Erma Bombeck Did Her Own Housework, Too

Erma Bombeck Did Her Own Housework, Too

2 Saturdays ago Katie Wetherbee & I were at the Accessibility Summit. This Saturday Creeping Charlie & I were in the rhubarb patch. That's the author's life. A week ago last Saturday, Katie Wetherbee and I were at the Accessibility Summit at McLean Bible Church near Washington, DC. In the morning we put on our fancy duds and facilitated a workshop called How to Become a Special Needs Ministry Master Chef, based on our book Every Child Welcome. After that we hung out at our book table.

Which turned out to be the party table in our part of the Exhibition Hall.

I can’t speak for Katie, but for the first time in my life I knew what it was like to sit at the popular table in the high school lunch room. People visited our table all day long. They signed up for the email newsletter, asked to take pictures with us, and bought books. Lots and lots of books. So many that several titles sold out, and I only had to lug home 5 of the 60+ books I lugged to DC.

It was pretty heady stuff.

Then I came home on Monday, put on yoga pants and a sweatshirt, and spent the rest of the week doing every day stuff. Unpacked and started the laundry. Cleaned the kitchen. Caught a cold. Got a haircut. Paid the bills. Grocery shopped. Started a diet. Cooked low fat meals.

Then another Saturday arrived.

There wasn’t a party table in sight. Just Creeping Charlie in the rhubarb to pull and quack grass in the flower beds to hoe. Cilantro to sow. House plants to move to the sun porch. Grass to mow. Three pans of buttermilk brownies to bake and Rice Krispie Treats to make for Sunday’s fundraiser for my mission trip to Latvia. Just me and the Man of Steel working side by side. He didn’t ask for a picture with me. But I didn’t ask for a picture with him either.

Such a come down from the Accessibility Summit.

To be honest, this author’s life is pretty mundane. Lots and lots of weeks of solitary writing, waiting for those rare moments when the right words combine to say exactly what you want. Doing housework alone and yard work with the Man of Steel. Dotted with those unexpected weekend stints at the party table. But I’m in good company.

After all, Erma Bombeck did all her own housework, too.

Cardinal Song for this Fantastic Friday

Cardinal Song for this Fantastic Friday

Spring is slow to come, but the cardinal's song gives hope that it will yet come.Walking outdoors is one of my favorite things. Except when it’s cold and windy. So lately I’ve had to talk myself into walking outside in the morning. This post from 2013 proves this year is just like years gone by. But more that that, today’s Fantastic Friday post explains why walking outdoors is worth the cold, the wind, and the internal battle that get a person’s feet out the door.

The Cardinal Says It’s Spring

These April mornings,
When my walks begin.
I need a pep talk to push my feet
Out the door and down the lane.

The grass is brown.
The tree branches grey,
The wind is cold,
The landscape bare.

Still the cardinal,
bright red with promise,
Sings words to warm my frozen, winter soul.
“It’s spring! It’s spring.”

What says spring to you? Leave a comment.

The Danger of Self-Diagnosis for a Fantastic Friday

The Danger of Self-Diagnosis for a Fantastic Friday

This post about a penchant for self-diagnosis while researching and writing about mental illness is as timely now as 4 years ago when it first appeared.This week I’m preparing to speak about mental illness at our church on Sunday. No wonder this post, written four years ago this month while doing research for a book on PTSD in children, caught my eye. This post is as apropos now as it was then.

The Danger of Self-Delusion

During January and February, my days were consumed with research for a new book proposal about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in kids. Consequently, I learned just enough about several mental illnesses to endanger my own state of mind. All this new information sent me into a tizzy of worry and self-diagnosis, resulting in the following list:

  1. The great pleasure I find in the order and symmetry of the picture above is a sure sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  2. My penchant for list making could be another sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or it could be a coping mechanism I employ to hide early onset Alzheimer’s.
  3. I probably have an eating disorder because one of the marks of an eating disorder is obsessively thinking about food. And I think of food at least three times a day, sometimes more.
  4. Kids can be traumatized in many ways, and one of them must have happened to me during childhood so I must have PTSD.
  5. Taking out all the garbage, cleaning the bathrooms, doing the laundry, and emptying the dishwasher before going on vacation points to a yet undiscovered, reverse housecleaning phobia which I hope they name “Philophobia” after me.
  6. The desire to name a mental illness after myself pretty much proves I have a  narcissistic complex.
  7. All this worrying about having a mental illness points to an anxiety disorder, don’t you think?

Believe me, that list is only the tip of the mental illness iceberg. If everything I’ve self-diagnosed was on that list, you’d think I was crazy. But I’m not.

8.  Time to add self-delusion to the list.

O Lord, Give Me Patience Immediately if Not Sooner

O Lord, Give Me Patience Immediately if Not Sooner

The launch of a redesigned website requires a great deal of patience for the following reasons.One  Sunday morning our pastor described impatience, the attitude of demanding to receive what we when we want it, as a sin. His words made me feel quite smug. Because I’d just spent 3 months patiently doing hand exercises and patiently waiting for the thumb tendon I’d severed in a moment of impatience to heal.

Not once had I asked him to heal my thumb and heal it right now. Instead, I had entrusted its healing to God and hadn’t spent 3 months chomping at the bit. I was sitting pretty in the patience department. The pride thing not so much, but no need going down that rabbit hole. With my patience quotient at an all time high, I felt more than ready for the launch of the redesign of my other website, www.DifferentDream.com.

Just so you know, a redesign launch can bankrupt a person’s patience quotient faster than a person can click a button to begins the redesign launch. That’s not the best analogy I’ve ever made, but it’s the best an impatient person can do. Other than to explain to those who think they’re as patient as the day is long of how much patience is needed for a redesign launch.

  • Enough to delay the launch two days so a tech guy can manually transfer two months of posts which the test website didn’t pick up automatically.
  • Enough to figure out why ever blog post displays two of the featured image instead of one.
  • Enough to not become a quivering mound of jelly when you discover several years of archived posts have disappeared.
  • Enough to stay calm when Facebook refuses to pick up the featured image for posts you want to share, even though the blog continues to show two of the same image instead of one.
  • Enough to not burst into tears when the website is no longer mobile-friendly.
  • Enough to report all these things to the designer and tech guy in a calm and courteous manner.
  • Enough to wait for the designer and tech guy to fix all the snafus and to thank them profusely when they do it. Every. Single. Time.
  • Enough to accept the many compliments about the redesign.
  • Enough to realize that God can use the launch of a redesigned website as a way to grow your patience.

And enough to invite faithful readers of this website to visit the other website and enter the weekly book give aways to celebrate the new look at DifferentDream.com.

Feeling Not Just Old, But Ancient on this Fantastic Friday

Feeling Not Just Old, But Ancient on this Fantastic Friday

There's nothing like perspective to make a person feel old. This post from 2012 brings that truth into painful focus with some help from the Girl Scouts.This post from 2012 made me smile when I stumbled across it. Because Iowans need as much to smile about as possible in January, I’m passing it along to you on this Fantastic Friday though it reminds all of us that we’re 4 years older and even more ancient in 2016.

Not Just Old. But Ancient.

Yesterday morning, my first thought was not, “Today, I’m gonna feel old.” But thanks to the Girl Scouts – yes, those cute little cookie peddlers who sell sugar highs in a box – for the first time ever, I am feeling a wee bit ancient.

Not just old. Ancient.

The realization was gradual, increasing the longer I listened to Talk of Iowa on the radio. The topic was the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts, and the host interviewed some Girl Scout leaders and a couple honest-to-goodness present day Girl Scouts. The girls were about the same age I was during my short career as cookie salesgirl and sash wearer.

And they made me feel not just old. But ancient.

It wasn’t their fault. But, while they talked, I thought about how 1912 was a century ago for the little girls. Just like 1865 was a hundred years ago when I attended Girl Scout meetings after school in 1965. So if and when they watch a show like Downton Abbey, the events portrayed there are as long ago and far away to them as the events chronicled in Gone With the Wind were to me.

And that’s when I started feeling not just old. But ancient.

Not because the Civil War seemed like a long time ago when I was a Girl Scout. And not because 1912 is a long time ago to the girls in the radio interview. And not because 1912 didn’t seem like such a long time ago in my GS days. But because the Civil War probably didn’t seem like such a long time ago to fifty-five-year-old adults in my GS days, but I thought those people were old.

But they didn’t seem just old. They seemed ancient.

Which is how today’s Girl Scouts view everybody old enough to tuck an AARP membership card next to the packet of Metamucil in their wallets, old enough to wear sensible shoes, sport age spots, and wear pants with elastic waistbands.

They view us as not just old. But ancient.

Oh my, the depression is coming on thick and fast. I think there’s only one way to fight this thing. I’m gonna find a Girl Scout, buy a box of Thin Mints, and snarf down the whole box. After all, my mom says old people like me have earned the right to eat whatever they want. And she ought to know.

‘Cause she’s not just old. She’s ancient.