tenement slum housing known as “Dysfunction City”.

We all went through this.    Yes, we children of the Age of Aquarius, this new dawn of enlightenment and reason, all had to endure these universal hardships of life:

Hurt.  Sadness.  Disappointment.  Unfairness.  Events beyond our control.

But here’s the good news:   The bad didn’t last.  It never does!  As God wove the threads of our life’s tapestry, these hard things became the torn threads that gave our life, our tapestry, its character and its absolute richness.    The master weaver is still at work.

We live and we dream and the world just keeps on turning.   God is in control.  And we’re all going to be okay.  Mostly.

And we know that in all things,  God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

ImageLiz and Her Horse Patches – 1976

Blah Blah Blog – Musings from a Writer’s Cat

“Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance.” – Dan Greenburg
“One cat just leads to another.” – Ernest Hemingway

      My Mama writes too much!  She says too many words.    Her house is a wreck and her mind is sometimes a mess.  Her desk is a tower of unpaid bills, unanswered correspondence, and stacks of cards never mailed to graduates, new moms, and birthday recipients.  There are receipts, Band-Aids, business cards, and post-it notes written in a code language known only to her.

But that’s just the surface of her desk.  Glance down a few feet.  Towers of books and magazines sit by idly while awaiting their use as reference material or sources of inspiration.  Their loneliness and lack of attention is obvious as the dust and spilled coffee stains upon their covers attest.  In the old days they would have been perused for pleasure purposes, but now they are handled hurriedly and thrown back down when Mama gets frustrated.

Mama’s behind on laundry, and all the rooms are starting to look like a Goodwill store whose employees have been on strike for a month.   Her refrigerator is barren, save the few science experiments festering in the back.  The scraps were long ago ravaged by her hungry children who have found clever ways to sustain life; that is they’ll head over to the dining establishment with the golden arches faster than Morgan Spurlock can say “Super Size Me”.

Here’s the worst part:  My dishes are empty!  Both of them! 

That’s right.  No water, no food!   Somebody needs to create and then call Social Services for Writers Cats!    Desperate times call for desperate measures.  There’s only one thing left that I can do:

It’s time for an intervention!

I jump up on Mama’s lap.  She keeps petting the keyboard more than she does me!  How utterly rude!  I purr louder, and knead the gooey tummy dough at the top of her pants.  Still nothing!  Hmmmpphh!    Fine then!  I can type as well as she can.  Watch this:

Sndkfp ♣d+=cc ♠ ☼4rjf030jfmg,  J  sg0-[345jl;3489f8*&#* ❤  843434 bsjskj1934u

What the furrball?  She’s still going!  It’s time to interrupt her line of sight.    I’m going to jump up on her screen so she’ll be forced to see me.  What’s this?  She isn’t even writing her best seller?  She was reading Facebook and searching for inspiration??

But she promised me she was working on The Great American Novel and I’d be dining on Fancy Feast out of crystal bowls for the rest of my days.

That’s it!  I’ve had it!  I’m going to jump down and turn off the…….

(PLAY THIS LINK AND YOU’LL KNOW):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-fTqAMND7g

All Aboard The Care-of-Self!!

Having a two-year old is like having a blender that you don’t have the top for. — Jerry Seinfield

There’s a certain word my son just can’t seem to say.  All kids go through this phase when they are toddlers and learning to speak. Generally,  by fix or six, they have mastered the pronunciation of most words they know.    But one word, my son never bothers to correct, even though I have told him the correct way to say it, is:  CAROUSEL!

He has always insisted it’s called The Care-of –Self.   Which knowing him and his sweet personality, it fits.

When he was a baby, much to my sometimes horror, he would lovingly pat any woman who held him, in the chest—top, dead, center as it is known in mechanical terms.   As a toddler he called these lovely items:  Mashers.  I noticed from the time he could speak, whenever he didn’t know a word; he just gave an item a word that seemed to fit.

Certainly mashers fit the name of someone prone to his proclivity, as well as the aforementioned item being squashed by small hands.   I used to warn moms, grand moms, and even young teenage girls, if they were to pick him up, “If you’ve got them, he’ll get them!”  Thankfully, he’s outgrown this innocent toddler behavior—well hopefully until at least the late teen years.

I wish I remembered more of this early vocabulary he created.  At five, he first became aware that people die and ultimately are buried in cemeteries.   So whenever we’d pass a cemetery in the car, he’d say, “Look Mom, there’s a ghost hive!”  On Mother’s Day, he always wishes me “Happy Saint Mother’s Day!”

One of the funniest words I recall was about a time he had used the bathroom and unfortunately the toilet clogged and ran over.  “Mom!  HELP!”  I came running as fast as I could.  He was tearing up and said, “Help!!  There’s “toilet juice” all over the floor!   It’s disgusting!”   Indeed it was, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at his description.

Another time, even though he was already five, he pointed at a robin scampering across our yard.   Strange little creatures, you’re more likely to see them on the ground, then above your head.  But he saw it and pointed out, “Look mom, it’s a Robin Red Chest!”

Once at the playground, a child bolted down a plastic curvy slide so fast, that his hair stood totally on end!  My son noticed this scientific phenomenon and yelled out, “Mom, his hair ran out of gravity!

Only a few months ago, he observed an apartment close to our home that had burned down several months ago.  Construction crews had started stripping it down to the foundation, removing all of the burned siding, and clearing out the burned interior.   When we passed this apartment, he noticed the new crews working.  He pointed at it and said, “Now all the house needs is its skin on it.”

I wrote down a handful of these words over the years, but the majority of this creative-speak simply evaporated into the atmosphere and that makes me sad.

See he is growing up now.  The first trimester of childhood, that is the first six years, is already up.  How can this be?  He’s my mid-life baby whose sole responsibility is to keep me young, busy, and on my toes until my late fifties!

I have just one piece of advice to all you young, and young-at-heart wonderful mommies out there.  Somehow, somewhere, write down those cute little things your boy-wonder or little starlet says.  I know you already take a million digital pictures, but make sure you jot down somewhere those “first REAL words”.  You think you won’t forget this ever, and by next Tuesday you’ll have no idea what that cute thing was, only that they said “something” adorable.  Keep a notepad in your car, your diaper bag, or purse with attached pen so that you can capture it.  Even if you just shove all your little notes in a folder with your kids name on it, you’ll be glad later.

I know the days of early motherhood can be long.   The duties are harsh, your “to do” list borders on cruel and inhumane, your body is tired and worn out, and all your efforts are consumed with orchestrating nearly everything:

  • Coordinating play dates!
  • Providing top-notch educational experiences!
  •  Teaching little ones to tinkle and stinkle in a potty!
  •   Learning how to read words!
  •  Breaking up fights among siblings!
  • Planning three nutritious meals a day and snacks that are nibbled yet never entirely consumed!
  • Hourly diaper changes!
  •  Grocery and supply shopping!
  • Acres of dirty laundry and hours of cleaning that are never seen!

You spend your days navigating the disaster zone of spilled cheerios, leaking sippy cups, and a minefield of sharp, talking toys, as well as the brigade of ten thousand tiny pieces (kit toys).

Yes, I know!  You moms are at your most amazing, when you feel the least visible and the most vulnerable to losing the last shred of YOU!   Time moves simultaneously at the speed of light and slower than a snail’s pace.

Just remember this:

These sweet days will pass.  These little darlings will grow.  You will get through this!  And ultimately you will be begging your mind to remember one day those subtle moments when each of your sweet children said something precious or did something adorable.

The journey of motherhood is an arduous one.  You will learn a new language and skill set right along with your baby.  So whenever you can, however you can, find the ways to rest your body, and nourish your soul:

  • A call to a friend while sitting down, not tending to a child
  • Read a great book or magazine at nap time
  • A box of chocolates!  Calories don’t count if you’re near tears anyway.

As I hit submit on this post, I am praying this simple prayer:

“Lord, for any mom today that needs encouragement desperately, please let her know she is super amazing!   I don’t know who she is, but I know she’s giving with everything she’s got to her family.  Reward her faith and let her feel appreciated and loved.  Make sure she is blessed with the knowledge that she is a good mom and may she at least once today have the opportunity to board “The Care of Self”.

LMFAO! (Live My Faith; Accept Others!)

The other day I was having a lovely lunch with my young son and mother.   Though my mom is an extremely youthful octogenarian, she amused me when she asked, “Liz, tell me something, what does LMFAO mean when people comment with that on their Facebook page?”  Oh boy!  Not one who enjoys cursing in front of my mom, I told her what the acronym’s letters stood for and assured her that I never use it with the middle letter attached when someone tells me something funny.

Long after I answered her question, I was still thinking about what it could stand for.  You see, in the deep cranial cavities of Liz Logic, I am kind of an acronym aficionado, if there is such a thing.  When I see unfamiliar acronyms, I love to see if I can figure out what they stand for based on context of a website or article etc.

At church, we have sermon notes, with blanks left out for key words that will be divulged during the sermon.  Pastor, I’m one step ahead of you; I got this one I always think to myself.  I like to think I know my bible well enough, that I can guess the key words before he teaches us with an amazing sermon.  And you guessed it, I often get it wrong.    I see an L__________ (fill in the blank) and go ahead and put LOVE!   Only to find out, the answer was Live!

It’s a mental game I play with myself, seeing if I can decipher answers before sitting still long enough to receive the answers from someone who just may possibly know more than I do.

Get to the point Liz!  OK, here’s the thing.  So I was pondering a better answer I could have given my mom for the off-colored acronym for a response to a humorous comment one makes on Facebook.   EUREKA!  It just came to me, like this, in a Liz-Flash of inspiration.

Live My Faith; Accept Others

It seems like the last year of my life has been one of the best years I’ve ever had.  But it’s not because every situation in my life is hunky dory all the time.  Far from it!    I don’t know if it’s because the sands of the hour glass are heavier on the bottom side of my life, or God has just graced me with more wisdom, but this message just keeps ringing true these days–repeatedly!

Here’s why:  I have been involved in a neighborhood bible study group with the loveliest friends I have ever known for the last fifteen years.  Some of us leave for a season and come back; some simply move on to other things in life, but the core friendships remain the same.  We are a platoon of moms, wives, daughters, sisters, and friends and we have seen it all and been through it all in our own lives.  We’ve been through multiple deaths, births, and struggles with our families and deep within ourselves.  We’ve laughed and cried together all these years and probably wouldn’t have had the strength to face some of the things we faced, had it not been for one another.    Sometimes we look back, and think, how in the world did we even survive that?    Only one answer rings true, but for God.

Something one dear friend said, especially grabbed me last night.  She said, “You know the answer in life is just so simple.”  Impossible at times to execute, but so simple to understand:

“Just love one another”

 If we all could just truly love one another, and accept one another, we wouldn’t be at war within our families, or within the world, and even within ourselves.  You don’t think you’re at war within yourself?  Think again.  Do you ever participate in self-condemnation?  I’m so fat or I’m so stupid?   Do you ever participate in pride, or judging others?

See, this truth is the heart of our faith–to just love one another!   Where do you feel the most free in life?  It’s probably in the friendships and relationships where you feel totally accepted in life, despite what they know about you, or your quirks, or your flaws, or your areas that you are working on.

We’ve learned some other things in life too.  It’s not enough to just love each other in our little “holy huddle.”  There is a hurting world outside just beyond the smell of our fresh coffee and raucous laughter.    We know!  That’s the world we always go back to when our time together is up.

Our personalities, political persuasions, professional choices, and how we school and parent our children vary vastly.   Yet we are in agreement on this bedrock principal.  Just love!  We don’t have to beat the others in our family or in the world with bible verses.  It’s not our position to save, but our privilege to share.  We can share our testimonies and our faith as we understand it if asked, but ultimately it is our kindness or love (or sadly, lack of) that tells the truth of who we claim to be.

Sometimes I personally feel like I’m the worst as far as being an effective ambassador or servant of Christ.  I’m so full of inconsistencies!  I’m full of pride sometimes!  I still sin, not only as defined in the bible, but as that voice in my head that says this doesn’t honor God.   Yes, I struggle!    I’m real!    I think we’ve all taken turns passing the self-condemnation ball around but I also know that this is a tactic from an enemy who wishes to see us destroy ourselves, and NOT the wrath of an angry God.

At the end of the day I know God is a mighty big God.  He has a sense of humor and strength that far surpasses mine.  After all He’s God!  He knows my obsessions, my fears, my tears, and my confessions!  (Whoa…that rhyme just tumbled out!).  But He does!  He probably laughs and says, “There, there my precious child.  You’re going to be okay.  I’ve got it covered.  I know ALL about this, but I love you anyway.  That situation that’s making you nuts or you’re totally afraid of?  It’s all going to be ok.  Trust me.  Be patient.  Have faith.  Don’t be angry at others; just love.  Yes, grow in love.”

I’m still growing up.  But the love comes easier these days.  I don’t have to stay confined to this group or that group of people.  I don’t have to put people in a category.   It’d be better if I ignore any splinters in my neighbor’s eye, considering I have enough planks in my eye to build a deck, quite possibly on a ship.

Though I still get mad, and frustrated, and lose it sometimes, I’m learning I have a place to return.    It’s the heart of our creator.  Proverbs 4:23 teaches us “Guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life” has never been truer than now.    I’m pretty sure God doesn’t want us to build a fortress around it, as to not contaminate it, but to build bridges from it and let the love spill out into the world.  I think this verse is misunderstood as to not let anything corrupt us.  This is true, but I think it also means to not fear those that believe differently, those who have a different opinion of truth.    I think of it as guarding your heart from falling prey to fear, cynicism, judgment, condemnation, or categorizing.  Just breathe life-affirming love into others.  Let God worry about the rest.

Is our faith so fragile, we could lose it by loving those that are different?  I hope not.  That’s not what Jesus did and it’s not what I want to do either.  Though I’ve certainly been guilty of that, it’s not who I am anymore—at least I’m trying not to be that person!

For me, Jesus was perfect and I’m so not, and honestly neither has anyone who speaks in His name for the last two thousand years or so.   I think He would be a lot more popular if the world could see more love from those that claim to follow Him.

Love is not to be contained, or given to only those we deem lovely or loveable.  It is not reserved for the deserving, or folks like us.  It’s so much more than a cliché too; it’s actually a commandment…to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, but don’t forget the second part—to love our neighbor as our self!

The world and its inhabitants have always and will always need more love and peace.  Just start with you.  Start now.  Where is the love?

Don’t Sink the Boat Son!

     The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius.
~Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

Today was a good day.  I got things the house picked up and took a break from writing.   I got out a bit and enjoyed my life with my six year old son.

We played two rounds of miniature golf.  He is a real free spirit and tends to slump his shoulders, swing while his feet are in motion, hold a club that would make any reasonable golfer cringe, and listens to instructions about as closely as I listen to foreign language translations while impatiently left on “ignore”, when calling customer service numbers.

Yet for all my attempts at teaching technique, he easily tied my score, simply by playing the way Frank Sinatra would have advised, “I did it MY WAY!”  That is to say, he dragged his club while swinging, tapped around each hole faster than Gregory Hines, and skipped from hole to hole with no regard to keeping score or winning.

Since he’s been born, I’ve always known he possesses that “something different” quality.  I keep trying to teach him, mold him, shape him, and above all instruct him to please follow directions!   I want him to do well in school!  I want him to pay attention!  I don’t want him to get picked on.  I don’t want him to be a teacher’s “pest”.   Basically, I want to spare him any trouble that comes from being a non-conformist.

But you know what?  I can’t.  I can demand, argue, and rationalize why it’s so great to follow directions and how it makes life easier, but it sort of falls on deaf ears.  It’s not that he is bad, or doesn’t want to follow directions; he just has such a strong sense of self—and a propensity to be distracted, because everything is interesting in his world!

When he hears the word no, that is his cue to no-gotiate!  When he gets in trouble, he may not hear you the first five or six times, but then he will turn on the charm to soften any anger after the fact.

He is our creative, and highly hilarious little bug-a-boo!  He is the one who clings to all of us,  from parents to siblings to grandparents.  He loves so deeply and so pure.  A talk show host would say he possesses “rugged individualism”.  Yes…all forty two pounds of it!

At one point, when he was haphazardly hitting the ball all over the place, I asked him for about the tenth time to please stop and LISTEN to my directions.  I want you to succeed in life!  You need to listen and follow directions.  I don’t want you to be like that boat over there; I don’t want you to sink!!    He just looked at me and kind of shrugged and skipped to the next hole.

Do you know what that little stinker did next?  He got a hole in one.  Yep!  For the rest of the day, Mom went into overdrive, competing against a six year old with a vengeance, determined  that if I could not beat him, I would at least join him in the “hole in one” club.  Many shots later, in our second game, I finally got mine!   Ah, sweet victory!

What is the lesson in all this?   The thing with free spirits is somehow things always seem to work out for them.    Sure, they have to accept basic responsibilities in life, but for kids who are determined to find their own way in sports, academics, and in life choices, I’m learning as a mom,  to take a breath, and bend like a willow, rather than stand tall and hard like the mighty oak.

The older I get, I’m learning to follow my own inner voice too.   I am setting speed records these days in giving up control and organization in order to follow my creative side that has been lying dormant for some time.  I’m learning to embrace my weird, wild, quirky, funny, sad, obsessive, angry, and faith-filled sides of my personality that makes me, ME!  No one pushes back harder than I do, when I feel misunderstood or that I don’t measure up in some area or another.  Why would I expect him to not feel the same way?

I think my son is seeing that.  He is learning the joy that comes now by living in the now, seeing where the day takes us, and finding the smallest things that make life joyful.   So color outside the lines, my baby.    Collect other people’s pistachio shells on our walks and give me these “clues” to take home.    Hit all the buttons in the elevator so we can see how each floor is different than the one before.    Bring me your stash of pigeon feathers despite the germs they may carry.

Be you and be happy.  Because your mom loves you always, exactly the way you are!

Embrace Your Inner Weird (But Please Don’t Drink the Pee!)

“Googly Eyes”   (Photo Credit: Stuart Chalmers)

OK, I admit it.  Call me an egotist, but today I did something that surprisingly I have yet to do.  I Googled myself.  Everyone knows what Google means, right?  If that sentence had been uttered even fifteen years ago, you probably would get a lot less handshakes, but I digress.

Anyway, I Googled my name.  And HOLY GUACAMOLE!  Only six lines down, is this breaking headline found in search engines all over the world:

Liz Gray drinks her own urine live on national TV!

Complete with YouTube video.    Freaking Fantastic!   Nothing about writing.  Nothing about photography.  No, just Liz drinks her pee!  She also dabs a pinch here or there on her face and has totally clear skin.  She even uses a neti-pot full of pee and no longer suffers from nasal allergies.  Who knew? This fountain of youth and health could be so easy.

So of course, I did what any normal enquiring mind would do.  I watched the video—twice!  (Don’t worry, I know you’re curiousity has the best of you now.  If you just can’t take it, skip the remaining paragraphs and just watch the video below!)

Now I’ve had some rather public and quite private conversations with my peeps lately about how once you finally start writing, you find out that perhaps you are weirder than not only what others thought you were, but disturbingly way more than even you thought you were.  Learning to write, if it’s autobiographical at all, is like being your own paparazzi exposing your inner self to your friends and family kind enough to read it, and a few random strangers all over the world who could run the gamut from a deranged terrorist to a grandmother who runs a kitten mill.  You just never know.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that attempting to regurgitate your thoughts from your brain pathways, and this time bypass the standard highway, that is the mouth, and instead divert these thoughts directly to the fingertips is a steep challenge.  But since when has not knowing what I’m doing ever stopped me before?

See we all carry weird secrets around!   You know–that thing you do when no one is looking, the way you sing in the car where the rest of the world can’t hear you, that smell your Tupperware has when you bring a lunch from home, those inappropriate things you always say in a social situation.  What’s that?  That doesn’t happen to you?  Oh, maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, I’ve tabulated some polling data lately from a few other friends of mine that write, whether it’s columns, books, Facebook status reports, or professional email correspondence at real jobs where real grown-ups work.    It’s unanimous.  After much discussion, we have all agreed we are all a little weird.

We didn’t start out that way.   But somewhere along the lines of marriages that defined us, kids that nearly consumed us, jobs that threatened to overtake the last strand of our identities, weight that sometimes nearly smothered us, and money that rolled in and out of our lives like the tide, well, somewhere in the process we all evolved.  We got weird.

I’ve heard it said that sometime around our forties is when we become who we always were.    Ah yes, high school is over.  We kind of don’t care so much now what others think of us.  In fact we’re pretty certain anyone who actually knows us at all, always knew there was that “something different” quality about us.  It used to be a compliment, but now we know it for what it is, when somebody tells us, “You know, you’re really different!”  “I’ve never really met someone quite like you.”  “You are so unique.  Always interesting knowing your take on life.”

Yes, we know.  It’s a round-about way of saying , “You know—you’re really nice, but you are a little bit weird.”  People just don’t come out and say it.  It’s okay.  They’re being polite, because rudeness is also a variation of weird, if not practiced in a tactful way.

But I say embrace your weirdness.  Put your foot in your mouth from time to time and enjoy the taste of dirt.  Wear that hideous outfit to work and when someone gives you an artificial compliment, embrace it with grace:  “I know, right?  I paid like $2 for this at Goodwill and always get so many compliments.  Thanks for noticing!”  Ladies, put a bow in the ugliest haircut you ever had.   No, especially if you’re a man.    We wanted attention when we were kids; why do we go to great lengths to avoid it now?

Yes, I say, “Be Weird!”  Because sometimes in this world that doesn’t make sense, someone will be exposed to your weirdness and suddenly find great comfort and solace knowing that compared to you, they are actually pretty darn stable.  That builds up their self-esteem, you feel good about yourself, and now everything is happy, happy, joy, joy!

So go ahead.  You have my permission.  Be weird.   Weird was always your “new normal” anyway.   Embrace it.  Keep it.  Love it.

Watch Liz Gray Drink Her Pee:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMZaCOaLf9Y

P.S.  She seems like a lovely little lass who may even lift her tiny pinky finger when sipping a nice cup of English Pee.   I beg her pardon if we never sip together!