Now, if you're a Disney princess I get the blue hair thing.

Now, if you’re a Disney princess I get the blue hair thing.

The other day, Noodge 2 asks if she can dye her hair blue. “Blue?” I say. “Yes,” she replies. “You mean, streaks of blue in your hair?” I’ve seen this look. “No, totally blue.”

My knee jerk response is, “You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to allow you to dye your hair blue.” But I didn’t say that. What I did say was, “You can’t dye your hair blue. I’ll think about the streaks but not your whole head.”

Which was met with a series of unpleasant sounds. Part of me is worried how will the world view her with blue hair? I know of a woman in the writing world who dyes her cropped mop blue. Some people may think this is cool and trendy and edgy. To me, she looks like an Easter egg. And I’ve often wondered if she’s exhausted at the end of each day trying so hard. See? I look at this person with eyes filled with judgement. I don’t think she’s cool or hip. Am I forcing my opinions on my daughter’s head?egg_blueTrad

Maybe it’s not a big deal that she dyes her head blue. Maybe other people will look at her and admire her independence and her fearlessness. Maybe I’m just afraid for her and we shouldn’t let fear drive our choices. Not ever.

But, as a professional speaker for the past twenty-some years, I know we make judgments of others in the first 30 seconds we see them. Thirty seconds!! What are you going to think of when a thirteen year-old girl shows up with blue hair? You’re going to think her parents checked out. That’s what. So, maybe my fears are actually about my inability to be a good parent.

I will say, I do believe this philosophy wholeheartedly: Do whatever you want to yourself, when you’re an adult. Ink yourself up, pierce the heck out of your face, dye your hair the rainbow, but don’t think for one second others aren’t reacting to that image. Why do you think Ted Bundy was so successful? Because he was an educated white male in a suit and those poor women never saw him coming. Now, if he had made his face look a pin cushion and tattoos all around his head and his pants hanging to his knees I bet some of those women would’ve ran in the other direction. And I’m sorry if I just offended all of you who look that way, but if I’ve got nothing to go on, but the image you place in front of me how do I make a decision if I only have seconds to make a life saving choice? Not that I’m talking about life saving choices with the Noodge. I was referring to the Ted Bundy scenario.

Listen, I have a friend who grew his hair past his shoulders, pierced his eyebrows and his lip and God knows what else. Wore army jackets hanging to his knees. He got pulled over a lot for traffic infractions. Was he getting picked on? Probably. Is he a bad guy? Far from it. He’s a sweetheart we’ve been friends since we were five, but his image said, trouble. Noodge 1 has long, wild hair and it’s fine for a 14 year-old boy, but if he truly follows a path into the field of law he’ll have to cut that hair because no law firm is going to hire him looking the way he does. Right now, he fits the roll of rocker and when he’s behind his drum set even I think he looks cool, but the real world is another story.

So, am I being an unreasonable, out of touch mother who won’t let her daughter dye her hair blue? Should I look at this as there are so many other things she could be into, what’s the big deal? She can always dye it back. And I haven’t even brought up the cost involved which I will not contribute to. And what about the upkeep? I mean, what in the world will she look like when her roots start growing in?

Or should I just take a deep breath and relax? Who cares what other people think of you. You’re still the same person on the inside regardless of the color of your hair.

What does your hair say about you, but what does this dilemma say about me?

staceywilk:

 

 

Here’s a blast from the past. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Stacey Wilk:

Italian Flag Growing up in an Italian house my perspective on life was very one sided. My Pop-Pop, my favorite person in the whole world (no offense to my other family members that I love dearly), used to sit down with me and tell me in his heavy Italian accent, (though I never heard it) everything ever invented or discovered in this world was done so by an Italian. I believed him because if Pop-Pop said it, it had to be right.

Our meals were always Italian food. Stuffed peppers, pasta with beans (said in Italian is more appetizing. I just can’t spell it.), macaroni three times a week, and at noon on Sundays. Pop-Pop would sit at the head of the table with his gallon of wine on the floor beside him. The bottle took up too much room on the table and hey, what else do you do with wine…

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I was talking to a mom the other day. A mom, younger than I am with children just getting the feel of the ground beneath their feet. In other words, a six year-old and a four year-old. Oh, how I remember those days.

She sent her son to a private kindergarten where everyone was taught to hug and be nice. That’s a pretty easy lesson for five year-olds. They still hold onto an innocence that the world is the way their adults tell them it will be. But this mother was concerned that kind of lollipop thinking wouldn’t translate into public school so she had him repeat kindergarten in her town. You know, get him ready for big league thinking. Hmmm….I thought. Kindergarten isn’t the problem.

As parents, we make so many decisions in the name of love. And when our oldest is only six the big scary world of public education looks more like a fire breathing dragon with fangs to its knees than what it really is. We can’t fathom the problems our children will be facing at the middle school or high school level because we aren’t there yet. We think kindergarten problems are the end of the world and we want to protect our children from them.

Looking back on the days when my Noodges were younger I see how simple their issues were. I could still manage their problems and their reactions to them. Reverse psychology was my best friend. You don’t want to wear your coat outside, little four year-old, okay, but don’t complain to me when you’re cold. Jacket on. Done deal. Not so easy now. Little Suzie was mean to you on the playground? I have a solution for that. And my child stared on with wide eyes and head nodding ready to handle the brat on the playground the next day. Now if I give advice on how to handle Suzie who on Monday wants to be your best friend, but on Tuesday decides she’s ditching you for the field hockey team, ignoring you in the hallway when you say hello and sending pictures she took of you to her boyfriend even after she swore she had deleted them, gets a response like: “I can’t say that!”

And what business does a seventh grade girl have with a boyfriend? That only leads to the fourteen year old freshman who ends up pregnant. Yes, Noodge 1 has three of those girls in his grade. How about that? And that mom I spoke with is worried about five year-olds not playing nice?

Here’s what I think we do: we take our grown-up, over-thought feelings and emotions, and transpose them onto our little darlings’ situations. We create problems where there are none. We think because we feel worry or concern that they will too. I remember being so upset when Noodge 2 wasn’t invited to a birthday party in the first or second grade. How dare that mother leave my child out when she had been invited to Noodge’s party? Who did she think she was? I ranted and raved to my friends only to find out, she was invited. I felt foolish. I had taken my own insecurities and dirtied the whole situation with them assuming she’d left out my child. It never crossed Noodge 2’s mind she might not be invited. I’m glad I held my tongue.

I wish I had said to this young, kindergarten mom that another year in kindergarten isn’t going to harden her kid to the ways of the world. The other kids in class are the least of your worries at this age. He’s going to adapt and be just fine. It’s your hang-up that has him repeating kindergarten.

My point here? Don’t sweat the small stuff. That old, tired out cliche still has enough life in it to be heard. What you think is a big deal, isn’t. Not the other kids, not the schools, not the grades, not the sports. It’s us. Plain and simple. We need to leave our hang-ups at the door.

 

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Hard to believe my desk looks like this on a regular basis. I blame it on the creative side of my brain knocking out the more sensible, organized side. The bitch.

Have you ever wondered how a writer spends her day? She must be sitting at her computer with hands flying over the keys. Her characters jump around in her head to be heard. The whole world outside of her office stays at bay until she pushes herself out of her imagination ready and energized to face the real world.

Now this is what an average day looks like for me. Let’s take today:

  • Delayed opening at school because it won’t stop snowing. (I hate the winter. You will never hear me complain about the dog days of summer, but these days filled with blinding white snow and temperatures that freeze your blood in its veins, I complain about all the time.) The morning is two hours behind even before the alarm goes off.
  • Forgot to pack up my donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters and they were arriving by 7 am so right after feeding the dog, I packed up four garbage bags of clothing, small appliances, and books.
  • After delivering two Noodges to their respective bus stops at the respective times, neither of them the same, slapped on some face paint and went next door to talk to the neighbors about feeding their cat. Needed the face paint not to scare the neighbors and hadn’t had time for any caffeine to shock the look of exhaustion out of my eyes because I forgot to mention the load of laundry I also did before the school buses arrived.
  • Have you noticed I haven’t written one word yet?
  • Received the instructions from the neighbor on how to care for their spoiled rotten cat while they are away, hopefully going some place that never sees snow, and what should have taken fifteen minutes took an hour.
  • Where I am interrupted by several calls from Noodge 1 and the Coffee King. Noodge is sick. Go and pick him up at school.
  • Again, no writing. No, characters jumping out of my head and onto the page. The outside world has parked itself front and center blocking my path like the pile of ice at the end of my driveway the town saw fit to dump there after we shoveled ourselves out.
  • By now, I have to eat lunch because I eat every three hours to keep my sugar level from crashing and you don’t want to be around me when that happens. Trust me.
  • Two more phone calls from the Coffee King.
  • And finally, after checking emails that have piled up from yesterday, I sit before my computer to craft another story, to find a way to meet more readers, to build this business of writing that calls to me like a mental illness.

A writer’s life isn’t glamorous unless of course, you’re Stephen King. I’m certain the outside world stays far away from him until he surfaces for fear of being eaten alive. There are days where the words just don’t come. My characters will do anything but talk to me and I find myself staring at a blank screen hoping that a remnant of an idea will find its way out.  There are constant interruptions especially because I have two Noodges, a big, furry, puppy who wants to play all day long and sheds enough hair on a daily basis to make a king size comforter, a husband and a home.

I choose to allow those interruptions to weave their way in sometimes. How much longer will I be needed by Noodge 1 when he isn’t feeling well? His adulthood is in sight, it might still be in the distance, but I can see it’s ugly little head coming right at me. If I can’t stop and enjoy a conversation with my neighbors, whose door will I knock on when I lock myself out of the house without my cell?

Oh, but I long for uninterrupted writing time too. It’s a constant juggle. One I take on gladly. Now, I have to go make a cup of tea to warm my hands by, put on another pair of socks because I lost the feeling in my toes hours ago, and then, maybe then, I’ll craft the beginnings of my newest book.

 

Don’t forget, coming this spring, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

A real world room.

A real world room.

Just about every day I spend a little time on Facebook. I enjoy keeping up with my friends from all my walks of life. I mean, where else can you talk to people from high school who wouldn’t give you the time of day thirty years ago? But seriously, I do like seeing accomplishments, babies being born, weddings, job promotions, and vacations. From the bottom of my heart, I want everyone to be happy, healthy, and at peace with themselves.

But let me ask you something….would anyone really post how disappointed they are in their children? Or the rejection letter to a college? A bad hair day? Social media is not the real world. We live in the real world with bad hair days, circles under our eyes, disappointments, and children who work on our last nerve. And don’t pretend you don’t have moments where you need the time out. Because you do. We all do. We’re human. We’re not actors on a reality series. Or are we? Maybe that’s what social media is for all of us. Our own version of reality television highlighting only the high points in our lives.

Sure, some people post about an illness or the lost of a love one, but I haven’t seen anyone post this, “I’m so mad at my kid right now I’ve packed up everything they own and threw it on the front lawn.” Or “my kid didn’t work hard enough in high school, he didn’t try hard enough, he got bad grades, didn’t join any groups, bombed the SATs, never made a school team and every college he applied to rejected him. Now he lives in a cardboard box under a bridge. I’m so proud of him.”

Social media puts a lot of pressure on us to be our best, look our best, raise the best kids, and on and on. It’s kind of like high school all over again. I don’t know about you, but high school once was enough for me. I don’t need the extra pressure. I’ve got enough pressure just trying to fit in a workout.

Because in my world, nothing is perfect no matter how hard I try. I can never stay on top of the laundry, some days I have to choose between a shower and writing. You don’t want to see a picture of me on that day or a picture of Noodge 2’s room on any given day. You don’t want a to hear a video of me yelling about the dishes in the sink or the mess that accumulates at the bottom of the steps. That’s not the way to keep friends.

Maybe it’s better our less than perfect sides stay off social media. It might be too much of downer to see pictures of divorce papers signed or traffic tickets. No one needs to know about our failures as parents. There’s something to be said about our reality tv lives.

I think I’ll make a cup of tea, grab a cannoli and change the channel.

Coming in April:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Thank you, TOIS, for allowing me to inspire young minds, year after year.

Thank you, TOIS, for allowing me to inspire young minds, year after year.

Ever since I was seven, I wanted to be an author. I loved the magic of books and their stories and the way an an author can take your hand and say, “follow me for awhile. I have something to tell you.” And you go willingly. I wanted more than anything to create those magical stories myself. I’ve always written something, whether it was in my journal through my teen years, my first novel at the age of twelve, screenplays in college, or tariffs for a phone company. But now I’m an author of books with readers of my own and when I take the time to enjoy my accomplishments, I’m sort of proud of myself. “I did it,” I say.

One of the things I love about being an author is going into schools and speaking to the students about creative writing because my other passions are speaking to groups (we all know I talk a lot) and inspiring others to follow their dreams to be a writer too.

Recently, I spoke to 65 sixth graders. It was a total blast. I taught them something about writing, they got the chance to create a story, and they shared it with the group. I was humbled when one group of students asked me to read their stories out loud for them. It’s not easy to share your stories and much harder to have someone else’s eyes upon the rawness of a first draft.

Writing is magic. It’s not only the place of other worlds, but the place where dreams live.

Write.

Dream.

Live.

Magic.

 

Coming in April:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Courtesy of Morguefile

Courtesy of Morguefile

What pressure the month of February has. It might be the shortest month, but it has all the responsibilities every other month has: bills still need to be paid on time, grocery shopping needs to be done, there’s the Superbowl, several presidents’ birthdays, which means more white sales in February than any other time and did you know that February 10th is the day most couples break up? Of course, we can’t forget the biggest event of the month – Valentine’s Day.  It’s probably the next most important gift giving holiday after Christmas. Hence, why February 10th is probably a very popular time to end that rocky relationship.

According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery  and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart.”

Like I said, a lot of pressure. It’s no wonder in our modern day world every jewelry store uses this time of year to convince couples their love won’t be complete without a clear, nearly colorless, rock either dangling from a neck or sitting high on the third finger of the lady’s left hand.

I, many, many years ago, was no different. Let me set the stage. My hair was its natural color and my skin as flawless as porcelain. I was young and in love. The Coffee King and I had been in a committed, long-distance relationship for three years. We wanted the same things from life. We knew there was no one else and Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching.

Sometimes being young also means being clueless. One evening, The Coffee King said to me, “There’s something I want to get you for Valentine’s Day, but I want you with me when I pick it out.”

My heart beat skipped to quarter notes. Of course, I would go with him.

He said something about me not having this gift idea of his.

He said he didn’t know my size. Ring size, certainly? Though I didn’t ask.

I arrived at his house in a new outfit with my nails freshly done. I couldn’t wait to see what this Valentine’s Day gift might be. “I have a picture of it,” he said.

My hands shook as I took the catalog from him. This was it, he was going to ask. We would spend the rest of our lives together professing our love for each other. Would it be a round cut? Or maybe marquis? How big would it be? Not that the size mattered. Absolutely, not.

I looked down.

And saw….

snow boots.

The Coffee King is very practical. I had never owned snow boots before and this fact was something he could not comprehend. He wanted me to be warm and dry. He wanted me to be safe on icy surfaces. That kind of caring is true love. Something I wouldn’t trade for all the diamonds in the world.

Eventually, we did get engaged. That is a story for another time. One that The Coffee King loves telling. And when we got married I wore the snow boots.

NOT.

 

 

Coming in April:

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