M is for Magic Eight Ball Tells No Tales

MEveryone experiences moments of uncertainty—those times when no matter how hard you think, you just can’t find the answer. You’re under pressure to deliver, but for the life of you, you can’t make a decision.

I was going through such a time yesterday. I needed an answer, but my brain just wouldn’t cooperate. I asked the Young One for suggestions. I even went to the Hubs for help, but unfortunately this is neither of their areas of expertise. It is all up to me.

So, late last night as I lay sleepless, I knew what I needed to do. It smacked of desperation, but I honestly could not think of an alternative.

I needed to ask the Almighty Eight to give me clarity. Under the cover of darkness, I crept into the Young One’s room. It sat on the nightstand, shining in the moon-glow. Its one round white eye beaconed me into the room.

I picked it up, and found its weight oddly comforting. The faint slosh from its insides whispered to me like an old friend.

Quietly, I began the ritual…

Shake, shake, shake. “Oh, Gr-Eight One,” I chanted. “Will I be able to come up with a good blog post starting with the letter ‘M’ tomorrow?”

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Photo Source: David Bergin (CC by 2.0)

A slow turn for the answer…

“Outlook not so good.”

Just as I feared.

A thought crossed my mind. Maybe I had been too specific with my question. I tried again.

Shake, shake, shake. “Oh, Gr-Eight One, will I write an ‘M’ blog post tomorrow?”

Turn. Wait for bubbles to clear…

“As I see it YES.”

*Whew*

The weight of the burden I had carried all day fell from my shoulders. Finally, I had clarity. I would succeed in publishing the “M” installment of my A to Z Challenge. It just wouldn’t be a particularly good one. I can live with that.

I returned the orb to its spot on the stand and walked back to my own bedroom. Not long after, I fell into a sound sleep protected by the knowledge that the Magic Eight Ball tells no tales.

Stiletto Momma’s ABCs

Every once in a while I need to challenge myself. I’d say that’s pretty good advice to anyone.

Stuck in a rut? Do something new.

Bored with the same-old-same-old? Kick it up a notch.

Can’t seem to get motivated? Take a different path, and see where it goes.

Get called out by your oldest child for being absent from your own blog? Gulp, make a few excuses, and sign up for the nearest blogging challenge.

Yes, that last one is me. On a recent visit home, the Older One mentioned that he hadn’t seen a new piece of original writing from his favorite blogger in a while.

A to Z Challenge 2016I acknowledged that I hadn’t contributed my fair share of original content lately, and then I did what any self-respecting momma would do…. I promised to make up for my lapse and never let it happen again.

I then devoted the next ten minutes to scouring my favorite blogs for inspiration. It didn’t take me long to realize my timing was pretty good. Post after post told me about each writer’s participation in a blogging event taking place for the entire month of April. The “A to Z Challenge” challenges bloggers to post each day (except Sundays) in April with a theme based on a letter of the alphabet.

This seemed to be the perfect challenge since my son’s prompting was what sent me on the quest that led to the discovery of the challenge in the first place.  His favorite book as a child, after all, was Dr. Seuss’s ABC.

ABCThe book was in heavy rotation back when he was little enough to want to curl up in a rocking chair with his momma and listen to the simple stories favored by toddlers. I read it so often I barely had to look at the pages to tell him which crazy Seuss character started with each letter.

A decade and a half later, when his sister came along, I unearthed the tattered volume from a box of keepsakes and found I could still recite the text without opening the cover. The only reason we flipped the pages was so she could look at the pictures.

So, while Dr. Seuss may have declared,

“Big ‘A’ little ‘a’. What begins with ‘A’?
Aunt Annie’s Alligator! A…A…A.!”

I say, A is for Another Awesome Challenge and the first installment of Stiletto Momma’s ABCs!

Now, what should I write about tomorrow?

Big ‘B’ little ‘b’…What begins with ‘B’…?

NaBloPoMo Fun Facts

Once I click the Publish button, I will be a happy blogger. With today’s post, I will successfully complete my first NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month)! When I wrote the first post a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I would actually be able to say that.

In fact, the reason I wrote that first post in a string of 30 (3-0!!!) was so I wouldn’t be able to turn my back to the computer when life started to get in the way. If I told the blogosphere about it, the blogosphere would know when I gave up, and I would never be able to return. I think that’s written somewhere in the terms and conditions I accepted when I set up my blogging account.

So here I am on Day 30 at the end of my longest blogging streak, and as I look through my writings of the past month, I have learned some fun facts about what happens during NaBloPoMo:

  1. With quite a bit of planning, I am actually able to write 30 back-to-back posts. Not long after I published that first post, I drew a grid on a piece of paper and called it an editorial calendar. It wasn’t high-tech by any stretch, but it worked for me. Apparently, I think better when I scribble.calendar
  2. With this post, I will have written 11,524 words in 30 days. That’s an average of 384 words per day–pretty impressive when you consider they were all crammed in among a full-time job, gym workouts, girl scout meetings, homework supervision, meal prep and pre-holiday stress.
  3. November is the worst month for NaBloPoMo. I should have had my Christmas shopping finished by now, but I chose to plan my blogging list instead of my holiday shopping list. Now, I’m in a panic because I haven’t wrapped a single present, the house isn’t decorated, and tomorrow is December 1st! Let’s move NaBloPoMo to March.
  4. November is the best month for NaBloPoMo. After I looked at the dates on my hand-drawn calendar I realized, I have a lot to share in November. First came Election Day, which is near to my heart. Then came Veteran’s Day, which is even nearer. The entire month is National Adoption Month which works out great because I’m an adoptive momma. I celebrated the 25th anniversary of meeting my hubby this month, and I celebrated USMA Branch Night with my son. After adding in Thanksgiving and my birthday, I realized I had quite a bit of material to work with. Let’s keep NaBloPoMo in November!
  5. I started a new feature, “Say It Like You Mean It”, which showcases words that inspire me as well as words I wish I’d written first!
  6. I published a new number one post. On the Eve of Branch Night easily broke my previous most-read post’s view count and became my most shared post. Not bad for a post I dug out of the draft files. I started writing that post way back in March when a completely different topic was on my mind. I didn’t post it at the time because it just didn’t feel right. I had thought about pulling it out several times since then, but again, it just didn’t feel right. This time though, when I framed it around my son’s invitation to the Army branch of his choice, it felt like it had been waiting for just that moment to shine, and it certainly did.
  7. I got retweeted! Aside from publicizing my posts to Twitter and the rare occasion when the only way to enter a contest is to tweet about it, I don’t really get into sharing my thoughts in 140 characters or less. During the last two weeks, however, I have been retweeted not once but twice! Don’t look for me to switch formats to micro-blogging, but I admit, I thought about it…for about 140 micro-seconds.
  8. I have a lot to be thankful for. I was actually able to make a list of 100 thankfuls, and still found more to add after I clicked Publish.
  9. The Hubs is my biggest fan. He was the first to like every post. Way to be a social networking cheerleader, Hubby!
  10. Daily blogging is hard work. There is a reason I have never done this before. It’s called life. Most of my posts were penned in pieces…a little bit before work, a few more sentences at lunch, editing and photography in the evening between homework and lunchbox packing. I gave myself a break on Saturdays with someone else’s words in my “Say It Like You Mean It” posts, and on Sundays I tried to write and schedule at least two workday blogs in addition to my Sunday post. It was worth it though because now I can say I did it, and next year, I’ll know it can be done. The precedent has been set, and I won’t be so fearful next time.

NaBloPoMo has come to an end. My fingers hurt from all the typing and my brain feels a little fuzzy from all the thinking, but I’ll be back for my second round next year. Who knows, maybe I’ll even buy myself a real calendar!

And Now for the Main Event…Election Returns!

I VotedI voted! The ballot seemed to go on forever…senator, mayor, sheriff, county clerk and more than 20 judges. It took me a full five minutes, but I made sure I filled in every oval with the little number two pencil tied to the cubicle.

Now, I think I’ll pop some popcorn, pour a glass of wine and watch the election returns.

Next to actually participating in the Democratic process, watching the news anchors guess the outcomes of the races has always been my favorite part of election night.

Not long after I cast my first ballot at the age of 18, I scored an internship at my local newspaper. That spring I fulfilled my dream of being a political reporter.

My first assignment was to cover the election returns for the Presidential primary (among other local races) at the county courthouse.  My editor either had great faith in my journalistic ability or he couldn’t find anyone else on the small paper’s staff who wanted to stay up past midnight on a Tuesday night. I choose to believe he saw my future as a White House press correspondent before anyone else did.

All the local reporters from the county–me and another guy from the paper representing the county seat–crowded into a room filled with election officials and a blackboard. Some of the election officials counted and others wrote the results on the blackboard.

I didn’t make any outlandish predictions. I just added up the numbers and copied them into my brand new reporter’s notebook.

Around 11:59 p.m., someone declared the handwritten numbers on the blackboard official. A few phone calls were made to notify the candidates, and at about 12:07 a.m. everyone went home.

Democracy in a small town in the pre-digital age…it sure wasn’t the political scene from Scandal, but I like to think that for that one night, at the idealistic age of 18, I was a gladiator in a suit!

The polls close in 15 minutes! I need to go pop that popcorn!

Get Ready! Get Set! NaBloPoMo!

The Young One and I have been talking a lot about the power of positive thinking. When things get tough, she has a tendency to think herself not worthy of the task and pretty much talk herself into not succeeding.

I have a plan to address this that I’ll share in a later post, but first I have come to the conclusion that I need to listen to my own advice: positive words lead to positive actions.

NaBloPoMoToday marks the beginning of NaBloPoMo–National Blog Post Month–where thousands of bloggers commit to writing and publishing a blog post every day for the entire month of November.  I’ve thought about joining this celebration of the blogosphere for a few years now, but that “commit to writing” a post a day part always get in the way.

EVERY DAY for 30 days! Can I really do that?

If I follow my own advice to my daughter, I have to believe I really can. Over and over again I tell her:

  • Believe in yourself, and you can do anything.
  • Try hard, and you can succeed.
  • If you tell yourself you can do it, you will.
  • Nothing of value ever comes easy.
  • You have the power to achieve whatever it is you want.
  • If you don’t at least try, you’ll won’t know if can.

What kind of a role model am I if I don’t set this example for her?

So, here I am at the starting line of the longest blogging marathon I’ve ever entered.  The end of it may be just a tiny spot in the distance, but I can do this. I can write and publish one post every day for the next 30 days. I can find a few minutes in every day in which to string a few sentences together and move just a little bit closer to the finish line.

I can do this because I know at the end of the race is a little girl who needs to see me have a victory dance. She needs to hear me say, “I can”, and then watch me as I do.

I need to hear me say, “I can.” I need to watch me do.

Today, I am joining NaBloPoMo, and I am going to cross the finish line. Just watch me!

I Want To Write

This is my dream…the number one on my bucket list…the one written in all caps in bold black marker, underlined, circled and boxed and then circled again.

Keyboard

I want to write all the words on the page.

My dream is to write–not just 10 minutes a day or 500 words a post. I want to write all day, every day.

I want to spend my days writing–writing until the pages are full and the story is all out and my fingers hurt and my shoulders pinch and my heading is swimming and my heart rejoices.

I want to look at a blank screen, wonder where to start and magically find the beginning.

I want the story out there for the world to see and read and share.

I want to revel in accomplishment and feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

I want to put aside the excuses and the fears and shut out the voice that taunts, “You can’t.”

I want to shout, “I did it!” instead of whispering, “I wish I had.”

I want to tell a story and build a world full of characters who are brave and heroic, funny and smart, lovable and despised.

I want my work to be my passion and passion be my work. I want to stop saying some day and make today the day.

I want to live the dream. I want to write.

Five Minute Friday**Today’s post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and word “Write” Do you have what it takes to put it all out there in five minutes of frantic blogging? Check out Lisa-Jo Baker’s site and give it a try.

High-Heeled Momma Awarded Hat Trick

I like to think I’m wearing four-inch jewel-encrusted open-toed stilettos as I take the podium to give my acceptance speech for the honors bestowed on me this week. In reality, though, I’m sitting behind my desk with my toes swathed in fluffy warm socks and trying to type coherent thoughts through a haze of cold medicine and sleepless nights.

liebster_awardI am, however, beyond excited to be nominated not once…not twice…but THREE times for the Liebster Award–an award given to bloggers by other bloggers in an effort to offer encouragement to those with small followings but huge potential. It also offers bloggers that thing we yearn for above all others–LINK LOVE. At least three bloggers have linked to this little blog I call home, and with any luck a few of their followers have clicked through to read about the night I met my hubby, the dog who stole my shoe and the night my daughter and I cried for our favorite boy among other fun things.

Those who found me worthy of their link love and nominated me for the Liebster Award are:

The Zombies Ate My Brains and the blogger who claims to be “Rescuing what might remain of the gray matter,” and doing battle on a semi-regular basis with a vacuum cleaner.

Baby Gates Down who was my second nominator and who, through her own acceptance post, let me know it’s okay to accept and share the love.

Charlotte’s Big Inca Trail Challenge whose nomination came in while I tried to sleep through the sniffles last night and whose adventure I follow on a regular basis.

A big blogosphere THANK YOU to each of you. When I say I am beyond excited, I am giving the greatest praise I can. In my family that means we are jumping up and down, spinning in circles, high fiving and fist bumping with a blow up at the end. It doesn’t get any better than that.

So, now that the cold medicine has kicked in and I can breathe again for the time-being, I am ready to climb the stairs to my virtual podium and accept the great honor bestowed on me…and share a little link love of my own. Please feel free to join me, and click through to these blogs. I endorse all of them and it is definitely worth your click.

The rules of acceptance…

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog. (Flash back to the fist bumping blow-up above.)
  2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.  (I have three sets of questions to answer, so stay tuned.)
  3. You must nominate 10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
  4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

I really want you to visit some of my favorite blogs, so I’m going to skip to number three. And the nominees are…

The questions for my nominees to answer are…

  1. Army or Navy?
  2. Why do you blog?
  3. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
  4. What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
  5. What is the best book you read in 2013?
  6. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
  7. When you aren’t blogging, what is you’re favorite thing to do?
  8. How many pairs of shoes are in your closet?
  9. What are you going to do when you are done with all the work I’ve given you to accept this award?
  10. What’s for dinner?

And now for the answers to my nominator’s questions. I’ll try to keep this short. I have 30 questions to answer plus dinner to make, nails to polish and a cough to suppress.

Because I love a good Zombie flick, I’ll start with questions from The Zombie Ate My Brains:

  1. Keaton or Chaplin (I’m talking silent screen stars, btw) I’ll admit to taking a film class in college. I’ll also admit that was a long time ago. I seem to recall Chaplin had a reputation as a not very nice guy, and since I like my guys nice, I’ll have to go with Keaton. (If I’ve gotten them confused, feel free to flip flop the answer.)
  2. How many times a day do you check your email? In my current free-agent state, I check email probably four times a day, but really only to check for sales at my favorite stores and to see if I have any new WordPress followers.
  3. Do you have a pet?  Is it on your lap/laptop at the moment? I have two doggies–a fluffy one and a furry one–and they are both forsaking me for the warmth of the fireplace right now.
  4. Do your friends/family/associates read and follow your blog? Of course they follow me! However, when I sent my colleagues the link to my blog on my last day in the office, they were all pretty surprised. I try to keep my personal and professional selves separate, so I won’t befriend co-workers on Facebook or feel as though I have to edit myself in my blog when I know they might be reading.
  5. Does the fact that your friends/family/associates read and follow your blog make a difference to how or what you write? Absolutely. Certain life events and people are off limits, and I think about who is reading what before I push publish…and all names are changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent.
  6. When you are on hold waiting for the customer service rep to come back with the answer, how do you pass the time?  Making to-do lists I have no intention of completing.
  7. Do you consider blogging a hobby or a job? I’m treating it like a job at the moment because I don’t currently have one of those.
  8. Introvert or extrovert? I’m afraid to answer.
  9. This Liebster thing is a lot of work, do you agree? Hmmm…since I’m on hour two, I’ll say, “Yes!”
  10. Do you forgive me? Absolutely!  It’s all in the name of link love!

Next! Baby Gates Down

  1. Why do you blog? I love to write, and I hope some of the things I write about can help other people.
  2. If you could be anyone for one day, who would it be? My daughter’s bff!  I’d love to go to school and hang with her for a day.
  3. Favourite movie? An Officer and a Gentleman. I just love a man in uniform.
  4. Do you like to dance? Yes! Neighbors spying through my windows can often catch glimpses of me and my daughter twirling each other to the latest Kids Bop hits.
  5. What is your ideal evening out of the house? Dinner with the entire family at our favorite steakhouse (even though I don’t eat red meat) and dessert at Dairy Queen (even though dairy makes me feel blah)!
  6. Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?  If yes, have you kept it? I resolved to do something new, and focusing on the blog-thing is my new thing!
  7. Favourite quote? “Desire. Nothing is far and nothing is new if one desires. The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing–desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little.”–Willa Cather, Song of the Lark
  8. Rich and okay or poor and truly happy? I’ll take happy over okay and hope to win the lottery!
  9. Do you believe that work-life balance exists? If you can be fortunate to find the right work, it can definitely balance with life. When the work is unfulfilling and stressful, it overflows to the life part and tips the balance the wrong way.
  10. Chips, candy or what’s your poison? BBQ Chips for me, please.

And last, but by no means least, Charlotte’s Big Inca Trail Challenge asks:

  1. Who, living or dead, would you most like to meet, and why? I am inspired by strong women, so I would love to meet Margaret Thatcher.
  2. If you won the lottery jackpot, what would you do with your winnings? I would share the wealth with my immediate family, donate to the Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America so they could find a cure for my IBD and visit every place on my bucket list.
  3. Name three things which are on your bucket list. 1) Write a novel. 2) Travel to Italy. 3) Get paid (even if its not a lot) for doing something about which I am truly passionate.
  4. What is your earliest memory? I remember waking up early one Saturday and walking into the kitchen to find my brother at the table. I don’t know why I said it, but I whispered, “Nobody love me.” He looked at me and said matter of factly, “I love you.” End of conversation. I got my own bowl of cereal and went about watching cartoons.
  5. What can you not live without? The family–it’s all about the family.
  6. If anything was possible what would you invent? A dishwasher that puts the dishes away for you.  (Disclaimer: My son always said this was going to be his invention because he always had to put the dishes away.)
  7. What would your superhero name be? Stiletto Momma, naturally!
  8. Do you know the Muffin Man? Not personally, but I love a good blueberry muffin on occasion.
  9. What was the first movie you ever saw, (or at least remember seeing)? It was some Godzilla movie that kept me awake wondering why their lips didn’t move with their words.
  10. What is your party trick? I have a super secret pretzel recipe that gets me admission to the neighborhood party of my choosing!

So, there you have it. Mission accomplished. Liebster Award accepted and passed on. I really am excited to have been nominated and to know that someone other than my husband and parents read my words.

Now, where is that box of tissues?