One mom isn’t greater than another, so stop comparing yourself!

Oranges and apples are both fruit, but one is not better than the other.

Oranges and apples are both fruit, but one is not better than the other.

I try to improve myself every day, but I’ll never be those other women. It’s just not who I am.

Let me help illustrate. I had an interesting experience a few weeks ago. I was interviewing for a part-time day job (so I could help the family more,money wise). I dressed nicely, and wore some of my favorite flats because I had just come from picking up the kids from school.

The woman interviewing me was the owner of the company and beautiful. Her hair was conditioned, well taken care of, and basically flawless. She dressed well and her shoes were stunning. This skinny, beautiful mother of four (if I remember correctly) was just stunning. I felt frumpy in what I thought were my nicer clothes.

And the first thing she commented on was my shoes. I sheepishly admitted that I was wearing flats because I had just picked up my kids. As the interview went on I could tell this lady was the type that just looked glamorous all the time. She was the type of mom I wanted to look like, you know, the type that looks like they fell out of a magazine page, every day.

Since then I’ve actually thought a lot about that encounter. I’ve always wanted to be a glamorous woman. But the thing is, I’m not. I’m not a show pony, I’m more of a work horse. And I’m not saying that one is better than another, just that they are different and one I am not.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we (often women) compare ourselves to each other and think that if we are not just like show pony mom, that we’re not good enough.

But it’d be like an apple comparing itself to the orange and crying because the orange has near perfectly round shape. They are two different things. Both fruit, but different.

The lady and I are two different ladies. Both women, but different.

One isn’t better than the other. But like a tool in a toolbox, one is more well-equipped for certain tasks. This lady, obviously runs her clothing company very well. And I’m good at the hard, dirty work life has to offer.

But, when it comes to being mothers, she is the perfect fit for her children. And I’m the perfect fit for mine.

I actually believe that. Soul mates, you could call it. Moms meant for certain children, children meant for certain moms. And the talents and qualities that I have built in are a good fit for them. So I guess my kids didn’t need glamorous mom.

That’s not to say that I can’t be glamorous mom when I need to, or when my kids need me to be. But on a daily basis, my work horse self is what my babies need. They need a mom who will wear flats.

I often wish I could be show pony mom, or super fit mom, or crafty mom, I admire those ladies so much. I try from time to time to have slices of their life, and I’ll always try to be better today than I was yesterday, more well-rounded and complete.

But those traits will never be the core of who I am. And that’s okay. Because my core is good and important. And that other lady’s core is good and important. And my core traits are just what my kids needs, as hers are what her children need.

So I’m not going to compare or cry anymore that my shape isn’t more symmetrical like all the oranges out there. I’m going to relish the fact that I have a stem, seeds in my center, and have an asymmetrical shape, because apples are good and important too.

I lied to myself and believed I wasn’t worth a thing

This is the truth.

This is the truth.

I used to feel bad for the guy. But after causing so much hurt and pain, and after realizing that I was just an object to him, I stopped. I stopped feeling bad, and for a while, (Not for too long) I got angry.

I remember when I got angry.

I spent so much of my youth thinking I would have that beautiful life that girls dream of. I imagined the cute little house, with the white picket fence. I thought of the garden I’d be working in while my brood of children played in the yard. Then my husband would come home after a long day of work. I’d cook his favorite meal and as a family we’d gather around the table and cheerfully talk about our day.

That’s what I had in my mind. But I got angry when I finally came to the realization that that would never ever be a reality for me.

It wasn’t like someone had pulled the rug out from under me, it was like they had slashed my heart. From top to bottom, my heart was split, and blood was gushing out. My dream, that beautiful life I wanted for my children, was, never, going, to, happen.

So I was angry. I was angry at him for him being so selfish that he wouldn’t just get a job like everyone else. Or that he wouldn’t just finish school and become something, anything. I was angry that he wanted to look at women who weren’t even real, over building a meaningful relationship with me and the children.

But, mostly I was angry at myself. I was angry that I hadn’t chosen a better caliber of a man. That I had ignored the red flags. And it wasn’t like those red flags were dime sized, camouflaged warnings, they were the size of houses and they would hit me at every turn. But I wanted to be me married. I wanted that beautiful dream to happen. And the sad thing was, I thought if I didn’t say yes to him, that I’d grow old with no one. I’d have no little ones running around with my eyes or my nose. I was so worried at the young and stupid age of 18 that I wouldn’t ever find anyone else to build that dream with so I married the first idiot that came along.

Usually a person might say there, “the first idiot that showed some interest.” But that is quite an exaggeration. He didn’t really show interest. I remember being engaged and feeling so neglected. I told myself (and got a similar message from him) that I was just being too needy and that’s why I felt that way. But having the person who is suppose to love you, completely ignore you instead is crossing the line. Or having that same person ask you to not wear your ring around other girls so they “don’t feel jealous” you’re with him, or saying “don’t tell anyone we’re engaged,” so he can keep his options open (while you’re engaged) just isn’t cool.

I came across an old journal from those days. And I wanted to scream at myself. My insecurity and low self-esteem just seeped through the pages. I justified his neglect and coldness towards me. I admitted not feeling loved, and yet, I still married him? Can you see why I was angry at myself?

Earlier this week I had a conversation with my sister and she told me she felt bad for me every time she visited after I was married. She said I just seemed so miserable. And I was.

But I thought it was normal. Like my engaged self, thinking that fiance’s just neglected their soon-to-be brides, I thought husbands also do that. And even more. I remember, after being married for a number of years, thinking “wow, this really is so miserable and it just never gets any better. Why do people get married?”

Why do people get married?

I knew why I got married. I got married because I had that dream image in my head.

Which wasn’t a bad thing.

But I didn’t plan properly.

I didn’t look at that dream and zoom out to see the road that lead to it. I also didn’t zoom out to see that the road I was currently on was heading in a completely different direction.

If only I had.

So I got angry that day. I sat in my “under construction” living room and cried. The disarray in the room felt like my life, always coming to pieces. And I blamed myself.

That pre-marital low self-esteem and insecurity sunk even further. And I began to believe the messages that my husband had been sending me for so long, “you’re not worth a thing.”

And I said it out loud. “You’re not worth a thing.” And it stung like alcohol on an open wound, on a split, bleeding heart.

How did I get here? How did I go from beautiful dreamland to dark, dead, stormy life?

I compromised.

I justified.

I lied to myself.

I would never suggest that anyone think themselves entitled, but I would hope that every young person (old persons too!) will not be so eager to “fulfill” a dream that they compromise, justify or lie to themselves about how things really are. Because when you do that, you ultimately lose that dream.

In the end, the biggest lie I told myself was “You’re not worth a thing.” And that giant lie spurred other lies, like, “you’ll never get married, so just take whoever you can get.” Or “it’s fine if he treats you poorly, you’re lucky to have someone who will even be with you.”

Lies. All lies.

I compromised the things I wanted, the things I needed, for someone who would never love me, because I thought it was all I could get. Lies.

I justified his behavior towards me. Because if I acknowledged it for one second, I wouldn’t have gone through with it. What a shame I didn’t step back for one moment and follow my gut feeling to run like hell.

So I suggest, don’t lie to yourself. Don’t become angry years later because you couldn’t admit the truth. And the truth is: “You are worth everything!”

An anecdotal argument for online video rentals, and chocolate

This story is a gross exaggeration and compilation of my Red Box encounters (plus my imagination gone wild)…

Sometimes it's just better to rent a movie online, from the comfort of your own home.

Sometimes it’s just better to rent a movie online, from the comfort of your own home.

I stood in line, tapping my foot impatiently. I knew exactly what I wanted, “what was their problem, geez?” I thought to myself as I rolled my eyes. They scrolled through the pages, slowly reading each tittle. Then she turned and started to ask if he remembered when they saw that one movie together, “hahahah,” she began to laugh, no, it was more of a cackle. I think a wart even grew on her nose before my very eyes. Okay, maybe it was just my imagination. But I could tell there was something truly evil about her, at the very least obnoxious.

I just wanted to get home, slip into my pj’s and throw that stupid romantic comedy on and eat my chocolate covered, chocolate chip, chocolate caramel, covered in chocolate syrup, ice cream. Alright, maybe I was being a little impatient, but come on, my body was sloughing off a layer of blood, I had every right, right?

Finally she seemed to make a decision. “Babe,” she said in a bubble-gum, sweet as candy, ie. annoying, baby voice. “Have we seen this before? I can’t remember. I’m gonna Lisha, we always watch movies with her, she’ll know,” she said as she loudly masticated the wad of gum in her overly lip glossed mouth. She slipped her bedazzled smart phone out of her bra using just the disgustingly long, fake fingernails on her index finger and thumb. The chomping of the hot pink gum like a cow chewing cud continued as she searched her contacts for “Lisha.”

It was at this moment that things got real. The line became longer by two more people. No, they didn’t cut in front of me, but it probably would have been better if they did.

The 23-year-old looking kid came up right behind me. I didn’t have to look back to know, I could smell his cigarette smoke, body odor and some kind of sandwich meat combo, sort of waft over me. I stepped forward a few inches, but not wanting to get to close and interrupt the riveting conversation with “Lisha.” But I was trying to signal to the young man that he had stepped a little too close.

Then behind him came “the mom.” Her husband had already taken the kids to the car, obviously not her first rodeo, she thought ahead. This was probably her only seven minutes of peace a week, and why she “volunteered” to return the movie. I understand her. I have been there too. But not tonight. I’ve already enjoyed my seven minutes of peace, and I’m just anxious to get home. And now the kid is stepping closer.

An older lady came walking down the front aisle of the store. He stepped back just enough to let her amble on by. I sighed some relief as the distance between the kid and I grew by an old-lady-and-cart’s width. I almost welcomed her old lady smell lingering in my nostrils, at least it cleared out the previous resident the kid brought to my nose.

It didn’t take long though. As soon as granny was an inch past me, he was back to claim his spot in line, as if someone would have taken the chance to cut while grandma slowly sashayed across the glossy floor. I could tell he was impatient, and hoping that him pressuring me would get the line going, he stepped closer.

“Hahahaha, I know, I know,” I could hear bubble-gum voice chortling loudly. Kid was increasingly encroaching on my personal space. And while the mom saw her sixth minute slip away, I could tell she was becoming anxious too.

And then it happened. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, it has. But you don’t understand.

The mom hit the end of her seven minutes. She stepped closer to the kid. The kid didn’t like being that close to motherly women, not since he disappointed his mom at age 16 and began down a long path of rebellion, empty pizza boxes and dirty laundry. I had no choice but to inch forward myself.

Bubble-gum voice then turned sharply to glare at me as I inched closer to Babe. “Lisha, Lisha, I gots to go, you wouldn’t believe these people,” she said snidely as she grabbed the hunks hand. I wasn’t interested in him, never would be. He was the sort that was pretty, but just like his female companion he lacked the brains.

The pressure continued to mount though as the two brain dead beauties tried to enter their promo code. Mom stepped forward, kid stepped forward, I could feel his stale breath on my shoulder, so I stepped forward. Babe and Bubble-gum glared.

And then mom stepped forward again, and kid completely invaded my personal space. I could feel his hoodie sleeve touch my back and I had to put a stop to it.

“Dude, personal space!” I said pointedly as I turned, accidentally bumping Babe, which knocked Bubble-gum off her 6 inch heels and to the ground. Kid jumped back stepping on The Mom’s feet and she instinctively shoved him back propelling him straight into me, and into Babe and Bubble-gum. All of us fell to the floor except The Mom. But as the four of us wrestled our way off the ground, “accidentally” throwing punches on our way up, The Mom ran to the kiosk, hit the home button and slid her movie into the slot. Before any of us could figure out what was happening she ran out the front door with a victorious grin and hopped into her getaway car…a silver minivan.

That night as I sat on my couch, a heating pad on my uterus, an ice pack on my elbow and a bowl of ice cream in my lap, I thought, “I should have just paid the extra two bucks to rent it online.”

A person’s worth should never be tied to sex

Every soul is valued in God's eyes.

Every soul is valued in God’s eyes.

Obviously with all the press buzz surrounding the recent speech that Elizabeth Smart made, the discussion on abstinence-only sex education and self-worth have come up, a lot. So I wanted to discuss my thoughts here. And I would love to engage in a discussion with you and hear your thoughts as well. I simply request you do so in a civil manner. I also want to say I really appreciated all your comments on my previous post on these very topics.

I personally believe in an abstinence only approach to sex education. And I also believe that the parents should be the primary instructor and resource when it comes to information about sex.

However, let me be clear, I do not believe that abstinence only should be tied to guilt and a fear of damnation. I understand that that fear is very real and has a lot of power to keep young people from doing many things. But I don’t believe that it is the right approach.

Young people, every single person, needs an understanding that their moral purity is not tied to their worth. Every soul is valued. Every person is of great worth, period. I think when we entangle value and sexual purity (or even sexual promiscuity) we create a host of problems. Sex and worth should never be tied together.

I do believe that young people should choose abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity after because it is the right thing to do, it keeps families tied together, and because of their love for the God that created them and gave them everything. I am also not so naive that I think every young person will abstain from sex because of those reasons. But I believe when their worth in life (this seems especially strong for women) is so directly connected to them being perfectly morally clean, that they will only have a negative attitude towards abstinence (and even sex). With this approach, any slight offense (even kissing too passionately) could throw them off the path of virtue, and with their only value lost, have no where else to go but down. The despair and hopelessness of this attitude is so damaging.

When a person’s value becomes tied to anything, especially sex, it becomes a commodity to trade to the highest bidder. And depending on what a teen feels they are lacking (which will often be worth in their mind), and who can offer that to them (even a counterfeit version of worth), they will trade their virtue for it. But when a young person has that worth built in, sex, purity and virtue are not commodities. And there is no need to trade.

We simply cannot tie worth to anything, especially sex. Our children need this gift, this right to be given to them freely, no strings attached. They need to understand that their worth is inherent to them as a human being, as a child of God.

Which is why I believe it is so important for parents to step in and teach their children the value of God’s ways, which also includes mercy.

I don’t believe in a God who only sees us as valuable if we are sexually pure. Or a God who is quick to damn us for a mistake, and certainly never for a crime committed against us (rape, molestation, sexual abuse). And this is why alongside teaching abstinence, I believe it is critical to teach about the atonement, over teaching guilt.

When my mother was young, she was molested. And for years she experienced intense guilt over it. It stewed and festered inside her and she had negative feelings about sex.

I didn’t know that she had been sexually abused until about four months before she died and years after being married. I was sitting with her on the couch and she had gotten snappy with my dad over something. I assumed it was the cancer talking. But that day I asked, “Mom do you love dad?”

That’s when she told me that she had been molested. And how because of that, sex and affection had been hard for her, her whole life. (She did say she loved my dad too.) I began to understand. Many questions throughout my life were answered in that moment. My mom had spent years feeling less than because of what happened to her. And sadly, an unintentional byproduct of her abuse was passing along feelings of “less than” to her children.

Growing up I felt guilt over everything. And most especially I felt guilted into not having sex. And while the method worked, the fear of damnation and guilt that weighed on me (even though I hadn’t done anything) separated me from God. Those feelings created a distance between me and understanding God’s love. I don’t think I could have survived a situation like Elizabeth Smart’s. It would have crushed my spirit, because I didn’t understand at a young age that I had value no matter what.

But what if my mom had understood at a young age that being violated and robbed of something so sacred did not damn her? I think things would have been very different. I think guilt wouldn’t have been a dominating force in her life, and it then wouldn’t have been in her children’s life as well.

I believe that it is through the power of the atonement that we can feel our value in the eyes of God. Because it is through the atonement that we become whole (even on a daily basis). The atonement is not just reserved for those who make mistakes, it has room for all of us who experience hurt, heartache and pain. We need to feel whole and of worth as humans, and the atonement offers us that. Which is why young people need to be taught about the healing power of the atonement.

I also think if young people had a greater understanding of the sacredness of sex and the power that brings us closest to being gods (creating another human being) they would approach abstinence with a different attitude.

Beyond the spiritual power of intimacy to bind a married couple to one another, there are the emotional ties created when each person gives freely of themselves to the one they love. But when we are plagued with feelings of guilt, we hold back, and we don’t give all of to our spouse.

Another part of the reason I believe so strongly about abstinence (+ the atonement) is because we lose that connection, that great power to bond a couple joined by God when we become casual about sex.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, I don’t believe that creating a high expectation for young people to remain morally clean is a bad thing.

Why is that we so readily accept the laws of the land, and look at the laws of God as just suggestions? Most young people would not drive a car before they are legally able. But when God commands that the procreating powers of intimacy be saved for marriage, we look the other way.

But then, I don’t look at God’s commandments as restrictive. I see them as a way to provide us safety and peace.

Even if you exclude religious reasons for abstinence before marriage, it still makes sense. Teens are not mature or fully developed enough to handle the emotions that sex bring with them, especially when most of their sexual encounters will not produce a permanent relationship. I don’t even think adults can handle the emotions of going from partner to partner. I went from being married to one man, to being married to another and it was difficult to adjust and cope with the feelings that come with intimacy.

Along with the emotions are health reasons. There are diseases, unwanted pregnancies and even abortions that come from not abstaining from sex before marriage. And families are torn apart when there is not complete fidelity after marriage.

When it comes teaching children about sex, I acknowledge that many parents just will not provide their children with adequate information. Perhaps they were abused like my mother, and it is simply too painful for them. Or maybe they just don’t have the information they need to teach. But, all those reasons aside, I strongly believe the responsibility still falls on the parents to teach their children about the sacredness of sex, help them see their inherent value and instruct them in the power of the atonement to heal them and make them whole.

I do think there is value in allowing schools to continue to teach sex ed. I do think they should focus primarily on the biology of sex. Because I felt my information about sex was inadequate, in college I took a human sexuality class. We did not discuss whether sex before marriage was right or wrong. We covered anatomy, we discussed diseases, we went over pregnancy and birth. We even talked about different psychological research about sex and from different standpoints. The teacher did not offer her opinion, she simply presented the facts, she presented opposing viewpoints and allowed us the chance to think for ourselves.

Teaching children in schools in a similar fashion (with age appropriate material) is not impossible. And if they have questions they can come home and ask their parents, which provides a chance for child and parent to openly discuss sex in a safe environment.

Sex education isn’t a one time deal either. Parents should be talking to their children about sex from the time they are small (again, age appropriate information), and throughout their lives. It should be an ongoing conversation. And we should be looking for opportunities to teach.

This is a difficult subject, I acknowledge, because we can talk about great ideas and the value of parents teaching their children about sex, but I know not all of them will. I do hope that more parents in this generation will than the generation before. If we can be just a little better than our parents, and our children a little better than us, then we are on our way to being a better society.

Don’t believe everything you read in the news

My story for the Deseret News.

My story for the Deseret News.

I don’t often write about my job, but after thinking this over for the last two days I’ve decided I should.

On Monday evening our desk was sent a tip about a recent presentation that Elizabeth Smart made at a human trafficking forum at Johns Hopkins. We put our feelers out to see if another desk had something in the works, but we concluded that there wasn’t anything coming.

My boss then tasked me to write up a piece and get it online.

I had been sent a video link from our social media specialist and was able to watch her speech in its entirety. And I did, several times. I was also sent a link to a brief from the Christian Science Monitor. I read through it and did my own google search.

I was confused. The reports that I was reading seemed to have come from a different forum, at the very least a different person. Yes, some of the quotes were the same, but her words had been taken grossly out of context.

So I watched the video again, just to be sure. You should watch it too.

Smart wasn’t suggesting that teaching abstinence had made her feel worthless after being raped, as some sources concluded.

Smart wasn’t saying that because of her religious teachings that she felt like a “chewed up piece of gum.” The gum analogy came from a school teacher (by the way). But again, that was stretched.

Many sources simply took a few quotes (particularly about the chewing gum) and built a story and idea around just that.

I even received emails from a few people frustrated that I didn’t focus my story in the Deseret News around that.

But do you know why I didn’t? Because that’s not what Smart focused on.

I watched the video, several times.

The message that I gathered from the elegant Smart was the importance of educating children about human trafficking, teaching them to be prepared because parents won’t be able to be with their children every second of the day (or night), and also to instill in these children a strong sense of self-worth, so should they ever (heaven forbid) be trafficked they would have the strength to overcome.

Smart was raped. She felt worthless because of it. I don’t think she would have felt less worthless if her school teacher hadn’t taught that abstinence before marriage is ideal, or if her parents hadn’t taught her the sacredness of intimacy. In fact, it was her parents love and teachings that pulled her through her nine months in captivity.

She came to the realization that her parents would love her no matter what. No matter what had happened to her, or what she had been through, they would love her. And the hope of being reunited with her loving parents kept her going.

There was no hidden agenda about discontinuing abstinence instruction. Her message was one of hope. It was centered around the value of a soul, and how important it is that every child know their value.

I was disappointed with the media when I read their reports, because I have a strong belief in the power and the responsibility of the media. They took this and ran wild with it. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who saw things as they really were. Jay Evensen wrote a post for the Deseret News on the media’s reaction to Smart’s words, which I really appreciated.

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On a side note, as a mother I can’t imagine the horror of having a child experience such things. It would be my worst nightmare and why I pray for their safety all day, all night, every day and every night.

While I do shower my children with love and praise, and always strive to build within them a strong core and sense of worth, her words made me want to do more. Her words made me want to teach more, prepare more and give even more love.

It has been my hope, from the time each of them were placed in my arms for the first time, that they would know that I love them and I always will, no matter what. No matter what.

Frilly, ruffly name banners for the babies

I love my babies. And I love sewing. So when I find the chance to combine the two, I do.

While the babes were away, I made these little banners, and the hubs put glowing stars on the ceiling.

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These were fun to make and really didn’t take too long.

I chose fabric that was the kiddos favorite colors and cut, and sewed and snipped and painted and hung. It went something like this:

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I thought the more frills and ruffles the better! The little ladies were excited to see these hanging above tenor beds when they returned home.

We had a visit from the Leprachaun

I love holidays. I know some are ridiculous, but that’s what makes them even better. I love having an opportunity to create fun for the kids.

Well this year I was actually a little late getting supplies for our pesky mythical creature’s visit. Apparently everyone in town had the same idea as me and all the gold chocolate coins were gone.

So I had to improvise.

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I took some green tissue paper, my handy dandy scissors and some thread and got to work.

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I made green clover flowers. Then I took some gold glitter and put it on some the petals.

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They turned out pretty nicely.

But I still needed a treasure. So after wandering the grocery store late on Saturday night I settled on shimmering green marbles, the Leprachaun’s “lucky” marbles.

Then I put together a little scavenger hunt and hid some clues for the girls to find.

The first clue was surrounded by bright green clover flowers, you couldn’t miss it.

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And when the girls woke there were squeals of excitement and they were on the hunt!

I’m sure that has very little to do with the real St. Paddy’s day celebrations, but hey, there was green and clover flowers and Leprachaun treasure. And most importantly, fun!

My process: How to write a book

With my process outlined, my book is on its way.

With my process outlined, my book is on its way.

We humans have been story tellers as long as we have inherited this planet. Aside from oral histories passing from generation to generation, carvings on cave walls, stones and words scrawled on to primitive paper and wood have been the means to preserve the stories of our ancestors.

Lucky for us we have computers, iPads and heck, even a pen and paper, to make the preservation of our stories that much easier.

Last week, I said I was on a path to finish (and start) my book. Let’s call this Part I of my journey.

Years ago I took a class on just this thing, “How to write your first book.” I’ve been writing since I was kid, so I went in with a big ego, but left with some ingenious ideas. I suppose that’s the thing with writing, you have to be willing to learn (and especially from the experts…basically anyone who’s actually done it).

The instructor made so many good points and seemed to know my hangups personally. But with a plan in hand I intend to overcome them.

With any story, you have to start with an idea. For most of us, that’s the easier part. We have ideas coming out our ears.

Now here’s the fun part…layout your entire book, from beginning to end. Okay, now before you get too overwhelmed, hang on. Using index cards, write one or two sentences outlining each scene in your book. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you. Consider it a place marker for all the scenes, and keep them in chronological order. (You may even want to number them.)

You’ll also want to use separate stack of cards for each character. Write down who they are, what they look like, even some personality traits. These will be a good reference as you write. You may get halfway through and think the main character’s eyes are blue. But rather than having to find the page you first referenced them, you can just pull out your card.

With your outline in place, read through them and make sure you’re not missing anything, and check for plot holes.

Here’s where it can get hard. You have to treat writing as seriously as you would your job. Now, you don’t have to necessarily do it for eight hours a day (most of us don’t have that kind of time), but you will want to set your hours before you start. Whether it’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. or everyday from 6 a.m.- 7 a.m., set your hours in stone.

If a friend calls for lunch, work around your writing time. Remember to be realistic about how much time you can spend.

For many of us writers, the writing is the hardest part. Writing is like exercising…should I say similar to the stair climber (haha). It burns, it kills, it hurts and it’s hard, but after spending day after day, week after week, each time you step off you can look back at your hard work and feel good that you’ve stuck with your plan.

When it’s time to write, sit down with your cards and start with the first. Write the entire scene from beginning to end and set that card in a new stack.

Here’s the tough part, DO NOT LOOK BACK. Don’t reread, don’t edit, don’t even think about it.

Just move forward.

Take the next card and write the entire scene and set it in the new stack.

My instructor said that too many writers get caught on the first 10-15 pages. They stop and edit and re-edit and reread, they can’t progress. So don’t fall into that.

Keep moving forward.

Each time you write, don’t look back. Just start with the next card in line.

Soon you will have every scene in written out.

Once you have everything written, from beginning to end, print out your newly finished book (pat yourself on the back, you did it!!) and edit.

Again, make sure you don’t get hung up on one page or one chapter. Focus on grammar, punctuation and making sure transitions are smooth and that there are no missing pieces.

After you first edits are done and have been added digitally, print it out again and edit it again.

Enter those edits into your digital copy.

Then print it out again. One last time. I would suggest having another set of eyes look at it (preferably someone with some editing knowledge). Only do three edits. You have to live with the fact that no matter how many times, you will have some mistakes. As my instructor put it, “that’s why they have second editions!”

After your final edits have been entered, continue moving forward. You’re off to the presses! (Literally or digitally…that’s a post for another day!)

So here we go! Here I go!

With my idea in hand, it’s time for me to write out every scene, one by one.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Journal covers, family adventure passports and fun

“We never do anything fun!” That’s a phrase I hear quite often, and it usually comes a day or so after having done something really fun as a family.

I guess my kids’ short term memory is a little faulty. So I came up with a way for them to remember and get even more excited about writing about their adventures.

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I’ve always thought passports were cool, so I made each one a family adventure passport. The image on the front is our family crest (Dutch).

Now I’m not the best painter, but these hand painted passports really did the trick for my kids.

They were excited to fill the pages! Some of the places we’ve visited have stamps (one even had an embossing stamp). And for other places my girls will write a sentence or two about their favorite part, whether it’s a particular piece in an exhibit or their favorite animal at Antelope island.

They will even draw a picture of something they saw. It’s a good way for me to remind them that we do “Do fun things!” It’s also a great way for them to express their creativity and always be on the look out for new and exciting adventures.

So after making the passports, I thought they may want more space to write and draw about their fun.

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So I made these little journal covers, with a pocket for their passports. Now they can bring them wherever we go.

They were pretty easy to make too. I bought the journals first (I bought extras to replace these when they’re full) and used them to cut the fabric to the right size.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-Fabric for the outside cover
-Fabric for the inside
-A smaller piece of fabric for the pocket
-Warm and natural (or otherwise very thin batting)
-Ribbon (optional) to tie closed

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Use your journal as a pattern for the outside and inside covers. (To make sure you have the right size.) My 4-year-old chose this fabric combo, or rather insisted on it.

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Then you’ll want to cut out your pocket. I made mine a little bigger than half the height of the inside cover. That way there’s room to hem the top.

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I used the front cover as a pattern to cut out the warm and natural. This adds a bit of firmness to the cover, without being too firm.

With everything cut out, it’s time to sew!

*I didn’t use ribbons on these particular ones, but if you do, you’ll want to sew those on before sewing the front and inside covers together.

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Start by sewing the pocket on the left side of the inside cover.

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Once the pocket is in place, you’re ready to sew all three layers together. You’ll need to sew everything inside out, but because you have three layers make sure you have the pieces in the right order. Sometimes it’s easier to lay the pieces out as they would be finished first, then flip them to sew.

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Then turn them right side out and slip your journal in.

And make sure you right all about your wonderful adventures!!

It’s time to finish (start) that book

 

Whether I publish or not, it's time to write my book(s).

Whether I publish or not, it’s time to write my book(s).

I’m not talking about reading a book, I’m talking about writing one. From the time I was young I have always been concocting little stories or plays. For a project in my junior high English class we were required to complete a short story and that project sparked something in me.

Soon after that I started working on two books. One I had finished writing and the other was pretty close. But when I was 15 my house burned down to the ground, and so did my stories. Now, this was during the days of floppy and hard disks (google that, kids) that tapped out at 4 mb. And while we had the Internet (dial up), storing documents on your Google Drive was pretty much science fiction.

I gave one copy of my completed book to my high school English teacher, but when I asked her about it after the house fire she didn’t have a clue then where it would be. I’m sure by now it’s in a landfill somewhere, making a nest for the vultures. (Okay, maybe not so dramatic, it’s probably just decomposing.)

And if you’ve ever lost something you’ve written, whether it’s 100 words or 100,000, you know it’s impossible to rewrite it the same.

A few years after the fire I tried. I’ll be honest though, my desire to write had decreased some after that fire. I always worried I’d write, pour out my soul, just to lose it again.

And then the thought occurred to me, maybe we don’t always write for the masses. Maybe writing, even a fictional novel, is really just for us. Even if we do end up sharing it, publishing it, landing on the NY Times best seller’s list, maybe the real purpose was for us. Maybe it’s for me.

I know in the past I’ve used blog writing to help me heal, sort through things and move forward. I believe that even writing a fictional story about pirates in a bath tub can be for the writer.

You see, the thing with writing is that those words come from the writer’s soul. Each word and sentence and page pours out from within them. And yes, that can make the writer vulnerable should they decide to share their work. But at least the words are on a page and not trapped inside.

So with technology (and even my soul) a little more fire retardant, I think it’s time to start again. I won’t start with my stories from long ago, I’ll start with something new. But the point is, I’m starting. And I’m going to finish too.

And in an effort to hold myself accountable, I’ll describe my writing experience (and even some tips I find useful!) here.

The journey of 1000 words begins with a single … key stroke? Sure, we’ll go with that.