Category Archives: Donna Small

Living In The Moment

It wasn’t long after school was back in session that I began to notice a shade of orange everywhere I went. Pumpkin spice everything seemed to have taken over.

 
It was odd, I thought, that I was still wearing flip-flops and shorts yet there were signs of fall every time I went into a store. Then the spooky things began to appear, which told me that Halloween was just around the corner.

 
It was barely Labor day.

 
Before I could get costumes and candy for the kids, I began to see displays of Christmas items. There were lights strung up, Christmas-y wrapping paper began to appear in the center of aisles, and Santas of all sizes were suddenly in my line of vision. Even the grocery stores began to display all the food items that we normally associate with Christmas. There were tins of cookies, candy canes, and fruitcakes every time I turned around!

 
Like everyone else, I shopped nearly every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, trying to make sure my children had everything they “needed” for Christmas morning. (Yes, I meant to put the quotes around the word ‘need.’ I mean, who needs a second pair of Uggs?)

 
I wrapped each night after they went to sleep, planned my Christmas dinner, and tried to think of new places to hide the presents I’d purchased but hadn’t managed to wrap yet.

 
Then it was all over.

 
But before the last present was unwrapped, I noticed that all the stores I shop at suddenly had a lot of red and pink in them.

 
Could it be?….

 
But of course. We are already preparing for the next holiday! We are doing this with such speed that we aren’t even able to enjoy the holiday we are currently celebrating!

 
Honestly, I find it a bit frustrating. It seems that we are now becoming a society with a huge case of ADHD. We can no longer sit and relax or have even just one day where we have nothing to do, no plans, no place to go. And if we are one of the lucky ones who find ourselves with such a day, we tend to feel guilty and a bit out of sorts because there is that nagging feeling that “surely, I should be doing SOMETHING.”

 
This concept of enjoying the moment seems to be a lost art. I see this same trend with my kids and their friends. They are so engrossed in taking a selfie that they forget to enjoy the event they are actually supposed to be attending! Instead of simply enjoying a delicious Starbuck’s Frappuccino or delectable coffee drink, we snap a picture of it so we can post it to Instagram for our friends to see. Honestly, every time I see a picture of someone’s dinner plate, I want to reach through the phone and choke them. Does anyone really care what you had for dinner?

 

Just eat it, for God’s sake!

 
We’ve lost the ability to simply enjoy the moment we find ourselves in and instead focus on ensuring others know what we are doing, eating, drinking and who we are with at every moment of our lives.

 
So for this new year, I vow to be in the moment. I vow to enjoy what is right in front of me instead of taking a picture of it and then tracking the number of “likes” I get. Because all that really matters is that I like what I’m doing at the moment and that I’m enjoying it with people I care about.

 

I mean, do you really care that I just had a granola bar?

 

 

Donna Small is the author of women’s fiction novels.  Her latest book “Through Rose Colored Glasses,” will be released shortly from Indigo Sea Press.  When not writing, she can be found at her home preparing for the Zombie apocalypse with her two daughters and her dogs, Charlie and Finley.  She is currently at work on her next novel.  

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I am &%$#’ing terrified!

I’ve never been one of those women who falls instantly in love when she sees a baby. I’ve never run up to a child to ooh and aaah over chubby cheeks and long lashes. During my teenage years, I was more concerned with hitting softballs or perfecting my fielding ability than I was with getting my Red Cross certification so that I could earn a few measly dollars babysitting someone else’s child.  To me, sitting at home with a child who refused to go to bed while his parents were out enjoying a lavish dinner or a concert seemed a punishment of sorts as opposed to an opportunity to make a few extra bucks. In my twenties, the thought of actually carrying a child terrified me.  Not so much just the pregnancy and delivery; it was the eighteen or so years afterwards that really had me concerned.  Not only did I not know anything about raising a child, but come to find out, no one teaches you anything at the hospital either!   They let you give birth to his tiny, defenseless human and without showing you what to do, send you home with the boy or girl where you are, for the most part, left on your own.  Keep in mind that I am someone that regularly walks from one room to another and then, in the mere seconds in took me to do so, forgets why it is that I entered the room in the first place!  And these people thought I could care for a child?

Still, when I was nearly thirty, I got pregnant with my first child.  I had a picture perfect pregnancy and after only twenty- two hours of labor, a human being was pulled out of me. (And I do mean “pulled.”  There was no way a baby was passing through my hips.  Apparently, I am skinny on the inside.  Who knew?) And the moment that little girl was pulled out of me, so was my heart.  My baby was placed on my belly for a few moments and my heart?   Well, that was left outside of me as well where every cry, tear, and wail was sure to strike it, causing me pain unlike anything I’d ever known.  Like most women, I fell instantly in love and spent the bulk of my maternity leave cradling her in my arms and staring at her.  Over and over I whispered in awe, “I made this.”  Nothing. No magazine article, love story, or advice from a friend could have prepared me for the overwhelming love I felt whenever I gazed upon my precious daughter.

Two weeks ago, this bundle of love took a test and the state of North Carolina gave her a piece of paper that said she could now drive a motor vehicle as long as I was sitting beside her…. Until 9pm, of course.

When I held her in my arms all those years ago, I couldn’t even imagine this day would come.  I was, however, lucky enough to have wise friends who told me to cherish each day because they would pass by so swiftly.  Because of the words of these wonderful ladies, I have always put my children first.  If they needed me for something, I was there for them.  If they needed to talk, I stopped what I was doing and gave them my full attention.  Always.  As a result, this young woman talks to me about anything and everything.  She tells me what makes her happy and what has made her sad.  I am there to pick up the pieces, whether it’s a stupid boy in class who made her heart hurt or the tears she sheds are because her father has disappointed her once again by putting her last on his list.

The thing is, what I cherish most in this world is time with my children.  I also realize that the days when mom is needed are swiftly coming to an end.  So while I am terrified of her driving, I also realize that for the next year, she and I will spend a minimum of sixty hours where she and I are simply driving around town.  We will be able to talk to our hearts content and as any parent knows, this is time when your kids tell you everything.  They know they have your undivided attention and tend to open up about anything that is bothering them.

So, rather than look to the future and to a time where I am no longer needed, I’m going to cherish this next year, much like I did for the twelve weeks of my maternity leave.  I will spend each moment with her being truly with her and hope that no matter how independent she gets, she will always need her mother.

At least a little bit.

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The “Good Old Days”

When I was very little, I remember thinking that forty, thirty, and even twenty was old.  I couldn’t imagine being that age.  Surely someone at that advanced of an age would do nothing but sit around and talk about “the good old days.”  My parents, wanting to make sure I understood how easy of a life I had, what with color television and the invention of HBO, made sure to frequently tell me stories of their youth.  These stories mostly involved some version of how they had to walk to school uphill, in the snow, both ways, or some variation of this story that was meant to ensure I realized how tough their lives were in comparison to mine.  I can remember thinking that I would never be that person.  I would never be someone who would tsk, tsk at the poor habits or laziness of those younger than me when I was twenty, thirty, or (gasp!) forty.

I am now forty five years old and have begun to notice certain things that make me pause and shake my head in disgust.  And the thing is, it’s nothing really.  There aren’t any huge infractions or circumstances that make me want to leave this country for another.  There have been, however, countless times where I look at those younger than me and wonder how they’ve managed to survive this far with the stupidity they are demonstrating at the moment.

For example, youth today can’t count change.  For the most part, they are incapable of giving change back to a customer unless it is staring at them from the computer screen.  And if, after you’ve given them a twenty dollar bill find you have that four cents in your pocket?  Well, forget it.  They can’t figure it out.  They’ll look at you with a look between horror and confusion and say, “I already punched in the twenty.”

Then there’s this whole ‘can’t tell time thing.’  Even my own children will look at me with utter confusion on their faces when I answer their “what time is it?” question with, “Quarter of four.”

“What?”  They will cry.  “What do you mean, ‘quarter of.’  How many minutes is that?”

I will groan inwardly and wonder why our schools are not teaching the basic fact that the hours can be divided into four, equal fifteen minute increments.  But alas, our children can only tell time if they are looking at a digital letters on a screen.  It’s sad, really.   I shudder to think what will happen if, forty years from now, the power goes out in the nursing home and I’m relying on these bozos to give me my meds.  I can only imagine the scene as people who’ve never seen a clock with only twelve numbers on it, try to determine what time I am due for my next dosage.

And then, perhaps the most annoying to me is this business of not keeping a register of all your purchases and checks you’ve written.  With the age of on-line banking, most of our youth today feel they don’t need to keep track of, say, an outstanding check.  They simply look at the balance on the screen and assume they have said amount of money in their account.  What they don’t realize is that they’ve written a check for something that has dropped the balance in their account by several hundred dollars.  But these people go about their business as though they have more money than they actually do!.  The kicker is, if you are the unfortunate business to whom they’ve written their check to, you are the one to receive the astonished, angry call from the customer who blames you because their mortgage came out of their account and then you had the audacity to cash their check!

This has happened to me and I’ve actually had to tell grown men that they should keep track of all their checks so this sort of thing doesn’t happen in the future…But they don’t get it.

This past week, I took my fifteen year old to the bank in order to open a checking account for her.  The first thing I did was ask for one of those paper check registers.  I explained to her that while she can look at her balance on-line, the bank may not show the true amount of money she has.  I gave her the example of writing a check to a friend who, instead of cashing it, keeps it in her pocket for several weeks.  The money is, in essence, spent, but the bank doesn’t know about the check because it’s in someone’s pocket.

Imagine how thrilled I was when I saw the lightbulb go off above her head.

Others may not get the whole checking account thing, but my kid?  She’s going to get it.

Oh.  I’ll also teach her to how to tell time.  When my health is failing, I want to make sure someone around me can tell time and ensure I get my meds!

Donna Small is the author of three novels, Just Between Friends, A Ripple in the Water, and the forthcoming, Through Rose Colored Glasses.  Her books can be purchased here:

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!donna-small/c1ewn

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An Open Letter to the Parents of Teenagers

Last week, I found myself parked in the pick- up line of the local high school.  I’d gone to meet my daughter to give her some money for a baseball game.  Our schedules didn’t mesh exactly and I ended up waiting for her for several minutes.  I pulled up and out of the way of the parents picking up their children, put my car in park, and waited for my daughter.

While I sat there, I checked emails and Facebook and occasionally, looked around to see if my daughter was approaching.  This was when my jaw dropped to the floor boards.

Sitting a mere ten feet from me was a young girl who apparently, tried to sit on a bench, but missed.  Instead, she found herself seated upon the lap of a young man I can only assume was her boyfriend.

Their arms and legs were intertwined and from where I sat, it was nearly impossible to discern where one appendage began and another ended.

But wait.  It gets worse.

I couldn’t see this girls face.  Whyy, you ask?   It was because her face was firmly in the crook of her boyfriend’s neck so she could suck on it.

Now, this was no occasional kiss or nibble.  The behavior I witnessed was barely appropriate for any public setting, let alone the bench of the high school pick up line.

Let me be clear.  I am not a prude.  I have two children of my own, which means that if my math is correct, I’ve had sex at least twice in my life.  However, I will go so far as to tell you that I’ve never had sex on a bench in a public setting or displayed any such behavior like I was seeing at that moment. Even at that young age, I knew that if my parents were to see that display, I would be, at the very least, grounded and, at the worst, beaten to within an inch of my life. Of course, in my day, a “beating” didn’t have the same connotation it has now. Back then, a “beating” meant a swift kick in the pants or something of the like. And no, I didn’t threaten my parents with calling social services, nor did my neighbors call on my behalf. I knew I’d done something wrong and was being appropriately punished. I can assure you, the offending behavior was never done after that point.

As I sat in my car staring, mouth agape, at these two kids, I tried to figure out what bothered me so. I came to realize that what was so startling to me was that not a single person stopped to stare, point, or jeer at the couple.  Human nature dictates that we stop and stare at those things that are foreign and/or different to us.  The only person who seemed bothered by this behavior was me!  Apparently, I’m not accustomed to two people pawing at each other during high school dismissal time….yet a bunch of high-schoolers are.  And what does that say about today’s youth?

What is your reaction to this?  Would your reaction be any different if I told you that the child – yes, she is a child – was your daughter?  Or your son?

Because let me tell you something, if it were my daughter sitting on that bench, I would have gotten out of my car so fast it would have made her head spin.  Would I have embarrassed her?  Absolutely.  But, quite frankly, a little embarrassment when you’re doing something stupid, in my opinion, goes a long way.

Parents, take a stand.  We’ve all got to have those discussions. I know they’re awkward and uncomfortable – all the more reason to have them!  Tell your children in no uncertain terms that that sort of behavior is inappropriate in such a public setting!

Am I foolish enough to think it doesn’t happen?  Of course not.  I wasn’t born under a rock.  Kids are going to do things we don’t like.  They’re going to push their limits, and our buttons in the process. But here’s the issue:  It’s the audacity in which the action was performed that really got to me.  It was like the two kids sitting on the bench were just daring someone to come up to them and stop them.

And let me be abundantly clear on this:  It’s the setting of the behavior that’s inappropriate.  By this I mean that I don’t want to see anyone going at it like that on a public bench!

When did all sense of decorum leave us?  Have we gotten to the point that we are so afraid of confronting an issue like this one that we just ignore it? Or have we become a group of parents who feel they can’t punish our children unless we’ve specifically laid out the “bad” behavior and the corresponding punishment? Sorry, but there is no way humanly possible for us to think of and explain every type of bad behavior our children may explore. At some point, they’ve got to think on their own and develop an innate sense for what is right and wrong. This business of laying out every consequence and not punishing behavior that we haven’t expressly forbidden has gotten out of control. Come on, parents! Let’s teach our kids the basics and then let them figure it out as they go. And this means telling them in no uncertain terms that their choice was stupid and inapprpriate if the label fits. Stop being afraid of hurting your child’s feelings; stop wanting to be their friend.

You are their parent. It’s your job to raise a fully functioning adult. One that knows it’s not in their best interest to be sucking on their boyfriend’s neck in the middle of the high school pick up line. It’s called such because it’s where the parents pick up their kids – not where the kids get to “pick up” their next conquest. Zip up your dress, folks. It’s time to be parents again.

Oh! And if anyone knows whose child I saw that day on the park bench, call her parents.

Donna Small is tha author of three novels, Just Between Friends, A Ripple in the Water, and the forthcoming Through Rose Colored Glasses. Her books can be purchased here: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!donna-small/c1ewn

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Spring is finally here!

This past week was spring break for my chidren.  I was lucky enough to have the week off from work as well.  Much of the time was spent with my girls doing all sorts of fun things.  We did Carowinds one day, (Yes, I rode The Fury) saw a few movies, and went out to eat a couple of times.  I wanted to ensure my girls had a fun spring break since we weren’t going away for the week like we did last year.

Like most days off, my daughters will sleep in until almost noon each day so I have time every morning to spend by myself doing whatever I choose  j

This past week, the weather was absolutely perfect for pretty much any outdoor activity.  Since I”m a homeowner, my activity of choice is usually working in the yard, planting flowers, grass or my vegetable garden, particulary around this time of year.  So while my children slept in, I hauled yards of mulch from my front yard to the back, in the hope of transforming my barren wasteland into something I would be proud of.  Plants were purchased, holes were dug, edging was placed.  I am pleased to say that in one week, my yard, while not worthy of an HGTV photo shoot, is ready for entertaining.

I love springtime, like most people.  After a winter like the one we had this year, seeing the tulips and the daffodils poke their heads out of the ground makes me feel happier than a teeny plant ought to.  But isn’t that what spring is all about?  It’s a re-birth; a chance to begin anew.

Once we feel certain there will be no more snow, we can all store our winter clothes in the far corner of the closet, since we’re pretty confident we won’t need to reach for them again for several months.  The boots are tucked away in the attic, right next to the Christmas decorations.

With the longer days and warmer sunshinse, people begin to spend more time outdoors.  My neighborhood is a flurry of activity.  People are outside with their babies, walking their dogs, or just strolling along with their significant other.  Every year I look forward to seeing my neighbors once again after the winter hibernation.

And there is a change in everyone’s demeanor as well.  During the winter months, each of us drives by the other in our cars, waving to each other as we slowly navigate through the slushy streets.  Windows are rolled up and we are buried beneath several layers of clothing.  It’s all we can do to lift our hand up to wave.  With the wamer weather, gone are the bulky jackets and knitted scarves.  Instead, we are walking in our shorts and t-shirts along streets that are bursting with color.  We actually stop to speak to one another instead of driving by as though we are terrfied of opening our car window a mere inch.

To me, this is yet another re-birth.  Neighbors are renewing the friendships that were left dormant during the winter months. People begin standing in their front yard in order to speak to their neighbor about the new plants or the sod that was recently laid down.  I find myself simply looking for a reason to be outside instead of sitting inside on my couch.  Just the feeling of the warm sun on my back as I survey all that i’ve done to my yard is all I need to feel a sense of accomplishment.

So now that spring is here and in full bloom, get out there!   Plant something.  Meet a neighbor.  Walk your dog.  Or just sit outside and enjoy the re-birth you see all around.

Donna Small is the author of Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water.  Her next novel, Through Rose Colored Glasses, will be released this summer. 

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Holiday Break Is over!

This year, like so many in the past, my children and I were home for the better part of two weeks during Christmas.  What normally happens when I am faced with two weeks of free time is that I plan to do all those things that I didn’t get around to do while I was working or carting children to sporting events, sleepovers and other assorted activities.  What actually happens during this two week period is that my girls and I barely leave the house unless we are taking a shopping excursion to spend a gift card we received as a Christmas present. I wind up spending the better part of these two weeks neglecting my to do list and instead, reading the books I’ve had piled on my nightstand.

The first few days we are home, we have a bit of energy. There is wrapping to be done, food to purchase, and a few parties to attend.

Then Christmas day comes. We are up at the crack of dawn opening presents for what seems like hours. When the living room is appropriately destroyed, we all return to our beds to catch a few more hours of sleep.

Then the descent into delicious laziness begins.

We begin to retire each evening at a later and later time. This, in turn, means we wake later and later each day. It amazes me each and every year how swifly our bodies adapt from a bedtime of 9pm and a wake time of 6am to a bedtime of 1am and a wake time of, say, noon.

Within three days after the holiday, we can barely open our eyes before noon. We rise, I pour myself a cup of coffee and we determine if any of us really need to wander out of the house with any more effort than is required to walk the fifteen feet to my mailbox.

Most days, showers are optional.  Most nights, we call for take out food; delivery required. And wine is consumed, lots and lots of wine. (By me, of course, and anyone who happens to stop by. The children are not allowed any wine!) There is something particularly delicious about enjoying a glass of wine all the while knowing one doesn’t have to get up early in the morning.

My girls take this opportunity to sleep as much as humanly possible, most days only getting out of bed in the early afternoon because of an urge to pee or because of the need to find some food. They stay awake into the wee hours of the early morning watching television shows on Netflix or playing video games. This year, my eldest watched the first four seasons of The Vampire Diaries while my youngest obtained stars, trophies or ribbons for winning a countless number of Mario Cart races.

We continue on like this until all of a sudden, everything comes to a screeching halt. Before we know it, Saturday arrives…then Sunday! School begins for them and work begins for me the very next day!

Christmas vacation ends and we are all faced with having to set an alarm for the first time in more than two weeks. The simple act of sliding the alarm button to ‘set’ on my Iphone nearly sapped all of my energy.

Once darkness fell Sunday night, the ambiance in my house changed. Gone was the carefree behaviors that come with an unlimited amount of free time ahead of you. Replaced with it was the knowledge that it was back to the real world the very next morning.

I, of course, had trouble falling asleep and never really fell to sleep soundly. Instead, I tossed and turned all night, knowing I had to get up at six am the next morning. From above me, I heard the sound of my daughter’s footsteps as she made her way to the bathroom several times throughout the night.  Apparently, if you can’t sleep, the next thing that comes to mind is a trip to the bathroom.

My eldest face-timed her friend at four in the morning and they chatted about how neither of them could sleep. A very productive way to spend their time. <eye roll)

When I went into their rooms Monday morning, they both were completely and utterly exhausted. I felt certain it would be one of those days where I’d have to climb the stairs to their rooms countless times to ensure they were out of bed, though I doubted I had the energy to do so.

Thankfully, both girls got up and out of bed without too much trouble and we were able to make it to school on time. Disaster averted…for one day, that is.

Unfortunately, my girls and I will go through this same process when spring break arrives – a much shorter time span by half.

Then comes the summer….and we begin all over again.

Donna Small is the author of two novels, Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. She resides in Clemmons, North Carolina with two very tired young girls who are less than thrilled to be returning to school and getting up at zero-dark-thirty once again. Her books can be purchased here:http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!donna-small/c1ewn

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Possibility…

Over the past few days, two things occurred that stopped me in my tracks. First, our school experienced the passing of one of our students. The second, our annual Holiday program was held at SECCA in Winston Salem, NC. I found myself on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum this week as these two events occurred within days of each other.

Make no mistake, the death of someone at any age is sure to cause an overwhelming amount of grief to those who lose a loved one. It doesn’t seem to matter if the passing was the result of a long illness or whether it was entirely unexpected. It seems to me, though, that the passing of a child is a bit surreal and against the laws of nature. There is something about the death of a child – a life cut short by tragedy – that causes us to ponder our own mortality. We see the tens of years we assume we all have ahead of us and question why that particular child was taken from us before we felt it was time. When a child passes before they reach double-digits in age, we can only see the years they didn’t get to experience.

Perhaps that is why we feel such loss.

The people I work with felt the loss of this child and I feel certain we all thought of her as we watched the holiday program. Most of you know that during the day, I work for a school that cares for children with special needs. While I am not a teacher, even my minimal experience with these children has increased my capacity for empathy tenfold.

But what I need to make clear to you is that my days are not filled with sadness over what our children cannot do. Actually, quite the opposite is true. My days, while filled mainly with numbers and spreadsheets, are filled with all sorts of positivity. Over the sound of my calculater, I hear the laughter from the little boy who took his first steps in his new walker, giggles from the little girl who learned a new word when her parents were told she would never be verbal; and shouts of encouragement from the therapists who are encouraging a child to perform a movement that was impossible for the child mere months ago.

Will these children live to be seventy? Eighty? Even ninety? I have no idea. All I can tell you is that each and every day, we are celebrating what our children can do.

This is what I took away from our holiday program.

Some of our children were wheeled around in their chairs, others stood with assistance from their nurse or teacher, while others were able to stand usassisted. What was unique was that every child had a smile on their face. They were having the time of their lives up there on that stage. The day before may have been a struggle, tomorrow may be a struggle, but in that moment, these children were enjoying being in the spotlight and enjoying just being a kid.

So while my school experienced a tragic loss this week, every day we experience miracles. Every day we see possibilities that we couldn’t see the day before.

This is what we need to focus on this season. The possibility that exists in every single day.

What is possible for you today?

Donna Small is the author of two novels, Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. Both available from Second Wind Publishing. She lives in Clemmons, North Carolina with her two daughters and her beagle, Charlie, where she is at work on her next novel.

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Books, books, and more books!

For several years now, I have been attending the Bookmarks book festival during the month of September.  This event is held annually on the streets of downtown Winston Salem.  There are numerous activities, speakers, food trucks, and of course, books! 

My first year attending, I wandered the streets simply looking for books to purchase.  I found one I liked and had the opportunity to meet the author, who signed the book I purchased.  Since that time, we have become quite friendly and she has offered me her guidance as I entered the publishing arena.

The second year I attended, I somehow managed to score a seat just inside the covered area that Diana Gabaldon, one of my favorite author’s, was going to be speaking.  Although I had my two children with me and they fidgeted the entire time she spoke, I was glued to my seat as she read from her book that had not yet been released.  After she finished, I ran to the book signing arena and waited in line for her to sign my very own copy of one of her books. 

Having been to this event on several occasions, you can only imagine my delight when I was asked to attend this event, not only as a member of the reading public, but as an author myself!  The day my first book was released coincided with the book festival.  I arrived early and met my publisher and then was handed a brand new copy of my newly released novel.  I spent the remainder of the day at the event greeting anyone I knew and encouraging them to purchase my novel. 

This is now my third year attending this event as an author and I continue to be excited beyond belief.  Each year I run into someone who I haven’t seen in some time and may not know that I have had two novels published and I, once again, feel the thrill of telling someone that yes, I am a published author. 

I am currently working on my third novel and hope to have it completed in the next few months.  But I will be taking today off to attend the Bookmarks book festival as an author and an avid reader.  So if you’re in the Winston Salem or nearby area, drive, walk or bike to the downtown area and purchase some books!  And while you’re at it, stop by the Second Wind Publishing tent and say “Hi!”

And did I mention the event is free? 

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This tough gig we call ‘parenting’

Being a parent and raising a well-mannered, polite child is the perhaps the toughest job there is. And I say that having worked in some lousy places, for some even lousier bosses.

The thing with parenting is that, unlike your job, where there is, at best, a handful of people who give you feedback, everyone feels it’s their job to tell you what you’re doing wrong with your child. Which, as we all know, is simply their way of telling you that you are not doing in the way they did it.

It starts out when your children are babies with your neighbor questioning your clothing choice for the either too warm or too cold day. “Should she be wearing that?” Your neighbor asks, eyeing the sweatshirt you chose. You then question yourself as to whether or not the brisk fifty degree weather actually warrants a hat, scarf, and gloves along with the LL Bean jacket that is suitable for temperatures below zero.

As your child ages, everyone has an opinion everything from their clothing, to your choice of school, to bedtime. We find ourselved justifying our choices and explaining our reasoning, which shines a spotlight on our insecurities. And being a parent is the one place I don’t need to feel insecure. It’s tough enough to please the two mini’s I’m trying to raise. Never mind my parents, neighbors, and friends.

You’d think that with all this scrutiny, we’d do what we can to make things easier on ourselves, but we don’t. We do more and more for our kids, seeming to forget that our job is to raise an independent adult who is able to think for himself. Perhaps the one method of parenting that causes me to wonder about all of this is how we discipline.

It seems that over the past twenty years or so, there has been a shift in parenting style from consequences that are swift and firm to a style that is more feedback oriented. You know what I mean. It’s where the parent warns the child to stop doing a particular behavior. We may count to three, or ten, (or twenty!) and then explain exactly what will happen if said behavior doesn’t stop.

I can’t help but wonder if this method is teaching our children that the only consequences they should only expect are the ones that are specifally spelled out for them. By spelling out the consequences for them, do they learn to not think about what might happen on their own? It seems to me that after a lifetime of being told exactly what is going to happen if they perform a certain act, it may take away their internal caution barometer. Are they being taught over a lifetime that for each action, there is a specific effect? Does this somehow train our children not to ponder the countless possible consequences?

I have no idea. I do know, however, that if our children aren’t taught to think about everything that might happen, bad things occur. Take the child who has a couple drinks, then drives home. What about the child who is late to work on more than one occasion and loses his job because his boss in in a bad mood on that particular day. Perhaps the most horrific example I can give is something I watched many years ago.

It was one of those dateline specials and it showcased a water park. A group of teenagers decided to see how many of them could fit into one of those enclosed water slides. They started at the entry point and climbed in, one by one, back to chest, filling the slide. The weight inside the slide became too heavy and the slide fell into the water. More than a dozen teens lost their life that day. I can’t help but wonder why no one pondered the possibility that there is a reason only one person at a time is allowed into the slide. Personally, I can’t even fathom what it would take to get me to climb into a dark tunnel with water flowing through it.

This is a horrific example but life is full of surprises and many of them are unpleasant. What is scary to me as a parent is that I cannot begin to cover all that may or may not occur if my child chooses to perform a particular action. And if I don’t cover all the possible consequences, am I somehow not doing the best by my child?

I certainly don’t know the answer to any of this but I thought I’d pose the question. Parenting is always a hot topic!

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Addiction?

I remember one day, a few years back, when Elin Woods was reported to take a golf club to her husband, Tiger’s, car. At that moment, I remember thinking,”He cheated and she found out.”

Sure enough, as the press reports filtered in, it was revealed that Tiger had not only cheated once, but several times.

Shortly thereafter, Tiger confessed to being a “sex addict.” Again, I saw it coming.

You see, it seems that recently, whenever someone does something wrong, they don’t own up to it. It’s more of the “I couldn’t help myself because I have an addiction.”

You know what?

I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of people not taking responsiblity for their actions and for the people they’ve hurt. Take Tiger Woods. Instead of owning up to his mistakes and admitting that yes, he cheated on his wife numerous times, he chose, what I feel is a complete and total cop-out. He held a press conference in which he claimed to have a “sex addiction.”

I’m going to call BS on that one.

You see, in my mind, an addiction is something that has a hold over you, something you can’t help but take part of. For that to occur, there’s got to be some sort of chemical manipulation. Tiger claimed sex addiction and I couldn’t help wonder why if he was so addicted to sex, why didn’t he have sex with his wife? To me, at least, he seemed to be addicted to having sex with other women. Is that really an addiction? A chemical imbalance? Something you have no control over?

I doubt it.

More likely, Tiger was relishing in the thrill of having sex with someone other than his wife and loved the excitement of trying not to get caught.

Addiction? I think not.

I apply this same principal to those who say they have a food addiction. Typically, these people are overweight and, in my opinion, trying to find an excuse.

Sorry, but there it is.

Food addiction? I completely doubt the validity of this condition.

Here’s the thing: When someone claims to have a food addiction, they tend to be drawn to fatty foods – pizza, ice cream, fried chicken, etc.. I can’t help but wonder why no one is ever addicted to, say, carrot sticks or leafy greens.

The other problem I have with this so-called condition is that you need food to survive. How can you be addicted to something that is essential to life? Is anyone addicted to water? Oxygen?

In my mind, a fodd addiction is not so much a food addiction as it is a lack of self control and once again, the quest to shift the blame onto something or someone else. It’s as if they’re saying “This weight problem isn’t really my fault. I can’t be held accountable. You see, I have this addiction to food….”

Again, I call BS on that one.

It’s time for all of us to own up to our actions, especially when our actions hurt ourselves or others. Tiger, hold a press conference and tell the world you’re just an ass and not someone with an addiction or, as I like to call it, an excuse for bad behavior. If you have a problem with making poor food choices, call it what it is – a lack of self control. No addiction “made” you eat that entire fried chicken or cheesecake. You made the choice and you are in control of your behaviors.

This is what I’ve tried to instill in my children. I’m tired of hearing the excuse “she made me…”

No. She did not.

“She” may have instigated you or pushed your buttons but you are the one who chose to hit, poke or do whatever in response. You are in charge of your own behaviors and it’s time we all accept that. What each of us does is our own choice and not the result of some condition or “addiction.”

Yes, I purposely put the quotes around that word.

If I seem a bit intolerant, I apologize. For the record, I do accept that there are many legitimate addictions. Many have fallen victim to drugs and alcohol. I get it. But in my opinion, we are taking it to the extreme.

No more, people! We all need to take responsibility for our actions. No wimping out and claiming “it’s not my fault” or “I couldn’t help myself.”

Take control of your actions. Apologize when necessary and simply say that you’ll do your best not to do it again. Personally, I’d rather hear a heartfelt apology than an excuse any day of the week.

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