Written Rejection

Having just this morning received my very first “writing job” rejection letter, one might think I’d be feeling blue.

But as any successful writer knows, rejection is a part of the game.

So is perseverance and of that I have an abundance.

It got me wondering, though, what is it about being rejected that usually hurts so much and why aren’t I all that bothered that this one didn’t work out?

Obviously being rejected means that something about you isn’t good enough, not right, not what they were looking for.

The comment on my canned rejection letter said this,

“We base our criteria for acceptance on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, quality of writing and knowledge of topic.”

Well, well. Quality and knowledge.

Back to perseverance.

Off to write something real.

Have you been rejected from writing jobs? How did you go about creating a career in writing? If perseverance is necessary, is a full-time job with insurance also equally important? 

XOM

Write

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Already Missing Nanc – The Weeds Finale Boo Hoo

It’s been said that nothing ever ends without a little bit of sadness.

The final episode of the best show on television has left me with a lot more than a little bit sadness.

I had written (then trashed) an entire post about the tremendous eight seasons of Weeds; about Nancy’s nine lives, about the unbelievable writing that made even the craziest situations ring true, about the love, about the loss, about the fairy tale that wouldn’t be.

Sometimes less is more.

Nancy didn’t end up with Andy. Silas’ life wasn’t any longer about his mother. Shane needed more help than ever. Doug admitted to his terrible mistake. Andy found his happy life with the child he had always wanted.

I am still teary eyed from the finale that I watched while the kids were off at school.

I so wanted the show to be tied up with a pretty bow to make everything okay.

To make Nancy okay.

But then that wouldn’t have stayed true to Weeds as a whole.

The truth (which the writers were well aware) is that there is no fairy tale. The best any of us can hope for is that in the end we are surrounded by the people who love us the most despite the sum of our mistakes (hopefully on some steps somewhere under a gentle falling snow).

A new chapter begins for Nancy; one that we will have to imagine in our minds.

A new chapter begins for the rest of us, too, as it does every day.

I’m really going to miss Mary Louise Parker as Nancy. For seven years she’s been my Sunday night reminder that strong-willed girls in amazing shoes can do anything, be anything, and always land on their feet.

XOM

Me versus I ~ A Lesson

I hate to be a snoot, I just really like proper grammar.

More specifically, I have trouble with the improper use of the pronouns me versus I.

There’s something about the nature of this one that gets my grammar panties in a bunch. It is a lazy error made much too often.

Apparently, Ms. Gillian Flynn (author of the novel Gone Girl) also has a problem with the misunderstood grammatical rule as her character (Amy) makes reference to it many times in the book. If you’ve read the book, let’s just assume it’s the only characteristic Amy and I share…not Amy and me share… Amy and I.

Here’s an example of proper usage:

Gillian and I like grammar.

Yes. Leave out Gillian, and I like grammar.

Incorrect usage:

Gillian Flynn and me believe in proper usage.

Forget that it bugs Ms. Flynn. Me believe in proper usage? Well, yes, but no. No. No. No.

It’s so easy and trust me, people will want to hug you if you get stuck mid sentence and need a chance to work it out.

Better to do it right than have grammaristas all over the world fussing with their bunched up underpants, or worse, close out your blog post without making it to the end.

XOM

Blog Love

My real life bloggy friend Christine (from Love,Life,Surf) has inspired me with her weekly roundup of bloggers and posts.

In blogland there are masses of talented people with fantastic points of view.

Here are some of the gems I found (and re-discovered) this week!

1. She describes herself as a “teenager completely obsessed with fashion.” Living in New York City, she blogs at You’re a Tulle and writes for Huffington Post and Chictopia. I’m old enough to be her mother, but she’s my hero; channeling her passion and building a fantastic creative work life at such a young age! Odelia Kaly is a voice that I am convinced we will be hearing a lot from in the fashion circles of the future.

2. Months ago I stubled upon a blogger named Coco J. Ginger who blogs at Courting Madness. A poet, Coco had written about a breakup that spoke to me on so many levels. I tweeted her to tell her how much I liked her work, but as the days and weeks went by I forgot her name (it happens, sadly) and thus began my new search. How excited I was to find her again (I have since begun keeping a notebook of favorite blogs). Poetry is interesting; not always easy to understand as it’s rarely spelled out clearly. It’s also tough to write (my rhymy attempt). But Courting Madness has a great following with lots of likes! Her words resonate. Especially her words about love.

3. Having recently blogged about my diet overhaul (and writing about the task of removing sugar and gluten) I received a comment by a blogger named Vinny Grette (silly pseudonym?) over at Cook Up a Story. Currently writing about nutrition for children, he (or is he a she?) suggested I read his post about stevia. I read it and loved the writing style. So often, books and blogs about nutrition are as dry as Melba toast. Vinny’s work is clever and easy to understand without being preachy.

4. One of my favorite yogis, Lisa O’Brien from lifeyum believes in feeling good and doing good. She did so this week by sharing with her readers the work and words (guest post) of Elex DiSanto Scheels from Om Frog Yoga. Alex is a mom of triplets, a yogi, and her piece about sending the kids back to school is great! To say, “I relate,” would be an understatement.

5. Describing herself on Twitter as a ” former model who loves fashion and running,” Diary of a Dashing Fashionista has put together a great post about this season’s sportswear trends. From brands I know and love (Stella to Lululemon), to brands I haven’t yet discovered (No Balls and Wellicious), there’s a great array of information and images to excite any girl’s running fashionista within.

Happy reading!

XOM

8×10 print created by Jennifer Ramos at Made by Girl @Etsy. Check out Jen’s Made by Girl blog, too! She’s a New York City graphic designer and entrepreneur. Just fantastic!

Girls

Today was the first day back to school and we piled into the car with backpacks empty except for spare sets of clothes, feet in socks and flashing Sketchers, bug spray to ward of playground mosquitos and girls who weren’t sure they were ready to go.

As I pulled out of the driveway I remembered how lousy morning car radio is for children. Too much talk and not enough music, tragic for little girls who get their groove on the most (the best) from the back seat of my Sequoia.

So, as I do when they just can’t stand the sound of the canned laughter and strange manly voices, I cued up song eight of disk one; Madonna’s, “What it Feels Like for a Girl.” It calms them and we listen to the breathy lovely lyrics describing what it’s like for our kind.

Incidentally, since we’re on the subject, I, depressed from the season enders (True Blood) and the almost season enders (Weeds) and the not yet started (Dexter) went on demand last night to watch the relatively new HBO show entitled Girls.

Girls, it turns out, is so amazingly written I can’t even describe the level of writing without sounding clichéd (genius, and such). It’s written, directed, acted and produced by the talented Lena Dunham (executive produced by Judd Apatow). Lena plays a writer named Hannah who thinks she might be the voice for her generation, but it’s the creator who very well might be. If you haven’t started watching you are missing out. I sure was!

This afternoon after pickup we headed home to a few good hours of house cleaning, which gave me an opportunity to listen to the audible reading of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

I’ve reached part two of the novel and I concur with the New York Times; a masterpiece!

I can’t, I won’t, I wish I could tell you….

Just go and buy it and message me when you’re done. You will not be sorry!

XOM.

Stumbling Upon StumbleUpon

For months now I’ve been told to check out StumbleUpon, a social media searching site for bloggers, business builders and average Internet users alike. Unlike google+1, which I couldn’t quite figure out (thus never earning a place on my social media work calendar), after a quick registration and a good deal of poking around, I’ve gathered enough information to deem the site incredibly effective in its purpose; useful to those who take the stumbling plunge.

Like anything new there’s a learning curve, but the best new technological tools are the ones that don’t take too much time to decipher and pack a powerful punch in what they can do for you.

Here’s what I found…

1. You have to sign up.

A lot of people are hesitant to put their names and information into any site for fear of over abundant junk mail or opening themselves up to some sort of evil hacking computer nightmare.

Fear not. I have yet to receive anything weird in the way of emails or evil hacking nightmares and I signed up in June.

2. It’s like Google, only different.

I google everything from telephone numbers to recipes to images for Mommyland (though that is changing due to the legality issues involved).

But often when searching google in larger categories (like mom bloggers or running or healthy eating), the search is too broad which leads to more and more clicks, never quite getting exactly what I was looking for.

Once you’ve registered with Stumble and begin to search your interests, blogs (articles and sometimes pictures, too) will pop up onto your screen for your review.

If you like what you see, you click the like button, upon which time the search engine finds more content similar in focus. As your likes grow, the site has a better idea of the content that you are searching for, thus putting more of the web at your fingertips. The introduction to things you may not have so easily found on your own is a plus.

If you do not like what you’ve seen, you simply click the stumble button in the upper left hand corner and new content will come up; still under the umbrella of your category search.

Is it a little “Big Brother?” Maybe. But Big Brother is inevitable with an Internet that can track our every move (I’m not saying I like it). It’s par for the course and we’re not talking about inputting social security numbers or anything (because that would be dumb, not to mention unsafe).

3. Who has time anymore?

When I first started blogging I spent a ton of time reading other blogs. Bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, personalities and styles, and it takes time to find the ones who speak to you. You could (and I did) search all day, from dusk ’til dawn, but this will inevitably ensure that the rest of your life will quickly fall apart (i.e. hungry kids, messy house, children with glazed over television eyes).

With StumbleUpon I’ve been able to quickly search categories of interest leading me to places I’ve never been. It’s a time saver in some ways, but in other ways it takes an extra bit of effort.

4. Sharing is caring.

For example, say you are blog reading and come across a really great post that you want to share. Once you hit the stumble icon, you will be directed to a page that asks you some pertinent information about the post.

Yes it takes a minute to fill in whether or not its suitable for work, what category it falls within and maybe if you’re feeling generous, the tags that will link the post to other more specific searches (the whole point of tagging).

But if you do it, even just once a day when you find really unbelievable content, you will be helping out your neighbor who may have been searching for the very same thing from in front of their own magical Mac.

It’s a win/win, for the reader and the writer.

5. From the other side; how to use StumbleUpon to grow your business.

After writing a blog post and submitting your work by clicking the Stumble icon (which you must add like you would a facebook or twitter link) you are adding your content to the StumbleUpon search engine giving new viewers a chance at discovering your work.

A few months back I met a blogger who suggested that most of her traffic and monetary leads had been coming through the site. My curiosity was peaked at which time I signed up, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I conducted my own experiment and saw for myself the reach of the site.

The number of readers who liked my work after stumbling upon me added about 10% to my overall viewer statistics for the day. I’m still small over here in Mommyland, but no intelligent blogger would balk at adding that kind of percentage to his/her daily stats. All bloggers want readers, so it’s worth the effort to submit your work after it’s been published.

Worth noting, too, through Twitter I engaged with users who were seeing increased interest in their sites based on clicks through Stumble. Sarah Pardieck from Notice the Dirt was kind enough to tweet me a response to my query about the stumble experience and mentioned that she gets “quite a bit of traffic, but only stumbles certain categories of posts.” She also suggested that using lots of images up top (“above the fold”) would seemingly catch more attention and increase the likelihood that a stumbler would stay to read what you’ve got. Smart girl, that Sarah!

6. Mix it Up? In what category do you find success?

To be honest, I still consider myself a newby (less than a year in) and am still working out the best way to categorize my work to get more views. Like everything social media related it takes time and patience (and work and effort) to find that magical component that helps a blogger find success among the masses. If what they say is true, that being yourself, having your own clear voice and working hard is the key to long-standing success, then continuing to find my way in regard to categorizing myself is an important piece of the puzzle.

At this point I blog about running and healthy eating, motherhood and kids, and so I have submitted my work as such. This post, however, will be entered under “social media” and I’m looking forward to seeing the results in my stats.

No matter which way you look at it, as a simple searcher or a calculated endeavor to grow your business, I do believe that Stumbling is a useful tool for both groups.

Tell me what you think? Will you try it? Do you use StumbleUpon already?

XOM

Sorry about the fuzzy and less than beautiful photo. I searched for free stock images, but my desire for a somewhat aesthetically pleasing website negates their use.

Yin Yang A Yin Yin Yang

When I agreed to drive home from our seven weeks away it seemed like a good idea. I knew I’d have collected various suitcase filling objects and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to fit our stuff in the belly of a plane or comfortably underneath our seats.

As predicted, we left Groton Long Point yesterday morning with a car stuffed full, so much so that the only way to get to the cooler full of drinks was through the rolled down back window of the Four Runner (the door was blocked by a finicky bike rack). The roof rack above was filled to the brim with dismantled Hello Kitty bikes, dirty towels and random soft bags with items that normally do not go together (shampoo and shoes and Barbies, for example). I placed my precious laptop against the safest spot I could find (next to my feet on the passenger side floor) and surrounding us in every other empty space was an explosion of brought along foods, coloring books, items from the pencil boxes, empty Dunkin Donut bags and pillows and toys.

We rolled into Raleigh after eleven and promptly released the girls.

Said Grace later; “Mom. It’s like we were in jail and we didn’t even do anything bad to get there!”

All along the way I kept thinking that the trip could be described as Yin and Yang.

Yin: Passing around the nectarine and pear I’d brought and watching each family member take a bite.

Yang: Breakfast at McDonald’s (the girls and I didn’t actually eat it, so maybe that’s yin). But dinner at Wendy’s? So yang.

Yin: Outsmarting the GPS that was determined to take us over the George Washington Bridge. We found our way to the Tapanzee and were certain it would be smooth sailing all the way home.

Yang: Three hours of stop and go traffic through D.C.

Yin: Both girls falling asleep and staying that way through most of D.C.

Yang: The cries from the back seat when they woke with sore backs and crampy legs.

Yin: Listening to Sophie sing the words to Call Me, Maybe? (beginning to end) in her high-pitched lovely little voice.

Yang: Listening to Sophie singing the words to Call Me, Maybe? (beginning to end) after twelve or so hours on the road.

Yin: Listening to Adele full blast during my turn at the wheel.

Yang: Being so engrossed in that beautiful voice and missing the last big freeway change.

Yin: The Map Quest directions that said the trip would be eleven hours door to door.

Yang: Fourteen hours later peeling myself from the seat of the car and walking around my house, happy to be here but exhausted and with a headache.

Yin: Pechie’s bowl of freshly made spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge.

Yin: A fridge full of groceries that she bought for us so I wouldn’t have to take the girls in the car again today.

Yin: My house; relatively clean.

Yang: Out of toilet paper and coffee.

Yin: Kids off playing.

Yin: Me typing at my space.

Yin: Back to blogging and writing and running and yoga class and preschool and my juicer and my friends (both real and bloggy).

Yin: There’s no place like home.

XOM.

Grace seven hours in…

#YA

Before leaving Raleigh the girls and I took a trip to the book store to purchase our favorite quiet time activity to be used as an airport/airplane/traveling diversion; a couple of the Usborne sticker books.

Before hitting the children’s section, however, we made our millionth visit to the public bathroom, passing the young adult section on our way.

As we exited, I glanced toward the packed shelves and ran my hands over the end cap outfacing fiction for young adults, clear in my mind that this was my next writing venture. I wished I had time to sit and investigate on my own without little hands pulling me in the opposite direction.

I could have started writing #YA sooner, but I knew I needed to get to Maine before the words would form and flow and the story would appear.

I was right and on our first morning here it began as I’d hoped. I’m currently a good way into chapter one; my main character introduced with his place in the world cemented.

It’s advised when writing a book to let others read and hear it often, often enough that quality feedback can be rendered and opinions can be shared.

So this morning I read my first 1300 words while Peachie listened intently.

When I finished she said she liked it.

She said it was, “riveting.”

She said it drew her in.

But she is my mother and she has to say that, so I will keep writing and sharing with my closest and dearest; the ones who will tell me the truth; who trust I can handle the truth. Maybe I’ll share it with interested strangers. Why not.

To aid in the task ahead I’ve been taking lots of pictures of this place. I’m excited to write about it, to share it with people near and far, and the pictures are helping me to find the words.

The Maine state motto is Dirigo, which means I lead, and the Polar Star is its seal because if its location at the uppermost tip of our country, the first place you can see the sun rise in America.

But the iconic sign that you see upon entrance to the state proudly proclaims, “Welcome to Maine. The Way Life Should be!”

In so many ways it is. But you have to experience it to understand what that means. Once the seed is planted (the understanding and acceptance of all its parts) the love for the place begins to grow and stick like barnacles on beach rocks.

Beach rocks!

You’ll find them make their appearance someplace in chapter two.

My camera took this photo by accident. Sometimes accidents are happy mistakes.
Some people wouldn’t consider this a beach day. We feel differently.
Flag etiquette. Purists believe that we should always fly our country’s flag at the very top of the gaff. Here, the American flag is below the Burgee, the small triangular flag representing the club where the flags are flown. Below is the Canadian flag for our friends and neighbors to the north who also love this place, and at an equal level is the flag for the state of Maine. I’m a purist. I’ve got to go make a call….

A Good Day

Saturday morning began with my running group the WannaBeasts (10.5 minutes per mile) and eight sweaty miles through the greenway around Shelly Lake, behind Crabtree Valley Mall. There was ninety-eight percent humidity and while it felt like running through soup, it was fast and easy (even downright pleasant) thanks to the conversation with my partner Nancy (whom I’d just met) and the energy of the team.

Afterward, instead of heading home to shower, I drove to Peachie’s for one last visit to her empty house and to drop off the baby clothes that the girls had gathered from their closet the day before (during their own packing session for Maine).

“It’s too small, it goes in the baby pile!”

I sat in Peachie’s back yard drenched in sweat and snot (my poor skirt had served as kleenex on the trail) and watched squirrels in pine trees pull branches from limbs and scurry away. I wondered if this is how they collected their nuts. I reminded myself that I loathe squirrels, especially after they had taken refuge in my attic a few years ago.

I called my sister and we talked.

I called my Peach and we talked even more.

When I couldn’t stand the dried sweat a second longer I left for home, driving and listening to the radio stations that are playing the same songs on rotation this Summer. I know all of the words.

I showered and threw on a typically scary post run outfit; a comfy bra, white and purple stretchy shorts that say, “I heart Saints,” a washed blue KBIA t-shirt that I intentionally cut down the front and unintentionally ripped under the arm, and bright pink CEP compression calf sleeves I’d received in the mail the day before.

I don’t like to match my clothes post run. The more mismatched I look the better I feel. I’m pretty sure that most runners feel the same way about their recovery outfits. It’s not mentioned much, but take a look at most running blogger’s post run photos and it becomes obvious. It might even be an unsaid qualification for calling oneself a runner.

As happens after a good medium to long run I was tired. I shuffled around the house until I couldn’t bring myself to shuffle anymore and by 3:00 curled up on the sofa with the girls for an episode of Sponge Bob.

I promptly fell asleep.

Grace soon nudged me and said that she was tired, too, and surprisingly both girls followed me upstairs where we crawled into their beds. Unexpected as neither girl has taken a nap since 2010. When I woke and realized that it was 7:00 p.m., I knew there’d be a long night ahead.

We came downstairs where Brian had made dinner and had it waiting on the kitchen bar; cheeseburgers, french fries and onion rings.

I cut up some lettuce and tomato and made plates of food that we took outside to eat by tiki lamps.

The girls were happy. Their dad and I were civil. We talked about a friend of a friend who at thirty-eight had just died from Frontal Lobe Dementia. There was a silent acceptance that this life is too short and that happiness is imperative. The girls laughed as their stuffed puppies “tried” to eat from the plates of food. The family unit was working as it should all the time.

With renewed energy I decided to tackle the packing that waited for me; my empty suitcases left for last.

I tucked my iPhone into my bra after pressing play on my audiobook version of Wild. As I gathered my running clothes and bathing suits I listened to the chapter about Cheryl’s mother’s horse named Lady and how she had become old. With her mother gone, she knew that she needed to tend to the horse.

The heartbreaking account of what came next made the placement of items into my luggage slow and deliberate. I listened while folding my piles and piles of must haves, acting out my work while my heart swelled and pounded from the depth of the pain I was hearing.

For two hours I continued; Cheryl’s journey on the Pacific Coast Trail and my journey through my stuff.

I have much too much. As I looked around at the things I knew I’d need and then back to the closet for the things that I might need and into the extra closets for things I never wear but probably need, I felt overwhelmed and a little disgusted.

I listened to Cheryl talk about Monster, the name for the pack she carried on her back, and wished that I could lessen my reliance on consumerism, so that all I needed was a pack and my kids. If only that could be enough.

When it became too overwhelming I decided to leave the mess to which I will return to today.

I sat on the master bed and continued with the story while gazing at the mound of fabrics and colors, pants and tunics, hats and necklaces, bathing suits and skirts. Underpants will go in last.

I connected to Cheryl’s feelings about her writing. How she’d always written, but the unattained dream of writing her own novel had left her disappointed and embarrassed. She wrote about making the decision to make it happen.

Remembering how I felt when reading the Hunger Games, how I liked the author and appreciated her words seemingly written for me, I added Cheryl Strayed to my list of imaginary friends. I might not understand a lot of what she went through on the PCT, but I certainly relate to her life as a writer and a woman.

By 10:30 the house was dark and bedtime was near. The girls brushed their teeth and chose their bedtime books. I imagined that I’d get them to sleep and then sneak away for some alone time, to ponder my day and plan the next. But instead, I just lay between my daughters thinking.

In two days we’ll be back at the beach that has been home for thirty five years. I will see my friends who have known me my entire life. I’ll see the newest babies and write by the sound of the sea.

Instead of sneaking away I closed my eyes and listened to the breathing of my girls, while hoping for a future that looked a lot like this day.

A day of sweat and books. Of food and fun. Introspection and civility. A life with purpose, happiness, respect, restful naps, laughs, and possibly less in the way of stuff.

All things are possible.

With that I fell to sleep. The best sleep I’ve had in ages.

The WannaBeasts at the start. Forty runners at the same pace is an unbelievable experience!
CEP calf sleeves in pink. I think I had them on backward and so I turned them around later in the day. I realize I haven’t written a “gear post” in ages. On my feet, Ipanema flip flops, my choice for this Summer. Under my feet a Dash and Albert exterior washable rug. Geez. Look at that! My consumerism in full effect!
The girls stack of traveling books. I like that they put A Good Day by Kevin Henkes on the top. I promise this wasn’t staged. I named the post after seeing the book tower and realizing it was exactly what I was writing about. 
My packing mess. Brian is going to take the girls out later today so that I can focus. Underneath that pile are neatly folded running clothes and beach things. I can thank Cheryl Strayed for that.
I downloaded Wild to listen to when I ran. I liked it so much I pinned it on my Pinterest page, which resulted in a signed copy of the book at my front door. Pretty neat if you ask me!
Good Day, Good Day
A Good Day found on Pinterest (uploaded by Brianna Hope). Fitting, wouldn’t you say?

Maybe Buddhism

I was told that my chances of getting published are slim to none.

I was urged to have a backup plan.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

I don’t have a journalism degree.

The only professional who has ever told me that my writing was any good was my Seventh grade tutor, and really, she was being paid by my parents.

I have not been paid for my writing; have not made five cents in this endeavor.

It’s not about the money, friend.

It’s about passion. It’s about love. It’s about the need to express, so that I don’t go mad.

Mad as in crazy.

I have enough mad as in mad. Oh, you made me mad as in mad. It’s like that button has your name on it. It’s reserved especially for you.

Which makes me wonder.

I can’t control you or what you think or your lack of vision. I can’t make you see what I see.

I can only control how I react when that button gets pushed.

And I don’t like how I felt inside and how the blood under my skin started to boil and my anger at your belittment seethed. It felt like a simultaneous punch to the heart and gut and my writer’s spirit will not allow that kind of repugnancy and so my mouth flew open and the words spit themselves out.

Yes, it’s my protection. No, it isn’t right.

This is a character flaw. It’s why I have to write.

God can’t help me. Therapy can’t change me. My soul needs to understand how your mean cannot affect me.

I googled Buddhism and came across this.

It seems to encompass so many of the things that I need and it very well might be the path that leads to my enlightenment.

Since life is a journey and Rome wasn’t built in a day, this day I’ll focus on a moving image  on constant rotation in my house as a child. Barbra Streisand’s Funny Girl spoke to me then as she does now.

Don’t tell me not to fly, I’ve simply got to. If someone takes a spill it’s me and not you. Who told you your allowed to rain on my parade!