a collection of steps

Posts Tagged ‘kids’

In Case of Stress: Reach Under Chair

In Christ, God, Jesus, kids, office, Writing on June 26, 2009 at 10:19 am

Well, we’re in. My back is killing me, my nerves are frayed and here we are with an echo in our new home.Paperwork Overload

We pared down to essentials and it’s bittersweet. It’s refreshing, like a good, overdue haircut and unsettling, like waking up in your bed at someone else’s house.

Overall, it’s a blessing. I’m the official babysitter of our grandson every Thursday. Job opportunities are pouring in for my husband (thanks to a great friend who sends listings to him every day!). We’re literally 15 minutes away from our kid’s house (it was a 3-hour drive one-way), and we can now attend church with them every Sunday!

Nonetheless, we’re still quite in the middle of transitioning our lives. We need to list the house (e-mail me if you’re looking to buy a charming Victorian dollhouse in Peoria), and there’s still much to clean, box up and move. Ugh! My back hurts just thinking of it!

Smack dab in the middle of this lightning speed move, I squeezed out four days to attend a writer’s conference. I was having lunch with another conferee; a lovely woman named Leslie, who relieved me of much stress by sharing her emergency strategy for such times.

“I have a bag of M&M’s taped to the bottom of my chair,” she told me. “You see, I can’t trust myself around M&M’s.  If I was Eve in the Garden of Eden, there would not have been an apple tree; it would have been an M&M tree.” I laughed hysterically (note to reader: laughter also relieves stress, though chocolate is tastier)!

She explained her plan, “One day I’m eating a bag of M&M’s at my desk at work and realize I had to stop.  So I taped up the bag and then taped it to the bottom of my chair. This way, when it’s a real emergency, I can just reach under my chair and there they are!”

What a concept, to have chocolate so readily available for times of stress! No driving to the store like a madwoman, shoving people aside in the aisles, ripping open candy bars and devouring them in public (I’ve never done that, I was just hypothesizing).

I ponder this plan of Leslie’s as two cold packs ice my throbbing back and realize that there is no chocolate within my reach. Obviously, I need to make some changes in my strategy. OK, I don’t, but I am glad that I have a new friend, a new home, new opportunities and can hug and kiss my kids every day. Life is good, despite the stress.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you that Leslie also shared how God changed her whole life and that He is her true stress-reliever. All kidding aside, He is mine too and at that lunch table we communed and mused on the mysteriously awesome way He fills our hearts with hope and carries our burdens and heals our hearts.

Jesus’ anti-stress strategy is better than chocolate:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:27-30 The Message)

Having Kids

In books, Children, kids, Moms, plots, publishing, Writing on May 1, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Having children doesn’t always involve diapers and new mommies don’t always have kids.  Sounds like I’m heading into a metaphor, doesn’t it?  You got me.

To an empty-nester like me, motherhood is all about birthing books.

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Of course conception is the most fun.  A thought, an idea or a dream plays around in your mind pretending to be plots and titles, scenes and scenarios. But until one germinates it is just fantasy.

Writers, who entertain such titillation without a commitment to capture those thoughts on paper, or to develop them into publishable means, exist with the frustration and disappointment of a dreamer.

For years, my writing life was just that – until I got tired of staring at books and imagining my name on their spines.

I had become disgusted with my non-committal attitude toward my craft and exhausted by day dreams. Since my teen years, when a word winked at me or a phrase whispered in my ear, I, the willing prisoner, would stick my hands in the air and cry, Ok!  I give up! I had no clue how to arrest the wild onslaught of creative energy.

Instead, I’d be carried away captive and existed in a cell of false belief that someday I would just morph into an author.  I still have stacks of nothing books stuffed with unfertilized seeds – tales that will never be told.

When I finally got busy learning my craft and taking it seriously, I still had to fight off the temptation to sit and dream. I’d often get lost in thoughts of standing in a bookstore, reaching for my offspring, bound and stamped with my name, flipping through the leaves of the work of my days.  I’d imagine the feel of its cover in my fingertips, squeezing it and stroking its letters in unbelief, thinking, did I give birth to this beautiful child?

The other fight I encountered by choosing self-discipline was the work itself. Give me the baby all bathed and wrapped in soft a cuddly blanket, resting contentedly in my arms and everyone around me saying, “What a beautiful baby!”  Yes!  That’s what I want!  To drive to the bookstore, walk to the shelf and just pull my book off and see it complete, bound forever in its own identity.  Forget the labor!

Then a fear emerged. What will I do when my child is grown and gone?  How do I send my book off into the world wrapped in a box only to arrive at some publishing house where it may be shelved or thrown away, unread, unopened?  How do I cope with the thrill and pain of watching it be read, then hearing all about its flaws and reasons why it’s not good enough to print – to be cut down, edited, critiqued and rejected by strangers?  My precious child, of whom I labored day and night to create, I’d rather not give birth to you than to send you into a world so cruel and watch your life be so treated!

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The 'Novel Vigilante'

Enough drama; authors become authors because they birth books. Authors become Moms when they raise books.  And so I must engage in the shameless self-promotion of my first child.  My novel, The ‘Novel Vigilante’ will be published later this month!  Come see all my ‘kids’ at www.ccsemick.com.