Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Humans love

Ugh.

Lately it feels like I need a serious pair of waders just to trudge through the bad, the very bad and the devastating. 

Suffering. Pain. Loss. Inexplicable grief. It’s everywhere.

A grown son, just starting out in life, lost in a car accident today.
A couple, carrying a baby with a devastating prognosis, still making the most of their pregnancy milestones while praying for a miracle.
A beautiful girl robbed of the future and abilities, with parents who are determined to make the most of their remaining time.

It’s everywhere. And it physically feels heavy.   

It doesn’t need to happen to you for you to feel it.  

I’m always moved by the love that immediately shows up and surrounds a family who are watching something tragic unfold in front of their eyes. Their worst nightmare coming true. It’s like I get so disenchanted with humans at times but then I see people carrying pain with their friends. Feeling it with them. They drum up support. They anticipate the needs of their loved ones and get on the ball to meet them.

We are in this life together and in times like these, we have two choices to make. We can conserve our love or we can share it. 

I have to say…I see an awful lot of sharing going on around me right now.

It’s a beautiful bright spot in the midst of overwhelming pain.

Humans don’t leave behind their weak. They pick them up and they stay strong for them. For as long as they have to, they carry burdens alongside those they love (and if you’re from the South, they bring you chicken casseroles which is pretty darn nice too). 

I’m not calling any person weak here. People going through a difficult time are most definitely not weak…but they are singularly focused.  How could you not be?  They are emotionally spent. And they are putting the needs of the family member suffering more in front of their own than they ever have in their lives.

So the point of the post – well, I wanted to write out my feelings (which always helps me sort through them) and I wanted to share an opportunity to support a family that I know going through something unbelievably hard. 

Layla is four. She was given the unbelievable blessing of being born to a wonderful loving family. Her parents adore her and she has an amazing big brother.  After spending an extended period of time trying to understand Layla’s seizures, they were punched in the gut with a diagnosis that no parent should ever ever ever have to get.

Like – excuse my bluntness – but this diagnosis can kiss it.  

Here are her parents standing in full armor ready to fight whatever battle needs to be fought to heal her – but there’s no battle. There’s no fight. The outcome is out of their hands. 

I cannot begin to comprehend that level of helplessness.

Friends. I’m asking you to help if you can.  Because the thing is…the battle now has to be this.

To make the most of the time they get.

All those outings we plan to take our kids on one day.  The Disney trip we are going to wait just a few more years for. Those plans we make for the future.

Future.

They don’t have that.

Please visit their website and if you can give, awesome. If you can’t, maybe there are prayers you can offer up.  Or maybe, you can look around at the people in your own life and community who are dealing with a monster that they are struggling to defeat…and you can share your love and strength with them. 

Take their hand and be what I know humans to be…compassionate and loving people who surround the suffering with love and support.

To this sweet family - I want you to know that I am  praying for you as often and intentionally as I can. 

To the sweet friends of this family – you guys are amazing and I am moved by your love and care.

And to that sweet little girl bravely fighting a battle very few people have ever had to face…you are a Warrior Princess and there are a lot of people who want to help you cram all the life and love possible into these precious years. You have touched so many already. Stay brave, sweet girl.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Week One: Short Story September

Happy Labor Day.

And by the way, this completely feels like day one of filling out a brand new diary.  It will be interesting to look back and see if

1.) I even write four short stories.  I mean…I AM. I AM going to write four short stories (I'm using The Secret)
or if
2.) I blog about any of it.

But I swear to you, people of the blog reading world…I am totally writing.  I am NOT watching a Shark Tank marathon.

But if I WERE watching a Shark Tank marathon (hypothetically speaking) it would be because I've never had any desire to watch any episodes of this show until I sat down to write my story tonight.

Can you say, "SQUIRREL?!"

Seriously, I did do a little pre-Short Story September reconnaissance so I know the story line of what I'm going to write about and started writing on Friday so I kind of feel, as I used to say in college at midnight, the night before exams while watching The Carnie Wilson show, I'm WAY ahead of the game.

So far, my takeaway is this…

What I have noticed as I take my idea and try to put it in written form is how laborious writing can be.  It's been kind of a long time since I wrote a short story.  My ideas in my head are AMAZING.  They are fast-paced and quippy. Sometimes, thinking of a story line in my car can near bring me to tears…which really confuses the Starbucks baristas in the drive thru…but writing them down? Arranging the details on paper…crafting dialogue…all those quotation marks?  Well, I'm finding writing is less of an art and more of a test of endurance.

When I write a blog post, an article or personal essay…it's really just a quick stream of my own thoughts…there's not a whole lot of editing that goes on there. If you know me in person…you kind of know that I am the person I write about in my blog.

But this is a different animal.

It's a mental game. That's why the more I dive into this field, the more I learn and the more I pursue…well, the more forgiving I am when I finish a terrible book because I think…"but they finished it. They actually wrote things down until they were done."

Who am I to believe that my stories are any better, because, I haven't even taken the time to write them down.

I guess being a writer in your head is kind of a form of rejection avoidance.

But I challenge you…even if you don't write…even if it's something else that you want to do but don't. Go out and do it.  Don't just pursue things in your mind.  Pursue them in person.  So you may be terrible.  Almost guaranteed you'll be terrible at first. I try to teach my son that he's not going to be great at something the first time he tries it. Chances are, most things we do at first, WE WILL SUCK AT!  I tell him to keep trying.

How can I not also take that advice?

So this is week one. I am starting to draft my first short story.  I am going to try to remember this:

"I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles."  ~ Shannon Hale

I love that quote.  Take the stress out of the first draft…write it all, as it flows. Do not stop to edit, keep writing…get all the sand into the box you can…you'll be so glad you did when you go back to edit it.

I am not going to blog every day…I'm not Doogie Houser.  I'm just going to pop in from time to time, as I avoid writing, to tell you how it's going.

I have two amazing lady writers, Ann and Rachel on this journey with me…it's not too late to join us. No one is posting anything for public view unless they want to.  We don't even need to read it…just join us for moral support if you would like to.

Also, I have a pretty fun Pinterest Board dedicated to writing that you are welcome to check out.

I'm amazing at hoarding other people's advice.  I do go through my board and try to read all the articles so I can weed out the links that go no where, but I'm sure a few have slipped past me.

Happy writing,
Rachel

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hi and Short Story September

Life is in transition.  

I'm leaving a job I've had for almost 10 years and starting a brand new adventure. The kids are both in school in some form or fashion and the papers that return to my house at the end of the day are at epic levels. I am overwhelmed by appointments and such.  

Still, writing is always on my heart and on my mind. If you write, you completely understand this nagging obsession.  This love/hate relationship with yourself as a writer.  Thinking about writing all day long only to sit down at the end of the day and be too tired and too overwhelmed to start.   

I am doing a lot of reading about writing fiction and crafting stories. I read a quote the other day that stuck with me. It basically said you can learn more about story structure from writing 20 short stories than from writing one novel.  

I've thought about that for several days.  

I have a never ending list of "started stories" and the idea of committing to one is something I just avoid. It's kind of why I'm a fan of the personal essay.  I can start and finish one in about an hour on a weeknight while watching Netflix.  

So I'm issuing a challenge to myself (and to anyone else who is interested, please join me).  I am going to challenge myself to writing four short stories (1500 + words) in the month of September.  That's a story a week. 

The plan is this: Take four of my favorite ideas and develop them into a short story.  I may find ideas that I want to explore further or I may find that all of my ideas belong in the circular file.  

I may post them here…I may not. :) 

So the gauntlet has been thrown...who's in?   September 1 is our start date.  

Comment here, or email me: justpeachy1123@gmail.com

Rachel
 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What to do when water is pouring out of your ceiling.

In eleven easy steps.

You hear water.  It's 6:30 in the morning and you think to yourself, "Man, it is really coming down out there."

Step One:  Head over to the dining room window and watch as the water cascades down the window pane. Nature is amazing.  

Step Two: In horror, you realize that the water is cascading down on the same side of the window you are on.  You step back and like an offensive hip hop song you see that the water is indeed, FROM THE WINDOW TO THE WALL...everywhere.  It's like someone turned on a faucet in your ceiling and water is pouring out of the air vent.

Step Three: This is a critical step. Don't skip it.  Stand there and stare....maybe let your mouth hang open.

Step Four:  Run upstairs, turning on all the lights on the way and yell for your husband to get up.

Once the two of you are downstairs and assessing the situation, surely a plan will form.

Step Five:  Both of you stand there and stare.  Together.  Maybe hold hands.  This is a moment.

Step Six: Husband gets a few buckets while you go outside and unsuccessfully shut the water off by turning all of the power off to the house.  Consider running through the gate to freedom rather than facing family ever again.  You could make it.  They are, after all, currently in complete darkness. I'm just saying, there could be a main water shutoff "switch" instead of a "valve".

Step Seven:  Come back inside and stare at cell phone while husband continues to rotate buckets.  Realize there is no one a phone call away that can help you.  NO ONE!  YOU ARE ALL ALONE. You and your husband could be stranded for the next few days, months or years taking turns in the bucket rotation.  What can I google to solve this crisis?

Step Eight: Go out into the street and wander up and down it in your red and hot pink owl pajamas and soaked house shoes looking for someone, anyone, who will save you from this disaster.  Do the 360 degree turn thing in the middle of the street a la Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Know What you Did Last Summer and yell at the universe as you realize that, again, there is no one.  Do this with much less makeup and way less cleavage because, well...37 year old helpless mother of two in owl pajamas.

Step Nine:  Call the fire department and open your conversation with a three minute apology about the fact that what you are about to request of them, is not a real emergency and how you KNOW that you should KNOW where the valve thingies are in your house.

Step Ten: Firemen arrive and shut water off before fire engine is even cut off. Offer them one of your children in gratitude. Over thank them.  To the point where everyone is just uncomfortable.  Feel a little better when they tell you they do this a lot.

Step Eleven:  Learn where all the valve thingies are.