The front porch in York


memoirThis is one of my stories: a story about the scriptures and a story about me, surviving. My Facebook feed has been littered today with people posting scriptures (because #LIGHTtheWORLD). I’ll be honest: I skip over them. They’re all such long scriptures. I dunno. I guess I’m not spiritual today. But guess what? I have my OWN scripture to share. Only mine comes in the form of a story. So, it’s actually WAY WAY longer than my friends’ scripture-social-media posts. If you know me, that’s how I do. I have a story for everything. And I’m not good at telling short stories. I go on random roads down many a tangent and throw excessive amounts of detail at you. Turns out, that’s my modus operandi. This story comes from my memoir I’ve been writing for some time. I spent a summer, when I was 19, selling books door-to-door. This is right in the middle of my story so you’ve missed out on introductions and background, but I think you’ll still get the gist of it. If not, post a comment about how silly I am to throw these random stories at you! By all means: NOBODY WANTS TO READ A SILLY BLOG. I mean. Come on. Go and read something amazing from a blogger who has incredibly pinnable content. Then, PIN ALL THE THINGS! Have fun. Now, on to my story.

“We might move you to a new sales area,” Kit had told me Saturday night. I replayed that statement over and over since then. It kept me up much of last night. It rattled through my brain as I sat in church. And now, sitting on a couch at a home in York, Pennsylvania, my mind repeats her voice over and over.

Deb sits next to me, talking with Eric. Byr is in the kitchen with others. Somebody is sleeping on another couch in the room. They’re laughing and cuddling and telling stories about selling. They’re acting like college kids. But it’s all muffled by my own mind.

“We might move you to a new sales area.”

Did Kit somehow know? Did she find out about that time that I hid in Byr’s trunk? Deb didn’t find out about that. Did she? Deb wouldn’t tell. Would Byr? She might for the sake of telling a good story. She wouldn’t tell Kit. But if she told Brice, would he tell Kit? Is that why Kit wants to move me? Because I hid in a trunk? That wasn’t in the rules.

The rules.

“We might move you to a new sales area.”

That was mentioned in the rules.

You may have to move some time during the summer. (New sales area, a more competitive roommate, better living environment, or a roommate that left the field early.)

Byr and Deb need a more competitive roommate. That’s probably it. “We might move you to a new sales area.”

Deb was laughing at Eric who was looking over at me. Is he waiting for a response? I have no clue. I nod slightly. “We might move you to a new sales area.”

Ugh.

I thought about the rules again. There was another rule about working with another first year. Deb, Byr and I were all first years. We were the only headquarters without a student manager or experienced book seller roommate. We were the only all-first-years HQ.

So I hid in a trunk, so what.

Never work with another First year dealer, unless recommended by a student manager. Never meet another First Year dealer for lunch. When you need to you can work with another Student Manager.

I thought back to when Kit read this rule to me, sitting in Sales School in Tennessee. She had modified the rule and crossed off a section that was an absolute no-no. She crossed off: “unless recommended by a student manager.”

“We won’t do that,” she said. “We’ll only have you work with another manager. It’ll be great!”

And then just last night, she’d told me, “We might move you to a new sales area.” She must have found out that I was with Byr during the day. We didn’t meet for lunch, though. And really, we didn’t really work. There was that one time where we went to the birthday party at the Shoemaker’s. Mama Shoemaker turned to Byr, when she came in and didn’t shut the door behind her, and stated, hands on her hips: “Do you live in a barn?”

So if I had to move, I’d have to start over in a new area. I’d have new roommates. I thought about the other girls HQ. The group in Middlesex used to have Kate. I liked Kate. But she went home. A student manager that went home. Even the managers quit this job. “We might have to move you to a new sales area.”

Byr was laughing in the kitchen. Something was funny. Capital F Funny. Her laugh snapped me out of my thoughts for a moment. Eric and Deb were talking about a friend of hers back home that wrote to her about her job as a life guard at the pool.

“She probably doesn’t have a book girl tan line,” Deb said, as she laughed and pulled up her sleeve to show her white shoulder, stark in contrast to her tanning arms.

“I know, right?” Eric pulled up his shorts to show a sock tan line.

I got up from the couch and stood there. I was going to go somewhere. Where? The kitchen? Outside? Home?

Oh, the kitchen. My laundry was probably done and the washing machine was just off of the kitchen. As I wandered through, Byr was standing around laughing with several of the guys. I snuck past, ducked into the closet used for laundry, left the lights off, and switched my clothes from the washer to the dryer in the dark.

After shutting the dryer and turning it on, I put my hands on top and drooped my head.

“We might have to move you to a new sales area.”

Why was I so anxious about this? I didn’t eat breakfast this morning. I hadn’t had any lunch yet. I wasn’t hungry. I was anxious.

Because I can depend on Byr to let me find her when I can’t stand this job.

I couldn’t do this alone.

Maybe I need help from someplace else, I thought. Kit had talked to me at church this morning. She mentioned the possible move again and seemed to pick up on my dread. “You should read Mosiah 24,” she said. “We talked about it in Sunday School. I think it would really help.”

“Mosiah 24?” I asked.

“Yeah. Mosiah 24.” She smiled. “Good chapter.”

I left the dark laundry room, walked through the kitchen without stopping for lunch, into the living room and grabbed my scriptures off of the coffee table. I kept walking out the front door.

We were at a two-story, white, wooden house, on a busy road in York. It had a long, wooden front porch that was sagging with age. It hadn’t been painted or stained in perhaps a decade. It might give you splinters if you looked at it for too long. I walked along the planks in my sandals so that I could sit down to the left of the door.

I stared at the traffic. Cars driving back and forth. Back and forth. Left. Right. I turned my head with them. Left. Right. Back and forth.

“Okay, Mosiah 24,” I mumbled.

I leaned my back against the house and slid down into a seated crouch, my scriptures perched on my knees. I thumbed through the pages, flipping past the Bible until I was in the Book of Mormon, following the tabs on the side until I got to the book of Mosiah where I opened and flicked the pages to the 24th chapter.

I rested the book down on my lap and looked down to begin reading:

“And it came to pass that Amulon…” I couldn’t read the words past that. I was crying. Ugly crying. Tears pouring down my face, blurring my sight. My shoulders shuddering with muffled sobs. A headache rapidly starting. I’d been holding it in, all of the anxiety, and I needed to sit down. I needed to stop.

The tears kept spilling down my cheeks, but they started to change from tears of anxiety, to tears of relief. I looked around, through my tears, at the cars speeding past. I wondered if they could tell something was happening on this sagging porch as they drove by. I looked back down at my scriptures. Why hadn’t I read these for so long?

I did need to read Mosiah 24. Kit knew. My shoulders stopped shaking, although the tears kept coming. I gulped big breaths of humid air and it felt good. I lifted my eyebrows in surprise. I was even smiling.

As the tears slowed, I smudged them off of my cheeks and eyelashes and continued reading. It was a story of a group of people in bondage. Their captors demanded that they not pray. So they prayed in their hearts instead. And there was the verse that I needed most:

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as a witness for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

RBG’s 7 tips for raising a trail-blazing daughter


rbgI read a lot of things about raising children: books, blogs, articles, forums, scriptures, and on and on. Like I’ve previously mentioned, being a parent is daunting and pretty much impossible. We are all doing our very best and all imperfect.

Recently, I’ve been reading the book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. Have you read it? What did you think? I’m still in the process.

Today, I read this article: Want to Raise a Trail-Blazing Daughter? ‘The Notorious RBG’ Says Do These 7 Things. I thought I’d check it out and see what the list was like, whether it applied to my daughter (and my son, too), and whether I wanted it to apply.

Here’s here list, followed by my thoughts:

  1. Foster a love of reading. Absolutely. We know this. We know about the huge impact of early childhood development and how much that sets your kids (sons or daughters) up for success. I loved reading. I know not all of my siblings did and I remember hiding in my closet to read because I thought my brothers might tease me about it. I want my kids to love reading, too. So far, they do. But having a love for your favorite book about trains is different than sneaking away to read The Screwtape Letters.
  2. Teach them to be independent. My four-year old can dress himself, make his own snack of melted-cheese Ritz crackers, and manage himself in the bathroom. (Is that the most polite way to put that? I’m always so polite. Especially on the internet.) My one-year old can walk. So she’s got that going for her. This took me years and years to learn. I wanted so bad to be in the popular group of friends in high school. I look back now and wonder, who really was the popular group? The football players? The cheerleaders? The school president? The choir president? Why did I care? Eventually, I learned that it matters more how you treat others than it does how many party invitations you get. And I think this is something that parents have to kind of get out of the way and let kids figure out, eventually.
  3. Encourage them to seek out great teachers. When I would tell people I was getting an English degree, 92.6% then asked me if I was doing that to be a teacher. No. Certainly not. Why? Because I knew I couldn’t be the kind of teacher that my great teachers had been for me. I had great teachers, both in school, in sports, in church, at work, and in friends. I wrote previously about how I hope that my children find great teachers as well.
  4. Encourage them to turn a deaf ear when needed. To quote Ginsburg here, “When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” One of my great teachers, my Grandma DeeDee, is the first example I can think of that lived her life like this. Here’s one I can definitely work on myself! And maybe if I tell my kiddos about how I am working on it and when I succeed or fail, they will learn from my example.
  5. Encourage them to set aside their worriesand simply achieve. I remember sitting down in the office of an English professor when I was on academic probation. She found out that the both of us were taking the same meds to treat depression. I was STUNNED. Why? Because successful moms with loving husbands, four grown boys, a successful career as a professor, and award-winning books, didn’t have depression. You can’t be depressed and succeed. She helped teach me not to listen to THAT voice in my head. What a lesson to learn. Now, if only I can think of a way to pass this lesson on!
  6. Teach them that they can make their own luck. My dad has told me before that I have more confidence than competence. I take it as a compliment. And in my previous career working in software, I needed that to track down the bug, database issue, what have you. As a parent, I am constantly incompetent so I’m glad that my confidence is not based on my success but precedes my successes (and my failures, from which I try so hard to learn). So hey, kids of mine: be confident in yourselves. You can figure it out. I say that to Dom often: “Wow, good figuring!” Seriously. I do. That phrase. Well, to be more exact, I say it like this: “Dom, good figgerrin’!”
  7. Pray that they marry the right person. This was the most surprising item on her list. Did it surprise you? Did you know that Ginsburg’s husband did all of the cooking? Excellent! I hope that my kids learn this simply by watching me and Nathan. We are two very different people and, yes, that causes conflict. But I hope that it complements more often and I hope that they see that. I hope that they think of their mom and dad as a team loving and supporting each other. Nathan supports me in a ton of ways, most importantly in helping me to continue to take care of me so I can be a whole person and the mom that my kids need and deserve.

What’s your favorite item on the list?

The steepness of the mom learning curve


doALLthethingsAs I sit here at the computer, one of the nicest things is that my back is to everything else in my home. By staring at my monitor, I can’t see the toys littering the floor, the unmade beds, the Amazon shipping boxes strewn across the living room, the decorations and presents piled on my kitchen table for a church Christmas dinner, or the precariously perched boxes in the garage where the ornaments and lights wait for me to pull them out and decorate.

When you’re busy, everything demands your time at once, right? For my personal record, when I look back at this day, here’s what I’ve been attempting to accomplish:

  1. Writing social media content for some small businesses
  2. Editing a personal essay/memoir for a writing contest due tomorrow
  3. Planning and prepping for the Christmas Relief Society dinner tomorrow
  4. Sending checks to musicians that played for the Trans Siberian Orchestra pit stop in Salt Lake
  5. Skyping with a writer for another contract doing technical writing work
  6. Writing on this blog and finishing a short piece for my website
  7. Changing diapers
  8. Loving children
  9. Playing in the snow
  10. Feeding
  11. Piano lessons with Dom (he asked for it!)
  12. Potty training with Gabbi (she told me today she had pooped, one step in the right direction of communicating it, even if after the fact!!)
  13. Washing diapers
  14. Ignoring it all by turning on Christmas music and dancing amidst the empty shipping boxes

When I was working full time, I envisioned my future as a SAHM and it included joyful play dates, trips to the gym, a clean house, and some extra cash from a little writing here and there during naps.

Huh.

Turns out, this full-time mom gig is killer. And I only have two lives to protect and serve!

Years ago, I had started a new job and felt nervous about the impending learning curve. A friend with a successful career counseled me not to worry about it because good coworkers and bosses understand that challenging positions require a 6-12 month learning curve. I needed that curve for the position I had just started.

I am here to tell you, people, that the mom learning curve is EXTREME! My goodness. As soon as I think that I may be getting good at something, my kid changes on me. And then there’s the sleep. Listen, child of mine: I have no clue why you’re crying in the middle of the night. Of course, if I go in to your room, you will sit up and instantly ask for milk. Okay. So you’re awake because you think you need milk. Well, what about my needs, little miss? Maybe I need some milk, but I swear, when I ingest excessive amounts of creamy, delicious dairy, my face will get angry with me and respond with red, bumpy fury. And now, I’ve gone off on a tangent about adult acne. I really just wanted to tell you about how this mom job I do is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every day, I am challenged and rarely do I feel like I succeed. It’s easy to picture other mom friends sitting at home in spotless homes where their cupboards are organized and alphabetized, with the bulgur wheat on the shelf above the quinoa; the laundry sits folded in each drawer; there aren’t crayon marks on the TV; the only thing on their piano is one piece of music (not torn); their kitchens floors aren’t crumby; and they already have their stunning Christmas decorations up. Right? Isn’t that what your homes are like, my mom friends?

I totally succeeded today, though. Here’s why:

  1. Dom smiled the ENTIRE time he was at the pool for swimming lessons.
  2. I accurately tracked my writing time for my hourly contract.
  3. Gabbi took two naps and both were in her crib.
  4. Gabbi told me the coh (coat), pa (pants), and shoooo (shoes) she wanted to wear.
  5. I put them on her even though they didn’t match.
  6. We bundled up and went for a walk outside in the snow.
  7. We ate enchiladas, rice and beans for dinner.
  8. We finished that with a variety of cookies from Cutler’s.
  9. I sat down and finished this blog.

When an Archbishop wonders about God, it’s the doubt of the century


I am a professional writer.

There. I said it. I really, truly, am paid for my writing. You may be stunned, too, because who gets paid for their hobby? This girl!

I remember, years ago, telling a boss at work that getting a degree in technical writing was hopefully setting me up for one day being a freelance writer around the schedules of small kids. That was an idea, but when Dom was born, the thought of ditching the well-paid, full-time job, while Nathan was in school, was far too risky. Turns out, writing isn’t lucrative. Unless you’re the next Stephenie Meyer.

I’m not.

I get excited about any of the times where I successfully land a contract with somebody or some company that will pay me real money for my writing. Many of the contracts I’ve had have been for more technical work so a few months ago, it was the first time that I scored some work where I was truly excited about the writing.

I was over the moon.

I had the chance to write whatever I wanted to about: faith and doubt.

That’s a pretty open topic. I mean, if your Mormon Bishop assigned that to you as your church talk, where would you go with it? What apostle would you quote?

This wasn’t a church talk assignment, though, but writing for a faith-based website. I started writing up my ideas on some graph paper one day and there was so much good stuff! As I was writing (with a pen, oooo), my thoughts and ideas took me down a specific direction that I had NEVER thought about before. It was a different angle, another perspective for me, from the familiar story of Peter walking on the water.

So I worked on this blog post for several weeks. I submitted it. They approved it. They paid me. They posted it.

This. This is one of those posts that shows a little bit about my thoughts in regards to my spiritual life. Read it. Share it. (Because, if they see that my post is read by lots of folks, maybe they’ll pay me to write again!)

I’m a professional writer.

And sometimes, I get to write about something that really resonates with my soul.

Dear 4YO son: be happy. Love, mom.


4yo-birthdayDear Son:

You recently celebrated your fourth birthday in which you told your friends at school a list of your favorite things:

  • Food: bacon
  • Color: ALL the colors!
  • Snack: applesauce and fruit snacks
  • Movie: Cars
  • Toy: cars
  • Place to visit: Discovery Gateway
  • Animal: tiger
  • Book: Put Me In The Zoo
  • Game: Robot Turtles

Good list, my boy.

I have a list for you:

  • Be happy

This is my biggest wish for you. I want you to be a happy person who brings happiness to others as well. When your dad blessed you as a baby, he blessed you to be happy. He didn’t know that this was what was constantly on my mind.

No one can force you to be happy. I can’t make you happy, either. You have to learn for yourself. Learn to smile and laugh often. Learn to joke with others. Learn to make friends. Learn to be kind. Learn to love your sister. Learn to serve others. Learn to hug (when it’s okay with you, of course!). Learn what makes you happy then go and do it.

Love, Mom.

To President-elect Trump – from a mom


trump-caricatureDear President-elect Trump:

I am a Mormon.

I believe in prayer. I believe in God. I believe in this country. I believe that God watches over this country.

Today, I pray for you. I pray for things that I am hoping for…

  • I hope that you put some of the best people around you in your administration.
  • I hope the inflammatory rhetoric is buried. Deep. Mariana Trench deep.
  • I hope that President Trump is different than Celebrity Apprentice Trump or New York Military Academy Trump or Campaign Trump.
  • I hope that you are fully committed to making America great because we have a lot of wounds, divisiveness, anger, and somewhere along the way, we lost our middle class.
  • I hope that you, too, pray to God for help.

Sincerely,

A Mormon Mom

P.S. You’re rather entertaining to draw, sir.

To Hillary Clinton – From a mom


hillary-transparentDear Hillary,

I had this idea several weeks ago: when you won, I was going to write you a letter and post it on my blog. And then you lost. Huh.

I considered writing a letter to Trump today, but guess what: I didn’t.

I’m writing to you because of this statement from your concession speech:

“And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams.”

I am not a Democrat.

I am not a Republican.

I AM a believer of my daughter’s potential.

I can get behind your statement with absolute commitment.

I want my little girl to grow up feeling this way about herself. My parents instilled in me the same confidence and with it, I’ve pursued multiple college degrees, a successful career, and made my decisive choice to stay home with my children.

Today, I think more and more about how I can be involved in serving my country, because of your campaign. I truly thought that today we would be hearing about our country electing the first woman president in our history. Huh.

I will tell my little girl that she is valuable. She is powerful. She is deserving. She should pursue her dreams.

And I will tell my little boy that he is loving. He is kind. He is a gentleman.

Because women’s rights and chivalry can exist together.

Sincerely,

A Mom