Look To the Western Sky

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

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Practical Moms Unite!

Here it is. My new series on the blog–Practical Moms Unite.

Every time you see this symbol, you will know that a Practical Moms Unite post is coming! 🙂

So what is a practical mom (parent, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc, etc)? I’m focusing on practical moms because that is what I know best. But this does not mean I am excluding any of these other most-important roles. Anyway…

The definition of a Practical Parent is:

An adult who cares for a child/teen 17 or younger and who also keeps the big goal in mind. It is a person who tries NOT to allow little, unimportant, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses details get in the way of everyday living. It is remembering what being a parent should mean AND remembering who YOU are as a person (and that is not just a parent).

Let’s break it down a little!

  • What is the big goal? I would guess we all have specific different goals for ourselves and our children. But most of them probably fall somewhere in the range of: We want our children to grow up to be productive members of society as well as being kind, loving and successful people.  For example: if this is the goal, is it really that crucial to get those Troll cupcakes for the 3-year-old birthday party if you can’t afford them?
  • What are little, unimportant, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses details? Anything that causes you great anxiety that does not fall in line with the goal. These are a lot of the unnecessary pressures we put on ourselves as parents, like instead of bringing a bag of cuties and cheese sticks when it’s your turn for the soccer game snack, you spend hours on Pinterest to find a cute idea for soccer snacks and stay up til midnight making them.
  • What should being a parent mean? Again, we all have different definitions, but my guess is most of you will agree that being a parent means loving your child with your whole heart, providing boundaries for them to learn and be successful in, and fulfilling their basic survival needs. Maybe that sounds too simple. There are thousands of children that don’t get those things, so it’s not that simple.
  • What does it mean remembering who you are as a person? This is the problem with social media. We compare ourselves to what everyone else is doing. When you look at your friend list, you can pick out the baker, the crafty one, the smart mom, the athletic one–this might be you, but it might not. SO then why do you expect to parent like all these friends? How many of us have seen a photo of someone doing something on Facebook or Instagram and thought: I should be doing that with my child. But should you? Do you like to bake? If yes, great, then make a birthday cake with your child. If not, then buy it at Walmart. You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be a good parent.

I don’t want to alienate anyone who loves to make crafts or throw themed-parties. If you LOVE that, if you get ENERGY from it, then my point is you should do it. But if you don’t, as a practical parent, don’t beat yourself up over it. Your child doesn’t have to have that to reach the big goal. 

So that’s a little take on Practical Moms Unite.

What’s your big goal as a parent or grandparent?

What do you like to do with your child? or for your child?

 

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Don’t Let Fear Rule You

I typed this title on this blog post, as if I don’t let FEAR rule me. I know sometimes I do. Actually, I have to make a conscious effort to NOT let fear rule everything I do. I first realized this only a couple years ago when a very good friend quoted Dune and said, “Fear is the mind-killer.” Here’s the entire quote if you haven’t heard it before:

Why do I bring it up today?

I’m the type of person who needs to hear the same advice time and again before it sinks in. And I’m still learning. I’m the type of person who probably needs an entire bedroom mirror full of quotes and tips and things I’ve learned from books, so I don’t forget them. BUT…I bring this up today because recently I heard Andrew McCarthy speak (Oh no, not this again, will she ever stop going on about him? you think) and he talked about Fear. He talked about Fear a lot. He talked about how we have to face Fear right in the face.

Immediately, I became defensive and thought: Who is he to tell us that we are fearful? Well, after listening to him talk from his heart and realizing how hard he tries at everything in his life now: writing, parenting, directing, AND how he is successful, I decided to listen to his message. He told a story to the audience, which he also wrote for National Geographic, about how he was on a 500-mile walking pilgrimage in Spain when he had a meltdown,  where he says, “I literally shook my fists at the heavens and cursed whatever God it was I half-believed in.”

He goes on to say (to read the whole article, please go here):

I became aware of something I’d in some way known all my life. It disclosed itself with the simplicity of the absolute. There wasn’t something lacking in my character; I had an overabundance of something. It had dictated so many of my actions, been behind so many decisions, obscured so much of my judgment. FEAR, I SAW IN THAT MOMENT, had ruled my life. The vulnerability between my shoulders was the space created when the weight of that domineering, life-directing emotion had been temporarily relieved. It was in this experience of fear’s absence that it began to lose its hold on me.

When he said the same thing in his talk at St. Louis County Library Headquarters, I realized that I have allowed FEAR to rule my life also, and most of us do, in spite of friends and the universe reminding us not to. I felt an overwhelming sadness and disappointment in myself at that moment because I wasn’t in control of my own life or my destiny. Fear was. Fear is.

I could give you a bullet point list of my fears, and many of you reading this would probably nod along; but instead of that, I decided that they can all be boiled down to one little sentence:

I fear that I am never doing enough–in my relationships, in my career, at my home, with my child.

And because of this, I spend a lot of time in chaos and worry and listmaking and pacing around my house, where I am not actually accomplishing anything. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s exhausting.

I want to tell you I’m done with it. I can’t do that yet. I can tell you: I want to be done with it. But we all know patterns and habits are hard to change. What I’m trying very hard to do, in this year where I’m also searching for Peace, is to be aware of when I am feeling Fear and figure out why. Then make a decision based on what I want for me life, and not on what Fear wants for my life.

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” ~Soledad O’Brien

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Winners, Andrew McCarthy in St. Louis and Practical Moms Unite Update

Book Giveaway Contest Results

Thank you to everyone who entered the book giveaway contest for Claire Gem’s books. I have 3 winners, whom I am in the process of contacting:

  • Chynna Laird
  • Brenda McCommis
  • Jeanne Felfe

(contest graphic above by Angela Mackintosh from WOW! Women On Writing, a great resource for writers here. )

Andrew McCarthy in St. Louis at the Library

I saw ANDREW MCCARTHY (yes, 80’s heartthrob from Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire) at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters last night, and it was amazing! This is not because he was so charming and I have loved him since the 80’s. But it’s because he was inspiring as an author. Here’s the beginning of my blog post I wrote about him on WOW!: “I Heard Andrew McCarthy Speak at My Local Library” True story. (Doesn’t my blog title sound like one of those titles from a “true story” magazine?) I live in St. Louis, and last night–actor, director, travel writer!, and now YA novelist Andrew McCarthy gave an inspiring talk about being creative. Once I got over the fact that I was in the same room with this man I loved on the silver screen since 1986 as Blaine in Pretty in Pink, who starred in my favorite comedy Weekend at Bernie’s and my favorite guilty pleasure, St. Elmo’s Fire, I listened to what the man had to say, and I was pleasantly surprised.

As writers, we know that we sometimes look at celebrity writers with disdain. It’s true because we know what it takes to slave over a manuscript and try to get an agent and then hope for some kind of book sales if we are lucky enough to get published. Then there’s this celebrity, who already has all the connections, and probably on some whim decided to write a book, and now is living our dream. Writers can be a spiteful bunch. (winks)

But guys, Andrew McCarthy is the real thing! To find out how he is the real thing and the inspiring things he said, go here. 

Practical Moms Unite

I know you are all anxiously waiting for practical mom blog posts, so you can be a practical parent, too. No worries. They are coming–and I am currently working on two of them. If you haven’t signed up to have posts emailed to you when they go up, you should do so RIGHT NOW. 🙂 Look at the sidebar, scroll up just a bit, and fill out the very simple form titled, “Want new blog posts emailed to you?” to make this happen.

 

 

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Unofficial Writing Week: Let’s Look at Blog Posts

If you’re a writer, most likely you have a blog OR will have to write a blog post for someone else for promotional purposes.

I did a series on WOW! Women On Writing a few months back about tips for writing good blog posts. Here are some excerpts and links to the rest of the articles, if you are interested.

ALSO, if you haven’t had the chance to enter to win one of Claire Gem’s supernatural novels or her new writer’s help book, The Road to Publication, you can enter on this post until the end of the weekend.

Post 1:

3 Tips to Title Your Blog Post and Draw Readers In:

You’ve heard time and again from articles, blog posts, and conference speakers that titles do matter, and you’ve probably spent countless hours coming up with titles for your prose. Here’s another point to consider about titles: the titles of your blog posts DO MATTER too. I feel like they are even more important than for an article or book, especially if you are tweeting and Facebook posting about your blog to draw more traffic. I have been WOW!’s social media manager for years as well as blogging for the Muffin. I also have my own blog and have done guest posts on several sites around the blogosphere. Your title needs to tell readers what you’re writing about–cute and clever doesn’t work well for a blog post. Here are three tips to help you create a good title to draw readers to your blog and keep them coming back:  1. Put a number in your title (if that works for your post):

To continue reading this post, please click here.

by orangeacid (Flickr.com)

Post 2:

How to Write the First Paragraph of Your Blog Post: 

Blog posts are important when used as marketing tools, freelance income, and editorial expression. To reach your audience online, connect with them, and get them to read an entire blog post, you have to begin with an opening that either gets right to the point (like this one), makes them laugh out loud (not like this one), or reaches them on an emotional level. This is not much different from what you’ve learned about article writing. However, with a blog post, you have a fewer number of words to catch your readers’ attention because they’re probably in skimming mode, until something catches their eye. (Have you seen the way people scroll through social media apps on their phones at top speed?)  Here are some beginnings that work well and why:

To continue reading this post, please click here

Post 3:

4 Ways to Close a Blog Post:

On the last day of 2016, it’s only appropriate that I close my series on blogging …with blog post endings. WOW!’s executive editor Angela said in a recent comment that she sometimes had difficulty with blog endings; and it seems if a person covers beginnings, she should also cover endings. So here we are saying good-bye to 2016 and discussing how to say good-bye to your blog post readers, too.  1. A Question If you want to see a good example of ending a post with a question, then please see just about any post on the Muffin written by Crystal Otto.

To continue reading this post, please click here

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Unofficial Writing Week Kick Off with Claire Gem Book Giveaway

Hi! This is writing week on my blog. I know I have several people who read my blog who are also writers, so welcome to The Unofficial Writing Week (I’m sure it’s national something week out there–it always is, but I’m choosing to celebrate what I want when I want.) We kick off with Claire Gem and her new book perfect for writers:  The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide (available by clicking here). You can find out more about Claire and her fiction books on her website here.

A brief bit about this book: The multi-faceted, complex, and somewhat mysterious world of the publishing industry can quickly turn into a maze, ensnaring aspiring or new authors within the twisting alleys of its labyrinth. Multi-published, award winning author Claire Gem spent the first five years of her career floundering, wandering through a tangled jungle without a guide. In The Road to Publication, Ms. Gem takes charge and assumes the duty of cartographer—map-maker for the aspiring author. You know your goal, right? You want to publish your book. Ms. Gem provides a comprehensive, entertaining tour of the publishing industry and its many facets. It’s then up to you decide which route you’re willing to take to reach your pot of gold—your published novel at the end of “The Road to Publication.” “This is a great book, and I believe a necessary one…so much more entertaining to read than a straight how -o guide.” Allie Rottman, Editor

I am lucky enough to have an interview with Claire AND then don’t forget to enter on the Rafflecopter form below to win a prize! 

Margo: Welcome, Claire. Thank you for joining us today. When did you discover you were a writer? What was that initial spark that made you type “Chapter One”?

Claire: I’ve always loved to write, particularly essays and research papers. (I was a lone wolf in high school and college, let me tell you!) But I was particularly moved about twelve years ago by an encounter I had with a family of hawks nesting behind our barn in Texas. I actually developed a “relationship” with the rapidly growing baby birds, and (incredibly) they interacted with me. I wrote a creative essay about the experience, and it won a contest and was published in a literary journal in 2005. That was the impetus that made me believe in my ability to write—not only nonfiction, but fiction as well. Shortly afterward I wrote “Chapter One” on my first novel.

Margo: It seems like we all have some defining moment where we realized: We are a writer! Do you write your first draft longhand or on a computer?

Claire: I’m a computer junkie, all the way. My cursive isn’t legible, and it takes too darn long to print my thoughts out on paper. I can’t even type fast enough to get the words out sometimes!

Margo: Ha! I am the same way! How do you feel about marketing? Is it a love or hate relationship?

Claire: I’m actually a rare bird in that department as well! I guess it’s because my daddy was a door-to-door salesman: Marketing is in my blood. I enjoy the marketing aspect almost as much as the writing—which can sometimes be counterproductive, because I tend to “waste time” marketing when I’m having trouble working on a particular manuscript. A valid, though still sometimes counterproductive, excuse.

Margo: Any advice for new writers just starting out?

Claire: Yes! Tons, as a matter of fact, which is why I wrote my first author resource book, The Road to Publication. When I first started out writing, I felt as though I were abandoned in a jungle without a road map. The Road to Publication is just that: a guidebook for the new or aspiring writer who knows what they want—a published book—but has no idea which route to take. It’s the book I wished I could have found when I first started my career as an author.

Margo: That sounds great! I agree–if i could go back. . .btw, what genres do you write?

Claire: A little bit of everything. I started out writing historical magazine articles, and my features have appeared in magazines such as Renaissance, Herb Quarterly, The History Magazine, and The Family Chronicle. After winning the creative writing contest in Whisper in the Woods, I went on to write my memoir, which was published by High Hill Press in 2015. The same year, my debut novel, a supernatural suspense, was released. In 2016, I self-published three novels, the first of which won the New York Book Festival. Two of my short stories (also supernatural in nature) came out in Centum Press’ One Hundred Voices Anthologies, Vol. I and II. I have gravitated toward writing mostly supernatural (ghost) stories, as they have always been my favorite genre to read.

Margo: Claire, thanks again for stopping by and letting us know about your new book and journey. WRITERS! Watch the book trailer about The Road to Publication and then enter to win on the Rafflecopter form below! There are THREE prizes being given away (2 ebooks of any of Claire’s novels–winner can live anywhere in the world.  1 paperback copy of The Road to Publication–winner must live in the United States).

Stop by all week for FUN writing posts in the first Unofficial Writing Week on Margo’s blog. 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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MOPS 28 Day Truth Challenge Days 22 to 28

Well, it has taken me more than 28 days, but I am finally finished with the MOPS 28 Day Truth Challenge, and I have to say–I’m proud to have finished! So let’s get on with it.

Day 22: Banishing Ghosts: What is the best smell in the whole world? What is a nostalgic smell for you?

Answer: I really like the smell of Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint Soap. I have no idea why. I did work there for a while one Christmas season, and that was a particularly fun and joyful Christmas season. It also used to be in the bathroom of a close friend of mine. It makes me feel calm. As for a nostalgic smell–I like the smell of leaves burning, which reminds me of my first couple years of teaching when I lived in a small town, and you could burn leaves there. It also reminds me of fall, which is a great time of year.

Day 23: Campfires and Confessionals: When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?

Answer:  The first thing that comes to mind is dating. So I guess that is what’s out of my comfort zone–but actually I don’t think it is anymore. It was, it definitely was. But I am lucky to have met someone very nice who is also understanding and seems to get me. So in going with it and going outside of my comfort zone–all actually paid off, which I think happens often when we step outside our comfort zones. I hardly ever hear anyone say: I stepped outside my comfort zone and it was terrible.

Day 24: Hearing God: What distracts you most from being present in  your life?

Answer: My thoughts about what we should be doing or that I’m not doing enough or what could I be doing better or what’s going to happen next? My thoughts keep me from being in the present–and I’ve noticed a couple of times, my phone–or the social media on my phone also distracts me.

Day 25: Forget-Me-Knots: Tell someone five things you love most about them and then hug them for longer than is comfortable. 

Answer: I will have to do this in person–not for the blog. 🙂

Day 26: A Dazzling Unfolding: Write down three things you want to become an expert in.

Answer: Well, I would like to become an expert in. . .practical parenting (you’ll see why in a minute), living within a budget, and living a balanced life (with exercise and healthy eating).

Day 27: The North Star: Describe a reoccurring dream you’ve had. What do you think it is trying to tell you? 

Answer: The most frightening, reoccurring dream that I have ever had is one where I am driving on a Bascule bridge , and just as I get to the middle, it raises up and my car starts to slide down. I have also had a reoccurring dream where I’m sitting on the side of a river, at a cafe, and I watch an airplane crash into a bridge. So I must have something with bridges.  I think these bridge dreams speak for times in my life when I have been crossing over to a new place or going on a new life journey, whether it’s my age, my job, my relationship status, adulthood–and I have had some trouble with change, so the difficulties with the bridges in the dream could symbolize that.

Day 28: Good Things Run Wild–One Big Thing

My one big thing is two big things: I am taking Katie on the little spring break trip to Kansas City AND I am going to start focusing more on writing posts about Practical Moms. 🙂 I don’t have that clearly fleshed out, but I’ve decided to just start on it instead of waiting–because I generally work better that way!

 

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MOPS 28 Day Truth Challenge Days 14 to 21

Well, even the best laid plans go awry …. If you read my last post, you obviously did not ever read a singular post about a love letter to my own body (as I had planned), and I am going to blame it on the fact that I was 1. Already behind 2. my mom went to the hospital twice last week. She fell on Sunday night, into her bathtub from a standing up position out of her bathtub, and so she has some bruised ribs–and a few other issues. Anyway, she’s been there now four days, and so this entire week has not quite gone as planned. This is the life of the sandwich generation. (If you haven’t read my previous MOPS TRUTH posts, you can find the links in the sidebar!)

But I have been thinking about my ONE BIG THING–and I might actually have two or three big things! 1. My little spring break trip with my daughter  2. Starting a new segment on this blog called Practical Moms Unite  3. a 5K (actually work up to it this summer)  okay, on to the truth challenge. . .

Day 14: Sensuality and Our Skin: Write a love letter to your body.

Answer: Dear Body: This is not easy to do. 1. I’m not great about professing my love 2. Over the years, you and I have had a tumultuous relationship. But I am committed to doing this challenge, so a letter I will write. . .after all these years, I actually do love HOW TALL YOU ARE. You provide me with many benefits that I now hold dear. You have given me long legs to run bigger strides and to look nice with dresses. In my 40s, if I gain 5 pounds around the holidays, it’s not so easy to tell because there are a lot of places in my long body to hide these pounds. I can see above a crowd. There are men who love tall women. (Who knew?) So, I love being tall, and I thank you, body, every day for getting me where I need to be and for healing and allowing me to live this life I am. Love, Margo

Day 15: Feminine Power: When is the last time you did something for the first time? 

Answer: Last week, I went to a bar in St. Louis and listened to some jazz music, and I have never done this before. I know–that sounds crazy and not like a big deal since I have lived here off and on all my life. But it’s on my mind because I actually said to U., “I have never been down here before” , and I called myself a virgin. 🙂 He said: Well I don’t know if we need to use that term. LOL

everything turned out fine

Day 16: Hospitable Hearts: When  were you changed by someone’s kindness?

Answer: I have to go back to the NICU with this question. I didn’t even know what to ask for when KT was in the NICU. But people did things anyway, without being asked, and I have to say that this is something these people taught me that I try to do today. They sent gift cards for restaurants near the NICU, in case her dad and I needed to get out of there for a while. They took days off of work to come sit with me. They made meals for my parents and for us at my parents’ house when we got home. They sent notes about their time in the NICU and how it all worked out. Not to mention the nurses, doctors, Ronald McDonald House volunteers, and March of Dimes staff members–we were showered with kindness. I have been lucky enough to have the kindest people in my life since then also, and it has taught me how the simplest gesture really can mean so much during a difficult time.

Day 17: More than meets the eye: Has your first impression of anyone ever been terribly wrong? Were you pleasantly surprised or disappointed?

Answer: This is a difficult question for me to answer because I tend to see the good in most people until it is too late. But since I am an optimist, I’m going to focus on the pleasantly surprised part of this question. I think the answer to this then would be my MOPS group–isn’t that funny? But it’s not because of them–it’s because of me. My first impression was this is a tight-knit group that I will never want to become a part of–I’m just doing this for KT, so she has something to do apart from me, every other week. HA! What a joke. These women are some of my best friends, once I opened up and became involved (that’s the key), and now I don’t know what I would do without them!

Day 18: Power of Story: What is one of your biggest regrets? What do you need to forgive yourself for?

Answer: I can never answer this question. And I will tell you why. If I did anything differently than how I did it, I would not have KT. I would not be a writer. I would not have my wonderful friends and family. I would never have met U. So, I am glad I did everything I have ever done because it has made me the person that I am today.  I am pretty happy with her. Sure, sometimes, I will say things like: I should not have majored in English. I should have known better. etc. But really, the only thing I regret or need to forgive myself for is when I have a bad day and I waste time on things that are not important OR allow myself to become negative OR get caught up in the pettiness of social media, drama and gossip.

Day 19: Eyes and Calling: What is the motto for this era of your life?

Answer: I have this hanging on my wall, thanks to MOPS: Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. And today, I’m going to add something to that: or what everyone THINKS I should be doing!

Day 20: Live Like Music: Is there a song that always takes you back to a specific time?

Answer: Is there a song that doesn’t? 🙂 I currently have a two-year free subscription to Sirius XM and I love it! I love the 70s on 7, 80s on 8, and 90s on 9! But if I’m going to think of one specific song that has meant something to me recently, I think I’ll pick: “The Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. If you watch the video below and listen to the lyrics, it will be pretty obvious why this song has meaning to me these past couple years, and it will always take me back to the summer of 2015:

 

Day 21: Failing Gloriously: What are you afraid of? If you weren’t afraid of these things, how would your life be different?

Answer: I am most afraid of putting myself out there and failing. It has been a fear for so long, AND I STILL have failed so many times; and I am finally realizing that this is true. SO…I’m done being scared. I try to be true to myself now with consideration for people that I love. I am trying to STOP worrying about all the bad things that could happen and just live. I am trying to recognize what is in my control and what is not. If I would have stopped being afraid of all my worries years ago, who knows what my life would look like now? I would probably have taken more chances at the very least.

Whew!

Come on–you blog reader–take a look at one of these questions, and answer it in the comments below. (Or if you are here from Facebook, answer me there if you like that better!)

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MOPS 28-Day Truth Challenge Days 11 to 13

I’m back with the MOPS 28-Day Challenge. . .I’m going to do Day 14 in its own post because it is about writing a love letter to your body. I’m going to try not to make this a bigger challenge than I have to. We’ll see. . .but here are days 11 to 13 from the MOPS challenge.

Day 11: Sabbath Like a Sunrise: What do you feel most grateful for? Make a list

Answer: Katie, my parents, current male person in my life :), my friends, technology, flexibility with work, my dog, my job, my house, my car, my writing, freedom, love, and a life full of opportunity.

Day 12: Time in the Light: What do you look forward to when you wake up in the morning? 

Answer: Well, that depends on the day. Honestly. How do you answer this question for every single day? For example today, I looked forward to getting to blog for WOW!, seeing my friends at happy hour, and going shopping with a gift card at J. Crew.  Tomorrow, I will look forward to the fact it is FRIDAY.  On Saturday, I will look forward to getting Katie back (she’s with her dad today/tomorrow) and the beautiful weather we are going to have, as well as the fun trivia night for LHS Strolling Strings. So maybe the answer to this question is. . .I look forward to my life every day in spite of the fact that sometimes I feel overwhelmed or I don’t enjoy every single thing about every single day.

Day 13: What is your favorite color and what does it symbolize for you?

Answer: My favorite color is yellow. It is bright, sunny, cheerful. I also like green–reminds me of plants and spring and nature. It turns out, my high school colors (where did you go to high school?) were green and gold (LHS! RAH!); but that’s not why I like those two colors and that’s not what they symbolize for me. They symbolize happiness, brightness, nurturing, outside, spring/summer, beautiful weather, refreshment. . .According to this website: http://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-yellow/  , yellow means:

Yellow, the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness, has conflicting associations. On one hand yellow stands for freshness, happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, intellect, honor, loyalty, and joy, but on the other, it represents cowardice and deceit. A dull or dingy yellow may represent caution, sickness, and jealousy.

Studies show that the meaning of the color yellow can be warmth, cheerfulness, increased mental activity, increased muscle energy. The color yellow helps activate the memory, encourage communication, enhance vision, build confidence, and stimulate the nervous system.

And according to the same website, green means:

Green, the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy, is associated with meanings of growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility, and environment. Green is also traditionally associated with money, finances, banking, ambition, greed, jealousy, and wall street.

The color green has healing power and is understood to be the most restful and relaxing color for the human eye to view. Green can help enhance vision, stability and endurance. Green takes up more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye and it is the dominant color in the natural. It is a natural choice in interior design as an ideal background or backdrop because we as humans are so used to seeing it everywhere.

I probably don’t have to tell you that for both of these, I am looking at the positive traits; but it’s always good to think about whether or not your love for these colors has anything to do with the not-so-positive side. . .

What is your favorite color and why?

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MOPS 28-Day-Truth Challenge Days 6 to 10

I’m doing the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) 28-day challenge. This is day 6 to 10 (because I’m behind and trying to catch up). To read my first post about this challenge and the answers to questions 1 to 5, please click here.

Here is Day 6 to 10:

Day 6: Creating a Legacy: Okay, I can’t do Day 6 on here–because it is actually something you have to say to someone. And I don’t want to say it to that someone on a public blog. . .so. . .moving on

Day 7: Birthing Something New: What is something that is being birthed in you right now? 

Answer: This is simple! I want to write a non-fiction book of some kind–I just have to decide which topic or topics I want to cover. I have been thinking about a writing book and also a parenting book. Or a humorous parenting book–or even practical parenting/humor. Or a book about being a mom and divorced. I feel right now the possibilities are endless, and I am using this blog and my WOW! posts to see which topics seem to resonate with readers the most.

Day 8: Confidence Over Conformity: What does your name mean? Hit up Google to discover the attributes spoken to you via your given name.

Answer: Apparently, Margo means Pearl. So, I decided to look up pearl. Merriam-Webster said pearl means:

  1. a :  a dense variously colored and usually lustrous concretion formed of concentric layers of mother-of-pearl as an abnormal growth within the shell of some mollusks and used as a gemb :  mother-of-pearl

  2. 2:  one that is very choice or precious

  3. 3:  something resembling a pearl intrinsically or physically

  4. 4:  a nearly neutral slightly bluish medium gray

Let’s go with definition 2, since that’s the one that could apply to a human being also.  Hopefully, I am precious to my friends, family, and daughter. Or even a gem. 🙂 I do truly believe that all human beings are precious, and individuality is something to be treasured, just like a pearl. So. . .what have you learned here  today? Basically Margo means pearl, but you can just call me Margo.

Day 9: Breathing in the Light: Talk about a time when someone shined a light into your dark place. A time when someone encouraged you when you really needed it. 

Answer: I think I might have mentioned on here before that the absolute worst day of my life was October 31, 2010, when my 5-day-old daughter had to be transferred by ambulance to a children’s hospital in St. Louis City. (She had been in the NICU in the county at the hospital where I gave birth, and doctors decided due to medical testing that she needed to be at the better hospital.) I never knew fear like this before. I remember being with my mom, who was sitting next to me while I pumped with tears streaming down my face and saying, “If anything happens to her, I will not survive this.”

Luckily, nothing happened, and as you have seen in other posts, she is doing wonderfully today. But, that was a very dark day.

Once we were at the new children’s hospital, around 9pm, I was in her private room, and a doctor is talking over my screaming/turning red 5-day-old preemie to explain to her father and I all the testing she needed, why, and what it all meant.

I turned to him and said, “I can’t focus on what you are saying while my baby is screaming. We need to help her first.” (I’m not sure I said it this nicely or coherently. I might have just said, “You have to stop.”)

Then this wonderfully skilled and kind nurse ran in and put her hands on my baby’s head, applying pressure like you need to with a preemie (which I eventually learned) and stopped her crying; so the doctor, who looked absolutely taken aback when I said he had to stop talking until my baby stopped screaming, could finish all the testing talk.

And the nurses, during our entire 30-day stay were terrific, from teaching us how to bathe her, to making sure I was able to breast feed, to answering my phone calls every night at 3am–those NICU nurses are some of the most amazing people on this planet, who encouraged me and shone a light during a very stressful and dark time.

Day 10: Timeless Delight: Do you laugh or frown more? When is the last time you really lost track of time? 

Answer: I definitely laugh more; and more than ever before, I am learning to laugh more, to appreciate life, to feel happiness and be in the moment. This is a learning process, but I feel that I am further along on this journey than I have been. The last time I really lost track of time. . .I need to think about this because I am just not sure. . .I hate to say this, but I am so schedule oriented–so that I can “fit everything in.” I’m going to come back and revise this answer. . .after I have some time to think about it. (Blame game: I am writing this post very late at night, so I will blame my poor response on the fact I need to go to bed. . .)

What about you? Try looking up your name or telling us about a time someone shone a light in your darkness in the comments below. . .

 

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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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