Life Lessons from a Labrador Retriever

There she goes.

Again.

She ran out the back door the moment I opened it and plotted her course straight towards the huge tree in the corner. The squirrels are chattering at her from high above, the animal version of a snarky retort.

I whistle in an attempt to bring her back from her wild dog fantasy, but it’s no use. Once she’s focused on a squirrel she won’t give up until it hops onto the fence and heads for the neighbor’s yard.

One small victory in the effervescent life of a Labrador retriever.

I give up and watch her run gracefully up and down the fence line as the squirrel plays the daily game of catch-me-if-you-can. Deep in her gene pool lies the stuff of great hunting dogs, according to the breeder. When she runs and leaps around the yard you can see tiny glimpses of the dog she was born to be.

But fate placed her here, in this suburban home with 2.0 kids and not a hunter to be found. Her keen retrieving instincts are directed towards the spit-stained stuffed animals that inhabit her toy basket. She sleeps on my daughter’s bed and spends countless hours curled up under my desk.

Not quite a dog’s life — more like the life of a princess, my husband claims.

When she was younger, she was injured while running up and down the fence chasing a nighttime critter — either a possum or a raccoon. Her leg swelled up and it was difficult for her to move around. After vet visits, ultrasound treatments, medications and as much “rest” as one can force on a lab she was healed and life moved on. She continued to chase the squirrels and play seemingly endless rounds of fetch with a tennis ball.

But then when she was 3 years old it happened again. She was sitting in front of me as I sat on the steps tying my shoelaces. I motioned for her to back up and she did. The cry of pain was horrible and her leg was sticking straight out to the side, in a direction back legs weren’t built to go.

And it was the other leg.

So after a trip to the emergency vet, CT scans and consultations with the surgeon it was determined that Holli has an uncommon, chronic problem with both Achilles tendons in her back legs. Because the surgery and recovery is very difficult, we decided to wait it out. We carried her home, nursed her back to health and decided to try and limit her running and activity in order to avoid surgery for as long as possible. No more endless rounds of fetch in the backyard or running around with the big dogs at the dog park. She was destined to be the canine model for a couch potato.

And yet, she runs.

She runs because she doesn’t know that she can’t. The consequences of running the fence line in hot pursuit of a squirrel mean nothing to her. She lets her inner hunting dog loose and runs with grace and agility.

I swear she’s even smiling.

She runs because she can, because she doesn’t understand my long-winded explanations about why I called her back into the house. Because to her, running feels like something she is compelled to do, something she can’t stop doing. And she isn’t afraid of the consequences.

She runs.

Why don’t we?

We all have something we wish we could do, or maybe even feel that we were born to do. And yet, how often do we throw up our arms and say, “WTH? I’m going to do it!”

Has someone told you that you can’t? Is your inner critic whispering “You’ll fail” in your ear, ever so quietly while you daydream?

This is how I feel about writing, most days.

That I am driven to do it and really need to get those words out, but that time and work and my inner critic all get in the way.

That I need to write like nobody is reading.

That I need to take one more run at that squirrel on the fence.

And not worry about the chatter.

Help End Medicine Abuse

The Medicine Abuse Project

Addiction.

An ugly word that conjures images of a messy drunk passed out in the alley behind the bar, or possibly a young person so completely caught in the grasp of methamphetamine abuse that she can’t remember a life before.

But there is another side to the horrible face of addiction, and it’s no farther away than your bathroom medicine cabinet.

Medicine abuse is often overlooked, tucked away and ignored… because after all, someone NEEDED these medicines in the first place, right? What you don’t always realize is that the abuse of prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines is dangerous and deadly.

When we talk to our children and teens about drugs and alcohol, we need to talk to them about medicine abuse as well. But are we really doing enough?

This is where The Partnership at Drugfree.org comes in. I am honored to have been chosen for a special live-streaming event to kick off a blog tour featuring 12 writers each reading a personal essay about substance use/abuse and what we want our children to know.

I hope you will join me on Tuesday night September 10 to help #EndMedicineAbuse with The Partnership at Drugfree.org and LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.

You can watch the live-streaming event September 10 starting at 9 pm EST at the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/user/LTYMShow/live

Then, on September 12 these writers will share their essays on their own blogs.

We hope you will join us in the fight to #EndMedicineAbuse.

 

Creative Alliance: The Scoop

Creative Alliance? Didn’t she attend at the end of September?

She hasn’t posted about it yet?

Um, no.

How do you sum up an experience like Creative Alliance? Or CA12, as the cool kids were calling it.

Not quite a conference, more comfy-cozy-retreatish I suppose. The first Creative Alliance was in 2010 and the participants came away in awe of the vibe they had created and the intenslly personal experience it was. They hoped to recreate it this year, but you just never know with these things.

But what they created for forty-five women in the quirky little town of Ojai, California goes beyond words.

I hadn’t planned on attending until the lovely (and persuasive) Nichole talked me into it. There may have been a promise of wine involved.

I just wasn’t sure I had the time or energy or interest to attend another conference.

I was so wrong.

I usually come home from conferences drained…too much learning, networking, staying up way too late, and feeling overwhelmed by what I am not doing/should be doing/can’t possibly do that I don’t even want to write. At all.

I came home from Creative Alliance so energized, I couldn’t wait to get going again.

We had casual sessions under a big tent in comfy beach chairs, these incredibly talented women who all posess more talent in their pedicured pinky toe than I can ever hope to have.

But even though several of these players in the creative world seem larger than life? They weren’t.

We were all equals.

We all have dreams and goals and worries. We all have stupid questions and burning desires and fears.

Somehow we all just rallied with ideas and support and challenges for each other.

My take-aways?

I met the incredibly inspiring Heather and Ellie, listened to them share painfully personal stories and dreams and remembered to cherish the friends I hold dear to me. Time is not a given and we don’t always have as much time left as we think.

I stood up and read humor in front of 44 talented women and worried that they wouldn’t laugh. They did. In the right places. (whew)

I had the chance to meet and chat with the incredible Ann Imig, the mastermind behind the Listen to Your Mother series I was blessed to have participated in last May. She is even more stunning in person than on Twitter. Seriously.

I met more than a handful of women of a certain age that fall closer to my demographic than most of the writers and bloggers I have met. Molly, Jane, Florinda, Darryle, Lisa, Karen and the others made me feel connected, not old. I was practically giddy to learn that life as a blogger/writer doesn’t end at 50 45.

I met the gracious and down-to-earth Deb, who is even lovelier as a person than her gorgeous headshot on Twitter. Really, she is.

I talked for hours on end to my incredible roomies Laura, Nichole and Rachel…and it still wasn’t enough.

I have some new ideas I would never have considered just a month ago.

Thank you to Leanne and Andrea from the bottom of my heart. You ladies are awesome…Creative Alliance was incredible.

My New Happy Place

I love magazines. Love, love them.

I’m not sure what it is exactly that I love the most…is it the vibrant images, the short tidbits of information, or maybe the way you just feel like the writers are talking just to you?

All of that.

I subscribe to about 10 a few magazines that I savor each month when they arrive.

The Redbook magazine has a special place in my bedside drawer, since I’m pretty sure I don’t want to share that one with my 13-year-old daughter.

So when I daydream about my writerly dreams, there isn’t a novel or a screenplay or even a children’s book in there at all.

I dream of writing for magazines. Little tidbits and stories and interesting things that you can read quickly, then get on with your day.

The kind of things that I love to read.

I am so excited to share the news that I am writing for an amazing online magazine that just launched!

 

I would love for you to go check out allParenting if you haven’t already…

And if you want to see some of the recent tidbits I have written over there, here’s a link to my very own author page.

Author. Love that.

I love words, and I love playing around with them.

And I am loving this new gig.

But I do love my Old Tweener writing, and now that things have calmed down a bit?

Expect to hear more.

Sweeping Away the Dust Bunnies…

Why hello, lovely blog…how nice to see you again.

I have missed leaving my words over here, but I’ve been up to something.

A little project.

Something I can’t quite tell you about just yet…but it involves playing around with words in a different way, and I love it.

So much so that I actually told someone the other day, “I am a writer.” I have never said that before.

No, I’m not writing a novel. Anyone who knows me would know I can’t put more than 600 words together that make sense. On a good day.

No, I haven’t been hired by Chico’s for their “Who’s Plummeting Towards 50?” ad campaign. How dare you throw Chicos and my name in the same sentence.

No, I didn’t run off to join the circus, but I was offered the job of the Bearded Lady (don’t judge).

I am NOT pregnant. Let’s just get that out of the way.

I have been watching something pretty cool take shape from a behind-the-scenes viewpoint, and I am learning a lot. I am writing a lot.

And in my spare time, I am getting ready and excited for the Listen to Your Mother show on May 10th in San Francisco at Fort Mason Center.

They haven’t trimmed me from the cast yet.

My family has a pool on whether or not I will pass out on stage or cry like a baby when reading my piece.

I will NOT pass out.

So thank you, dear blog friends, for hanging around these parts…waiting for a few words here and there.

I will soon be back to my regularly scheduled program. With some new fun things added in.

Stay tuned….

Where My Words Live

It was a dark and stormy night, Valentine’s Day two years ago. My teenage son was in bed recovering from having his wisdom teeth pulled; hubs and our daughter were out of town for a weekend ski trip.

Was it the stormy weather? The lonely, quiet house? Possibly the large glass of red wine? I will never remember for sure.

But that was the night I decided to start a blog.

Although I had never even read one before.

I thought of myself as a writer who wrote in her head. A lover of words both complicated and silly, stringing them together into sentences and stories never to reach another’s eyes or ears. But I kept hearing that writers needed to actually write. I needed to do something to release those words from my brain.

Armed with courage, liquid or otherwise, I went to the Blogger website and started this little blog.

And over these past two years, this little experiment in writing has turned into so much more.

I have found a community of other people who write and love words. We share a kindred dislike of incorrect usage of their, there, and they’re. We speak a completely different language, filled with acronyms and #hashtags. We laugh, cry, and at times argue over each other’s words.

I had no idea this world existed.

I’ve met bloggers in real life who have turned into cherished friends of mine; people with whom I would share my last donut.

I have written my way through my son’s senior year of high school, graduation, and leaving for college. I’ve blogged my way into my daughter’s teenage years. I have used this blog to help me process death, stress, and silly situations.

I love this little place here at Old Tweener.

And you, the people who take time out to read my words?

You are the best. If I could offer you coffee and a donut for stopping by when you can, I totally would.

And now, with two years under my belt I am taking on a new challenge. Something way out of my comfort zone that I hope will be a fun experience even if I’m not chosen:

 In a few weeks I am auditioning for the San Francisco show of Listen to Your Mother, an amazing show that has been in many cities all over the country over the past few years. Writers reading their work, each piece having something to do with motherhood, all tied up neatly into a Mother’s Day show.

I may throw up.

But what is life if you don’t spend at least some of it on the verge of vomit?

Stay tuned, and thank you for helping me to make Old Tweener a place I love to hang out.

BlogHer Recap: Five Fabulous Fails

BlogHer11 in San Diego is over, people.

Which is why my family looks at me so sadly when I try and present a drink ticket for wine at dinner.

I haven’t even removed my badge yet. The grocery store clerk now refers to me as “@OldTweener”.

I find myself strategically placing my jammies and toothbrush near the bathroom door on the floor, so that when I sneak come into the room and it’s insanely too late dark I can find them and I won’t disturb my awesome roomies.

Hubs is not amused.

And after the glorious highs and excitement of it all; the wonderful basking-in-the-glow of post-BlogHer giddiness most people wrote an awesome recap post.

I’m cheating by linking to a few of them here. Don’t judge; I’m still tired.

If you want to see me as a beautiful, willowy stick figure drawn by my incredibly talented roomie Lori, go here. I look so hot as a stick figure, I may steal that picture for my new About Me page. Lori is already my friend in real life and we chatted so much on the plane home we neglected to notice a blogger sitting in the third seat in our row. My apologies to the very beautiful (and tolerant) Wife of a Dairyman, whose blog I am now following.

If you want to hear how I forced my wonderful and sweet friend Nichole not only to travel with me to San Diego but also to share her drink tickets, get me into the hottest parties, and swap swag, please go here. Nichole is one of my very favorite people already, so to spend days and days with her? Awesome. She even tolerated my insane amount of chatter and reminded me to sanitize my feet after we all danced barefoot. She’s awesome like that.

If you love videos (I know, I’m supposed to call it a vlog) go visit my other awesome roomie Galit, who not only put up with my noisy stealthy sneaking in, but I suspect she was the one who left the light on for me. She found a special place in my heart last week and I intend to keep her there.

And my third roomie (yes, there was bed-sharing) Kayleen wrote the best post I wish I’d read before we hopped on that plane bound for San Diego. She’s smart, that one. And wicked-funny, which I already knew. I felt so smart for snagging her as a roomie the exact moment that she purchased her ticket. Which is not at all creepy.

So my recap post? Not so fluffy and empowering; not very insightful or artistic. But here it is:

Five Fabulous BlogHer Fails

  1. I spent way too much time obsessing about the clothes I needed to look Bloggerish. And when we arrived that first day I did not want to spend time hanging things up on hangers and all that nonsense. So not only did I NOT wear everything I had obsessed over, but it all wound up in an incredible tangle by the second day. Time wasted I will never get back, although I did score a pretty cute Old Navy dress.
  2. I didn’t take any pictures. None. I took a small camera, and I even have a camera on my dumb phone. I just got so distracted by the people and the introductions and the wine incredible food that I forgot. Luckily I did insert myself into lots of other people’s pictures, but now I am on a world-wide-web scavenger hunt to find myself. I call it “Where’s Old Tweener?”
  3. All the awesome swag I collected was not properly packed. Randomly throwing crap swag into your suitcase at 6:30am the morning you leave is not the best approach. Just ask Gigi and Lori, who had the distinct pleasure of watching my super-special detailed search by the San Diego TSA man. He confiscated my bottle of POM juice, a cool wine opener, and a 5-oz package of tuna. Somewhere a TSA dude is having a picnic at my expense.
  4. I didn’t get to meet Rita Arens. This may sound totally stupid and a bit creepy (sorry, Rita) but she was kind-of like a goddess to me back when I had four posts syndicated over at BlogHer. It was like she summoned me up to the stars for a bit. And she blogs, just like one of us. Good stuff, too. I might have even offered her one of my coveted drink tickets (or one I stole from Nichole).
  5. I over-scheduled with the parties. Once the invites started coming in I was struggling to stay afloat, and just kept saying “Yes, yes!” like Meg Ryan in that diner scene. Some of the private parties were almost like long lines to collect swag bags, with a taxicab at the end to take us to our next destination. And all that swag? I gave the cool stuff to my daughter (OPI nail polish, etc…). I am still waiting for the proper moment to give the dog her Canine Plaque Blaster (I’m serious: it’s in the swag bag).

Now? Back to the reality of my life. Cooking, cleaning, taking care of the blog stuff.

Which means I can’t keep dancing on the coffee table after the kids go to bed and declaring it Sparklecorn.