Deal or no deal

You know when Facebook asks what you’re up to, and you just can’t respond? Because you don’t want to say what’s really on your mind? Since December, I have been wanting to share with you, (and the the rest of the world) how I REALLY FEEL.

When I close my eyes, this is the way it plays out in my head:

Facebook: “How do you feel?”

Me: “You want to know how I REALLY FEEL?”

Facebook: “That’s what I asked, so yes.”

Me: “Meh. I feel MEH! And quite frankly, I’m a little pissed off!”

Facebook: “Why? What happened?”

Me: “I feel like I’ve been cheated on by the shyest boy at the 8th grade dance.”

Let me see if I can sum it up this way: This time last year, I had a book deal. A two-book gift book deal, in fact.

The funny thing is I wasn’t even looking for the book deal when a small publishing house I’ll call Rudy Lynn Publishing approached me. I had written a 5,000-word essay for one of their collections and that’s when everything started happening.

I was actually looking for an agent. One I had a crush on. I had a sticker book filled with his name, I mean agents,  in cursive, that I wanted to approach. I had just finished a 40-page book proposal for my second gift book when I received an email from “Lynn,” who I had met in person at a book fest and adored instantly.

If you were to ask me how I felt the day I received the email from Rudy Lynn Publishing, I felt like I had been at an 8th grade dance and I realized the boy I had a crush on didn’t know I existed. Then out of the blue, a shy, awkward boy with braces and no rhythm came up to me at the punch bowl and asked me to dance. I was so nervous, I swallowed my gum, and said, “Yes.”

No thought process. Just “Yes.”

And I totally forgot about the boy I had a crush on. (Or the fact that I originally set out looking for an agent.)

Because – hello, there was someone that liked my writing! I was ecstatic that someone (of the opposite sex) even knew I existed. In a world of St. Elmo’s Fire Demi Moores, I was a bony, paler version of Molly Ringwald without the pretty in pink vibe.

But I still had potential! pretty-in-pink-molly-ringwald-35509955-168-168

So I started going out with the short boy, the small publisher.

We had a fun time. We talked on the phone a lot. We exchanged notes.

We giggled.

Passed notes in study hall.

We got serious, (after my attorney reviewed everything and I signed a two-book agreement). They were going to re-publish my first book as well as my second.

We kept writing.

And calling.

Then, several months after turning in my second manuscript, which I had to revamp with new material based on what they wanted for my gift-book duo, it started to get a little colder outside. I sensed some distance in the relationship.

That’s when I received news. The boy was changing schools. Rudy of Rudy Lynn Books was leaving the firm. Lynn said she still wanted to stay in business under the same name, and keep me and a handful of other authors, but you know how hard long distance relationships can be.

By December, after months of writing and no one writing back, I received a folded up note delivered by a friend of a friend. After almost a year of staying committed, Lynn informed me that Rudy Lynn Books was closing its doors and as a result, she had to release my agreement. And agreements with all the other authors too!

This meant that everyone who I told about this deal – well, I’d have to tell them the truth.

That there was no book deal.

The book deal was gone.

Regardless how short or shy, I no longer had a “boy” I could pass notes to in class.

And the boy I had a crush on (and never knew I existed) got his braces off and started dating Ida Author, the most popular girl in junior high.

So if you want to know how I really feel: I’m really, really disappointed.

And in a Leslie Knope way, feel like I could throw a pie at someone’s face.

I feel like I could have been searching for agents or other publishers. I feel like I could have been crank calling the one I really liked! I feel like I wasted almost a year of my life on a publisher that didn’t come through for me. Although I have respect for these talented professionals, I feel like I was cheated on.

Then again, it taught me to be more careful about finding my way in this industry.

And to stay focused on what I want from the beginning. To find a trusted partner who believes in me and could represent me and help guide me in this ever-changing world of publishing.

So now, as I dust off my non-fiction book proposal and start researching agents again – I realize it’s going to be a long road. After burying myself in a pity party of holiday truffles and People magazine issues, I’m ready for a New Year and New Me. As I attempt to pull my sports bra over my head and slap on some self-tanner, the pace of the treadmill may be slow, but like they say, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Maybe the offer I received was too good to be true. It happened, but it happened really fast. I never even had a chance to taste the punch.

Maybe I should listen to what my close friends say about it all.

“It wasn’t meant to be.”

“When one door closes, a window flies open.”

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Maybe I should listen. (Not to every Kelly Clarkson lyric.) But maybe they’re onto something.

I may feel like I wasted a year, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Maybe it’s worth it to start this process over again to find myself, my most authentic voice, in the midst of finding Mr. Write.

Bravo Bender

Have you ever had a dream where you’re the one Home Alone?

A few weeks ago, the kids were at sleepovers, my husband was out of town, and my plans with girlfriends got cancelled.

Holy Macaulay Culkin, this actually happened to ME. For realz. They don’t make gift certificates for these kind of fabulous mommy moments.

If you had nothing to do for a glorious evening, you’d read a good book, fold some laundry, grab a glass of wine and call it a night, right?

I thought so too.

Until I turned on Netflix.  And ended up putting the book down. And turning up the volume.

For five hours straight.

I started watching a show. Don’t ask. It’s something you’d never watch with your husband or kids.

  1. OK. So it was…..Carrie Diaries. As in Sex and City’s Carrie Bradshaw. – as a teen. d39c86584a23012d0db0692d07e6ac86

Deep down, I’m a 15 year old, still waiting for my boobs to develop (some things never change) transfixed by this show. Like an addict, I watch the next episode. And the next.

Only the “crack” was coming from the TV screen.

When this happens, you, my friend, are on a Netflix binge-watching bender.

There’s no going back.

The next thing you know, you’ve binge-watched an entire season.

I did this with my parents after my mom had surgery. We binge-watched an entire season of  Downton Abbey.

I have to say, there is less guilt when binge-watching a PBS show. It’s sort of like over-eating scones rather than Twinkies. Something about sophisticated pastries and public television makes you feel more civilized.

When you’ve had it with your kids, your husband, mommyhood. There’s something I can suggest that will keep you from yelling, “Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny” from a frosted window.

  1. Coax your kids (safely) out of the house. Somehow, some way. After all the playdates you’ve hosted, there’s bound to be a grandparent, relative or mom friend who will gladly lend some mommy sanity and host a sleep over.
  2. Plan to reciprocate next weekend. It pays off in the long run. Trust me.
  3. If you can’t find a sleep under or sleepover solution, start after recovering from a cold or flu. (Foot note: Sleep unders are what I call fabulous alternatives to sleep overs, especially when you’re the host because little guests go home before 10 p.m. and you don’t have to deal with kid-sleep-over-versions-of-hang-overs the following day.)
  4. If you’re starting to feel better, pull a Ferris Bueller so you can finish another season.
  5. Gather some snacks, wine (or Z-quil) ;) and lots of pillows.
  6. Hit the play button, and begin your binge-watching bender.
  7. You may start to feel guilty. Don’t. Just let it happen.
  8. Leave the guilt, take the cannolis. I know, I know. Watching too much television can be bad for us. So can being stuck inside during the winter.
  9. My husband and son once binge-watched two seasons of the Walking Dead during a snowstorm. If you don’t think it’s possible, try it.
  10. If you don’t have Hulu, a DVR or Netflix, try a DVD. Or TV. Never under estimate the power of a commercial break. You can get a lot of reading, laundry or emails done. Or call and cackle out loud with a dear girlfriend. (It’s fabulous.)
  11. If you really want to embrace the moment, switch channels.
  12. Try something new. For example, I NEVER thought I would ever watch Ladies of London. 2b4fe9c500000578-3195657-image-m-160_1439415475852I saw commercials for it and thought, “This is junk. I’ll never watch it.” Then one day, my husband had the TV going in the background while on a conference call. This show was on, with all these pretty women in designer garb, donning BRITISH ACCENTS. The next thing I know? I. Could. Not. Stop. Watching. (The accents helped me feel more cultured.)
  13. Rinse your brain. Turn off the TV. Repeat the next time no one is home!

Merry everything!!

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I know you’re busy, but I wanted to pop by and wish you a very Merry Christmas and fabulous holiday break! May 2016 bring you good health and lots of happy moments.

I can’t wait to catch up with you after the break!image image

Here’s some rare family photos from this past summer, featuring my Pale Mom Legs! 😳

Be good to yourself this holiday season. Be giving and forgiving.

See you soon!

💕🎀👠🌲 – Jackie

 

 

 

 

On bra size and backfat

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Oh I said it. That’s not a typo up there.

I have (yet another) mid-life confession to make. Let me just start by saying that I have kind of been hiding under a proverbial rock lately, busy with a bunch of writing projects, and decided before this blog started to grow Charlotte’s inter-web, I needed to get something off my chest.

Interestingly enough, it actually involves my chest. The fact that there’s actually something going on up there in (my chest, or chestical area) that I’ve been waiting for since I was 16. You see, I was really excited to learn that I no longer fit in certain bras. And that, for-the-love-of-Victoria’s-Secret, miraculously, I think I MAY have gone up a bra size. And I’m not pregnant. Or nursing. Nor have I gotten any kind of work done. I swear. I may watch Ladies of London and The Real Housewives of Orange County, but I have no plans to join their botox or boob-augmentation party any time soon.

You have to understand that when your boobs (excuse me, breasts, or breasteses) start to grow (especially someone like me who never really had much up top and practically prayed at the altar of padded miracle bras), it’s kind of a big deal.

Boobage. You wait your whole life to have boobage. Sorry, mom, I mean breastage. (Not a word, I realize, but I’ll use it if it means my mom won’t be disappointed in me for writing this out loud.)

I had no idea I could actually grow “up top” AFTER having kids.

Hello Dolly, I’m beyond thrilled this happened naturally.

That is, until I realized what was really happening.

After going through my closet recently, on a quest to find the perfect outfit for an upcoming family wedding. (In D.C. In the winter, mind you.) I realized my push-up bra (from 2011) no longer fits.

“Mommy’s got ta-tas,” I whisper-sang to myself, as my daughter and I played dress up in my closet, trying to find a perfect dress for the occasion.

So I tried on one of my old favorite Pretty Woman-style-minus-the-hooker-plot-polka-dotted dresses without a bra, and thought I’d be on cloud nine.

Until I realized I couldn’t zip it up.

“Could you please help me with the zipper?”

My 11-year old daughter pulled, and stopped. I thought maybe the zipper was stuck.

Well, it was, in a sense.

“Mom, I’m sorry, but it’s not budging.”

I had tried to spanx my skin together with my fingers in that particular area, but the zipper wasn’t moving.

“Mom, how old is this dress?”

There was nowhere for the skin to go but out, dammit.

“I don’t know – I bought it for a special event, along with that one.”

Pointing to yet another formal dress that I’ve worn three times. (Maybe four, if you count that event where I had to leave early.)

“But when did you get them?”

I did the math. And realized I bought them in 2007. But they still looked brand new! Why? Because they have been sitting in my closet for EIGHT YEARS. Eight years. Almost nine! That’s a long time! (A nine year old can give advice on reprogramming an iPhone! I know first-hand, believe me!)

SO I realized it wasn’t that I had grown a bra size. I realized I had OUTGROWN my bras. And my dresses. And in the midst of it all, I had grown a little bit of…BACK FAT.

You know. Back fat?

That extra skin around the chestical area.

That causes a bra size to increase. Not in the cup size. BUT THE AREA AROUND THE BACK.

I remember going shopping with my aunts and grandmother EIGHT YEARS AGO and I would exchange giggly texts with my cousins because we never understood the need for those long, drapey, Mrs. Roper-inspired ensembles. They were for when we got older.

Golden Girl age. NOT 44!

Mr. and Mrs. Roper – Come and Knock on My Door! Image brought to you by Amy Vermillion!

The horr-ah!

After TRYING to zip up those gorgeous dresses (now being donated to younger friends who still have a sense of a younger-me-metabolism) I find myself at a loss. Although I embrace my body at this age and work out five times a week, I have to face the facts. I cannot save every nice item in my closet and expect to wear it year after year – unless it truly is in my size. And has some give. Which makes me understand, after 35 years, Mrs. Roper’s obsession with long, drapy ensembles.

“Are they shirts? Or dresses?” we’d joke.

I’m starting to understand the need for Golden Girl gear.

Long, flowy blouses, sweaters and jackets that hide the places crying to be Spanxed back together.

They need to cover the spaces that don’t need to be seen.

Yes, I’m fighting the mid-life metabolic pause. But I’m also trying to eat healthy and exercise and maintain my weight.

Not try to lose me in the process.

The next time I see a long sweater or blouse at the store, I promise not to call it Blanche.

Or Betty. Or Mrs. Roper.

I will pull it over my breastage, past the back fat, and embrace that Golden piece of clothing with a smile.

Mid-life-isms

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I chatted with a sweet gal recently who complained she was getting “old”.

She’s in her early 30’s.

While deep down inside I wanted to slap her, I knew it wasn’t her fault.

It’s not her fault if she doesn’t know what it’s like to be what my honest-to-goodness grandmother describes as “middle-aged” (upon seeing photos of me at 41).

It’s not her fault she doesn’t have back fat.

Or arm dangle.

Or a water-retention-pooch that looks like you’ve lodged a bag of marshmallows under spanx after skipping exercise two days in a row.

Man oh man how I wish I had the metabolism I used to have in my 20’s and 30’s. I had a strong core back then, before I even KNEW what the heck core was!

This recent encounter with a 30-something along with a few doses of over-the-counter cold medication (because I’ve been in bed with a bad head cold and haven’t worked out in two days) has forced me to realize the following mid-life-isms:

In your 20’s, you have the energy to do anything you want, but you can’t afford it.

In your 30’s, you have the energy to do just about anything, but you’re too busy working and building  up your career and starting a family to even bother.

When you turn 40, you find yourself. You have a Sally-Field-size-epiphany and realize you really like yourself. You really, really like yourself. And anyone who doesn’t can go take a hike.

After celebrating the big 4-0, you finally start philosophizing about doing some of the things you wanted to do when you were a youngin’. (Oh, I said it.)

Then somewhere between 41 and 45, the proverbial poop hits the fan.

Kids who were in diapers when Rachel and Ross kissed on Friends are constantly calling you “Ma’am”.

And it no longer bothers you.

Body parts start breaking down.

Hormones start going haywire.

Your neck strains too far after doing Downward Dog in the comfort of your own home.

You find yourself wanting the made-for-tv miracle age-defying products advertised at 2 a.m. (Because you’re up in the middle of the night anyway thanks to mid-life mommy insomnia.)

One more year of insomnia and you fear you may start looking just like Mrs. Havisham!

You do NOT want to look like Mrs. Havisham by 45 (although this was probably the least-wrinkly depiction of the Dickens’ Great Expectations character played by the always-gorgeous Anne Bancroft). Photo from ic.pics.livejournal.com

You’ve finally saved up enough money to do all the things you wished you’d done in your 30’s, but you barely have the time because you have kids. And work. And body parts that aren’t working the way they used to unless you exercise every 12 hours and consume enough raw juice to cause a variety of TMI- plumbing-related explosions.

Oh you have some good days.

But most of the time, you’re sucking in your marshmallows and trying your best not to come across as a middle-aged person who still dances like it’s 1999.

Then again, when I glance in the mirror (after letting out a “meh” because I still don’t recognize my own back side), I realize, “Maybe it’s not that bad.”

Believe it or not, I do appreciate being 44.

To think my dear friends in their 50’s and 60’s want to slap me. Because they think I’m young!

No, I do appreciate being 44.

And every little thing that comes along with it.

Every little thing.

From the lack of estrogen and eyebrow hair to the upturn in hormones and hot flashes.

I know that I often vent about the changes that come with being 44. And I may look a little older on Facebook this time next year. I can’t help it. I still feel like I’m that girl in her early 30’s on the inside.

But then again, I feel GLAD I don’t have to go back!

I guess it just goes to show that as we age, life somehow gets a little sweeter.

We grow. In many ways.

Yes, our hair may get a little whiter. Our hips may get a little wider.

But as my grandmother says, it also means we get a whole lot wiser. ;)

Just say no to white jeans after Labor Day (here’s why)

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I have a confession to make. I think I might be the only female in America that hasn’t embraced white jeans.

To me, white jeans are a girl’s anti-girdle. Just trying on a pair in a badly lit dressing room highlights every post-baby-44-year-sag-snap-and-pop from my ass to my ankles. White denim has the ability to turn the tiniest bloat into a gigantic jiggle. And what might appear to be a bitty booty into a Kim Kardashian badonkadonk contest.

Don’t get me wrong. White jeans look good on some people.

Especially eleven-year-olds and anemic runway models.

But mine DEFINETELY make my ass look big.

And white denim after Labor Day?

Nope.

I Just. Can’t.

Oh I know we received notice from the fashion police in New York, LA and Paris years ago that winter white is back. But when you grow up in Texas, I’m sorry, but even if it’s 98 degrees on Labor Day, there’s an unwritten rule. (No actually I think it WAS a written rule when I was growing up) that it’s a “Don’t” to wear white pants or white shoes after Labor Day! And white denim? Fugetaboutit.

Don’t you dare think I’m a walking fashion “don’t,” because I love my Vogue and I bought a pair of faux-white denim pants a few years ago to see if I could slowly cross over to the white-threaded trend.  What in the name of Levi is faux white denim, you ask? OK, let me see if I can break this down: Brands like Krazy Larry’s make these button-less pull-on “wonder” pants that I swear erase all the bubbles. Think Golden Girls slacks minus flowing rayon with a splash of Spanx-ness. They look like jeans. But they’re not. And they’re not to be confused with Pajama Jeans!

They squeeze your “marshmallows” together to make you look fantabulous.

They’re magically delicious.

But they’re still white pants.

And I’m still me.

I think I’ve worn them five times in three years.

The last time I wore them, I ate a slice of pizza at my daughter’s school picnic and spilled about a spoonful of marinara sauce in an area you don’t want to see a spoonful of anything red.

And I digress.

Now that it’s AFTER Labor Day? Well, you can forget about seeing me wear white pants until Easter Sunday.

Unless of course, we’re talking cream-colored winter wool.

Bah. That’s material for another time.

Simple Steps to Laundry Sanity

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The sun is shining. Your kids are off on thank-you-Lord-I-promise-to-reciprocate-soon playdates.

The kitchen is clean.

The vacuuming is done.

You’ve met two deadlines in three hours flat.

You’re on a roll.

Until you come in contact with the laundry room.

Laundry. The bane of a work-from-home-mother’s existence.

There are not piles, but MOUNDS of clothes on both sides of your basement floor.

You can barely distinguish the whites from the colored clothes – and damn those striped PB Teen sheets. I’ll deal with you later. Even more unrecognizable pieces are thrown on top of your dusty dryer.

Socks so dirty they are still dripping with sweat from your son’s lacrosse practice and clinging for dear life to towels so torn, you can only use them to dry off the dogs.

Sheets are covering shorts. Grass stained girls’ jeans are practically crying for the spin cycle.

My mother, bless her heart never really taught me how to be a great laundry-doer. I mean laundry-er. Whatever. I can’t even attempt to create a word that describes doing laundry.

Now I never told you I’m all domesticated. (Lordy knows I’ll never live up to my grandmother’s standards. The woman used to iron everything, change her drapes with the seasons and sew custom sheets for relatives. For FUN!) I’m a mom and yes, I cook, clean and manage my house. But let me put it this way – aside from baking cookies – our before-kids apartment oven was used for stowing away past issues of People magazine. OK?

Laundry.

Laundry. Stinks.

I hate it.

There I said it.

I. Hate. Doing. Laundry.

Laundry can kiss my middle-aged…you know.

Boy that feels good to get out.

If you find me standing in the basement in front of a pile of clean, dried clothes fresh from the dryer, I will most likely be complaining. Practically going insane with disgust.

Seriously, put me in the dryer and switch on the longest cycle.

The only way I get through laundry every week?

I’m glad you asked.

Jackie’s simple steps to laundry sanity:

  1. Lug the hamper (of clean and dried clothes) upstairs. (I mean we all know the easy part is washing and drying!)
  2. Clear the dogs from your family room. Kids too if possible. (Meaning try attempting this after they go to bed!)
  3. Turn on your TV, radio, audio-book or Internet show. Something that leaves you giggling until you practically pee.
  4. I mean it. Do it. Give me three episodes of Sex and the City and I’ll take your loads of crinkled clothes and fold them until they are super straight. 30 Rock, Modern Family, The Goldbergs and The Office all give off a similar effect.
  5. Start folding. But keep watching. (I used to fold to Will and Grace in the 1990s. I’d cackle so loudly, the librarian-and-half-hoarder-neighbor below us probably thought I was throwing a rave.)
  6. Fold some more.
  7. But keep watching/listening too.
  8. Spit and shape those sweaters until they look like they belong on the shelf at the Gap.
  9. Separate everything into neat piles.
  10. Breathe in. Breathe out. Before you know it, Samantha has broken up with someone else and guess what? Your laundry is F-O-L-D-E-D.

(And, yes, you can go get yourself a glass of congratulatory wine and wait until the morning (or next Wednesday afternoon) to put everything away. ;))

New Author? Don’t Give Up, But Don’t Believe Everything You See in the Movies

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Have you ever seen a movie and wondered, “Wow, I could SO do that too”?

The characters make fulfilling dreams look so easy.

I’m a self-proclaimed movie buff, but it really bothers me when a movie (even one inspired by a true story) makes something that can take YEARS for a regular person to accomplish look like a walk in the park.

Like writing a book and landing a publishing contract.

Hello, if you’re a new author, you know what I’m talking about.

I was watching one of my favorite kid friendly movies this winter, Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, and the mom decides to randomly “send some pages” to her friend who happens to work for a big publisher. Five minutes later, she signs a dream book deal, launches a New York book tour and makes Kelly Rippa laugh in front of a live television audience. Five minutes after that, Oprah and her crew are on their way to her house. (Caricature provided by Pinterest.)

While watching the movie, my kids saw the look on my face and joked, “Wow mom, it’s that easy, isn’t it?”

I wanted to throw a tomato at the screen. But I just grinned and swallowed.

In reality, writing a book in THIS CENTURY, whether fiction or nonfiction, is not a walk in the park. Nor is getting published and getting noticed by respected print and online media, let alone celebrity talk show hosts. It’s actually more ficticious than anything I’ve seen. (Unless you’re a rock star like my blogger-turned-author friend Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, but even she says she experienced some disappointments during her early book tours.) As a public relations professional and self-published author who has worked hard to promote my first self published gift book (How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker) and worked even harder to pitch and land a publishing deal for my subsequent books (coming this fall via Robyn Lane Books), I can tell you first hand that it doesn’t happen “just like that”. I think of writing, publishing and promoting a book as the equivalent of baby steps. Oh yes, What About Bob Baby Steps. (Another movie where the main character, played by Richard Dreyfuss, has a best-selling book and experiences celebrtity pr.) It’s so unfair! All I can say is writing and promoting definitely has its ups and downs, with some spit ups, hiccups and joyous jogging stroller ride-like-the-wind highs along the way.

New authors often spend years waddling around trying to promote their work, even if they’re backed by an agent or publisher.

When it comes to writing a book, there are many bumps in the road that leave even the most optimistic writer disappointed, feeling like they’re about to fall. I have found that many authors, even those represented by spectacularly supportive agents, are choosing to self publish because it gives them more freedom. I self-published my first book with CreateSpace and had a positive experience. But I am so excited to reliquish that duty to my new friends at Robyn Lane Books. ;)

I have a friend (I’ll call her Judy) who wrote a novel and was backed by a well respected agent and chose to self publish because she was tired of waiting so long for her agents to land a publishing deal. Judy was able to market her book on her own and sell it on Amazon. She is writing her second novel and her agent is shopping for a new book deal soon. I just finished Judy’s book and can tell she deserves to be interviewed by Ellen, but I haven’t seen her on the show just yet.

I have another friend (who I’ll call Ava) who was represented by two agents. It took her a long time to learn how to approach and land an agent. While her agents were busy trying to sell her first book, Ava decided to keep writing and self-publish not just one but five additional books in romance and young adult genres. She is one of the most dedicated writers and she says she has a hard time promoting herself. And she used to work in TV!

A little tidbit: As a new author, you have to walk a fine line when it comes to promoting yourself. You have to know when to just “be”. As a 44-year-old mother, I truly believe in connecting with people in an authentic way. Something that inspired me to audition for the Listen to Your Mother Show back in 2013 – and yes, I ended up becoming a cast member, and connecting with some amazing women. If it’s not authentic, what’s the point?

All I’m trying to say, (without breaking your dreams) is if you decide to write a book, go for it. But don’t think it’s going to be as easy as it appears in the movies. (Unless you’re already a celebrity.) ;) It takes a lot of work. A lot of rejections. A lot of dedication. Discipline. Self-discovery. You’ll experience sweat, stress and cheers. Don’t quit your day job either. Even if you have 2,000-plus Twitter followers and a ton of likes on your page, it doesn’t mean Ellen is knocking on your door. Even if you’re dancing along with her in your family room.

Just keep writing. And keep believing. And one day, maybe, just maybe, Ellen might want to Tweet you!

What would you say?

Have you ever passed by a couple strolling their first baby?

It’s the sweetest sight.

Have you ever thought, “Should I tell them?”

“Dare I say?”

Nah.

For the sake of Dr. Phil and Rachel Ray,

Just let them enjoy this time.

Just let them be.

Oh, I’ve put my proverbial foot in my mouth and mustered up nothing but a smile.

They’ll figure it out on their own, I’ve thought…after strolling a hundred more miles.

But if I could say something…which I know I shouldn’t, I would say:

“You think you’ve got this thing down, don’t you?

The highs…the lows,

The diapers,

The crying,

The newborn woes.

The urine-on-your-yoga-pants days and sleepless nights.

The honeymoon “first this and first that” baby stage delights.

I sense some “we so know everything” undertones.

Oh I feel you.

I’ve been there.

I too once thought I was an exception, a self-taught parenting pro.

Then we brought our newborn home.

We drove super-duper slow.

Then we accidentally washed his clothes in Tide.

He got a rash and cried and cried.

The Diaper Genie was impossible to assemble and almost broke.

Everything we thought we had down from classes and the new parenting books seemed like one big fat joke.

Can I just tell you that Jagger’s words are true,

You can’t always get what you want,

But you get what you need.

As soon as your newborn enters your world, you want to give him everything you’ve dreamed.

But there’s no such thing as a perfect parent.

A perfect baby.

Or a perfect world.

Yeah, you’ve totally “got this”.

For about a month.

I know you think you know everything right now.

Yes, you’ll do fine.

But it may take some learning, some patience and some time.

Just remember the crap you go through is part of the climb.

Even though you may feel clueless at times.

Like you’re losing your way.

Remember that you’re a parent.

And it’s not easy.

But I promise, it’s all going to be OK.”

And then they graduate

This week marks a crazy time for so many moms and dads.

Aside from the fact that we have to remember the 23 different end-of-school-year activities going on for each child.

And that it feels as if every parent in America needs to take four days off from their regularly scheduled working lives in order to fit in every event and activity (We do the best we can, right?!)…It’s kind of a bittersweet time.

A really bittersweet time for me.

Because the end of this school year means my littlest “graduates” elementary school.

And my biggest actually graduates middle school.

(As in there is an actual graduation ceremony with ironing and dress pants involved.)

Yes, that means my first born child is going to high school in the fall.

So if you run into me at Target or the grocery store, just know that although I may be smiling on the outside.

I am actually kind of a mess.

On the inside.

Think teary-eyed-mom-singing-to-Cats-in-the-Cradle-in-my-car kind of mess …on the inside.

I keep trying to hide it.

I’m a little verkempt (if this was an essay and I had a foot note section, this is where I would give credit to Saturday Night Live’s Cawfee Talk).

All week I bury myself in my to-do list. Lie to myself that I’m OK through emails. On the phone. And down a few spoonful or five of Nutella.

I’ve tried to jog it out.

Write it out.

Chat it out with mom friends.

I’m trying, in the most Talladega Nights way to “bury it deep down”. But as a mom, I can’t help but feel a temporary sense of bittersweet holy crap-ness.

That this is really happening.

This sh*t is real.

Kids really do grow up in a blink of an eye.

My husband found an old video of my son walking to the bus stop on his first day of kindergarten. That was nine years ago.

He played it for me at 6:45 a.m.  today – the day of my son’s 8th grade graduation.

This man, my loving husband, knows what he’s doing. He knew I would appreciate the video. And that it would send me into a tailspin of motherly emotion.

At a time when I’m at my most rattled and vulnerable.

A time when I’m still in complete denial.

As I watched the 20-second clip, (which I remember recording because I’m as usual behind the camera as we walked our little guy to the bus stop), I saw the version of my son I still see in my mind’s eye. He was so sweet and small, in his little kid-pre-teen voice and big-boy backpack. (I would post it, but if I did, my son would probably never speak to me again.)

My son watched the video with me this morning. And he knew I’d lose it.

But I tried to stay strong and hold it in.

Until he left for school on his bike.

Then I let the tears roll.

Yes, this week marks an important turning point.

For my kids.

For me and my husband.

And for so many parents.

Once again, and thankfully without diapers and potty training, we have NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE IN FOR as parents as we face the true teenage years.

It’s exciting.

And nerve-racking to think that our kids will put us through the same crap we put our parents through eons ago.

And yet we head into it with the highest of hopes.

Coach Taylor’s clear eyes.

And full hearts.

And a bundle of circle-of-life God-help-us-all naivety.

Remember eleven?

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As I watch my daughter reach this impressionable age,

A time when everything still seems happy-go-lucky, but your body (and life) starts to change.

It makes me reminisce….

About the time I was living in 11-year-old, carefree bliss.

When you were eleven, did you care what others thought?

Or just go about your day, all smiles, without a second thought?

Ride bikes to the candy store with your friends after softball?

Babysit, walk to school, go to the mall?

Always with your friends, always having a ball.

Climb trees, play house, host lemonade stands,

Make “totally awesome” and oh-so-innocent 11-year-old plans.

Take gymnastics,

Run to dance.

Every once in a while, you’d wonder if the boy in the parachute pants would ever give you a chance.

But boys were still kind of yucky.

And you were still a bit gawky.

And you had no idea nor did you care how others truly “saw” you.

You even had enough guts to dance that dance (by the Go-Go’s) in front of the whole school.

You smiled, giggled and lived life full out.

Your friends were the best and that’s all you cared about.

This was pre-peer pressure and low self-esteem.

You had no idea what was coming at 12, 13 or heavens-to-Betsy, FOURTEEN.

Why? Because you were eleven.

An age when life and your outlook on it was like a little piece of cotton-candy heaven. :) – Jackie

Dear Mom in Aisle 5

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Dear mom in aisle 5, yeah you, with the baby and totally rambunctious toddler.

Dear lordy, do I feel your pain…especially when you beg them to “Get back here right now.”

I understand your strain…when they won’t listen.

I know why you’re not even trying to crack a fake smile.

Or pretend to leisurely walk through the aisle.

Or trying to do anything but LEAVE THE STORE AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.

With the kids.

And your reusable bags.

And your dignity.

I feel you.

I hear you.

Heck, I WAS you.

I just want you to know that I’ve been there.

We’ve ALL been there.

And it’s OKAY.canstockphoto0273927

You can slap me, but just as the saying goes, I want you to know that this too shall pass.

(Heck, it feels like it passes way too fast when your kids are 11 and 14.)

Even though right now, what you’re going through feels like eternity.

Oh yes, some days, when you have really little ones, the present doesn’t always feel like a gift.

Especially when you’ve had four hours of sleep.

No, the present feels more like a suburban-space ball of snot, chasing and whines. Along with a few hugs, strolls and smiles.

You’re barely holding it together some days, while others you’re on top of the world.

You can throw your middle finger at me, but all I have to say is, hang in there.

Just please have a little faith.

Because one day, they will stop acting like little crazy people.

One day, they will actually stop begging for gum on the way out the door.

One day, believe it or not, they will stop wanting to go with you to the store.

You will no longer feel mortified when you see the entrance sign.

Or worried that people will stare at the mere hint of a whine.

Because one day, you will forget about the sh*tty shopping trips.

The rushing, the trials, the germy licks.

And you’ll stare at the mom with two little tots who act a lot like yours did today.

And you’ll probably give her a wink, a nod, and even a friendly “holy-crap-I’ve-so-been-there-and-I-so-totally-feel-you” wave.

Like I did to you when you weren’t looking today in Aisle 5.

Lame mom alert: Were you fun before you had kids?

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Did you used to be fun?

I used to be fun.

Or at least in MY MIND I was fun.

I could go out and have a few drinks with my husband and friends, eat OUT at a *swanky restaurant (*OK, “swanky” enough for struggling workaholics living paycheck-to-paycheck in the city), and sometimes, if we took a cab home, we’d even go DANCING. Hello, we’d even go out for Happy Hour in the MIDDLE of the week. But we’d get up at 6:30 a.m., work out and rock a full 10-hour work day. I’d pop a couple Advils, down a cup of tea and I was fine. Ready to tackle some Mad Men-style-for-the-90’s public relations campaigns. Sometimes, I might grab a glob of carbs from the local barista to keep me going until lunch, but for the most part, I was fun.

But since I have become a mother…. No, wait, let me autocorrect that statement: Since I have become a 40-something mother, things have changed.

Drastically.

Let’s just say my lame meter is high. And my fun factor has calmed down.

Depreciated.

Deflated like a week-old balloon.

So much so, some weeks, I fear I’m turning into an octogenarian.

How lame of a mother AM I, you ask? I’ll tell you.

1. I’ll start listening to the Oldies station without even realizing it’s the Oldies.

2. I was belting out a song by Foreigner at a stop light the other day and realized a car full of 20-somethings were pointing, staring AND laughing. At ME. (Not with me, AT ME!)

3. Going to see a live band that starts at 9 p.m. used to be a once-a-week tradition, now I’m lucky if I catch a concert twice a YEAR. (And Lord help me if it STARTS at 9 p.m.)

4. I saw Neil Diamond in concert recently. And yes, I KNEW EVERY SONG. (Thankfully, the show was over by 10:30 p.m.)

5. I down two beers and feel like my head has been invaded by a VW Bug full of ass hats 12 hours later.

6. I get a migraine from red wine. And Margaritas.

7. My body can only tolerate beer and champagne now. And by champagne, only the good stuff. If it’s cheap, fu-gedda-boud-it.

8. When I do go out, I need 7 hours of sleep. IN A ROW. If I don’t get it, I’m really, really, really cranky the next day (and feel like my head has been invaded by a VW bus full of ass clowns).

9. Referring back to #8, do you know how hard it is for a 44-year-old-work-from-home-mother-of-two-human-and-two-canine-kids to actually sleep for four hours straight, let alone 7? Don’t even talk to me about my sleep patterns or night sweats during pre-PMS weeks.

10. If I stay up past 11 p.m., it’s a really, really, really big deal. As in: I might NEED a nap the next afternoon.

11. If I don’t get a chance to take a nap in the afternoon (even for 10 minutes), please revert back to #8 and toss me a vat of cheese dip, a bag of lime-seasoned Tortilla chips and leave me alone to wallow in my over-44-hormonal-misery to binge watch TLC. Thank you very much.

Yes, things have definitely changed since we had kids.

Especially since turning 44.

We still have FUN. But it’s a lot different these days.

We have fun doing simple things.

Like bike riding to the beach to catch the sunset with my 11-year-old.

Meeting the girls for brunch.

Hosting a group of tweens for a pool and pizza party.

And watching the sunrise with my husband from our back porch.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed taking my daughter and her friends to see the premiere of Pitch Perfect 2 the other night. I’m sorry, but Rebel (a.k.a. Fat Amy) makes me belly laugh.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy a night out with good friends. Or date night with my husband (who makes me laugh until I tinkle). Even if it’s twice a month rather than twice a week!

I guess I can still be fun.

As long as I’m home by 10 p.m. ;)

When was the last time you did this?

Going away is one thing. But going away without your kids?

Now that’s what I call a vacation.

I have a little secret: I just went away ON A VACATION for a few days.

Oh yes, a girls’ trip, without the kids. Or husband. Or dogs.

A mini-vacation is better than a spoonful of Nutella wrapped in a crepe with five layers of whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. Adore them. My husband too. But I had not been away from them (for longer than a day here and there) for years. Years I tell you. Life is good, but after this “shiningly, Heeerre’s Johnny” snowy winter we had here in Rhode Island, let’s just say it was best for everyone that I got away for a couple days with some of my best friends.

So I planned a getaway in the Oregon coast, (yes, as in 3,000 miles away), with some very dear friends. Although two out of five of us couldn’t make the trip, three of us did. It was practically a miracle! And although it took me 26 hours to get there in a near-John-Candy-and-Steve-Martin-style-planes-refueling-cancelled-flights-with-trains-shuttles-hotels-and-automobiles journey, thankfully I made it in one piece. A little sleep deprived, but I made it to Portland. And we had a blast. Now, given that we are all between the ages of 44 and 50, there was no need to have a raging party. Yes, there was champagne. And seafood. And a breathtaking view of the Oregon coast thanks to a friend of a friend’s family beach house. There was, more importantly, much-needed reuniting, talking, chit-chatting, giggling and some venting, eating, walking, shopping, laughing, and more champagne. Who cares what we did. All I know is it was wonderful. IMG_6197 (2) blog

But more than anything, we experienced the kind of girl-time therapy that you just can’t get when you’re at home working, managing a house and taxiing kids around day in and day out.

All I know is I needed this trip. Really, really, really badly.

And you know that’s all I ask for, especially as Mother’s Day approaches?

Not a sense of justification. Or satisfaction. Or a “Pack your bags, I’m going on a guilt trip”.

Nah.

None of those things matter to me.

All I needed was the simplicity, the joy of reuniting with girlfriends who GET me.

Friends who honestly GET me.

Friends who understand what I’m trying to say, even if I don’t “land the plane” and get to a point right away.

The best is when you alternate not-landing-the-plane together, and go off on oh-m-g-random-girl-time-tangents and then end up laughing so hard you can hardly breathe because you totally understand where the plane is even though you landed it in a completely different place than you originally intended. (Don’t worry if you didn’t get this, it’s all good.)

The kind of friends who know YOU. And like you anyway. ;)

They laugh endlessly WITH you.

They like you, in a most Bridget Jones-kind-of-I-get-you-way, just the way you are.

And that is something that gives me such a sense of happiness.

Of rejuvenation.

And joy.

Life is so good.

When you have friends who make you laugh.

Until you almost pee.

That’s when you know you’re going to be OK.

Friends you know you can call a month from now, and can catch up in 30 seconds and pick up where you left off.

I feel blessed to have a lot of friends like this across the country. Some right here in little old Rhody and New England. You know who you are. But there is something so special about making a plan to get away with dear friends you don’t see every day. (Like when I got to see my friend in Arizona in February. It was so fabulous!)

Friends you know you’ll have until you’re old and crinkly.

Lifelong friends are worth re-connecting with, even if you only get to see them once in a while.

All I can say is if I seemed a little cranky over the winter, this trip helped. A LOT.

It helped remind me that life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

After a non-eventful planes, trains and automobiles return trip home, my husband says to me, “I don’t know how you do it.”

“What do you mean?”

“The dishes,” he says. “The dogs. The kids. Everything.”

I didn’t know what to say, except, “Thank you.”

This man is my life partner of nearly 20 years. He helps out. Although I do tend to be the one who Mr. Cleans the toilets, vacuums the floors and scrubs dishes every day, the fact that he was 100% supportive of me getting away meant the world to me. He took over, and aside from our puppy devouring dinner one night while he went to fetch the laundry, he did a tremendous job playing Mr. Mom. He rocks!

When you’re a mom, you do a lot. And sometimes you take on too much. Sometimes, you tend to do so much, you end up creating an unnecessary hamster wheel of things, making life even crazier. I was guilty of this….and knew it was time to unwind…and not feel guilty about it.

Because I know I’m a better mom and a better wife for it.

Do me a favor. Call a friend you haven’t seen in years. Not a text. Or a Facebook message. Pick up the phone. Maybe see if you can plan a trip. Even if it’s a year from now. Or two. Or five. I promise you won’t be sorry. Now have yourself a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Why You Need to Listen to Your Mother April 30

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I experienced the Listen to Your Mother show in Providence. I’m so proud of the women, my talented friends, who are co-producing this year’s show on April 30 at The Lincoln School, featuring original readings by local writers in celebration of motherhood. I have to give a virtual “Go girl” hug to my 2013 Listen to Your Mother sisters, Kirsten DiChiappariLauren Palizzolo JordanBrianne DeRosa and my blogging friend Chelley Martinka, who are all co-producers of the 2015 Providence Listen to Your Mother Show! (And another big-fellow-Texan-hug to my publisher and friend, Lane Buckman, for her LTYM performance in Austin, which I can’t wait to see on YouTube!)

Hats off to this year’s cast: Sarah Bouvier, Meri E. Brady, Bri DeRosaKirsten DiChiappari, Angela Flynn, Rebecca Ladd, Jay Potter, Allison Seed, Deborah Stoloff, Melissa Thompson and Anne Wert.

I’m so sad that I will miss the show this year due to an already planned trip, but I will be rooting them on the entire flight (as I skim through SkyMall and snack on pretzels).

To buy tickets and find out more about this year’s show on Thursday, April 30, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1365147 By the way, the national show is founded and directed by rock star Ann Imig, of http://annimig.com/.

You can find Kirsten at http://www.thequeenoftheearth.com/, Lauren at http://www.dontlickthetrashcan.com/, Brianne here http://www.redroundorgreen.com/ and Chelley Martinka at http://aisforadelaide.com/.

The bond formed with my Listen to Your Mother sisters in 2013 was real. It was special. And it was beyond words, yet it was all about the words we read aloud for the world to hear. The experience of being a part of this national show that gives Mother’s Day a microphone struck a chord within all of us, as we swallowed our butterflies, sweat and fears before taking the stage together.2013-04-29 10.33.21

I thought it would be fitting to re-post something I wrote about in the days following my experience in 2013:

I’m still trying to come down from the natural high of being a part of the Listen to Your Mother Providence 2013 show. I feel like a second-grader waving goodbye as the last guest leaves my birthday party. There’s nothing left but deflated balloons, dented ribbons and a half-devoured birthday cake.

And a heart that burns.

Not from too much cake, but for the party to last a little longer.

Not for the presents, but for the present, to last…just a little bit longer.

I’m still reeling from the entire experience. Thirteen amazing women. All with a story to share. Original stories shared in celebration of motherhood. Of its struggles. Its highs, its lows, and everything in between. My mom and dad were so sweet, they flew in for the show! An early Mother’s Day gift!

And I got to see a ton of familiar faces, from my family to Rhody Blogger friends (Tera Norberg, Carina Aggor, Melissa Pezza, Jen Senecal, Chelley Martinka, Jodi Williston to name a few). I’m so grateful.

Today, I feel so sad to say goodbye to my show sistahs.

Together, we giggled. We cried. We laughed until we almost peed. From auditions to rehearsals, we shared our insecurities. Our worries. Funny vents. Silly side stories. Then show day, the butterflies. Natural remedies. The fears. The hairspray. And oh so much more. We gave motherhood a microphone.

We are friends 4-eva. We are LTYM sisters.

We got to be a part of something that was simply magical.

You know the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”?

When I think about the Listen to Your Mother show, this old (and not quite accurate saying) couldn’t be more true. (And yes, Kirsten, this made me think of you and your piece!)

The whole experience, from audition to final show, was so much greater than the sum of the parts. And each cast member, although amazingly talented on their own, shined a little brighter when we performed as a group. One presenter flowed to the next, sharing something different. Something special. A part of themselves. Even people from the audience could tell you that there was something wonderful…a roller-coaster of emotions (in a good way)…going on in that auditorium.

I just have to say a special thank you to all my show sisters, for their courage and tenacity. Their wisdom and words.

Thank you, (in no particular order) Kelly Baraf,  Jennifer Ciplet, Laura Rossi, Jessica Severson, Carla Molina, Alicia Kamm, Kirsten DiChiappari, Lauren Jordan, Stephanie Lazenby, Brianne DeRosa, Lexi Magnusson, Phyllis Kim Myung, and the poetic queen, Marian Kent.

Thank you, co-producers and co-directors, Laura Rossi and Carla Molina, for creating an incredible ensemble and experience, and for performing such memorable pieces too. And for seeing the real me, quirks, fast-talking, self-deprecating, whisper-yells and all. Thank you for giving me a chance to say my piece (and my peace) on stage. I love you all!

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