Posted in Crafts, Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work, writing

The Desk

After having 42 birthdays, the one that has always meant the most to me was when I turned 5. There wasn’t some extravagant Pinteresty party with fabulous decorations, a petting zoo, a professional photo shoot, and gift bags to rival the Academy Awards. No, it was a simple party with family only and a cake baked with love by my mother. My gift though, would change my life forever.
There was a gorgeous wooden desk fit for the President and with it were pens, pencils, highlighters, a stapler, tape dispenser, paper clips, folders, post-it notes, and several reams of blank paper. My brother and sister gifted me coloring books crayons, and map pencils. I can remember my mom helping rearrange my bedroom to make space for this regal desk. She gave my glasses from the kitchen that had Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar on them to organize my prizes in. I was so excited to get started!
Recently on a writers forum I belong to, we were asked if we remember the day we knew we wanted to write. I immediately recalled that birthday and images of my five year old self, sitting at my desk played in my head. That was the day I decided I would pen books and illustrate them. I was going to write poems and also be a journalist. I had big dreams!
As I looked back to the day, nearly 40 years ago, I realized something I never noticed before. That large, regal wooden desk fit for the President, wasn’t even that big. It wasn’t that regal, either. In fact, it was second-hand. It had nicks, discoloration, and old pen marks on it. It was just an average desk my parents picked up at a yard sale. And all those office and art supplies? They were the same exact ones you could find at my parents’ offices. We were by no means poor, but were definitely on a budget back then.
And you know what? Now that I’ve had this revelation, it doesn’t change a thing! I will still think of that as the best birthday I’ve ever had. I will still consider those the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts I’ve received. They were better than any Barbie doll, board game, or the hottest toy on the market. They meant everything to me. They sparked my imagination and fueled my creative desires. They sculpted me.
Maybe I didn’t grow up to have a New York Times Best Selling Novel. Barnes & Noble closed before I could do a book tour. Maybe I’ll never make a living with my writing and that’s okay. It doesn’t make me any less of an author.
I’m proud of my accomplishments. Thousands of people read my stories. I have work that has been published with millions of followers. When I’m gone, my stories will still be here, and that’s more than I could’ve hoped for, even when I was 5.

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Posted in Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

Like I Always Have Been…

To my husband, children, friends, and co-workers…

I wake up tired. By the time I make the coffee, get dressed, pack my lunch, and get to work, I’m ready for a nap. I sit at my desk, shifting around trying to get comfortable, but I can’t. The phones start ringing as I try to listen to voicemails and answer e-mails. They’re still ringing as I clock out at 5 pm. In between, it can be chaotic. This fast-paced, high-stress job drains me mentally; therefore, it drains me physically. I’m sorry if I get frustrated, if I get short with you, and sometimes I get angry.
To my co-workers, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll come back to work and handle that shit like I always have, just like you’re used to.

Once I get home from work, I just want to lay down. I know a nap is out of the question, no matter how exhausted I feel. The thought of having to make dinner gives me anxiety. I need to go to the grocery store and still haven’t planned our meal. It’s not easy making sure everybody’s dietary needs are met and all I really want to eat is chocolate chip cookies. I don’t even know if I can survive standing that long in front of the hot stove. The kids want us to go on a bike ride or a walk to the park. They want attention that I don’t know I’m capable of giving.
To my children, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll come home and be the Mom I always have been, just like you’re used to.

After dinner, I struggle to find the energy to clean. Just clearing off the table seems an insurmountable task, but we’ve already promised our friends we would hang out and I’ve put them off too many times in the past. When we finally meet up, I sit there smiling, but not really participating in conversation. My mind is a million miles away and my body is on the verge of revolting.
To my friends, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll arrive at our gatherings being the same upbeat, positive friend I always have been, just like you’re used to.

By the time we get home and get in bed, my husband is ready for my undivided attention and I don’t mean just making love. We usually talk, cuddle, and watch a movie on the sofa until I fall asleep with my head on his lap. This is generally the best part of my day. But we don’t do this anymore. I immediately get under the covers because I’m so wiped out. I’ve been shirking my responsibilities lately and he’s had to bear the burden of picking up my slack. That means more grocery shopping, meal making, cleaning, and diapering than he’s used to.
To my husband, I sincerely apologize. I promise one day I’ll be the efficient, multi-tasking, caring and loving wife I always have been, just like you’re used to you.

My dears, I want you all to understand…
When I wake up in the morning, the baby boy I’m carrying is already awake. He moves around, trying to get comfortable as my rib cage spreads. He anticipates my one cup of coffee as much as I do. As I get dressed, desperately searching for clothes that fit, he grows even larger. I prepare my lunch, wondering if we will suffer together from heartburn later. I get to work and feel his flutters with every ring of the phone. As my tension rises, so does his. He swirls around in my belly as I shift in my seat, letting me know he’s just as uncomfortable as I am. He pushes down on my bladder, sending me to the bathroom twice an hour. Once I’m home, he feels the work stress leaving and wants us to nap, but I can’t. He squirms around asking for food because we are both famished. My appetite has been insatiable. Following dinner he urges for rest, but I prepare to meet up with friends. The entire time we hang out as our children play at the park, he punches and kicks. When we eventually get home, I rush to bed, dying to lay on my side to finally feel the relief that never comes. I’m bloated and gassy. My baby boy continues to struggle in my belly as his space gets tighter and tighter. I sleep in short intervals throughout the night, waking up every hour after having the oddest dreams. I roll out of bed exhausted and start it all over again.

My dears, I want you all to understand…
When you need a breath of fresh air, you can just walk outside. When you need to go to the bathroom, you go alone. When you need a break from everything, you have that option. Even if you’ve been working, shopping, cooking, cleaning, diapering, and parenting all day, you still have the choice to walk away for a few moments of solitude. I don’t. No matter where I go or what I do, I always have the baby with me. There isn’t a sitter in the world I can drop him off with.

Believe me, I know I’m blessed to be able to carry this child! There are thousands of women in the world that would kill to feel what I’ve described, the good and the bad. I’m emotional. I’m irritable. I don’t even know what it means to have patience anymore. I suffer from bouts of depression. I don’t much like myself right now on the inside or the outside. I’ve become an ugly person. I look in the mirror and am unhappy with the circles and bags under my eyes, the weight I’ve gained, and my lack of make-up or hairstyle. I miss being me.
To myself, but I promise one day I’ll be the same happy, confident person I always have been, just like I used to be.

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Posted in Community, Culture, Family, Personal, Relationships, Work

Life After Maternity Leave

Before I shared the news of my pregnancy with the world, I decided to tell my boss and co-managers first, in the form of a five person group text. They deserved that much, after all we were like family – a very, very dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. Apparently, they all found this news to be so unbelievable that not one single person responded. I waited a day before making the announcement on Facebook. That’s when the comments from co-workers flooded in. My boss even called me in to his office to confirm. He congratulated me and I assured him that after nine years of being a faithful employee, I would not be leaving.

Throughout my pregnancy, my employer was amazing. My boss never took issue with me having to leave work or schedule myself off due to doctor appointments or not feeling well. He checked in on me often and was very supportive. After my last pre-natal check-up, I returned to work. He asked how everything went. I told him Doc said I was dilated to three and 75% effaced. It would be any day now, in fact, I could go into labor that night. It was already two in the afternoon, so my boss told me to go ahead and go home. It would be my last day until after the baby was born. That was a Thursday; my daughter came into this world that Sunday morning.

I am not a salaried employee. I don’t have health, vision, or dental insurance, a 401K plan, sick days, vacation days, or paid time off. There is no maternity leave program. I earn an hourly wage and have a company provided (and paid for) cell phone. There are some pretty amazing perks at my job. My family can tent camp for free and float the river in a raft or a tube for free. We stay in cabins at an extremely reduced rate. I’m not required to wear a uniform – tank tops and flip-flops are perfectly acceptable. I have my own office with unlimited internet and little to no supervision as well as my own kitchen. We enjoy company paid for lunches in the summer and my boss is very flexible with my schedule. If you’re an outdoorsy person with no desire for material things, this is a dream job.

I am still humbled and overjoyed that my employer paid me a partial weekly salary while I took my leave. I am grateful for that.

When my daughter was two months old, I returned to work. It was the off-season and I was still nursing, so I brought her to work with me. The rock ‘n play was set up next to my desk and she slept most of the workday. When she was ready to nurse, I just closed my office door. My boss walked in and I held my breath. I was 98% sure he would be okay with my new office mate, but 2% of me still worried. (Yes, in retrospect, I should have asked first.)

He stopped by my office and we exchanged warm hellos as he welcomed me back. He had a new puppy on a leash with him that was very excited to meet my daughter. He fussed at the pup before saying to me, “I’m sorry I brought my dog to work.”
“I’m sorry I brought my baby to work,” I replied and that was the end of the discussion.

My daughter is one now and no longer sleeps most of the work day. I have exchanged the rock ‘n play with a pack ‘n play. She spends her time watching Chu-Chu TV on YouTube (and if I never hear the Mommy Finger song again, it will be too soon.) Sometimes I take her out of “baby jail” and let her crawl around my office as she tries to unplug my computer or just sit on my lap while I attempt to type one-handed. She loves for me twirl her around in my swivel chair.

My boss still brings his dog to work, too. She’s not a puppy anymore and he no longer keeps her leashed in his office. When they arrive, she promptly runs to me, licks my face, then goes to do her “job.” She has become the official “Guardian of the Baby.” She walks in circles around the pack ‘n play, making sure everything is as it should be. She licks my daughter’s feet through the netting, then settles down in place, right next to the play pen. If someone dares enter my office, she jumps up and stands at attention – her ears sticking straight up and her tail pointing straight out. Once she determines they are not threat, she lets her guard down.

Most days my daughter doesn’t interfere with my work, but some days… well, it can be tough. There are times when she is splayed across my desk as I change her diaper while she kicks and squirms. My office now reeks of fresh baby poop. Occasionally I take a call while she is saying, “Mommommomm” in the background. I get tired. So very tired. I wonder how I will ever get my work done while spoon-feeding a baby and wanting to rip my hair out after hearing the “Johnny Johnny” song for the umpteenth time today. It’s times like these that I have to remind myself she won’t always be here.

I don’t know what the cut-off age will be, but I know when she starts walking, talking, and getting into everything in sight, I’m going to need figure something out. Finding childcare makes my stomach turn. I don’t want to let her go. I want her with me until she has to go to school. I have no back-up plan and no idea where she will go while I’m at work. It’s a problem that sits in the back of my mind constantly and it weighs me down. I was not afforded this luxury with my older children and now that I am able to take my child to work with me, I can’t imagine not having her.

Believe me, I know I am incredibly lucky to be in this position. It’s a struggle moms all over the world face when their maternity leave ends. I am so thankful. I love my job and I love living this camplife. I’m proud to raise my daughter in this environment and will probably only retire when my hands are too arthritic to type. Until then, I hope to take my daughter to work with me as long as possible.

camplife

Hashtag camplife.

Posted in Personal, Work, writing

November Now

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November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Though I am not participating in the project this year, I have (finally) completed my first book – a children’s picture book. My 720 word count story hardly compares to the 50,000 word minimum required for participation; however, it was enough to motivate me to not only complete my story, but to actually submit to a publisher.

I’ve always considered myself a writer, just not a professional one. My short story, “Bartenders Are Gods” was published in Industry Magazine years ago, but beyond that – nothing. I did once submit a blog post to the Elephant Journal only to get rejected. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I think the fear of further rejection has kept me from submitting my work elsewhere. Until now. Today is the day to “live out what’s in my heart.” It’s not too late to follow after what I really want, and getting published is what I really want.

In the last five years of writing this blog, I have learned quite a bit. Though I will occasionally write short story fiction, I prefer to write stories about my life, hopefully told in a humorous yet relatable fashion. I always thought my first book would be the same – just a longer version of my blog, told in an Erma Bombeck-ishy way. Never would I have thought I would pen a children’s book.

I awoke one morning with what I thought was a brilliant idea. Taking that idea and running with it wasn’t too difficult either. It wasn’t until after I completed my first draft that the hard work began. The editing process is brutal. I fell in love with my protagonist. Everything she said and did was important (to me.) How could I choose what gets to stay and what has to go?  Watching your ideas disappear from the screen as the delete button gets pressed over and over again causes the kind of anxiety you never knew you could feel. And the formatting, OH MY GOD, the formatting. Of course I wrote my story before doing any real research. You type up a WORD document set in default, thinking you’ll just send it off to a publisher (who will most certainly adore your story) and before you know it, you’ve got a book deal! Oh the naiveté…

Now that the research is behind me, stalking editors and literary agents social media accounts, Googling EVERYTHING, and narrowing down my options to the one publisher (who is accepting unagented work) that I think is the best fit for me and my story, I am ready. Ready to break down my wall of fear like the Berlin Wall was broken down exactly twenty-seven years ago today. Ready to submit my work and ready to wait. Ready to start my next project. It’s possible (likely, even) that I will get rejected, but I’ve decided that I would rather try and get rejected than not try and always wonder. I don’t want to live a life of, “what if?” Do you? I hope not. It’s a new day, a new era. We elected a new President last night. Please try to let go of your self-doubt…

…”You matter. Finish this year with a bang, so next year will begin with true fireworks.”
November is the month of now or never.

 

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

I AM TIRED

tired
I haven’t been sleeping very well lately. I have the most uncomfortable mattress. It is so firm, sometimes I’m convinced that I’m sleeping on concrete. I want to buy a pillow-top mattress pad, but I haven’t yet. I’ll add that to my already long to-do list. Being pregnant isn’t helping the sleeping situation. I wake up periodically through the night for no apparent reason and I never used to do that. Plus, I have to keep reminding myself that I must only sleep on my left side and that doesn’t do any favors for my neck and left shoulder.
When I finally give up, usually around 6:30 am, I get out of bed tired. I make the coffee, even though I rarely drink it (due to the baby) and even though I could really use it because I am so tired. I put away the clean dishes in the drying rack from the night before, get myself dressed, and go to work.
Once I get to work, I dive into all the emails and voicemails that came in over night. It’s our busy season so I try to do these before the phones start going berserk. I may sit all day, but my job is mentally exhausting, which, in turn, becomes physically exhausting. Sometimes I feel like it sucks the life from my soul.
After a nearly 10 hour work day, I clock out and head to the grocery store. Yes, I go shopping every day. For some it’s a chore, but I enjoy it. Generally, it is the only time of the day I get to myself and I’m the type of person that needs a little bit of “me-time.” I like to plan interesting meals for my family.
I struggle through the door, grocery bags in hand, cutting off the circulation to my brain, set the bags on the table, and take a look around. I am tired of finding a sink full of dirty dishes when the kitchen was spotless when I left for work. I am tired of seeing half full (or half empty) water bottles strewn about the place. I am tired of dishes not at least being rinsed. I am tired of trying to put the groceries away only to find the fridge and pantry in disarray, even though last nights leftovers were placed away in an organized manner.
Once I get the dishes washed and re-clean the kitchen, I get started on dinner. I review my recipes, make sure I have all my ingredients, and follow the directions. While that is going, I head to my room to make the bed. I know it seems silly to make your bed at 6:30 in the evening, but I feel better when it’s put together. I have a new bed set and I love it so much. As I arrange the pillows and comforter just perfectly so, everything looks so inviting, I want to climb in and make “sheet angels” before I drift off to slumber because I am so tired…
but I am not fooled. I know that bed won’t provide the comfort I am after.
Dinner is looking good, the house is smelling delicious, things are coming together, and I make the table. I start to look around, satisfied. Chaos replaced with normalcy.
My legs are sore and my feet are throbbing. I want to sit on the sofa and stare into space, but I know I’ll just notice the dust bunnies rapidly reproducing on the TV and stand. I’ll notice the floors need to be swept and mopped and that the chair needs my dogs slobber cleaned from the upholstery. I’ll add that to my to-do list. I keep pushing myself, but damn, I am tired.
Jose gets home from work and we all sit to eat. All my careful menu planning, selecting the perfect groceries, meticulously following the recipe directions, and carefully setting the table sometimes seems all for naught. In less than 15 minutes, the meal has been devoured, the table a mess, and a pile of dirty dishes await my washing. I desperately want to leave it all for tomorrow because I am oh-so-tired, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t, so I do.
Once everything is done, the clean dishes drying on the rack, the leftovers carefully put away in the fridge and pantry, the counters wiped down, and the kitchen spotless, I realize I need to breathe. Just as I am about to give up for the night, throw in the towel, put on my nightgown, settle in for some downtime, and hopefully get some rest, I’m caught off-guard. Maybe it’s a call from my daughter asking for a ride home from work, or a text from my son asking me to take him to Hastings, or my husband telling me about a concert in the park that night and that all our friends will be there.
Honestly, I don’t want to do any of these things. I am tired. I want to lay down, I want to relax. I want to not do anything, but I do. I fluff my hair, slap on my lipstick, hop in the car and go do what I need to do.
I know what you’re thinking. You think I should take some time for myself. You think I should learn to say “no.” You think I should sometimes let those dirty dishes wait until morning or that it’s not so bad to get into an unmade bed.
The thing is, at the end of the day, after I’ve done all these things, my reward isn’t sleep. My reward is the self-satisfaction of knowing what I’ve accomplished. My reward is the hug I get from my child, and the words, “Thank you so much, Mom! I love you.” My reward is laying my head in my husbands lap on the sofa while he massages the knot from my shoulder, even after I’ve drifted off to sleep. My reward is crawling under the covers of my recently made concrete bed, lying down (on my left side only,) me being the little spoon, my husband kissing the back of my neck, his arm around me, caressing my pregnant belly. And you know what?

…I’ll never get tired of that.

**UPDATE**
I wrote this Saturday and didn’t post it to social media. When I got home, I was exhausted. I did notice the dirty dishes in the sink and I did notice the empty water bottles strewn about the place. I knew I needed to go to the grocery store and I was aware dinner needed to be made. I sat on the bed for a moment and the next thing I knew, it was almost 8pm! Jose had come home, decided to let me nap (said he figured I needed the rest) gone to the store, washed the dishes, cleaned the fridge, made dinner, and handled business. I swear that man knows what goes on inside my head and that is something else I will never get tired of.

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

I Only Like Menudo With Ricky Martin

Let me preface this by saying,
I LOVE PREGNANT BODIES!

I do, I really do. I think pregnant women with large baby bumps are beautiful and sexy and amazing. Unfortunately, I don’t think that about myself. I am 4 months along, so the weight gain has begun. My bump isn’t an obvious baby bump (unless you know me and remember my pre-pregnant body.) It’s more like, well, extra weight. You see, I am in that weird in between stage. (Like when you are growing out your hair and it’s too short to put up, but it still awkwardly hangs in your face and there is nothing you can do but wait it out.) My clothes are snug. Anything that buttons at the waist gives me the “busted can of biscuits” look. Nothing I own is flattering, but I’m not quite far enough along to switch to maternity clothes. I hate it. That being said, being the eternal optimist, I started thinking about the bright side. It didn’t take long to figure out that blaming the baby is easy…
(It’s not as harsh as it sounds)

1) “Do you want to come to my 40th birthday bash tonight? Jello shots, kegstands, and Fireball for everybody!”
Gosh, that sounds awesome and I would LOVE to come celebrate with you, but the baby is exhausted and I need to get to bed early.

2) “Would you like another slice of pizza?”
Yes, thank you. It’s not for me, it’s for the baby. I’m full.
*stuffs my face with pizza*

3) “Do you need anything, honey?”
Nah, I’m fine, but the baby could use some chocolate. Mind going to the store?

4) [My day off] “Can you work my shift for me today?”
I sure could use the extra money and would be happy to help, but the baby has my stomach in knots, so I think I should just stay in bed.

5) “Want to go bikini shopping/sky-diving/BASE jumping/ to a 5 year-olds birthday party?”
Geez, sounds like the time of my life, but right now my doctor says that’s not good for the baby.

6) “Here mija, have some of my homemade menudo.”
I’m sure it’s delicious and who doesn’t love tripe, but the baby seems to have an aversion to cow stomach so I’m going to have to pass.

…and then there’s this:

6) “Want to go thrift shopping/out for sushi/grub on queso?”
(I’m exhausted, dehydrated, head is throbbing, tummy is aching, and back feels broken)
*jumps in car, buckles seatbelt, and anxiously awaits to depart!*

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Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

If I Met Myself For The First Time

Ever since I got pregnant, I’ve been having the strangest dreams. Last night was no different. I think watching an NCIS marathon with my daughter Parker is partially to blame and the wonky hormones are mostly to blame. In my dream, I woke up in a hospital, not knowing where I was or who I was. I had been in an accident and had amnesia. I still knew that Obama was President and that 12 X 12 was a gross, but my husband and family were strangers. This was especially difficult for my youngest daughter Mikayla who was positive that upon seeing her, my memory would come back… but it didn’t. It was scary. Like in a nightmare when you are paralyzed and can’t scream, even though you try your damnedest. I remember being in my hospital gown and approaching the bathroom, headed for the mirror so I could take a look at who I was. That’s it, that’s all I remember of this dream, but I woke up wondering…
…wondering what it would be like in real life if I had been in some sort of accident that cause me to have amnesia. What would I think of myself?

Would I stand naked, under the harsh fluorescent hospital lights in the cold, white bathroom, looking down at my 40 year-old pregnant body and be happy with what I saw? Would I see the stretch marks on my belly from the three children I’ve birthed and see horrible, ugly scars or I would I see a beautiful permanent record of motherhood? Would I gaze into my own eyes through the mirror and see an aging woman with bags, lines, and wrinkles, or would I see exquisite, sparkling blue eyes? Would I look at my mouth and think I should have taken better care of my teeth or would I see a warm, genuine smile? And my hair? Would I see the roots beginning to grow out, salted with gray, or would I adore the reddish-caramel color with Bettie Page bangs? Upon seeing my tattoos, would I judge myself as trashy or think myself as artsy? Would I notice the large deep scar on my ankle where I have seven screws and a metal plate and think I must be klutz or would I assume I must be an exciting, adventurous person? If I glanced down at my breasts which are now enlarged and swollen, would I only notice the slight sag from gravity and years of breast-feeding? Would I be bothered by the now noticeable green veins and dilated nipples or would I feel blessed to have a voluptuous pair preparing milk for my baby?

Upon meeting my family…
Would I look at my husband and question his burly beard, tattooed body, and skater dude sense of fashion? Or would I get weak in the knees with butterflies in my stomach just by looking into the bedroom eyes of the man I have given my heart and soul to, enamored simply by his scent, attracted to his masculinity, infatuated with his smile, the sound of voice, the touch of his hand, his sun-kissed skin, and the mop on his head of perfect, natural curls?
When I met my children, would I feel the over-whelming sense of pride in the amazing persons they have become like I do now? Would I only notice the stretched out gauges in my sons ears or would I see my own eyes in his eyes? Would I meet my oldest and judge her for having a child at such a young age, or would I admire her for overcoming so many obstacles and doing an excellent job at raising my grandson? When my youngest daughter stood before me, would I only see a stranger or would she trigger my memory back as she predicted in my dream?

Upon walking through the door of my home…
Would I be disappointed in the scratches on the wood floors, hate the awkward layout of the jack-and-jill bathroom, be unsatisfied with the eclectic hodge-podge of new and thrift store furniture, and feel like I should have done better for myself by having a newer built, updated, and modern cookie-cutter house? What if I walked through the door and fell in love with the charm and character that a 100 year-old home possesses with high ceilings and original wood floors? Would I immediately feel the comfort of my funky style, vintage collectibles, and tchotchkes?

Upon seeing my workplace…
Would I walk through the campgrounds feeling the sticky heat, swatting at mosquitoes and other creepy flying insects, freaked out by the abundance of buzzards, squirrels, raccoons, deer, snakes, and other wildlife? Would I walk in my office and think I should have gone to college and done something better with my career? I could have been a doctor, a lawyer, a politician, an activist, a world-changer, but instead I chose to live a small, insignificant life in an office in the woods. What if I strolled through camp, serenaded by the singing birds, wooed by the sound of the river flowing, comforted by the warm sun on my shoulders and blue skies overhead? If I walked in my office, finding solace in my framed certificates and memory board? If I felt the adoration of my children on the “Mom Wall of Fame” housing nine seasons of love notes?

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We all know our own flaws. It’s been said that we are our own worst critics and that’s probably true. I want you to ask yourself, “If I was meeting me for the first time, would I judge myself so harshly?” Would I even notice the chicken pox scar on my forehead or that stupid pimple on my nose? Probably not. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Embrace your gray hairs – they highlight your wisdom. Embrace the lines on your face – they show you have lived your life. Embrace your curves – for you are well nourished. Embrace your scars and stretchmarks – they prove that you a fierce warrior. In fact, you are a mother fucking bad ass who has possibly made some bad decisions, but decidedly made mostly right ones. Maybe you think didn’t change the world, but to your children you did. Maybe your home isn’t your dream house, but dammit, it’s yours and you worked hard for it. You didn’t grow up to be mayor of the town you love? You did grow up to become something and you work your ass off at it to support your family.
Be proud!

Mom Wall of Fame
Mom Wall of Fame
Posted in Family, Home, Music, Personal, Relationships, Work

Confession Bear Time

**I do understand that the Confession Bear meme is meant to be anonymous, so at the time of my writing this, I have yet to decide if I will publish this privately or publicly, but after all this time, I am ready to bear *ahem* I mean, bare my soul.**

It was 1988, I was 13 and my sister was 15. She worked at Physical Whimsical in Sharpstown Center Mall in southwest Houston, Texas. I admit, I was jealous. (But that is not what I am confessing.) It seemed like the coolest job ever at the time and I remember thinking that when I grew up, I would have a fun job, too. (Here I am, working on the Guadalupe River at Camp Huaco Springs in New Braunfels, now in my 7th season and I love every single day of it… so yeah, that worked out the way I planned. Sure, I thought I would be world famous actress, but this is a pretty good gig, too.)

Physical Whimsical
Physical Whimsical

Let me just say, my sister was (and still is!) beautiful. She was friendly, popular, thin, had great (80’s) hair, and was loved by everyone. I was, well… I was kinda weird. I idolized her. On top of which, she was (and still is!) my very best friend. So, along with everything else, she had a cool job and was getting paid to do it.

My sis Kat with my Dad in her Physical Whimsical work shirt.
My sis Kat with my Dad in her Physical Whimsical work shirt.

….And now, the confession….

Kat had just gotten paid, got home from work, went to the bathroom, then went to her room to change out of her bright blue “Phys Whiz” polo shirt. That’s when I walked in the bathroom and noticed her horrible blue and tan paisley wallet just sitting there on the counter. (I’m sorry Kat, it’s true. That wallet was so ugly.) What can I say? I was 13. I couldn’t resist. I peeked in her wallet and saw what seemed like a stack of brand new crisp $20 dollar bills. I knew it was wrong, especially to do that to my sister, but I took a $20 and stuffed it in the pocket of my overly baggy jeans. If she ever noticed she was missing it, she never let on to me.

That cash was burning a hole in my pocket and I was dying to spend it. I got my mom to drop me off at the mall. Before exiting the car, she handed me the usual $20 bill. Now I had $40 and a guilty conscience. I met up with my girlfriends, grabbed a slice of  Sbarro pizza, had a scoop of peanut butter ‘n chocolate ice cream from Baskin Robbins, and headed to the promised land in the mall – the record store. Now that was a place I could see myself happily working for the rest of my life, or at least until I got my big break and ended up on the big screen.

After probably hours of wandering around the store, I made my final selections, went to the checkout, spent the rest of my (stolen) money and from that point on…
my life was changed forever.
I walked out with the ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ album from the Cure, the ‘Music For the Masses’ album from Depeche Mode, and the ‘Something So Strong’ single from Crowded House. Up until then, the majority of my music collection was mainstream pop radio artists like Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, The Go-Go’s, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper. (All of whom I still listen to, btw.) But my first taste of “alternative” (God, I despise that label) music in the comfort of my room, on my record player, that I could play whenever I wanted, as often as I wanted and I was hooked for life. (Yes, I know many songs from those albums were radio-played, but they weren’t “pop” in the 80’s sense of pop music.

Thus began my love affair.

So, I owe more than an apology to my sister. I owe her a thank you for unwittingly providing me with the opportunity (and the cash) to explore my musical tastes and listen to what was considered outside the norm. I’ve carried the guilt of this theft for 25 years. I want to tell my sister I’m sorry. I know her, she will forgive without thinking. I can imagine her laughing at the situation so hard she will probably snort. But that is the beauty of her, she wouldn’t have held it against me back then and certainly wouldn’t today. In fact, if I had just asked her, she probably would’ve given me the twenty bucks. So, in the famous last words of Kurt Cobain, to my sister Kat, I say this…

“All Apologies.”Confession Bear

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Posted in Relationships, Work

Happy Admininstrative Professionals Day

No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others.  The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”
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I’m excited to start training my new hire today. Usually I am already fully staffed for the season with a least a couple returnees from last season. Not this year. I am having to start over from scratch. Sure, I have Kat helping me from time to time, but soon she will open the River Store for the season and I won’t have her at all. I also have my side-kick, Sandy Pants, but that is only every other Saturday so she can keep her float status.
I’ve been asking for applicants, especially from Scooter Store employees who had been furloughed then eventually permanently laid off. I’d like to offer those in need first priority. I even made the Texas Citizen! (Which was very cool, but if I’m going to get published, I’d prefer it be with better written work than a plea for office help.)

TXWith none of my girls returning this year, I’ve put thought in to where they have all gone. Some have graduated college and moved on to get “real jobs.” Some have gotten married, had children and moved away. I have a couple in Grad School. One has switched majors mid-schooling while another has gone on to become a fabulous hair stylist. I have one that has retired and sadly another has passed away. I’ve seen my girls grow throughout the years, gain confidence in themselves, get comfortable in their own skin, fall in love, get heart-broken and sometimes fall flat on their face. Most of us keep in touch regularly, even if it is just through Facebook. I watch them from afar, keeping an eye on them…
I’m a proud momma hen!

So today, Administrative Professionals Day, I want all of my past Office Goddesses to know that I am thankful to have had them in the office and in my life. Although they are no longer here on payroll, they are here in spirit and I see pieces of them each day. I’ll run across an envelope they’ve written on, find a note on a reservation, or see their name in the system. I miss each of them in a different and special way. I wish them the very best, not only today, but every day.
Mad love to all of you!

~Miss Liz

Posted in Personal, Work

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Having the name Elizabeth, I’ve been called every derivative of it my entire 38 years. People are too lazy to enunciate 4 syllables. I’ve introduced myself as Elizabeth only to be asked, “Oh, do you go by Liz? (Or Beth, Betsy, Lizzy, Liz, Lizbeth, etc)”
Um, no. I feel like if I went by something other than what I am introducing myself as, I would probably have just said that in the first place. But that is neither here nor there. I’ve gone by several in my lifetime and am usually happy to not get called something derogatory.

All of that being said, I don’t know if I am the one not properly pronouncing, if it’s my shitty phone reception at work, or if people just don’t listen, but this happened yesterday:

(Answering calls)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, this is Liz.”
Caller: “Hi Lou, I’d like to make a reservation…”
(Did I not verbalize that “z” correctly?)

(Let’s try a different tactic)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, this is Elizabeth.”
Caller: “Hi Melissa, I’d like to make a reservation…”
(Who the fuck is Melissa?)

(This will work for sure)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, this is Beth.”
Caller: “Hi Bess, I’d like to make a reservation…”
(Seriously?! The only Bess I know is at the River Road Ice House and that gal is awesome & a one of a kind. Is Bess REALLY that common?)

(Fuck this, who needs a name?)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, how may I help you?”
Caller: “Yes, who am I speaking with?”
(…fuckity, shit, shit, fuck and willy. Willy, shit and fuck and… tits.)
*suddenly, I’m a character from the ‘The King’s Speech’*

I’M THE GODDAMN RESERVATION FAIRY.
MY NAME IS UNIMPORTANT.

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