Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Raising a daughter

Gambling On Granola: An Inspiring Memoir About Being a Single Mom and Starting a Business

I am happy to tell you about a great book that WOW! Women On Writing is currently hosting as a blog tour. I am a stop on the blog tour, and so below you will find out some information about the memoir, Gambling on Granola. But before you read this info below, I want to highlight a couple points that will be important to many of my practical parent and single parent readers out there.

Everyone of us who is a parent has this desire to make our children’s lives better than our own. We want to give them opportunities and experiences that we didn’t have. We want to love them fiercely and teach them to be great people. This desire led Fiona to create a company called Fiona’s Natural Foods, and her story shows us that determination, perseverance, love, and a fighting spirit can make anything possible.

Her website states that “Fiona took her mother’s recipe from the 1960’s, updated it, and created new flavors and ingredient combinations.  She hoped her new concoctions would be just the solution she had been seeking. “

​”The eponymous Fiona’s Natural Foods became a burgeoning regional natural foods brand, selling granola, quinoa cereal and energy bars to dozens of natural grocers — including Whole Foods and Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage — throughout Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah.” –Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of Gambling On Granola. For those of you who have read some of my personal posts over the last two years, you know that I am also a single mom with a full-time job, a desire to be a successful writer with a part-time freelance editing business. I understand Fiona’s drive and fight, and I hope if you check out her book, you will be inspired by her also.

  About the Book:

In Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship by Fiona Simon, Simon shares a tale that is uplifting and inspiring but also raw and honest. This is a business memoir but also a love story―the love for her daughter, of a journey in uncharted waters, of the products and company she created, and of the continued challenge to follow her dream.

We see her growth and healing over fifteen years, as mistakes, weaknesses, and naiveté, evolve into resilience, resolve, and inspiration. For Fiona, it started out as all new businesses do―with an idea. But her world quickly became more complex as she established her company, developed new product lines, forged personal relationships in a competitive environment, grew her business, and held onto her deepest values―all while raising her daughter, Natalie, as a single mom.

Praise:

“Fiona’s story is both personal and transformative. She lays bare the hopes and anxieties, challenges, betrayals and lessons learned in creating her own business. From the mountaintops of a solar observatory where she was raised, to the struggles and triumphs, her story is like a path of granola crumbs leading the reader to understand how to succeed at any enterprise.”
– Jeff Kline, M.A. Ed., Chairman, Hispanic Communications Network, Washington, DC.

“Fiona Simon is an engaging storyteller and her narrative moves right along. It should inspire and motivate anyone who needs to remember the importance of persistence, belief in oneself, and vision in pursuing a goal. Her granola is good and so is her book.”
– Bob McCormick, Publisher, Editor, Author

Paperback: 200 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (January 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1938288920
ISBN-13: 978-1938288920

About the Author:

Fiona Maria Simon is a former journalist, travel writer, editor, and communications director of the Boulder, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce. She is passionate about developing healthy food products, writing, traveling the world, and inspiring and empowering others with her story. Lured by the adventures of entrepreneurship, she launched her own organic granola company and led it to success despite having no business background and simultaneously juggling the demands of being a single mom. Her book is a story of challenges, hardships, and triumphs, both personal and professional.

Find Fiona Online:

Website: http://www.fionamariasimon.com 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gambling-Granola-Unexpected-Gifts-Entrepreneurship/dp/1938288920/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494595882&sr=1-1&keywords=books+about+entrepreneurship

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34552773-gamblingon-granola?from_search=true 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fionamariasimon/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FionaMSimon

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The Worst Feeling As A Parent

Some things in life are very difficult. I’m sure every adult you know has some kind of difficulty whether it’s a relationship problem, financial concerns or health scares–problems and issues are all around us. I’ve had my share, but they don’t compare to what many of you have experienced or may be experiencing now. But the hardest thing for me is when my daughter has a problem and I can’t solve it.

Disclaimer: Before any of you get up in arms about this–I know I shouldn’t solve all her problems. She is only 6, but she has to learn to work through things and figure it out for herself (in a lot of cases), so she will learn to do this as she grows up. 

The problem my daughter and I are now facing is that the little girl who she considers to be her best friend, her grandparents’ neighbor, her playmate three or more times a week has MOVED TO FLORIDA. Naturally, KT is very upset. She has been crying off and on, and I have been encouraging her to talk about it. I’ve been trying to use skills I’ve learned at Kids in the Middle, where feelings need to be validated and worked through–not ignored and pushed under the rug.

I told her there is nothing she can do about this but feel the sadness and talk about it if she feels like it. I’ve left out the part that she will probably never see this little girl again. She might not even remember her very well in a couple of years because right now, this missing her friend already feels all consuming to KT. I think that “wisdom” would actually make it worse. We’ve talked about the things KT could do at Grandma’s house to pass the time and how sometimes, when you feel sad, it really is okay just to sit and watch TV and relax for a while.  That was the end of my wisdom. My heart breaks for her because she is so sad, and there really is nothing to fix this.

Of course, this made me reflect on my own friendships throughout the years. Social media makes it easy to “keep in touch” with people nowadays, but there are some people who I loved dearly that I am not in touch with anymore (whether it’s because they aren’t on social media or I haven’t found them or they don’t want to be in touch) or who have actually passed away. And there is nothing I can do. There is nothing I can do but feel the sadness and work through it, maybe write about it, maybe just sit and watch TV and relax for a while.

The worst to me as an adult is when you have a good friend and you are having a conflict and you are out of touch, whether it’s agreed upon or not. It’s sad. And you miss this person, but what can you do? You just have to work through the sadness and hope one day you both can figure it out.

So for now, that’s what KT and I are going to do. The good thing is KT is busy at cheerleading camp this week, and she told me that she doesn’t even think about it when she is there, and I see that as a positive life lesson she’s learning. And I will follow in her footsteps.

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MOPS 28-Day-Truth Challenge Days 1 to 5

I am in MOPS–Mothers of Preschoolers, and I recommend if you are a stay-at-home mom or part-time working mom of children under 1st grade, FIND YOURSELF A GROUP NOW. These women have become some of my best friends and have been with me through thick and thin. Through the divorce and surgeries, they have helped me with Katie, provided support with cards and messages, organized two meal trains, and paid for lawn service for an entire spring/summer/fall. I don’t need to explain more, right? I love them! But that’s not what this post is about.

This year, MOPS has a 28-day challenge to do either a TRUTH OR DARE each day, and then work toward a BIG THING. I’m still not sure what my BIG THING will be. I thought running a 5K, but I’m not sure training for that in February is the best idea; so I’m still on the fence with my BIG THING. But I am going to do this challenge; and like everything, I am behind.  This post is for days 1 to 5. On Monday, days 6 to 10 will post. Then I will hopefully post 11 to 14 on Tuesday ,and will be caught up along with knowing more what my BIG THING might be. I also have been mulling around going on a short trip with Katie, so maybe my BIG THING will be actually taking the plunge and planning it during spring break. So far, I’ve just talked about it.

So let’s get to it:

Day 1: Swell Seasons: In what ways do you feel out of control in your life?

Answer: In what ways, don’t I? Ha! I think the biggest ways I feel out of control in my life are the demands of single parenting and my time management and amount of daily energy. It all boils down to priorities. Since I have a full-time job and a child and relationships with other human beings, then I need to prioritize what is important to me and what goals I want to accomplish on a daily basis. If I don’t and I waste a lot of time on something like arguing politics on Facebook, I feel out of sync, out of control, because time is precious. More and more, I realize how little of it I actually have.  And how I want to be choosy where and with who I spend it. It’s all about balance, and I still struggle with that on a daily basis.

Day 2: Blessings in the Night: What is your favorite thing that has happened in the dark?

Answer: That’s a loaded question, huh? I really had to think about this one because I am much more of a morning/afternoon/early evening person, than a night-time owl; and so I decided to just look back over this past year, and be very literal about this question. My favorite thing that happens on a regular basis in the dark is my 6-year-old daughter’s night time routine, complete with reading (and now sometimes she is reading to me!) and snuggling. I always tell her it is my favorite part of the day, and I am being serious. It is peaceful and sweet and calming–so much so that I often fall asleep myself. . .oops!

Day 3: Becoming Our Mothers: What are two things you hope your kids will talk about as adults when they describe their memories of you?

Answer: I want her to talk about how much fun we had on a daily basis, using our imaginations (the stuffed animals all have voices and talk a lot; my fingers are actually tickle bugs;  the gremlins come if we don’t get dressed by 9am) and how in our home, there was a lot of singing, dancing, and laughing. I also hope she remembers the little life lessons I am trying to teach her, such as being kind, entertaining yourself, not always thinking of yourself, work before play, and remembering to say I love you to people you love.

Day 4:  Sister Courage: What do you value most in a friend? Are you that kind of friend?

Answer: I value kindness the most in a friend. I want someone with a kind heart and a positive attitude. They don’t have to always be up, of course, and I am willing to listen to anyone about anything; but I hope that when they are looking at the world, they are doing it with kindness and optimism because that definitely wears off on me. I think I am pretty kind and optimistic. Sometimes, with some friends, I can be more opinionated than others, and I probably need to do a bit more active listening.

Day 5: Dear Fifteen: What do you need to give yourself permission to feel? What hurts are waiting to be seen and healed?

Answer: This is going to sound crazy, but I need to give myself permission to feel happiness. I will not feel guilty because I also feel happy. I know it sounds crazy, but I think divorce or any really hard life struggle does this to you. It is almost like you are scared to feel happiness because you’re always waiting for the next terrible thing to happen. I have worked through a lot of hurt over my adult life, so I don’t feel like I have any deep, buried issues that are waiting to come out. They have all been pouring out and now I am looking to find peace.
Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments! 🙂 You don’t have to be a MOPS member to do so. . .

 

 

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5 Things I Learned About Living in 2016

1. Life is a work in progress. I’m the kind of person who wants to fix everything right now. This is an impossible and exhausting way to live for two reasons. First, the only person I can control is myself; therefore, if the thing in my life that’s wrong involves another person, I can only do so much to fix the problem. Secondly there are only so many hours in the day, and part of those must be spent taking care of essential needs: since I am a parent, I must provide a home, food, and care for my daughter as well as myself. So a good portion of my time goes toward this. Therefore, the other things I want to do in my life take a backseat sometimes, and that is okay and normal. Everything does not have to happen RIGHT NOW.

2. Listen more. Speak less. I’m still working on this one. But I realized this about myself this year, with help from a very good friend–I often jump to conclusions and speak my mind before I have all the facts. I am working on my listening skills and taking a deep breath before spurting out the wrong thing.

3. Give people a chance. After divorce, most people will tell you it is hard to trust. No matter how bad the marriage was or who initiated the divorce, you were a part of a couple for a while (sometimes a long while) and now you are out on your own. While dating, I have learned that most people in a similar situation as myself are decent and also just trying to live their lives. This kind of fits with number two above, but I need to learn to not jump to conclusions and trust people until they give me a reason not to.

4. Being a parent is hard. Give myself a break. I miss my daughter terribly when she is away from me; but sometimes when she is with me, I don’t feel like I have time to think or process anything, and I am often exhausted. I worry about her constantly, and I am sometimes impatient. This seems to be similar to many other parents I know (single and married); and when I start to feel like “you are doing a terrible job–you should have done A, B, C,” I’m learning to take a deep breath and give myself a break. I love her more than anything, and I spend a good portion of my life being her mom. Every once in a while, I’m going to mess up and it’s okay.

5. Balance is key. To be the best person I can, I have to sleep, eat healthy, exercise, have fun with my daughter, read, write, work, have fun with my friends, and spend time with my parents. The key is to stay balanced. Don’t let any one area take all the time away from another. This is super hard, and again a work in progress; but I am doing better–especially the sleep. Do you know how important sleep is? 🙂

So what have you learned in 2016?

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Raising a Tall Daughter

I titled this post raising a TALL daughter, instead of just raising a daughter, because all of us raising a daughter know some characteristic people  bring attention to, possibly unaware they are doing this, that makes our daughters self-conscious. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Maybe your daughter is short. Maybe she is super smart. Maybe she talks fast. These are all characteristics that people consider okay to comment on.

We also know bullies like to draw attention to personal traits in a negative way, such as being overweight, wearing glasses, or not knowing the answers in class. We think this is horrible, and we fight the good fight against these kind of comments, whether in person, in writing, or online. But do we realize, as adults, that we are constantly bombarding  our kids with messages about their body or their intelligence? And this is not always raising their self-esteem. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Let me tell you what inspired this post.

Katie started cheerleading (she is 6). The wonderfully nice coach said, “I’m going to line you guys up by height, so we can figure out a good formation for our dance.” She told everyone to get in line, and I immediately saw Katie slouch down as much as possible, so she wouldn’t be the tallest one. The next words that came out of the mouth of the short, innocent girl next to her were: “Well, she (pointing at Katie) is the tallest one.”  I had to step in.

I said, “Katie, stand up straight. It’s awesome to be the tallest one. Mommy is always the tallest one.” The coach then chimed in with similar praises, and Katie smiled and stood up straight.

I probably don’t need to go on and on about this story for you to see why it bothered me. But…I am a writer, so I will say this: Before anyone even said she was the tallest one, she knew it was going to be her and she didn’t want it to be her. She is only 6! I remember feeling the same way when I was young.

Is part of that because we innately want to be the same as everyone else? Probably. But a large part of her slouching is because so many people, young and old, are constantly telling her how tall she is and how much older she looks and sounds.

Because I have this blog, I can say: Please stop.

You can only control you, as I said in my last post, but you can stop talking about how short or tall some child is and asking your family to do the same.

fall_dill_007Look, I am as guilty as the next person for drawing attention to my daughter’s height.  My way of coping with this, my wrong way, is to say: “I know. She is really tall,” before the person gets a chance to say it. And I know what several of you reading this are thinking: I wish I was tall. Being tall is great.

And you’re right, it is. But it took me 19-20 years to think this; and sometimes, on bad days, I still don’t think so. She and I can’t control this. We can’t go on a diet to get shorter. We can’t read a book to get shorter. We can’t practice to get shorter.

We are tall. We need to be proud of it. But we don’t need to be constantly reminded of it. 

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