Category Archives: life goals

Back When I Had a Magnum Opus

flashback friday

I was a columnist for the local paper in high school.

Sound impressive?

It was a county paper.

It was a weekly, county paper.

It was a weekly, county paper with a small circulation.

It was a weekly, county paper for a county so far up in the northeast corner of North Dakota, people thought we lived in Canada.  Some of my friends could spit on Canada from their property.

But, I loved people, writing, and driving all around the county, so it was a great job for me.  I marveled when I was handed a paycheck, because I would have worked for free.  But, since it kept me in Mountain Dew and jeans, I always cashed it.

After writing a few articles, my editor asked me to write a column. A weekly column.  I hardly knew what one was, let alone what to write about.  He mumbled “just write something” and walked away.  He came back with a camera, hollered, “Hey, Melly!” and snapped a picture  with my mouth open as I was hovering wordless over my IBM Selectric.  A few minutes later, with still nothing brilliant on my page, he returned and asked for the name of my column.

Name? It needs a name?  Name. Parents had nine months to pick out a name for their babies, I had less than nine minutes.  If I couldn’t come up with an answer quickly,   he would return with his wooden ruler and make my desk his drum and the entire office his stage. 

I truly think he believed his ruler could tap the pace for my brain waves, that the faster he tapped, the faster I typed.  It wasn’t his ruler, it was my youth.  Remember those days when brilliant thoughts poured from your….um brain… and…um…onto ….um….um….what was I saying?

Yea, the name.  Eleven  years of teachers answering all my questions with “Look it up!” I did what any smart student would do, I grabbed the dictionary off my desk. I opened to the “M” section to make an alliteration and mumbled through the words until I got to the “Ma” section. I didn’t love the title or the picture, but I had a column to write and couldn’t fuss over the particulars.

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I had no idea the amount of taunting in the high school hallways I would endure from those split-second decisions, but telling myself to ignore torment dished out by classmates that couldn’t read my column kept inner turmoil to a minimum. Coping strategy was crucial for high school, wasn’t it?

I also had no idea the picture of me in braces  and “I really wore that to work?” would haunt me for decades.

Melindas first Magnum Opus

A cold Mountain Dew later, I had my first column.  It went straight to the typesetter without any corrections or editing, which I now recall with the clichéd chagrin.  It’s always awkward reading early writings, especially early teenage writing, but I’m struck with the irony.

I was young and ignorant, and had much to learn on the fly.

The Magnum Opus wasn’t the writing I produced, it was what writing for the newspaper produced in me.

Moms Need to Embrace, Empower and Expect

Sunday night was Disney night when I grew up.  My mom would make a bowl of popcorn and the six tow-headed Brainard kids would slouch on mom’s avocado green crush velvet couch to watch ~image

I loved Tinker Bell’s fairy dust!

When I started parenting, I wanted to give my kids the same wholesome entertainment. 

Jungle Book

We were the first in the neighborhood to buy Jungle Book on VHS and regularly hosted viewings in our living room, the neighbor kids huddled on my dusty pink Olefin thrift store couch eating animal crackers.  Now our media cabinet contains shelves of VHS, DVD and Blu-ray movies.

I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration,  a blogging conference they took on the road to four cities this year. As you can imagine, after revealing above I raised my kids on VHS, I was one of the oldest mommies there.  But, I still got excited when I walked into the room filled with Disney balloons and stuffed animals and heard the Disney songs.

It got a little intimidating when the younger moms started Tweeting and updating statuses, but HEY, that’s why I was there.  To learn.  I am wise enough to know a mommy learns from the older and younger moms in her life.

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I guess it’s safe to say -  now that they can’t uninvite me – that I’ve never been to any of the Disney Parks, but I really wanted to learn more about social media.

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I also wanted to network. I hung out with my mommy-blogger friend, Nan, who blogs at  “Mom’s the Word” and is way funnier than I am.  I’m pretty sure funnier is a word now, and I’m pretty sure I will never chew blue gum in public again. She was the other “experienced” mother in the crowd who has a Justin Bieber lookalike son. (Guess what?  Bieber isn’t in spell check yet. He must not be that famous.)

 

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They keynote speaker was Mindee Doney, inventor of Boogie Wipes. Her light bulb moment came when she was moving in for the boogie kill with a bulb syringe and saline solution.  Her  baby daughter’s nose was crusted over and Mindee was determined to get those boogies so her daughter could breath. The freaked-out reaction caused a quick retreat and change in battle strategy. 

Mindee reached over to the wipes container, sprayed one with saline solution, and gently wiped her daughter’s nose. Baby’s boogies were gone and Boogie Wipes were born.

I loved hearing the funny, candid, and sometimes gut-wrenching, journey of her personal and business life from the creation of Boogie Wipes to the sale of the company. As the challenges grew, so did the stakes.

Early in the game, the name of her company was criticized by another mommypreneur prior to appearing together on the television show The Big Idea.  She thought Boogie Wipes was disgusting and thought something like "The Salt of the Earth" would be more appropriate and less offensive.  Mindee justified the name and gave a hint of the marketing strategy that helped launch their product successfully.  "Our target demographic has poop under their fingernails."  She was a mom, she knew moms, and knew their needs.

They utilized the power of moms and formed  a Boogie Brigade, similar to a book launch team.  Women dropped off samples for the company and wore free Boogie Brigade t-shirts when they ran in races. But when they tapped into Mommy bloggers, the impact was really felt.  Mindee said that moms not only reviewed the wipes, they videoed them, photographed them and took them on vacation.

Mindee encouraged bloggers, "Whether it’s  product,  content, message or a mission…you’re impacting people and lives.”

She’s a marketing genius and a brilliant strategist. But, instead of getting on stage and telling us how great she is, Mindee was honest enough to share her mistakes on the journey. 

During the rise to success, which included the financial benefits, interviews and  television appearances, Mindee realized what she had lost with this gain.  "I had let go of all the things that mattered to my heart.  I stopped going to church.  Stopped exercising.  I was working all the time. We all have periods of our lives where we work a lot; the problem was, I was never NOT working."

She had an 18 month old, 4 year old, 7 year old and a pilot husband who was frequently gone.  At a low point she said, "Time out.  I am broken.  I am done.  I have nothing that matters in the depths of my soul for what I want for the next five years."

Between leaving the company and getting divorced she confessed to spending "a year with lawyers and therapists."

She is joyfully back in the groove with her family and business, and  freely gave us what she learned through the agony of losing it all.

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“You can be Super Mom, but you can’t be Super Mom at everything.

There is something about you that is SUPER, but you can’t do all those things SUPER.  You have to respect what those things are.  Find them.  Embrace them.  Rock who you are.

If people don’t know what your blog is about, that’s your fault.  You aren’t telling them what you are good at.    We all need to do our job the best we can, in businesses, life, and as a person.

She illustrated with a conversation with her son:

Son "Mom, I think we’ve been robbed."
Mom "Really?"
Son, "Oh, I’m just kidding.  Our house always looks like this."

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Mindee urged the room of mommy bloggers to use two words moms hear but don’t use themselves – Help and No.

“Help is not a 4-letter word.

And when you get help, from husband, friend, relative…learn to say, it’s not MY way, but it’s OK. When you step away, but don’t really step away, you come back to the same space you were in before.

Learn to say NO. If it takes away from what nurtures you and what you do, then say NO.”

 

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Expect life to NOT go according to plan. The hardest choice is if you are going to smile about it or be grumpy.

What goes up must come down.  What goes down must be lifted.  Eventually you have to lift yourself up.

Specific things to stay IN the journey:

(There is an exception to rule, but when exceptions become the rule, there’s a problem.)

1. Laptop stays in office.

2. Schedule is sacred.  Give full attention to what you’re doing.  No distractions.

3. To do lists find me.  I used to make lists.  At night I think about what the next day’s needs are.

4. Don’t promise things the next day.  I use vague terms.  "I’ll work on it and get to you at end of week."  If I set a deadline I can’t meet, I change the deadline.

5. When kids say "momma’  stop and look at them.  Connect. Communicate. 

6. Leave your phone.  Just leave it. If you set the precedence that you’re always available, you’ll  be expected to be always available.

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Moms struggle with balancing their lives.

If we give everything to business or ministry, we may regret not making our family a priority.

If we give everything to the family, we may regret not putting ourselves on the calendar.

Mindee provided great advice and encouragement to make the right daily decisions to fully show up in all a mom’s worlds; wisdom  made more precious by the cost.

 

 

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If you want to read more about Mindee’s journey read:

Making your home sing Mondays

Kids’ Imagination Spurs on Creative Service

My ten year old daughter, Rebekah, started our summer off right by making a commitment to serve others.

She accepted this challenge from Adventures in Odyssey, Focus on the Family’s Christian kids’ radio program, and signed up for their program called A.C.T.S. I previously blogged that “Kids Who Serve are Winners Not Whiners.” No parent wants  “Mom, I’m bored!” ricocheting off their eardrums all summer.

 

 

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                                  A – A

                           C – Call

                           T – To

                           S – Service

 

We downloaded theimage progress chart, watched this video image about the program, and started brainstorming. (click graphics to download)

Personal inspiration needs no prodding, so follow-through would be increased if she was doing things she wanted to do, not things her mom wanted her to do.

Her own enthusiasm and imagination took off; she owned it from the beginning. When parents let go of the reins, they can be surprised by the direction their kids take.

 

I was thrilled to watch the creative ways she served the family, the neighborhood, and the local needy. In the first few weeks she had already completed the 12 hours of service, and hadn’t finished crossing things off her list. At first, she was thinking about winning the grand prize, a mission  trip to Costa Rica with one parent, (what ten year wouldn’t think of the prize?),  but then she began concentrating more on others.

Adventures in Odyssey radio programs teach kids to use their imagination to learn about history and faith, it was fun to see her imagination to come up with ways to serve.

conference decorations 002She started by volunteering to help paint the lime green walls with two coats of primer. I liked this idea, especially since it took two coats of primer and two coats of pain to turn the lime green to a soothing gray.

 

conference decorations 018When a neighbor had surgery, Rebekah enlisted the nieces and nephew to make homemade cards and cookies. I was humbled.  It hadn’t even occurred to me to reach out.  Brayden made some tiny cookies in the Easy Bake Oven and some big cookies in the real oven.

 

conference decorations 023 Brookelyn enjoyed making cards so much, she made a few for her parents.

 

conference decorations 027Maddelyn enjoyed coloring her card, her fingernails and the table. She stayed on task so long, she almost colored a hole in her paper. 

 

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When they were done, Beka rallied her troop to walk to the neighbor’s house.  It isn’t raining, but doesn’t every little kid love an umbrella?

conference decorations 042The finished product looked so beautiful, they told me later they were trying to sneak the first cookies out without marring the package so the whole family could see Rebekah’s handiwork.

 

Other projects Rebekah has accomplished so far:

  • weeded the trees for a single neighbor who works full-time and has a hard time keeping up on her garden
  • babysat several times for another neighbor
  • baked muffins for her older sister who had a baby
  • started collecting toys, shoes and clothing for the women and children at the Gospel Mission shelter

It was hard for her to understand that serving family “counted.” But, I shared her Gramma Mary’s wisdom, “Charity begins at home” to convince her serving family teaches you to serve others.

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Her big summer project is to make 30 drawstring bags for the kids at the homeless shelter.  Most of the time they arrive with little or nothing.  Beka plans to fill the bags with small trial size personal care items, snacks, toys, and Christian reading material.  It’s a challenge coming up with items that are not gender or age specific, but it’s been a good stretch to imagine yourself in their position.

We hope to have these finished and delivered at the end of July.  Then we’ll make our video about Rebekah’s summer of service and enter the competition.  Who knows?  Maybe a future blog post will show Rebekah and I working with the orphans in Costa Rica! 

Even if she doesn’t the grand prize, we both feel like winners.  She’s had fun using her imagination to come up with amazing ways to see and meet needs.  I’ve been blessed to watch her take the lead and follow-through.  Thank you, Adventures in Odyssey, for challenging us to  A.C.T.S.!

 

 

It’s not too late to sign-up for A.C.T.S.!

 

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Click on the image to download your service kit.

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Visit the website to learn more about Adventures in Odyssey’s
summer challenge to serve.

 

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(Click on image to download this free e-book)

Just for reading this blog post today, you get a free gift,
an e-book called “Voyage with the Vikings.”

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There’s still a lot of summer days left to encourage your family to accept the summer challenge to serve. You can either join the Adventures in Odyssey program or serve in your own way.

I’d love to hear the things your family is doing to serve this summer. Many of you work at Bible camps, Vacation Bible School, or do short-term mission projects. 

Those that comment will qualify to win the special package of The Imagination Station books #1-3 pictured above. I will choose a winner Wednesday, July 3rd and announce the winner in a blog post that day.

Encourage us by leaving a comment about the way your family serves!

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Ten Things Procrastination is Telling You

It was easy for Thomas Jefferson to say, “Never put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do today" because he had a staff of accomplished servants.  He could invent, write and entertain while others washed and ironed his clothes, made his dinner, cleaned his house and tended his estate.

At least that’s the excuse I tell  myself when my To Do List screams at me to have something crossed off. Procrastination was supposed to go away when I left college and outgrew all-night study fests, but he has appeared in various forms for decades.

As a Type A person, I know there’s nothing better than the feeling of crossing the last item off my To Do List. If it weren’t for procrastination, I would be elated all the time.  He not only keeps me from my goals, he nags like a dripping faucet. He tells me there is always…

tomorrow…

          tomorrow…

                    tomorrow…

 

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Procrastination tells us what our brain hasn’t quite grasped and our friends and family don’t dare say, to our face, anyway.

 

WHAT  PROCRASTINATION TELLS US:

1.  You  don’t like what you’re doing.

There are things we HAVE to do. Make the job more pleasant.  I’m not fond of cleaning the toilet, so I put cleaning wipes, toilet bowl cleaner, paper towels and a toilet bowl brush in every bathroom.  Quick, easy, almost painless.

There are things we volunteered to do that we shouldn’t have.  That’s what nice people do, they say “yes” too often.  Say “no.”  Practice with me.  “No.”  See, that wasn’t hard. We budget our money, but squander our time and talents.  Guard all these treasures equally.

 

2.  You’re not skilled enough to do the task well.

Either carve out time to learn the skills, or ask for help.  I have found that volunteering to babysit for young moms gives me a variety of talent at my disposal.  Barter or get better.

3.  You’re crippled by fear. 

Fear of failure and fear of success have the same end result.

 What motivates you to accomplish goals?  Consider dangling your own carrot and/or finding someone to cheer you on.  Share your goals with someone who would appreciate them. 

4.  You didn’t manage your time successfully.

A project that demands more time will be put off until there is a time slot for the entire project.

Only a horse eats an apple all in one bite, or is that only in the cartoons?  A great help is to break a project into 15-30 minute increments.  Use a timer.

5.  You didn’t prioritize correctly.

We tend to prioritize according to what we like to do, what’s easiest to do or what is cheapest to do, instead of by project deadline. Write down your goals and projects as short tem and long term.  It makes it easier to decide what needs to be conquered next.

6.  You haven’t made enough time for creativity. 

When we get busy, it’s easy to push aside the things that delight and calm our heart. Sewing, crafting, woodworking, reading, writing, are readily shoved  aside to accomplish the necessary life demands. Creativity spurs up ambition.  It  makes you finish the icky have-to projects faster to do the fun want-to projects.

7.  You’re not caring for yourself properly. 

Being tired, dehydrated, malnourished and under exercised can make you not want to do anything at all.  I freely pass on this advice  as I sit at my desk looking at the sunshine through my dirty window, drinking coffee, skipping breakfast and having absolutely no plans to exercise in the near future. But to soothe my conscience I just drank a sip of water.  Put your needs first.

8.  You’re waiting for inspiration.

Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.  We accomplish goals through  inspiration or determination.  When one isn’t working, summon up the other.

9.  You have people that need you constantly.

In our marriage we’ve had 6 kids, a lot of company and many people live with us. Your time is not your own when you serve others.  You can prioritize and organize, but a diaper blow-out, a nightmare or a spilled gallon of milk changes everything.

As we age, we may end up caring for our parents or a spouse because of age and/or infirmity. The tasks are combined with the grief of their condition.

People are priority.  This is your ministry and your calling for this season.  Live through this time in a way that you’ll have no regrets looking back.

10.  You’re sidetracked by human emotion or physical pain.

Suffering and grief can stop you in your tracks.  In this case, procrastination is the kind friend saying you need to heal.  It’s healthy to mark boundaries with your time and commitment.  Take time off and explain to others why you’re doing this. People will respect your boundaries, and may even step up to help.

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You have gifts, talents and goals to bless the world.

Listen to procrastination and decide if  and when you should rest,  refuse, reassign or accomplish.

Just don’t put it off until tomorrow. Do it today.

 

You Can Pout or Improve

 

 

When I was very young, I spent my days at home with my mom, a little brother and two little sisters.  With the two Big Boys at school, I was Mommy’s Helper. Sometimes  I fetched cloth diapers from the changing table in the upstairs bathroom. Other times I’d make faces to make a fussy baby laugh for a very busy mommy.  When the babies napped, I  helped  in the kitchen or mom would read to me.  One special afternoon she taught me to make mud pies. I loved those moments of having my Mommy all to myself. 

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With my Daddy, Christmas 1969

However, my dad got up early each morning to go to work and I wouldn’t see him all day.    In the early morning quiet in our old, two story home,  the quiet only known when the six children were sleeping,  I discovered if I got up early and padded downstairs, I could have a few minutes alone with my Daddy. He looked so important in his  dress clothes and lace-up Hush Puppies and was very, very tall to me. I had to tip my head way back to see his big smile and the curly ends of his mustache.

One morning, Daddy was excited about something he wanted to teach me.  He lifted my tiny jammy-clad body on the counter next to the fridge, a secret we probably wouldn’t tell Mommy, I guessed. If this adventure was important enough to allow me to sit up so high all by myself, then this would be an adventure I would embrace. Only once did I dare lean forward and look down at the floor.  It was a long ways down.  I didn’t look again.

Daddy monologued cheerfully while pulling out sandwich meat, cheese, lettuce, bread and Miracle Whip from the white, rounded refrigerator.  He handed me two pieces of bread and a butter knife.  He instructed how to put spread the topping on the bread and add a piece of meat, a slice of cheese and a crisp piece of lettuce. Then,  went to take his shower.

I was so proud to be given such an important task.

We repeated this for several days.  One morning,  my ego was wanting some praise for my role as Daddy’s Special Sandwich Maker, so I asked Dad how he liked my sandwiches. I waited for the praise I knew I deserved.

He paused, looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, you could use a little less Miracle Whip.” He described how too much made the toppings slide around and the sandwich was hard to eat.  He pulled out the knife and showed me, again, how to add a little dab and spread it into the corners.

I was mad. After he left, I was a tiny tot sitting on the kitchen counter with a big anger, ranting in my little brain against my Daddy.  I didn’t think he should have complained. I thought he was a big meanie.

When he came out to get his lunch, he saw I hadn’t taken his advice well. I was pouting and had refused to make his sandwich.  My very big Dad listened to my tantrum, then said in a gentle voice that still feels like a security blanket to this day, “Well, you can pout about it, or you can make a better sandwich.”

His kind words stopped the rant and the rage in my heart.  At five years old, I knew he was right.  I chose to make a better sandwich. The next day,  I chose to try to make it even better.  To this day, I still meticulously spread all my topping evenly to the far corners of my bread.

 

 

My life’s goal at nearly 50 is still the same as when I was 5. When faced with criticism I know I can pout or improve.

I choose to make a better sandwich.

I Scribble on My Walls

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When I first moved into my office a few months ago, now don’t go hating me now ‘cuz I have an office, seven people had to move out for this luxury to happen, I had this crazy desire to write on my walls. I took over two decades off from writing to raise kids who wrote on my walls, it’s now  my turn.

I don’t mean literally, after all, it took two coats of primer and two coats of gray to cover up the bright blue color chosen by the child we moved to the basement.

But, the need to see my projects and lists of things to do all at once was almost overwhelming.

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This was my first project and the four sections work very well.  I’m loving this.  But, it wasn’t enough.

My urge to scribble was greater than Harold’s – you know the kid with the purple crayon?

I wanted this 15 paned door from Craigslist, but didn’t get to it in time. I had to make-do until I could invent something cool for outlining a big project.

The light bulb moment occurred while shopping for toilet paper in Costco.  I know, toilet paper usually only inspires men, but I had an epiphany while grabbing the huge pack that would last a bachelor a year and my family a month.  I know that because last time I bought toilet paper I asked the bachelor next to me how long his package would last, while envying the amount of free time he had not buying toilet paper on a regular basis.

Can you imagine not having anyone use the last square and not tell you?  Can you image not having someone hanging the toilet paper the wrong way? Not having anybody unroll an entire roll just because they could?  Yea, I agree, that guy is deprived, right?  Anyhoo, back to the scribbling light bulb moment.

In between each row of the massive packages of toilet paper are wonderful brown pieces of paper.  I started grabbing the extra paper and rolling it up.

My ten year old daughter was horrified.  Yes, she is at an age where her mommy now embarrasses her at times.  “You can’t take that!”  she said. In her mind, entering double digits a few months back raised her rank in life, which now apparently includes the ability to advise her mother.

“Yes, I can! It’s going in the garbage or the recycle.”  The look on her face showed I hadn’t proven I wasn’t a thief.  “If it makes you feel better, I will ask if I can take it.”

Her conscience was soothed, but not her humiliation.  She tried to walk farther away from me, while I tried to keep the paper rolled up in my cart in between all the cases of beans and chicken broth and tried to not run over anybody because of my blocked  vision.

Exasperated, she finally rolled them up and tucked them under the bottom of the cart.  I could hardly wait to get home and thumbtack it to my walls, using my Grandma’s Thumbtacks, of course.

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Thanks to Costco toilet paper display, I had creativity at my fingertips. The Post-it notes worked well and I was able to organize and reorganize my explosion of random thoughts.

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Eventually, the mess became a rough outline for several  books.  The first in a series,   “The Christian Writer’s Coach: How to make the most out of writers conference”  will be published in about a month by the Northwest Christian Writers Association. I’m so excited!

Since unsolicited manuscripts are no longer accepted by the majority of agents and editors, you need to attend a writers conference to make the initial contact with those people that can make all your publication dreams come true. NCWA had a passion to write a book to help writers before, during and after attending a writers conference. Stay tuned.  I’ll letcha’ know when you can buy it.

The toilet paper paper worked, but I still had one more idea to try. It was supposed to look a little neater.  But, as you can see by the above picture, I’m not a tidy writer.  I think I’m a Type A organized person, but I think I’ve been lying to myself for years.  This is the real me.  I might even put this picture on Pinterest in rebellion against all those offices that look like an staged magazine setting.

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I laminated sheets of gray paper and taped them to my walls.  I write with dry erase markers and erase with rubbing alcohol. The little felt erasers on the end of the markers don’t work.

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The Type A side of my office. Where I sit and relax to read, when I’m not writing.  It’s also where my kids come and sit to talk while I’m writing.  Since I have a double-digit daughter and a bona-fide teenage son at home, I don’t mind.  It means we’re still on give-mom-advice speaking terms. 

They can sit, they can talk, and they can root around for my secret candy stashes.

They  just can’t scribble on my walls.

It’s my turn.

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? Do you storyboard? 

? How do you like to organize your jot  scribble stage of writing?

? Has anybody tried IdeaPaint for writing on walls?

A Big Ol’ Belt-Buckle Future

My horse-loving daughter
was thrilled to be at her first rodeo,
the Stampede Rodeo in Helena, Montana.

She oohed and aahed and twisted in her seat,
living vicariously through the cowboys and cowgirls around her.

I was thrilled, too.
There was a rock wall to climb and a family safe seating area,
where I didn’t have to worry about having beer spilled on me
or chewing tobacco spit on me.

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There were adorable little kids in hats bigger than their dreams.

When the Rodeo Queens came out, Rebekah was enthralled.

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They waved at us during the Stampede Parade earlier in the day,
so I think Beka assumed they were acquaintances already.

(Miss Rodeo Montana Mariah Rys-Sikora on left, Miss Teen Rodeo Montana Jennika O’Neil on right.)

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Beka voiced her desire to meet the Miss Rodeo Montana.

Mommas like to make their kids’ dreams come true,
so when Miss Rodeo Montana left the riding arena
and walked into the concession stand,
we took off after her, like star struck women.

Judging by the size of the belt buckle,
it’s no wonder we
were star struck.

Love me some big belt buckles!

In fact, I plan on getting one some day.
My husband always worries about my inability to function in life,
because I forget to put gas in my car, forget to pay bills,
and sometimes I forget important things, too.

He’ll say to me in loving exasperation,
loving of course,
’cuz he’s a good man and all,
“Honey, what are you going to do when I die?”

Raised in Montana, converted to city-slicker
when I followed him to
the Seattle area, I always answer,
“Buy Ropers, Wranglers and a belt with my name on it.”
It just goes without saying that the belt would have to have
a big ol’ shiny buckle.

Miss Rodeo Montana, she’s got the cowgirl gear already.
I bet she even remembers to put gas in her car,
or truck,
or cattle trailer,
or whatever she drives.

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Mariah not only paused for pictures, she graciously answered questions.

This was the highlight of Beka’s life, to this point, I’m sure.

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I look at MRM and think, “Of course, she’s a beauty queen, she’s GORGEOUS!”

(Read the link to see the rigorous scoring criteria,
and you will understand she isn’t just another pretty face.)

I know she diagnosed Beka’s horse fever,
so i
n the few moments it took to pause for a few pics
and squeeze in a few quick hugs,
she gave Rebekah some practical  and inspiring advice,
just in case she wanted to be a Rodeo Queen.

1.   Learn all you can about public speaking
and get used to speaking in front of a crowd.

2. Learn all you can about horses.

3. Learn all you can about world events.

Beka  saw a belt buckle and sash looming in her future.
I saw disappointment looming in her future.

I was picturing our little city backyard,
where a few scrawny chickens couldn’t be free range.

Rebekah was picturing our backyard, too,
but with a horse grazing free range.

Hoping to gently squelch the fires of an impossible dream
with the voice of reason,
I asked, “But, you grew up on a ranch, right?”

“Oh no,” she said, obviously surprised.
“My parents grew up out East,
then moved to Montana.
I decided I wanted to be a Rodeo Queen when I was 13
and worked towards that goal.”

A city girl gone cowgirl.

Suddenly, I was even inspired.

Back home,  during our first trip to the library
Beka checked out a huge stack of horse books.

She was turning advice into action.

Think I better check into the zoning laws for our backyard.
Maybe we could fit one horse back there after all…

‘Cuz ya’ know,
mommas like to make their kids’ dreams come true.