Friday, October 31, 2014

It's A Writer's Life For Me

It's not easy being a writer. When I tell people what I do for a living, their eyes light up with curiosity. They ask how many novels I've published or if MGM is going to buy the screen rights to my script. When I confess that none of this has happened yet, their interest quickly turns to leaky rain gutter solutions or the inflated price of ham hocks.

Fortunately, I have a family who understands the writing life. While they're mostly supportive of my efforts, there are times when my career interrupts the household harmony we've worked so hard to establish. They remember the organized woman with the color-coded calendars and an alphabetized spice rack. I was always the first mom in the school car loop and the first to volunteer for every committee conceivable.

I wrote when I could, filling notebooks with plot outlines, dialogue and character sketches drawn from an overzealous imagination. But over time, the notebooks ended up orphaned and unfinished under my bed, home to dust bunnies and wayward socks.

Once the kids graduated from school, my carpool and P.T.A. meeting days ended. I pulled out the dusty notebooks and woke my dormant muse.

I've been hooked ever since. Writing is my addiction. There's an adrenaline rush after each publication and I wake every day needing a new fix. My family understands this. If I miss an appointment or the mortgage payment, it's because my mind is engaged in a new plot twist.

My husband remembers a house that was once tidy and clean, even when we had several toddlers at home. Nowadays I forget that there are crusty dishes the height of Mount Rushmore in the sink, an overloaded trash can that smells like a skunk convention and dirty clothes multiplying like rabbits in the laundry room.

There are also days when I forget to shower and shave, and my husband mistakes me for a winter sasquatch. I hole up in my office and live on granola bars until someone offers to cook me a wholesome meal that doesn't include oats, nuts and twigs.

Lack of sleep is another issue I deal with as a writer. Between bouts of insomnia and a hyperactive muse, I've become a nocturnal creature, related to the animals who think clearest at night. If I'm struck with writer's block, or worse, rejection, the family suffers right alongside me. I become as moody as a prepubescent teen and have been known to shovel donuts in my mouth to stimulate my lackluster imagination.

Despite a few dry spells, I never lose faith that inspiration will return and crank up the sluggish gears in my brain to feed the creative spirit.

Once I write the final sentence and hit the “post” button, the adrenaline rush starts again. A fresh page and a world of possibilities await my imagination.


     This is the life of a writer, and I wouldn't trade it for all the donuts and clean laundry in the world.




***Want more Meno Mama? This week you can find me discussing what really bugs me (and several other bloggers!) on Sisterwives Speak:  http://sisterwivesspeak.com/2014/10/28/whats-bugging-you-she-said/  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wacky Wednesday Writers Guest Post By: Housewife Plus

     My charming guest today on Wacky Wednesday Writers is a humor writer I met through some blogging groups on Facebook. Please welcome Sarah Cottrell from Housewife Plus! She was kind enough to feature me on her site a few months ago (you can read it here) and is now doing me the honor of sharing a slice of her comedy with you, dear readers. Sarah writes a popular parenting blog at the Bangor Daily News that features funny posts, parenting tips and plenty of entertaining guest writers. I love her sense of humor and the enthusiasm that shows in her writing. Her post today is HILARIOUS and oh-so-true! Please welcome this talented blogger to my site with lots of comment love!



DEAR MOM, YOU WERE RIGHT




Dear Mom,

I remember clearly the day I sassed you so hard that you looked me square in the eye and said, “I hope you have a child exactly like you someday.” I laughed and shrugged it off. It made no sense. Didn’t you mean that you wanted to ground me for eternity? Or didn’t you mean that you wanted to take away my MTV?

It took nearly 20 years before the zing of that admission rang some truth. And holy shit, Mom…why would you curse me like that!?

It is a hard pill to swallow but I must admit that you were right.

You were right that it is possible to simultaneously love and dislike your own child in a single moment of time.

You were right that scraped knees and banged up elbows are sometimes harder for the Mom than for the kid to deal with.

You were right that there is nothing hiding under the bed. I know. I just checked.

You were right that no matter what, kids would always behave better for damn near anyone other than Mom.

You were right that I would never sleep a full night sleep again. Not because the children keep me up but because my brain can’t quit.

You were right that I would still sneak into my son’s room and stare at his chest to make sure he is breathing. Even at five years old.

You were right that kids shouldn’t eat candy after 3pm. Ever.

You were right that kids would change marriage in profoundly difficult ways.

You were right that my teenage brat pack friends, Tiffany, Ashley, and Jessica would turn out to be bitches. And I will probably warn my sons about problematic friendships too.

You were right that Mom pants are goddamn comfortable.

You were right that nothing brings out aggressive, over protective, don’t-fuck-with-me reactions like rushing a sick or injured child to the hospital.

You were right that 7:00 pm is not too early to want to go to bed.

You were right that vegetables wouldn’t kill me.

You were right that spills can be cleaned, hair grows back, heartache heals, but tattoos are forever.

You were right that inner beauty is more important than outwardly appearance. But damn those Doc Martens were cool.

You were right that days would never end while the years would slip by.

You were right that a station wagon is not the death of freedom.

You were right that motherhood is the easiest/hardest over/underrated job there is.

You were right that I would someday realize that although I try my best I have no idea what I am doing.

You were right that there is no greater love than that between a parent and a child. Even though there was a time when I was sure I would die for a certain rock star or author. But nope. Doesn’t even compare!

Now before I get all crazy with emotional tender hearted stuff here let me point out that there was a whole lot of shit you were totally wrong about (TV did not rot my brain!) But you did a pretty damn good job. And while I will never admit this out loud, I do steal mom tips from your playbook all of the time.

Love,
Now I Know It All




BIO:


Sarah Cottrell is a stay-at-home-mom in rural Maine. In 2012 she earned her MFA and immediately shoved it in the back of a closet where appliances go to die. She is the author of Housewife Plus, a popular parenting blog at the Bangor Daily News. Sarah’s work has been published on BlogHer, In The Powder Room, Mamapedia, Mamalode Magazine website and she is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy and Huffington Post. You can follow the fun on Facebook http://facebook.com/housewifeplus and Twitterhttp://twitter.com/housewife_plus

Friday, October 24, 2014

Twelve Ways To Kick Depression's Butt

I hate depression. The last thing I want to do is spend a day curled up in the fetal position  in my closet or hibernating under my bedcovers until the next lunar eclipse. I would much rather spend my time socializing at an Origami Owl convention or attending a class on fifty ways to repurpose dental floss. 

I've always suffered from depression, but a few years ago when menopause was added to the mix, it hit like a one-two punch. Depression has been like a donkey kick to my head, and each day is a struggle to find a happy balance. Short of eating my weight in candy corn and MoonPies, I've discovered twelve ways to kick depression's butt:

    

1.  Surround yourself with pets. They will love you unconditionally and never ask you for a new cell phone or an increase in their allowance.

2.  Listen to the drug-induced music of the 60-70's. Many of the songs from this era include tambourines, harmonicas and lyrics such as, "Sha-la-la-la…..feelin' groovy…" If you listen to this music long enough, pretty soon you'll be playing recorder solos better than Zamfir.

3.  Get plenty of exercise. It boosts metabolism and confidence. Take a Zumba class to shake the junk in your trunk and twerk like a pro. Don't worry if your backside looks like a butt tsunami. Ride that wave with a grin on your face.

4.  Eat chocolate. It has been proven that cacao stimulates the release of endorphins that boost the mood. Just don't mistake cacao with caca.

5.  Go for a drive along a scenic road. It doesn't matter if you're driving an outdated minivan with duct tape holding up the windshield or a transmission that acts like a bucking bronco. Be grateful that it still has air conditioning and a gas pedal.

6. Attend a sporting event, even if you hate sports. Soak up the excitement and the adrenaline of the crowd to lift your spirits. A few beers and a large bucket of chicken wings are exactly what the doctor ordered.

7.  Travel the world. Or at least cross the county line for a change of scenery. Add a little excitement to your life during your travels by canoeing in alligator infested waters. Toss your raft out into the ocean along with a bucket of chum. You'll forget how depressed you are when the sharks start circling your raft…especially once you discover it has a slow leak.

8.  Surround yourself with funny people.  Find your tribe among the jokesters and pranksters. If you're a female, be sure to carry Poise pads in your purse for those uncontrollable moments of intense laughter. 

9. Get back to nature. There is nothing more calming than sitting in a beautiful park with a granola bar and watching squirrels play with their nuts.

10. Change the decor of your home. Spend hours on Pinterest for ideas until your brain is fried and you end up covering your entire home in cheerful, Hello Kitty wallpaper.

11.  Act silly. Spend an entire day talking like Pee Wee Herman until your voice becomes hoarse and your family is ready to throttle you.

12. Learn to appreciate the little things in life and be grateful for what you have. I'm fortunate that I married a man with a great sense of humor and a deep appreciation for all that he has been given. He grew up with a mother who served her eight children cow's tongue smothered in ketchup that she tried to pass off as "Mom's special meatloaf." After one bite, my husband quickly learned to appreciate the basket of stale rolls that could have doubled as hockey pucks. 

Every day is a new challenge, but I'm ready to face whatever lemons life throws at me….as long as I have a blender, vodka and an endless supply of used dental floss to knit into Christmas sweaters. 



***Want More Meno Mama? This week you can find me on The Huffington Post where I'm sharing a comical shopping experience. Read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcia-kester-doyle-/one-size-fits-none_b_6017560.html





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wacky Wednesday Writer Guest Post By: Empty House Full Mind

I'm so excited to introduce you to my new WWW guest! Today I'm featuring Sharon Greenthal of Empty House Full Mind. It's such a treat to have this mega talented woman on my site! I met her through an online blogging group and shortly after, she invited me to join a friendly Facebook group known as The Women of Midlife. Sharon and her friend Anne Parris created the group, as well as the successful, online magazine Midlife Boulevard. They've built a close knit, online community of midlife women who share their writing, friendship, advice and tips on rediscovering life after the children leave the nest.

I love Sharon's blog---her writing is superb and the topics she shares resonate with me. We're close in age, we've been married to our spouses almost the same amount of time and we both have adult children. Her experiences echo my own in many ways, and I hope more than anything that I'll get to meet Sharon one day. She has always been so kind and supportive of Menopausal Mother by sharing links and featuring my posts on Midlife Boulevard. I'm very appreciative of all that she has done and it is truly an honor to be able to call this lovely, talented woman my friend. Please welcome Sharon to Meno Mama's site today with lots of love and shares! Thanks!



"What Not to Wear"---the Husband Edition



Being empty-nesters, there’s often a lot of free time on the weekends. Sometimes my husband and I get a little lazy about doing anything that involves more than walking the dog, reading the paper or changing the channel, but every so often one of us will feel inspired to want to do something a little more interesting than walking the aisles at Costco/Ralphs/Target. This past weekend it was my husband who decided to suggest something a little different.
“Let’s go to Fashion Island,” he said.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, Fashion Island is a lovely outdoor shopping area in Newport Beach, California with stores like Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and more. It’s a dog-friendly place, where four-legged friends are welcome in all the stores. It’s a great place to wander around on a Saturday, and I thought it was especially generous of my husband to think of it, as he’s not a big fan of shopping in general or with me in particular. Of course I agreed, but there was one small problem.
“Are you going to wear that?” I asked him.
My darling husband looked a little indignant at my question, but let me assure you, it needed to be asked. My husband is a pretty good-looking guy who still has all his hair (at times an irritant to many of our more shiny-domed friends), and most of the time he’s quite well dressed. However on this particular morning, he was wearing the following: a pair of white shorts (remember, it’s February), a black shirt, and a blue University of Arizona sweatshirt (go Wildcats!). On his feet were the ubiquitous running shoes, footwear choice of middle-aged men everywhere. Now, if we were just running errands and grabbing a bite to eat, I wouldn’t care. At all. But I looked pretty well put-together, and I thought my husband might want to, also.
After a few huffs and puffs, he went to change. And here is what he put on: Same white shorts, same black shirt, but now he had traded the sweatshirt for his favorite sweater: grey wool, high collared and sort of schlumpy –  it makes me itch just to look at it. If we lived in his native Wisconsin, it would have been perfect (minus the white shorts), but we live in sunny Southern California, so…
I couldn’t help myself, and told him to change again. And of course he was insulted – who could blame him? But I asked him:
“Would you want me to go out with you in my sweats and running shoes?”
This time, at his irritated insistence,  I went with him to his closet to help him pick out his outfit.
My husband has a fairly extensive collection of cashmere sweaters. His mother has given him one for Christmas pretty much every year since we’ve been married. So of course that’s what I suggested. And though I wasn’t thrilled with the dad jeans he put on, I let that go – and the running shoes, too. He had made an effort, and I really, really appreciated it.
As we headed out the door, I looked over at my handsome, well-dressed husband and said, “Let’s just go to Costco and then get some lunch. You hate shopping.”
Needless to say, he was the best dressed guy at Costco that day.


BIO:

Sharon Greenthal blogs at Empty House Full Mind, and is a managing partner at Midlife Boulevard, the online magazine for midlife women. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, Purple Clover and Scary Mommy. She has a daughter, 24 and a son, 22. Sharon lives in Los Alamitos, CA with her husband and their perfect dog, Lambeau.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fly On The Wall In Party Town

Welcome to another group posting of Fly On The Wall! Thirteen brave bloggers are once again inviting you into their homes for a sneak peek at what goes on behind their closed doors.

This month the fly got dizzy trying to keep up with the Doyles. We've been celebrating lots of family  birthdays in October and having a wee bit too much fun. I'm enjoying a mini stay-at-home vacation while my editor finishes tackling my Spandex book. We're in the home stretch and things are about to get REAL. Did I mention that I'm scared to death? No worries---it's all good. Next month I'll be sharing some exciting news, so stay tuned, my friends.

In the meantime, I have some snippets of conversations that were heard by that nosey fly when he was buzzing around my house. Here is some of what he overheard:



"Zip Lining gives you the world's worst wedgie."

"I think there should be an Octoberfest every month. Novemberfest, Decemberfest, Januaryfest…."


"Whenever I take my laptop outside, I can't Wi-Fi.  All I get is the spinning wheel of death on my screen."

"You need to do something about that loose toenail. It looks like a tortilla chip on your foot."

"I hate dieting. My stomach is so hungry, it's eating itself."

"Who left that nasty turd bomb in the toilet bowl?"

"Pretending I'm a pleasant person all day is exhausting."

"If it walks out of the refrigerator, it's well past its expiration date."

"If God wanted me to touch my toes, He would have put them on my knee caps."

"You know that saying, 'When the shit hits the fan'? Why would anyone want to throw poop at a fan?"

"Of course, the garden looks great…..I'm the plant whisperer, after all."

"Note to self: Just because the zumba teacher is twerking in class does not mean that I have to. My back will never be the same."

"Stop rubbing my leg with your wolverine toes."

"This house runs on love, laughter and chilled bottles of wine."




***Want More Meno Mama? This week I was featured on Midlife Boulevard where I'm talking about the "vulture years."  You can read it here: http://midlifeboulevard.com/embrace-vulture-years/ I also have a post up this week at Humor Outcasts---more funny facts about being a mid lifer years. Get your chuckles here: http://humoroutcasts.com/2014/born-this-way



Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:


http://www.BakingInATornado.com                          Baking In A Tornado
http://www.therowdybaker.com                                  The Rowdy Baker
http://www.justalittlenutty.com/                                Just A Little Nutty
http://themomisodes.com                                          The Momisodes
http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/                          Spatulas on Parade
http://thesadderbutwisergirl.com                                   The Sadder But Wiser Girl
http://followmehome.shellybean.com                          Follow me home
 http://stacysewsandschools.blogspot.com/                 Stacy Sews and Schools
http://www.menopausalmom.com/                          Menopausal Mother
http://batteredhope.blogspot.com                             Battered Hope
http://dinoheromommy.com/                         Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com                 Someone Else’s Genius
http://www.crumpetsandbollocks.com               Crumpets and Bollocks

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wacky Wednesday Writer Guest Post by: Dim Sum and Doughnuts

     My new WWW guest today is Robyn Coden of Dim Sum and Doughnuts! Robyn's humorous blog focuses on her funny family life with a husband and two daughters at their summer camp in Northern Michigan.  What I love about her blog is that each post is written in a straight forward manner. Robyn isn't afraid to tell it like it is. When I read her blog, I feel like I'm right there with her---two friends meeting for coffee and chatting about our crazy, busy lives.

     While many of Robyn's blogs are on the humorous side, she has also tackled some controversial topics and written several posts that tug at the heart strings. I like that she hosts "Mailbag Mondays" with answers to questions that are sent in and opened for discussion on her blog. Very cool idea. I admire the versatility of her writing and I think you will, too. Please welcome Robyn to Meno Mama's site today with lots of comment love!


"WHAT A DRAG IT IS GETTING OLD"



When I decided to do a guest post for Menopausal Mom back in July, Marcia said her first available slot would be October 15th. I thought to myself: “October?? That’s in 3 months! I’m ready now!” But then, maybe to make me feel better, she informed me that October 15th is not only my guest post day, but also her birthday.
I didn’t get Marcia a card, but if I did, this is what it would say:

Dear Marcia,

I’m super happy that you’re able to get a whole blog out of the menopause thing because from where I’m standing, so far it pretty much SUCKS.
Happy Birthday!!!

Ever since the day Marcia gave me my date, new and BAD things have been happening to my body. The changes are not life threatening, and they’re probably normal, but I wasn’t ready for them and they’re getting harder and harder to ignore. And it’s not just me. My friends are starting to complain that they, too, are going through the same things, and they insist it’s “Pre-Menopause.”

Here are some things about “Pre-Menopause” that I’m not loving so far:

The front runners, of course, are the slowing metabolism, the grey hair, the irregular periods, the sprouting of facial lines and wrinkles, and the aching joints. Then there's the HUGE and painful cystic zit that only shows up right before something important (and always in the same place), the waking up in the middle of the night, tossing and turning for at least 2 hours... and the embarrassingly elaborate routine that I must go through every morning in order to “make a poopie!”

Some of those things started in my late 30’s (now it’s just about damage control), but new stuff keeps coming! Here are some of the things I’ve noticed since I got into my 40‘s:

1. My eyebrows are thinning. It seems every magazine I read lately says something about how too-thin eyebrows make you look older. I, admittedly, was obsessed with plucking for many years, so my brow thinness is most likely my fault. I used to check my brows every day and if there was even one out of place, it was OUT.

I am now in “Plucking Recovery” (it’s been 3 weeks since my last pluck) and I’m kicking myself for all the damage I did. I wish I'd put the tweezers down awhile ago because at this point (and this age), they’re not filling in so fast, if ever.

2. I wake up sweating my ass off. Some mornings I wake up and my hair is all wet, matted and curly. I don’t even have curly hair! It’s crazy. During the summer, I was blaming it on the heat and yes, since the weather has gotten cooler, it hasn’t been happening as often. But a friend of mine told me the other day that it happens to her, so I have to wonder: Was it the summer heat or is my body starting to go through something? Is this a “THING” now? Please, no.

3. I’m always tired. In fact, a few weeks ago, I went to see an Endocrynologist (a hormone doctor) about it. I had never even heard of an Endocrynologist! I don‘t even know how to spell “Endocrynologist!” But I went, and while I was getting blood taken, I was telling the blood-taker lady that I have been so tired lately--- that it’s probably because I’m in my 40’s and I have little kids. She got all up in my face telling me that I’m probably perimenopausal. (I had never heard thatword before either, and I remember being annoyed when she used it because it sounded like she was trying to be fancy.)

She said, “You’re having night sweats? You need to get a fan, immediately!” I was right there with her, vehemently nodding my head because YES, she was so right!! I did need to get a fan!! But she wasn’t done. She went on to tell me that I should also get ready for unexplainable, emotional outbursts---that even though I’m a sugar addict, I shouldn’t eat ANY more sugar EVER because it only ignites the hormones. As if that wasn’t enough (it was), she told me that when I eventually DO go through actual menopause, I shouldn’t even CONSIDER hormone replacements because it can cause cancer…..her friend got cancer and I will get cancer. I thought, How in the hell did “Get a fan!” segue into“Don’t get hormone replacements because you will get cancer!!”

ARGH!!! Let me go, blood-taker!!

The thing is, even though many of the changes that come with age are rough, it’s not all bad. As I have gotten older, I have found that when some things get worse, other things get better. I no longer get bothered by things that would have, once upon a time, consumed me---and many, many things I used to care about are no longer a concern. There is something very “freeing” about that. I do believe that comes with age and I’m grateful for it.

It’s truly all about the balance, and on this day, Marcia Kester Doyle, your birthday, you should be recognized and acknowledged for finding that balance and sharing it with others. Getting older is hard on all of us, but you make it little less daunting and a lot more fun.

Happy, Happy Birthday!!

XOXO Robyn




BIO
Robyn Coden is a blogger, cake-eater and mistake-maker. Robyn is the author of Dim Sum and Doughnuts, a blog dedicated to her two young daughters. Dim Sum and Doughnuts focuses on parenting, growing up and Robyn’s life with her husband and children at their summer camp in Northern Michigan. You never know what you’re going to get with Robyn—sometimes controversial, sometimes comedic, but always a voice that’s powerfully honest and entertaining. She’s the real deal. Check her out and see for yourself.www.dimsumanddoughnuts.com


Friday, October 10, 2014

Six Good Things About Raising Teenage Girls

As the mother of two daughters who are only two years apart, I've witnessed my share of teenage drama. While raising boys makes a mother's hair turn gray, daughters make us bald. Raising girls requires a few essential ingredients which I fondly refer to as The Three S's: Sensitivity, Security, and Shotgun Shells. You'll have to make certain sacrifices during this time period, like holding your bladder while your daughter and her besties confiscate the bathroom to take duck face selfies to post on Instagram. You'll need to take advantage of the latest sale on aspirin after listening to Bieber beats all day and One Direction (which will surely make you want to scream and run in the opposite direction).

If your daughters are prepubescent, here are six things you can look forward to as they greet the teen years:

1. You'll save money buying feminine hygiene products in bulk every twenty-eight days. Mothers and daughters often share the same menstruation time during their monthly cycles. This allows the father a free pass on alcohol consumption and spontaneous man cave time. He'll need it after dealing with a bathroom that resembles a hog slaughtering plant or Custer's Last Stand in the trash can. 

2. You'll have a free fashion consultant around the clock at your disposal. Teenage girls will convince you to ditch that sky blue eye shadow you've been wearing since the eighth grade and the eau de mothball parfum grandma gave you last Christmas. Your daughters will also trick you into spending your entire tax return on a new wardrobe which you will never see because they'll “borrow” every bit of it, down to your favorite pair of Jimmy Choos.

3. Forget spending extra money on cable channels featuring reality TV programs. You'll have your own live dramas similar to the cattiness of The Bachelor appearing nightly in your living room. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the show.

4. Teenage daughters will teach you how to twerk and drop it low with women half your age. You'll discover muscles you never knew existed, but keep a bottle of ibuprofen on the nightstand if you expect to get out of bed in the morning.

5. You'll learn to lock and load when the first boy comes calling.

6. As a child, your daughter will clomp around the house in your high-heeled shoes and pretend to be you. As an adult, she'll fill those shoes and become the woman you’re proud to call your best friend. 



Word of advice: Hide the Jimmy Choos and save the sky blue eye shadow for your granddaughters. You never know when shoulder pads and parachute pants might come back into fashion. 



***This week I was featured on The Sisterwives. One of my first serious posts on loss and grief. You can read it here: http://sisterwivesspeak.com/2014/10/06/the-box/

*This post "Six Good Things About Raising Teenage Girls" originally appeared on In The Powder Room 2013*
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