Have You Created Something? Great! Now Here’s Your Dilemma

Have You Created Something? Great! Now Here's Your Dilemma

The world is big and wide and open to many things. There are millions of people on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr all eager for news. So there is no reason to think that social networks won’t be thrilled to hear about my new business, your new art expo, or whatever it is we have just created—right? Maybe. Among writers and inventors and people who create things and want to sell them, worries arise. It’s a dilemma. How to sell my product.

Some folks will blast out emails to everyone and anyone. Others will hang back, read articles about how to sell, when to sell, how often is too often to tweet, post on Facebook etc etc.

In the book world, there are countless blogs that offer advice and strong opinions about every aspect of book marketing. It can make your head spin. But after reading all that advice, in the world of book writing, publishing and marketing the bottom line is–the writer has to be out there. Competition is tough. And whether you publish with the Big Five or go with a small publisher or self-publish—if you want people to read your work, being out there is a given. The word launch has taken on a whole new meaning and it doesn’t necessarily include dock shoes and a bottle of champagne.

Question: So what’s a writer or other creative person to do?

Answer: Adopt a philosophy or approach and run with it.

Problem: There are lots of approaches out there.

Solution: Combine them.

And that solution takes time, careful thought and planning. It’s a little like preparing for a party—you make certain that each individual guest will feel comfortable when they arrive, thus guaranteeing that they will stay for the duration; think, buy your book, support your business, attend your art show.

When I launched my first book, four generous fellow bloggers printed guest posts about it. And I was honored by organizations that focus on writing and publishing. I tweeted and posted on Facebook. I created a Pinterest Board that illustrated and provided a quote from each of the 13 stories in the book—creative fun, but time consuming. And I’ll never know if it caused even one sale.

But the activity that took the most time and yet had interesting and questionable results were the 75-100 personal emails that I wrote. These were not copy and paste, these were emails that addressed the receiver’s personal life and then mentioned the advent of the book. I got a 75% response from the email itself. Book sales? Very few. And who is in your email? Why family and friends.

So when author and friend Kathryn Craft (The Art of Falling, The Far Side of Happy) addressed this issue, her words rang true.

…I’ve heard this over sharing argument before, and always from writer moms with young kids, so I want to share my perspective as an empty nester. I am stealing the spotlight from no one when sharing my excitement about something good happening in my life—and since my life is more and more writing related these days, that something will probably be about writing and its related activities. And if I share these things on my personal page, I expect that 1) my large cache of writing friends will be thrilled, knowing what it must mean to me; 2) my non-writing friends will gain a fascinating look into the trials and joys of being a writer, trusting that once the launch is over their feeds will calm; and 3) disinterested family members can scroll past, thinking, “Oh there’s Kathryn doing her Kathryn thing again.”

For me, her words translated to, Oh there’s Beth doing her Beth thing again.

Kathryn’s work like that of many writers, pulls from deep personal experience and it is thought-provoking that she could take the suicide of a family member and from that wrenching experience create an incredible novel. Fiction mirrors life, but it takes not only talent, but guts to do so. So when Kathryn also states: If you are sharing to spread excitement that you can no longer contain in your heart, I say the world needs more evidence of such passion. If you are persisting despite the odds, I say the world needs more examples of such drive… I want to jump up and clap and cheer!

There are more of you out there!! Like me and Kathryn you are writers or artists, creators of a new product or starters of a new business. You might also be mothers, empty nesters, part of the 3rd stage that offers challenge yet excitement. So whatever we create–wow, that’s giving birth again, that’s passionate creation from a whole other side of ourselves and our talents. And we have to celebrate it—shout it out. And there are editors and publishers, publicists and agents who would agree. Kathryn also shared this reflection with me:

Agent Cherry Weiner once told us at a panel, “Don’t you dare leave this conference and write to me to say you heard me speak and think I might like your book. If you can’t come up to me and tell me face-to-face how much you love what you’ve written, you don’t have what it takes to sell a book.”

That changed my life. For me it was no longer about selling, which is so off-putting. It was about spreading the love.

I believe these words truly answer the question: so what’s a creative person to do? Love your work, believe in your work, mention it, talk about it, send people copies of it or invitations to see it. Easy right?

Not always. For example, writers love to sit at computers alone and write, dream things up, create problems and solve them, make up nasty conversation and end it. We are in control, running things. As the mission statement on my mug from Women’s Fiction Writers Association reads: DRINK COFFE. MAKE THINGS UP. What a life!!

Being out there on the net can be scary even if you love your work. Because there are thousands on social media telling you when, how and why you should do this or that when all you want to do is let people know it’s been born so that you can go back to your creative room and create some more. For me it’s writing. For me THAT would be Beth doing her Beth thing.

When you’re giving birth to books or some other amazing creation, it is another variation on motherhood: you carefully and tenderly make some choices, then struggle to give birth, and after your product’s arrival you finally realize–hey it’s time to share the love!  No dilemma in that.

Thanks for reading. A post similar to this was originally published on the Huffington Post under the title: When Giving Birth to Books, The Boomer/Mother Experience

My book???  A Mother’s Time Capsule   www.elizabethahavey.com

My Books

A Mother’s Time Capsule
Stories of motherhood.

WINDOWS–One Mother’s View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Dear Boomer Highway Readers. Happy Summer, a great time to kick back on the porch or patio with a glass of lemonade or something with more of a jolt AND READ A BOOK. It’s truly a summer necessity. In a future post I will be sharing some of my favorite reads for summer 2015–and I better get started before the summer is over.

In the meantime, here is one of the stories from my collection of short fiction A Mother’s Time Capsule which was published in May. This is the absolute shortest one, and if you like it, I’ll share more. Comments and questions? Greatly appreciated. So whether you have a rainy summer day, or a hot mid-afternoon break or even a porch lit with soft lighting on an evening when the fire flies are chasing the sky–please enjoy.

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Windows

Kate is on the ladder. She’s got a roll of paper towel tucked under her arm. She’s permeating the film of old winter dirt with a thick spray of Windex and then wiping across and down in a definite pattern. She’s slipping into something familiar, the hot sun on her arms, the jiggling of the ladder, the tops of the evergreens brushing her bare legs as she leans over to swipe at a corner. Her position on the ladder allows her an abnormal height as she looks down into her daughter’s bedroom through the now clean pane.

She pauses to take in all that is there, thinking that maybe it’s her position, her being able to see the room from a totally different angle that makes the looking so interesting. She’s a voyeur seeing the rug running a different way, seeing the bed from the headboard down instead of the usual footboard up. And there are other things leaping into her vision.

On the bed, three books, a stack of notebook paper sliding into an arc over the side and a pile of rumpled clothing. Kate presses her face to the coolness of the glass. Brinn’s underwear rolled up, piled and scrunched and then on the floor, almost kicked under her bed but not quite, a box of Kotex. Kate pulls a clean towel from the roll. She gives the top pane another squirt and works her hand in a circle. They’ve talked about keeping these things rather secret, not secretive-scary, but reasonable.

Jody is only five and doesn’t need to be asking a lot of questions. Brinn could learn to put her private things away. But then it is all new to her. She’s had one period and Kate guesses today is the start of another, though Brinn seemed her usual crabby self, the one that can’t find time to pack a school bag, dress and eat breakfast before the bus. Kate looks back into the room as if to find another explanation. There is only one. Brinn doesn’t have her period again, the box simply got kicked out from under the bed.

Kate starts down the ladder, but something else moves forward in her mind, something she feels more than thinks, like a shiver to signal that she’s about to topple from the ladder—Brinn has her period and doesn’t need to mention it to Kate—ever again.

On the ground she lifts the light aluminum ladder and moves it down the side of the house. She’s almost done. She wipes her forehead and sighs, because it feels good, because that’s been a response to a lot of what she’s heard lately. And yet the sighs are often pleasurable.

Her mother: I’ve become a modern thinker. Well maybe not modern, but I think you do entirely too much for that man and always have. I think it’s time you stop it.

Hot sunshine on Kate’s arms, the contentment of staring at a clean window, the pull of the wind at her back, the caress of air on a sweaty forehead—yes, getting things done. She backs away and looks at the house, sees so much about it that is hers—the newly painted red door, the dug-out flowerbed around the tree.

Entirely too much for that man.

She wants to laugh aloud. Her mother doesn’t even watch soap operas, that she knows of, but the line is so perfect.

She climbs the ladder to do one more window. She is careful holding the sides, but distracted by the bird in a bush beyond that sings a song, wee-who, wee-who, like one note up, one note down, like the squeak of an old porch swing—the bird on the swing.

Other women have time to shop, I mean shop for parties they’ll attend—or they meet for lunch or play cards. Other women–” 

“God, I don’t want to play cards. Spare me that.”

Her mother was smoking a cigarette, the ashtray on the floor near her feet “so the smoke won’t bother anyone.” She’d just had her hair done, and though Kate is never really sure what that means, it looks okay, always the same. Her mother seems pleased.

“He’s been out of town, right?”

“Mother, my husband’s name is Ted and yes there was a business trip this week.”

“Well—when is it your turn?”

Kate has trouble adjusting the ladder for this last window. The ground is uneven and the ladder wobbles and there’s no one around to hold it for her. She could wait until Brinn is home, but she has to pick up Jody from Kindergarten soon and it would be great to finish.

She climbs, inching her way up. This is Jody’s bedroom window, the rumpled bed inside, stuffed animals everywhere. There’s never enough time.

And your children should do more. Delegate. I learned that from your father, God bless him. You don’t know how to delegate. Believe me, I’d never do some of the things you do.

She balances carefully, works at each corner where a thick layer of grime has settled. Kate on the ladder, sunshine on Kate. She’s good at pushing away things her mother says. Of course she had better not fall, her mother would explode in front of Ted. And then Kate gasps, the roll of paper towel slipping out of her grasp and falling. She holds on tightly. She’s at least a story and a half up. Her mother would have to nurse her, watch the children—she’d get to hear about the fall every five minutes.

She finishes by turning the soaked towel over and over until the window is clean enough. The bird is still in his swing. She starts down.

You have to say the right things to your mother, be tactful, but point things out to her. Then she’ll see that you’re not my slave. Ted’s take on equality—they discussed what he does, what she does. Think about the life your mother led when she was raising you. She didn’t do her nails and shop with friends. She worked like a Trojan. I’ve heard some of those stories.

Kate drops the Windex to the ground, grips the ladder, walks carefully to the shed to put it away. She worked like a Trojan.

And the story of stories comes circling back: “When you were just a little girl, I got locked out of the house once. I was hanging the washing and the door blew shut and I was locked out. You were asleep in the upstairs bedroom and the windows were open to the breeze, so I pulled a ladder from the garage and climbed it high onto the front of the house. I prodded you with a broomstick to wake you up. I knew you were old enough to go down and open the front door for me. I was just frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.”

So how was it really, that day. She hanging laundry. Working like a Trojan. Was she panicked thinking that Kate’s father would be angry, locking herself out of the house, leaving the child alone? And what was she wearing, going up the ladder—a long-skirted dress, or maybe shorts and a blouse. Or was she in high heels, her hair done, smoking a cigarette, her perfect nails clicking on the metal of the ladder. Or was there an apron, the cling of soft fabric that is warm and scented like nothing but spring air. Or a worn apron with food stains, her feet bare, the wind tossing her about, sun on her arms, drafts catching her precariously.

Was she agile, was the ladder shaking as she hurried up it? In the room—a child napping and how old, four or five, tossing in nap-sleep, drooling on the pillow. A hot day and her mother leans over to the open window and calls softly Kate, Kate and then prods her child gently with the end of a broom. And the edge of Kate’s dream becomes a stick, becomes poking and the voice outside an upstairs window calling her name—but her mother’s voice, like a song.

Back inside the house, the phone rings.

“I’m lonely today. Could you just drop all those chores and go out to lunch with me?”

“I’ve got Jody. Have to get her from morning Kindergarten.”

“Of course you do. She eats, doesn’t she.”

Kate looks out the kitchen windows. She can’t hear the bird any more, can’t quite remember its song as the memory of her mother’s words lingers. I was frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.

Thanks for reading WINDOWS. If you liked this story, there are 12 more in A Mother’s Time Capsule, available in soft cover and ebook.  www.elizabethahavey.com

Photo: ourvintagehomelove.blogspot.com and somavida.net and all you.com

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Mother's Time Capsule by Elizabeth A. Havey

A Mother’s Time Capsule

by Elizabeth A. Havey

Giveaway ends August 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Boomer Highway’s Advice from an ER Doc

Boomer Highway's Advice from an ER Doc

It’s summer, time for a repeat of a post to keep your children safe and healthy during the active summer season.

“You are never over reacting when your child is hurt,” advises Dr. Bernard Heilicser a veteran ER doc. “

If your first thought is ‘I should call the paramedics,’ do it. Your gut feeling is almost always correct,” adds Heilicser who educated and directed paramedics in South Cook County, Illinois.

Here are tips from Dr. Heilicser that can keep your children and grandchildren healthy as they enroll in sports or are just out there in the world having fun.

  • Always do ABC first—check airway to see if it is blocked; check for breathing and check for circulation.
  • Scalp wounds bleed profusely, so don’t be alarmed. Be more concerned about a head or brain injury, especially in an infant.
  • If your suspect a head, neck or back injury, don’t move the patient. Call the paramedics. “A head injury is always a broken neck until prove otherwise.” Do ABC. Move the environment not the patient—furniture, bike, etc. Cover the patient with a blanket, and allow no water or food.
  • Try to stay calm, hold your child and assure her first. However, if blood is gushing out, then you have no choice but to act. Stitches will be needed, if you see bone, tendon, or what globules inside the wound. Bright red blood pumping out is arterial bleeding. Try to put pressure on the bleeding and keep the patient still.
    If a finger or toe has been cut off, apply pressure to the wound, place the body part in a cloth, and ice it. Most often it can be reapplied. Time is essential. You have about six hours.
  • If a permanent tooth is knocked out, don’t clean the tooth or rub it. Have your child hold it in the corner of his mouth and get to a dentist within thirty minutes. It can be saved.
  • If your child gets a chemical or harmful fluid in her eye, irrigate the eye for about ten minutes. If necessary just jump right into the shower with your child, clothes and all. Then consult with your doctor.

A few things to do ahead of time to prevent and deal with traumas:

  • Know whether your doctor is equipped to deal with emergencies. Can you call her at 3:00 in the morning? Would she have the equipment to do an x-ray or would she just tell you to go to the closest hospital?
  • Is there a trauma center near you, a hospital that always has a surgeon ‘in house’ to deal with emergencies?
  • When was your grandchild’s last tetanus shot? A tetanus immunization is supposed to last ten years, but if your child has a “dirty” wound it is really good for only five. If the cut is deep, jagged, dirty or a cut from glass in a lake—get a tetanus.
  • Learn CPR. Doing something is better than doing nothing. It stops you from feeling totally helpless.
  • Don’t allow children or grandchildren to eat or chew gum on the playing field. During an injury the airway can easily become blocked creating a critical situation.
  • See if your Athletic Association has a rule forbidding a coach to move a child from the field. The game can wait. Your child’s injury comes first!

Remember this advice from an ER doc and keep your child healthy and happy.

PHOTO: Thanks to the Windsor Star

Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Ah the wanderlust of travel. It creeps upon us and we throw up our hands and say YES, YES, let’s explore this amazing earth.

But before you head out the door, if you are planning on International Travel, you need to think about health and illness prevention. Being ill when you are miles away from home and familiar doctors does not fulfill any part of the desire for wanderlust.

On the Plane 

If you are flying to far off places, your flight will most probably be long. Some airlines serve food and others will sell you boxes of snacks. Either way, find out if you can request meals and snacks that are healthy—think low in salt and sugar. If it’s possible to bring a snack bag of low-fat, low cholesterol and low salt foods on board, do so. You probably have to purchase these snacks after going through security.

During a long flight it’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeine as both of these can hasten dehydration. Some folks even experience head congestion, caused by poor air circulation as well as alcohol consumption. Drinking a glass of water or fruit juice per hour will keep you hydrated and make you get up and use the bathroom—which is good for you and fights against the effects of prolonged sitting. And if you are prone to swelling in the feet and legs, compression socks or hose should be part of your travel outfit.

Get Your Shots

Immunization is the other key to travel—you have to prepare your body as it doesn’t want to deal with viruses and bacteria it is not familiar with and won’t be able to handle.

Think of immunizations as part of your prep for travel. Maybe even more important than your suitcase, immunizations are something you carry with you to protect you from very serious illnesses.

Contact your local health department and ask to speak to an RN about your travel plans. Health departments have charts which indicate what immunizations you will need depending on the country you are traveling to.

For example: if you are going to India, the following immunizations fall under the category Recommended/Required: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, and Typhoid. The following fall under recommended: Japanese encephalitis, polio and rabies. And Yellow Fever is required!

While researching immunizations, I was extremely impressed by the following website Passport Health USA. Not only does it cover immunizations but weather, the locations of U.S. Embassies, safety and security tips and if you do need medical attention, what processes to follow. Travel agents often have access to similar information, but if you do all of your reservations online, a site like this one is extremely valuable. To find a Passport Health near you check out this link.

Plan Ahead for Immunizations

Don’t wait until a few weeks before your departure to check on immunizations. Some require a few weeks within your body to be effective and some health departments might not be able to take you stat! So call ahead and talk to someone who knows what immunizations you will need and can set up an appointment that will work with your schedule.

More Travel Tips Below are some more ways to stay healthy while traveling.

  • Frequently clean your hands with a gel cleanser kept in your purse or pocket; remember to buy a size less than 3 oz. that can go through security.
  • Use the hand sanitizer often, especially after trips to washrooms.
  • If on an airplane, turn off the overhead vent; you don’t need the draft and you don’t know what the air contains that it blowing on you.
  • Swab a small amount of an antibiotic cream like Bactroban inside your nostrils before leaving home; the cream will help fight viruses that want to make a home in your nose.
  • If you are immunocompromised from a chronic illness, purchase a N-95 mask to wear on a plane or train, especially if the people around you are coughing or sneezing;
  • Clean the seatbelt, tray table and arms of your plane seat with sanitary wipes;
    you might think to swab your suitcase handle when you pull it off the belt on arrival.
  • Try not to touch your face as you travel and if someone sneezes, close your eyes. Viruses love to enter through our eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Some travelers flush their noses with saline solution once they arrive at the hotel etc. You can try NeilMed Sinus Rinse that is available at drug stores.
  • Always have plenty of tissue with you.
  • Finally, wearing ear plugs protects you from sinus pressure as you take-off and land on airplanes and can provide a quieter environment if you happen to be around noisy passengers.

So BON  VOYAGE!!!!!!! With these travel tips you will stay healthy, arrive feeling good, and avoid getting some disease that is endemic to the place you are visiting. You’ll be ready to have fun and fulfill those longings for wanderlust.

Thanks to Barbara Barzoloski-O’Connor MSN RN CIC in nurse.com

Photo: Pro Profs Quiz Maker

 

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

My mother and thousands like her remembered and recited this old rhyme to us:

Wash on Monday

Iron on Tuesday

Mend on Wednesday

Market on Thursday

Clean on Friday

Bake on Saturday

Rest on Sunday

She also taught us the song: This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes. And during our childhood, mom followed a schedule not unlike the one above so that we would always have clean clothing that was fresh and dry. It was a time when many moms had ringer washers and not everyone had a dryer. Doing laundry was not only time consuming–it was hard work!

Now that our mothers and grandmothers are aging, they still need clean and fresh laundry. But if you are a caregiver or if you occasionally supervise on laundry day, you’ll want to insure that “doing” the laundry is easy and safe. Working with heavy containers of bleach or detergent or bending over to dig detergent out of box are activities that aging folks should not have to deal with.

Purchasing innovative laundry products like Tide Pods and Gain Flings is the key. These useful and versatile products insure that grandma can do her laundry safely. And the results—they are even better than those she attained with her old products. Tide Pods are easy to use— take one from the convenient canister they come in and add it to the clothing in a front load or top-loading washer. No matter the size of the wash load, water temperature or make of the machine, the laundry will come out clean, bright and stain-free.

Caregivers know that providing a clean and fresh environment for an older person who may be ill is vitally important. Gain Flings are perfect when washing sheets and towels or any laundry that is heavily soiled. The product has a long-lasting scent like Moonlight Breeze, provides a powerful cleaner OxiBoost and when remaking beds and folding towels the odor-fighting power of Febreeze will still be working.

Having clean laundry has been an essential part of life for centuries—whether a stone and a fast-running stream was the method used or the sleek modern machinery of today. And if you are helping grandma with her laundry, she just might have a memory to share. Though I wasn’t doing the work when my mom was hanging out the laundry to dry–here is what I love remembering: the flapping of the sheets and towels as they wrestle with the wind, and the creaking of the laundry poles as they perform their Atlas-job holding up the line, and the intense scent that clings to my brother’s and my skin as we run under the warming linen. Mom always shooed us to the back of the yard. There we would flop down in the brilliant grass and watch as she stretched the wet fabric of the next sheet, working the clothespins onto it with a squeak, the taut line groaning. This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes—

Great memories to share while you are using innovative laundry products that make caregiving and laundry time easy and safe. And remember to keep these products and all cleaning products out of the reach of children.

 

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

 

Photo: countryliving.com

 

As a member of The bLink Marketing Network, I participated in this sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Proctor & Gamble. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Story of Three Fathers

The Story of Three Fathers

These were neighborhoods that encouraged walking and friendliness.

The Story of Three Fathers

The 99th Street Train Station

This is the story of three fathers in my life and the neighborhood that connected them. It is the story of a typical southside Chicago neighborhood where city blocks of various-styled houses marched along, occasionally interrupted by a cluster of stores–commerce that arose because of the presence of a Rock Island Railroad station at 95th, 99th, 103rd etc.

The neighborhood grew around access to the train and the city north. Sidewalks lined every block, slicing between the lawns of the houses and the lawns of the parkway where elm trees grew and short streetlights supplied only pools of light, because that was all that was needed. These were neighborhoods that encouraged walking and friendliness.

My father lived on the street with the simple name Wood. In the middle of my father’s block, three houses with three very different families lived side-by-side, fruit trees or a driveway marking off property lines. Of course each block had a house on either end—the proverbial corner house that had a certain cache. But if you turned the southern corner and walked past three other houses, you’d come to my father-in-law’s house that sat way back from the sidewalk.

That’s how close these two men’s lives were geographically in the quiet neighborhood of Beverly Hills in Chicago. My father, Albert Pfordresher, was eight years older than Edward Havey, so they never attended either grade or high school together. They did go to the same church. And ironically, after each was married, they lived in those same houses, the ones where they had previously lived with their parents.

But my father died suddenly at the age of 45 when I was just a child, and thus would not be there when I rode my tricycle and then my two-wheeler around the block, past the house where Edward Havey was now living with his growing family—which included his first son, Johnmy future husband.

So you see, this is a story that can be repeated over and over in the lives of many folks in this country, folks living in farm towns or small cities, or living in the suburban areas of huge cities. It’s a story of bumping into people, of knowing them and connecting with them and finally NOT being surprised when the connection becomes deeper, becomes family. It’s a story that echoes with the phrase—it’s a small world. Because then, when I was growing up—it was smaller. People grew up and stayed—like my maternal grandmother who moved from a big Victorian home with her many brothers and sisters to a smaller house—again just blocks away. And lived there for over 65 years—content.

But Readers, you know all about change and far-flung relationships. You know all about the positives and negatives of insular living versus spreading your wings. It’s history, often family history. It’s life. It’s all very fascinating.

In 1931, a news article appeared in the neighborhood newspaper, the Southtown Economist. It was a review of a recent musical that occurred at the local church, St. Barnabus. Albert Pfordresher was the co-producer and Edward Havey took part in the performance. The article also mentioned Bob Singler, whose father was my grandmother’s brother. All families who would be intertwined.

But in 1931, my mother was only fifteen. I guess I wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye at that point in time. But so fascinating to imagine my father putting his hand on Edward Havey’s shoulder and saying,

“Wow, thanks for all that you did to make this performance go so well. It was great. We should get together more often.”

And my father-in-law responding,

“We should. Why you’re just around the corner from me. Maybe we could sit on your porch and talk about life and our futures.”

Imaging and wondering about conversations that could have taken place works for me. After all, I’m thinking about fathers today and want to say thanks to my father. Even though his untimely death took him, he left me with an amazing mother and my two loving brothers. And thanks to my father-in-law, whose courage and strength got him through WWII so he could come home and with my mother-in-law bring my future husband into the world. And thanks to my husband, my best friend, my advocate, my partner in all things.

To quote a writer whose words truly touched me: There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown

Credit: Family photos and www.bapa.org  Part of an ongoing Family History Project

The Story of Three Fathers

I guess this was a day when I was not riding a bike.

 

The Story of Three Fathers

A typical south side street.

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

Once upon a time, a woman stood in the empty nursery of her home. It was a high summer evening and her husband and two daughters were off on a bike ride. She could hear the carefree shouts of the neighbor children coming through the open windows. And she couldn’t stop herself: Andrew, Andrew she found herself calling out, in the vacant nursery, on this evening that trembled with green breezes and slanting sunlight. The name was one chosen for a son even before college, the name that topped the list for boys whenever she was pregnant. She felt a bit crazy to be standing there alone, calling out for a child who didn’t exist. So she got hold of herself and left the nursery. She had a perfect family–why ask for more. And she was almost 40. But the thought kept pumping through her head–you only live once.

Of course the woman was me and the catharsis of that summer night created an even stronger desire to have another child. With some tears, laughter and the dubious argument that our midlife crisis should not be a snappy red convertible but another child, I convinced my husband. Of course being a numbers guy he pointed out the 50% possibility. No problem. We picked out a name for a girl too.

Amazingly I got my wish and less than 2 years later–Andrew was born. I will always feel there was just some nameless force inside of me that propelled us forward. In some ways wanting a child and being blessed with one often happens that way. And this post emphasizes all the positives, though being an RN I schooled myself in the risks of pregnancy over 40 and all that meant–increased chance of miscarriage, fetal anomalies, and infertility problems. A friend and I even wrote a book about it, which we never published. But truly the upside of the decision far outweighed the downside. Look at these current stats, from the National Center for Health Statistics: in American women ages 40 to 44, birthrates have hit their highest point since 1967. Births have also become increasingly common among women in their late 30s. 

Many women today wait to have children because they realize the positive aspects of having a career and thus insuring a strong economic foundation before having a family. And many women like me have forged the pathway for older moms now having babies. We made the decision to not care if when preschool began someone might think the grandmother had showed up and not the mother. The Boomer culture enfolds us and reminds us to fight the grey hair and keep the body trim and flexible. The latter is easily accomplished when you have to chase after a baby!

Our son’s presence in the family welded us all together in a new and exciting way. Yes, there were some adjustments. But very quickly his sisters embraced him and eagerly wanted to babysit, feed and play with him. They both became his godparents and thus our  little BUDDY had it made from the start. My elderly aunt on hearing of my pregnancy exclaimed, “He’ll add 20 years to my life.” Amazingly, he did. Of course his grandmothers were thrilled to experience the first word, the first step of a grandchild all over again. Children just fill you up and pull you into their world.

Because I was an older mom:

  • my son commented that his oldest sister is the luckiest because in the long run she’ll have more time with me. Of course he’s counting on me taking a powder one of these days, but I know what he means. And I’m not sure his sister would agree and I’m just not going to ask her!
  • he says he wouldn’t trade this older mom even if I could run the rapids like Meryl Streep in THE RIVER WILD
  • he taught me about legos and Game Boys, guitar riffs and appreciating music of the 70s 80s and 90s that had passed me by
  • I never minded when: I found guitar pics in the dryer; he changed my screen saver to read: I LOVE ANDREW; we had open talks about sex; he refused to part with any remembrance of his childhood (well, maybe I did a little, but I was flattered that these things meant so much to him and luckily we had the room to house everything)
  • he taught me once again, that amazing experience of family–that we all belong to each other

There is no doubt that his presence in our lives kept me and my husband young. John became a Boy Scout leader and went on campouts complete with raccoons invading his tent. I did a short stint of rappelling during scout camp, rolled down a hill like I was only nine, and numerous times went sledding and hiking. Final report: no broken bones!!

Then the most amazing thing happened. Andrew was taking a tennis lesson and I was sitting in the bleachers listening to the thump, thump of the ball and looking at a magazine. And after I while, I got distracted and was just staring into space. And I heard the name HAVEY. Of course the coach was talking to Andrew, urging him on, saying something like way to go HAVEY. But my skin tingled and my heart increased its rate and I was back on a Chicago park bench with my girlfriends, waiting to hear that word blow across the baseball field or the tennis court. Waiting for the love of my life to show up with his friends.

I’ve been a HAVEY for most of my life now, and when I looked up to see Andrew swinging his racket, that same deep love extended back to him, to my son, to this child of an older mom. Because I know he will inspire my heart and keep me young.

As my fellow bloggers from Grown and Flown wrote in a recent post–Motherhood is a big tent and it matters little if you step inside at 18 or 40, or somewhere in between. What did matter was my desire to grow and change with this child. To open up to new experiences, to adjust to thought patterns and ideas that might never have presented a challenge had my husband and I not taken up the role of parent again. But it’s all good–it’s all amazing. Because we have stayed young, we have  embraced new things– I guess you could say we have thrived under the big tent of parenthood.

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

A Mother’s Time Capsule, Short Stories from 1980-2014 www.elizabethahavey.com 

photo: thestir.cafemon.com and John Havey

Women Making News, Making History

Women Making News, Making HistoryOur current social network world puts everyone on the stage of life. Being aware of those around you and what they are up to has been charged with the lightning of involvement. Possibly our ability to comment on or record life and news as it happens contributes to this, but possibly there is just more involvement in society than ever before. People don’t look away. People want connection, have a say, comment, critique. Most of it’s for the good, but sometimes it feels like the train of life is off the track. Do we want our daily lives to be about making news?

Take various episodes of mothers with their children. In a recent article published in Salon, Kim Brooks reports on women who were arrested for child endangerment, cases that as she states: “seemed absurd, an over-the-top parody mashup of modern parenting techniques and the East German Stasi. Then it happened to me.” Like the women she writes about, she left her 4-year-old son in her car while she ran into a store. Someone filmed her and called the police. She was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Brooks writes: “…a charge most people associate with buying beer for teenagers.” To save herself, Brooks did 100 hours of community service and had to take parenting lessons. One hundred hours!

Back in the early nineties, I more than once ran into the post office while my young son stayed in his carseat. I could see him from the postoffice window, but in today’s world someone probably would have tried to have me arrested. To turn the absurdity of this situation on its head, I received a ticket when I hurried to HELP a child. I leapt from my car and ran because I saw a child fall from the top of a slide. I’m a nurse. The policeman appeared from out of nowhere, ticketing me for leaving my car running while I ran to help this kid. When I argued with the policeman at that moment and later at the police station–no go. Pay the fine. Brooks remarks that months later a child was screaming while waiting in a cashier line, the mother having another child in a baby sling. Brooks waited for the photo, the nasty comment–instead a women approached the harried mother asking to help, saying “You’ve got your hands full.” That’s truly the experience I’ve always had–the stranger wanting to help, not interested in having me arrested.

Then there’s the famous Baltimore mother, Toya Graham, who within view of TV cameras slapped her son, pulled him back, kept him from losing his head and making a mistake. This was during the Baltimore riots and protests that occurred after another black man died under arrest. Graham saw her sixteen-year-old son with a rock in her hand, she knew what she had to do–stop him.

“I am a zero-tolerant mother. He knew that, He knew he was in trouble.” Later, Graham admitted that she had lost it, repeatedly slapping the boy; and then wondered what her pastor would think of her. She realized later that her actions were the result of her only thought: if I can just  get my son back in the house as quickly as possible, before something happens that I cannot fix.

In an article in the LA Times, Mary Mcnamara brilliantly compared this situation to a literary one. She recalled the tension-filled scene in To Kill a Mocking Bird, where naive Scout Finch walks into a group of white men whose goal is to break into the jail, get Tom Robinson who has been accused and unjustly found guilty of rape, and take him out and hang him. Atticus Finch stands before the jail to protect Tom, but the men, this mob, will beat him up if necessary to get to Robinson.

Then Scout arrives saying “Hey Mr. Cunningham,” and chatting about the man’s son who goes to school with her. Moments pass. Finally, Cunningham bends down to talk to Scout and as a result he calls off the mob and they gradually drift away.

As a teacher in a school that dealt with a few race riots in the early ’70s–I know that the ability to name a person always pulls them out of the mob, the crowd. They become individuals. Atticus tells Scout later that in that instance she reminded Mr. Cunningham of his  humanity.

Mcnamara ends her piece giving Toya Graham the same praise–by pulling her son from the mob, even if it took a slap! she reminded him of his humanity. And the woman who volunteered to help an overcome mother instead of berating her or taking a film of her momentary inability to cope–again proclaims humanity.

Maybe, when considering the actions of people in public places, we need to pause, to look for clues that might guide our interpretation. Accusing an innocent person of a crime, no matter how large or small, is a heady responsibility. And on the flip side of that coin, we do need to remember to be alert so that the weaker members of our society–like our children–do not experience abuse. It’s a lot to ponder. But we can make history by supporting mothers, asking questions and looking for the humanity in each and every person we encounter.

Women Making News, Making History

Scout and the mob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

drawing: normankoren.com  photo: Macomb Tribune

Want to read more about mothers in various situations? A Mother’s Time Capsule, my recently released book of stories. Thanks for checking it out:  elizabethahavey.com 

 

Dig In or Have Fun

Dig In or Have Fun

I love the word rationalize. Definition: attempt to explain or justify one’s actions with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate. Example: I have a large block of time in which to do something. So I ask myself: should I sit down, dig in and write my blog post and then go down my work list, checking off other writing work? Or, should I escape from that, play and have fun? Because I have a large block of time, I can rationalize that play should be on my agenda.

Today’s definition of play:

  • sand my grandmother’s rocking chair and prepare it for a new stain;
  • repaint the Adirondack chair on the patio;
  • mat a lovely photograph in an old antique frame I’ve saved.

I love writing, but I also love puttering, decorating or as I call it playing with my house. No matter where we have lived, I have always had a file of photos torn from magazines from which to get inspiration and ideas as well as a basket of paint tubes and brushes, art paper and stencils. Sometimes my projects turn out extremely well. I blogged about chalk paint and have used it several times to freshen a furniture find. Sometimes my family notices and comments, sometimes they don’t. But even so, it is my kind of escape.

Dig In or Have Fun

One of my ESCAPE projects.

Thus we could engineer the old phrase VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE and make it work for us. In just about any situation. My explorations into playing with my house not only give my brain time to wander and thus possibly fire up my creativity so that when I get back to the keyboard there is something coming from my fingertips–plus the physical activity involved in painting etc is good for my body.

You might be familiar with recent research that stresses that sitting for long periods of time (at a keyboard, for example) is not good for one’s health. James M. Levine MD, PhD writes that a study was done comparing folks who spent at least two hours sitting in front of any kind of screen, with those who logged in at least four hours away from a screen. Those with more screen time had:

  • A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
  • About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

And even if you were at the keyboard everyday, all day and then worked out a few hours a week at a gym, that didn’t significantly offset the risk. The solution: breaking up those long periods of sitting time by adding periods of standing to your day–maybe while on the phone or eating lunch. Even better would be taking a walk, or at work, inviting a colleague to walk during an informal conference.

Here are some suggestions for keeping your body moving and insuring good health throughout your day:

  • stretch on arising, especially feet, ankles, and neck
  • when on the phone, sit on the edge of a stool or chair and do butt clenches
  • always tummy tuck (tighten abdomen) when doing daily chores or when lifting
  • fight against forward head posture by keeping back straight and watch position of head and neck while at computer or driving in a car etc
  • need to move furniture? use legs, try to push instead of pulling
  • take stairs with loads like laundry to increase aerobic activity and stress bones
  • add walking, running, sports or workouts–when you can and when age-appropriate
  • drink fluids throughout the day
  • women: favorite advice from an RN: at stop lights do Kegels
  • finally at bedtime, stretch to relax and keep muscles flexible.

So maybe in the end, I am not rationalizing by choosing to escape from my real work and go and play with my house. Maybe digging in can really be the fun stuff as well as the more serious stuff we do each day. I have a fire in my belly for writing–my first choice of what I want to do and be. But I also have fire for the second choice–decorating and making my home the best that it can be. And that choice keeps me moving. There are certainly many more ways to pump a variety of activities into daily life. So what do you do to fire up your desire, revitalize and add that needed variety to life’s choices??  What do you do to dig in and have fun? Please share. Maybe Calvin and Hobbes can say it better than I can. Dig In or Have Fun

P.S. Have you checked out my first publication: A Mother’s Time Capsule–Stories about Motherhood. Easy reading, one story a night. Maybe add a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine. Enjoy!

Announcing: A MOTHER'S TIME CAPSULE

NOW IN SOFT COVER AT AMAZON.

 

Plus

Dig In or Have Fun

 

 

 

 

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis and thewinecenter.com

 

How I Dealt With Fears of Kidnapping

How I Dealt With Fears of Kidnapping

The Pied Piper

In my recently published book A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE, one of the themes that I work with is that of losing a child—to accident, death, but also to kidnapping, abduction—your child goes missing. And a week ago, in a piece published on the Huffington Post, I wrote openly of such a fear: …in 1983, when my daughters were nine and five, ten-year-old Jeanine Nacarico was kidnapped from her home in Naperville, Illinois. Though the kidnapping was in another Chicago suburb, it was something unconscionable that could happen: Jeanine home alone sick, her mother checking on her, and then a man breaks in, takes her, rapes and murders her. Days later her body is found. I couldn’t get a grip. I read newspapers for answers—the mother did something careless? Absolutely not. The horrific event made me realize again: these things actually happen…

There is no soft landing when a child is taken. Within days, the Nacaricos knew the unspeakable fate of their daughter. But then again, there is Etan Patz. Thirty-six years ago, May 25th, 1979, Etan disappeared while walking to his school bus in the Soho district of New York City. He was never found. Recently, a hung jury was unable to convict the man who claims he strangled Etan and dumped his body in a trash bin.

News such as this grabs mothers. Because after Etan, there was Adam Walsh, taken and murdered in July 1981 and two Des Moines Register paperboys: Johnny Gosch taken in 1982 and Eugene Martin, taken in 1984—never found. There was also a string of child and adolescent murders in Atlanta. Then in 1983, President Reagan declared May 25, the day of Patz’s disappearance, National Missing Children’s Day. And in 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was formed.

A curtain of fear descended. A wall went up between naïve security and scary reality. As a young mother, the climate of fear came into my mailbox as periodically, along with catalogues and Better Homes and Gardens, the Advo flier appeared, listing the current MISSING child and a grainy black and white photo. What did I do about all of this? In my Huffington Post piece, I describe in detail what my husband and I did to raise our three as safely as we could. You can read it here.

But the other thing I did, was take that fear, that feeling of being paralyzed, and try to deal with it through my fiction. The three stories mentioned below are all in TIME CAPSULE. 

In SONG FOR HER MOTHER, I worked beyond the finding—trying to discover some form of healing and forgiveness to bind up the wound of the forever separation and the unknowing.

Ana wondered if there wasn’t a place where all missing people gathered. A place deep in a wood where the trees arched overhead to form a cathedral-like space, and underneath, a pocket of peace, a place shot through with golden light. The missing found each other there. And while they spoke and learned each other’s history, more kept coming. They held out their arms to new arrivals. And they wept on each other’s shoulders or picked up the children and held them and wept again. And after a time they settled into a life of waiting in stillness and quiet, until the pattern of the trees and branches against the light above them became so intense and all-consuming that their memories of those they had lost melted away.

In THAW, I made myself work directly with the Nacarico case, of course changing names and ages, but always working through my own inner terror.

Maddy once said that it helps to think that Jessy is two years older now. She’s not eight, she’s ten and she understands what happened to her and the terror of it has subsided. Karen decided a year ago, though she never brought it up with Maddy, she never wants to ever bring it up, that Jessy was unconscious almost immediately; they beat her and raped her and she didn’t know anything. Karen had decided.

I also wrote a story entitled ANGEL HAIR, which though it’s a story about children going missing—the blame lies not with the abductor, but with the falsehoods, the cheating, the penchant for war and blame and fighting that still riddles our societies. Using the old story of the Pied Piper worked well: a well-meaning person is accused or taken advantage of and in retribution he or she uses the children as collateral.

But then in one of Jeff’s runs down the lawn, she heard sounds, the soothing notes of a high piped birdcall, or the humming of bees wings, and she smelled the pungent fragrance of shorn grass or scattered rose petals and saw the flash of a yellow/red cloak engulfing the sunlight for a split-second to reveal a shadowy opening in the hedge at the end of the lawn. Then in a blinding light there was Jeff, that was all she could see, the strands of his hair and then his entire head, and his entire body becoming golden and brilliant.

And maybe this last story is closest to truths we need to look at. We should teach our children to be aware of strangers, but we should not live their lives for them and we can better insure their futures by working to improve society—all aspects of it.

Fact: many of today’s parents tend to be over-protective—yes there are reasons for that, but society has jumped on the bandwagon, like charging a mother with neglect because she allowed her two children under ten to walk home from a park. Let’s not go crazy.

In a recent article, Meghan Daum gives us some stats: An oft-cited figure when it comes to missing children is that 800,000 are reported each year. What that number belies, however, is that the definition of “missing child” includes runaways and children abducted by a parent. Research from the Department of Justice puts “stereotypical” kidnappings at just over 100 per year — an unsettling number but hardly a national scourge.

Daum wants mothers to not sweat the small stuff in the face of the horror of kidnapping and disappearance. We can entitle our children to safety, but we must also get them out the door into their own lives where responsibility and initiative creates a full human person. In other words, we don’t want them to be entitled to life.

In a recent talk with a college professor, the extreme of entitlement presented itself. He told me that some students now verbally assault a teacher if they don’t get the A they think they deserve. And then if the complaint doesn’t cause a grade change, which it won’t, the student takes revenge and writes up a poor teacher eval.

Daum ends her piece with some thought-provoking words: Statistics (see above) are important to remember as we are, once again, being instructed to be scared for the nation’s children. This time, the boogeyman isn’t a mostly nonexistent marauder who strikes when parents aren’t looking. It’s the ever-lurking, overbearing parents themselves.

Strong words. What do you think? How do you handle the fears you have for your children and grandchildren? What societal changes would better protect our children, yet give them the tools to be independent?  As for me, I continue to mine the theme of MISSING in a novel I hope to publish next year.

Thanks to Eyeofthesoul Mixed Media On: monIster