Confessions of a Tired Mom or Not Cranky for Christmas

CharlieBrown_song-on-christmas

In years past, my household mantra at Christmastime was “clean, clean, clean.” I am known for driving my family insane to get the house in order before all our Christmas parties begin. Although, I’m proud to say I’ve gotten a little more relaxed about this in the past few years; and if my children are reading this, don’t think I didn’t see your eyes roll. Once I gave everyone their marching orders, I became a pushy drill sergeant to get everything accomplished before the first guest arrived. And it seemed no matter how hard we worked, we could never get everything done. My family doesn’t think I know it, but they had their own shortcuts and ways around doing everything the way I’d like. In the past, I’d always viewed this attitude with gritted teeth and a long-suffering smile – you know – just the way we moms have done for generations.

This Christmas, however, things are different. I have a new job that’s some distance away and by the time I get home, sometimes it’s all I can do to get through dinner and take care of the daily stuff, let alone deep cleaning and heavy-duty cooking. You know what I’m saying? So, this year I told the fam “Let’s just concentrate on the bathrooms and kitchen, and anything else is gravy.”

When Christmas Party #1 of 3 came, did I cook everything on my list from last year plus all the new things I wanted to do? Are you kidding me? That would be a big “No!” As folks let me know what they were bringing, I learned most were desserts, so I opted for a simple veggie dish my Aunt Betty taught me to go with the main entrée we were providing. However, that didn’t stop the shocked questions and comments: “You didn’t make orange balls?!” “Where are the ham rolls?” “Didn’t you make anything sweet?”

I also learned to delegate. In preparation for the party, I asked my niece to help decide on the family game this year. Ok, well, that was a bust, and we ended up with charades again, but hey, we had a blast, as evidenced by the posted videos that cropped up.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to let some things go this holiday, but it definitely gave me, and my family if I’m honest, some relief from the holiday pressure we all feel at times to make everything as perfect as possible. And you know what? I think it’s going to be a very blessed Christmas season indeed.

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

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Crash Lessons

Nissan-GT-R-VS-Peroduia-Malaysia-1

Funny how much we take for granted. I travel the same road every week day to work and back. It’s a long drive, but I’ve gotten used to it. For instance, I’ve become accustomed to the feel and flow of the traffic and how it changes according to the time of day I leave for home. I’ve learned that some days, if you leave late enough, you can actually travel the speed limit. Other days, if you leave during rush hour, which lasts for about 3 hours, you have to realize it will be a slow ride all the way home. Most days, you can get to your exit without ever having to come to a complete stop. On the slow days it helps to put on some soothing music to ease the stress.

That’s what I did Wednesday evening. As soon as I realized my going home ride would take some time, I changed the channel from my customary New Country station over to my favorite classical channel. Listening to the gentle strains of a violin concerto definitely helped.

Patience and paying close attention to the traffic is a must in all driving situations, but most especially during rush hour. Keeping this in mind, I made my way over to the left most lane where I needed to be for my exit way down the line. Predictably, there were a couple of impatient folks who felt it their right to zip down the left shoulder to get ahead of the bumper-to-bumper crowd. The result is stop and start traffic. Folks up ahead end up jamming on their brakes when the yahoo in question zips around them unexpectedly from the left shoulder. On top of that, there’s the frequent lane-changers trying to leap-frog ahead. This night we had several sudden stops.

Unfortunately, sometimes drivers get distracted. We all say it won’t happen to us. We think we’ve got it handled. We think we are immune or that we are great multi-taskers or just better at it than most. But, then we learn we are wrong.

Traffic stopped abruptly. I stopped. The woman behind me stopped. The car behind her did not. Although he tried to swerve, it wasn’t in time. Helpless, I braced for impact. Like a croquet mallet hitting one ball into another, the car behind me was pushed into mine with a jolt.

My back received the brunt of the impact, but I needed to see if everyone else was all right. It’s just the mama in me I guess. The caretaker who needs to be sure everyone has what they need.

The woman behind me was just climbing out of her car and complained of a headache. The boy who couldn’t stop in time exited his vehicle unscathed, only complaining of a slightly bumped arm. It seems all his airbags deployed. Thank God those things really work!

The state trooper called to our accident got called away to another that occurred just behind us, taking our ID cards with him. We had already called our loved ones and as we waited for the trooper to return, I saw the young man’s mother giving him grief – in the most loving way possible. Watching and listening, I realized she was telling him many of the same things I would have told my own son. Or, as I like to call it, taking a learning opportunity. She not only used the current situation to help him understand how this could have been prevented, but she also turned his attention to the accident behind us. It turns out the new incident caused a serious injury to the initiating driver’s leg. The young man from our accident had earlier wanted to return to his undrivable car to sit and get out of the cold, but we had discouraged him since his vehicle was so close to the left lane. His mom was trying to open his eyes to see that it’s possible he could have been hit by that new accident, and with the air bags already deployed, could have been seriously injured. He listened respectfully and stayed quiet. Smart boy.

By the time we were all released, we had practically bonded. Not only had we all learned more about each other, but I’d like to believe we came away with a better appreciation of the frailty of life and how we should treat life more preciously. Especially our own.

Crash lessons. A lesson in patience. A lesson in paying attention and staying in the moment. A lesson in humility. A lesson in kindness.

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Author Interview & Giveaway ~ Virtual Book Tour for How Forever Feels by Laura Drewry

Today, The Mama Diaries welcomes talented author Laura Drewry.

The Interview

Laura, in Jack and Maya’s story, Jack manages to find inspiration from Maya for his game writing. How did you come up with this fun job for him, as well as her quirky way of playing the game?

I have three teenage sons so it goes without saying that we have a variety of different game boxes in the house. When I started writing Jack’s character, I tried a bunch of other jobs on him first (athlete, architect, etc) but nothing fit. And then one night I was playing Mario Party 10 with my kids and inspiration hit.

As for Maya. . .okay, this is a little embarrassing. . .I took Maya’s “technique” straight out the way I play. For the life of me, I just can’t figure out how to hold those controllers still especially when I’m playing a driving game (I firmly believe Rainbow Road was designed by Satan.) My boys make fun of me, especially when I yell at the game, but I can’t help it.

Jack’s background was pretty heartbreaking. What made you decide to use a foster care backstory? Was there a connection to anything like this in your own life experience?

Thankfully, Jack’s backstory is 100% pure fiction. His history in foster care was something that defined who he was, why he turned out the way he did, and of course why he is so devoted to Will’s family. My concern was that I don’t want to paint the whole foster care system as horrible because I know for a fact there are a lot of good people working in the system and in the actual fostering of children. I think it takes an extraordinary person to work in such a difficult job with such a limited amount of resources.

How much did your own experiences with your dog play into the character of Pete?

Dogs of every kind are pretty awesome, but the inspiration for Pete came from a mixture of two chocolate labs. One was our old girl Sadie, who we had for fourteen years. She was such a sweetheart (as labs tend to be) and loved everyone she ever met. The other dog who helped inspire Pete was actually Sadie’s father, Tucker, who we were lucky enough to meet a couple times. He was one of those massive labs with a huge head and broad chest, who liked to lean on everyone the same way Pete does with Maya. It was as though he thought you wouldn’t notice him unless he was knocking you over.

All of your books contain snappy, free-flowing dialogue. Does this come easily for you, or do you sometimes agonize over conversations?

Thank you – that’s nice of you to say. 🙂  I love writing dialogue. What characters say – and often more important – *how* they say it reveals so much about them. For the most part, writing dialogue comes fairly easily, but I still agonize over how the reader hears it in her own head which is why I read it out loud to myself a few times so I can hear it and rework whatever needs tweaking.

For our aspiring authors out there, are you a plotter or a pantster?

I tried writing an outline once. It wasn’t pretty. LOL. That being said, I envy people who can do it, who know what’s going to happen and who can see it all laid out before they start writing. I’d love to be able to do that, but it just doesn’t work for me, and besides, I love being surprised by what my characters do and say. Before I start a new book, I need to at least know the characters’ names and a tiny tidbit about who they are, but that’s it. What happens after that is anybody’s guess. 🙂

So, what’s next? Is this the last of the Friends First series or will there be more?

HOW FOREVER FEELS is the last book in the series, yes, but I’ve been getting requests for Griffin Carr’s story, which would be fun to write, so I’ll have to think about that.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today! I’ve enjoyed your questions and wish you all hours and hours of happy reading time!

Thank you for joining us today, Laura!

The Giveaway & Author’s Bio

Enter to Win a 
Select Ebook Bundle from Loveswept
HOW FOREVER FEELS
Friends First #4
Laura Drewry
Releasing Oct 13th, 2015
Loveswept

From USA Today bestselling author Laura Drewry comes a warm and witty new Friends First novel—perfect for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery. How Forever Feels is a sweet tale about the one that got away . . . and the one that came back.

Maya McKay’s heart is as big as Jack Rhodes’s shoulders are broad. Their chemistry is out of control, but it could never work between them because Jack is more than just best friends with her cheating ex-husband—they’re like brothers. Maya, the sensitive, practical florist, has given up on love and is ready to settle for like. But now that Jack’s around again, he’s stirring up old feelings—and turning Maya’s fantasies into irresistible reality.

Jack blew his chance with Maya years ago when he stepped aside for his best friend, Will, and he’s still kicking himself about it. Maya was promised forever once before, and she got burned. But when Jack realizes that second chances aren’t going to fall out of the sky, he seizes the moment—and the woman he’s always loved—to show her how forever truly feels.

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USA Today Bestselling author, Laura Drewry had
been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and
write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back
home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle
named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German shepherd. She loves old
tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.
 
 
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Book Review: How Forever Feels by Laura Drewry – A Fast-Paced Romantic Ride

Loved Jack and Maya’s story. Ms. Drewry has written one of the most interesting heroes I’ve read in a long time. Jack is fully three-dimensional with a heart-breaking backstory, a fun job, and is a loyal friend with a generous heart. Jack had to hide his love for Maya when she was married to his best friend, but his ability to relieve some of those feelings through his game script writing made me smile. Maya is bitter about her ex, so their romance is an uphill battle. As long as the subject isn’t about her ex, Maya is sweet, quirky and loves Jack’s dog.

This was a fast-paced story that kept me engaged to the very end – designed to make all of us incurable romantics remember just how forever feels.

I received my advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Check back here on Friday, October 16, to read my interview with talented author Laura Drewry.

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Book Review: Sea Glass Sunrise by Donna Kauffman – Sweet and Engaging with a nice Plot Twist


Sea Glass Sunrise (The Brides of Blueberry Cove Series Book 1)

Ms. Kauffman hits another one out of the park. This story kept me engaged from beginning to end. If you liked her Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series, you’ll love the first of her Brides of Blueberry Cove. Sea Glass Sunrise revisits many familiar characters from the previous series, revealing some of their secrets while hinting at more to come. Although this is a standalone book, it will definitely whet your appetite for more Blueberry Cove stories.

Hannah’s personal life and successful career disastrously collide, leaving her an unfortunate victim to professional humiliation (oh, that double-standard). She hightails it home to Blueberry Cove for good, with her family thinking she’s just home for a visit. Calder appears to be visiting the town as a contractor hired to build a yacht club, but has other motives. Ms. Kauffman paints a meeting between these two that you won’t soon forget, and with a small town like Blueberry Cove, our hero and heroine keep crossing paths – reluctantly at first, of course.

Loved this book, and can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Cushions: Plenty of steam, strong and likeable heroine and hero with lots of chemistry, well-developed characters, good plot development with some nice plot twists, light on the cursing, a real page-turner with just the right amount of schmaltz.

Cautions: Some PG-rated cursing, one inappropriate relationship alluded to but not spelled out or proven.

I received my advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Not Too Much Trouble

angel-statue-23521292901589FE5_publicDomain_BingWhen you lose someone close to you, it leaves an awful gap in your life. I’ve recently lost an aunt who was like a second mother to me, and I find myself predictably working through the five stages of grief. I’ve passed Denial, Anger and Bargaining, and I’m finally at the point now where I’m somewhere between Depression and Acceptance. My auntie was a kind, generous, lovely lady with a ready smile and a quick wit. She also had style. I only mention that last because I have practically none. I’ve never had much of a fashion sense, opting instead for more of a relaxed, comfortable, occasionally classic style – on Saturdays that would equate to jeans or sweats. But each time we visited my auntie, she was always dressed to the nines, including matching jewelry and makeup. She always looked nice, but it was the grace and dignity with which she carried herself that always impressed me.

Having grown up the eldest daughter of six children, my mom being the youngest, and raised by her widowed mother who took on several jobs just to keep food on the table, was not an easy upbringing. She once shared with me that when she was young, they lived in a “shotgun” house, meaning you could walk in the front door and see straight back to the back door. They did not have an indoor restroom, but there was one added onto the house on the back porch. You basically went out the back door to get there, but didn’t have to leave the porch. This “modern” facility had no bath tub or shower. Instead, on Saturday nights, a large wash tub was brought out onto the back porch and filled with hot water with the girls bathing first, then the boys, for obvious reasons. I was blessed to hear many such stories of their upbringing which were so special to me.

A few years ago, I wrote my auntie a little something based on a phrase she always told us when she needed help with something but didn’t want to impose. I think it tickled her when I gave it to her. She never wanted to inconvenience anyone or be an imposition. We loved her so much and will miss her terribly. It’s in her honor, I post it here.

Not Too Much Trouble

Once there was a girl — well, not quite a girl, more of a middle-aged woman — who visited her auntie’s house. Her cousin from out of town was there, too. They began to talk about how hard it was for her auntie to get groceries since she didn’t drive. After one thing or another, someone came up with the idea that perhaps the niece could come down every now and then to take her auntie to get groceries, if it wasn’t too much trouble. It wasn’t too much trouble.

The first Saturday the niece prepared to come down, her auntie called her and said “What time will you be here?”

“Around noon,” replied the niece.

“All right,” agreed the auntie, “We’ll go to lunch when you get here.”

But the niece liked to be lazy on Saturdays and didn’t leave the house until one o’clock. When she got to her auntie’s house, she was afraid she was in trouble. But when her auntie greeted her at the door with a big hug and only a mild reprimand “You’re a little late. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry,” she knew that she wasn’t in too much trouble.

Some weeks later, the niece called her auntie to say she was on her way and her auntie asked “What time do you think you’ll be here?”

“Oh, about one-ish,” she replied.

By now, her auntie knew it would probably be closer to two-ish. But being the sweet polite auntie she was, she didn’t remark upon the discrepancy. Instead, she said “When you get down here, I might have something for you to do. If it’s not too much trouble,” she added.

“Of course it’s not too much trouble,” said the niece, “What is it?”

“Oh, we’ll see,” replied the auntie cryptically.

Later, after lunch and groceries, if she didn’t forget, the niece would ask her auntie what else she needed done. The auntie would get out her half of the grocery list and look it over carefully and say something like “Do you think you could pull the water hoses around the side of the house?” or “Do you think you could replace the batteries in my telephone?” Or maybe “Do you think you could get something buried in my closet?” Always coupled with the request was a gentle addendum “If it’s not too much trouble.”

It’s not too much trouble.

It’s never too much trouble, not for her sweetie-pie auntie. This is the auntie that won’t let her niece wash her dishes because she “doesn’t know how.” This is the auntie who makes her hot scrumptious lunches and, of course, the best burgers in the world. This is the auntie who gives her hugs and kisses and tells her she loves her. This is the auntie who filled the hole in her life that was left when her mama and sister were no longer there to fill it. She filled it with love and memories and yes, even laughter.

It wasn’t too much trouble.

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MRI = Must Run Immediately

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Following the removal of a precancerous growth, my Oncologist ordered an MRI for me. This way we could be sure there were no other cells left in there for removal. The idea of any further surgery was not a fun prospect. Leading up to the time for what was to be a lengthy test, I really wasn’t too worried. Really. After all, it’s just another MRI, and what’s one more MRI? I’d had one once before with last year’s concussion. Piece of cake.

A few day prior to the test, the imaging folks called me to remind me of my appointment, and to ask if I was claustrophobic. Well, yeah, sort of. I mean, does anyone really enjoy being shoved into a plastic tube with hugely loud noises suddenly bombarding your hearing for forty-five minutes? Get real. They recommended I get with my physician to prescribe something to relax me. Okay.

So, armed with the instructions to take my medication (one pill only) an hour prior to testing and to show up at 6:30 am at a location 45 miles away, I was all set. I activated an alarm for the appointment on my smart phone. On the night before, we set the alarm clock for 5 am (actually 4:45 because it runs fast), and tried to sleep. After some tossing and turning, I drifted off somewhere around 3 am or so. The next thing I knew, hubby was waking me up to get going. “What time is it?” I asked. “It’s 6:15,” he replied, “so we have to get going.” Holy moly. It seemed that someone kept hitting the snooze, and apparently I hadn’t heard a thing. Fortunately, the test itself wasn’t scheduled until 7:00, and 6:30 was for pre-work. However, I’d already missed out on taking my magic pill an hour ahead. Practically running out the door, I grabbed my meds and phone, barely remembering a sweater for the 45 degree weather.

We had a little trouble getting to the facility, having missed a couple of exits on our planned route, but finally got there a little after 7. It’s stressful enough to be here, and being late did not help. But, they were very nice about it and the only comment I got was that they’d have to “fast track” me since they were running behind. Not sure what they skipped on my procedure, but since I was already in “hurry” mode, I didn’t notice.

I was given the appropriate “attire” and led into the slightly scary imaging room, where I was asked to lie down, face down on what appeared to be a plastic plank. Fun. With my head resting on a cushioned donut hole, my claustrophobia was already kicking in. At this point, I was wishing I had taken two of those little calm-me-down pills instead of the one my doctor recommended. After mashing a pair of earplugs into my ear canals, I asked the attendant if they possibly had earphones with music. When I initially made my appointment, this option was mentioned to me as something that may help me relax a bit. After jamming the ear buds in my ears and directing me not to move for the duration of scanning, she asked if I had any quick questions. Yep. “Can I breathe during this procedure, or will I be asked to hold my breath?” (I had a test some time back where they asked me to hold my breath but never told me when I could release and breathe again – not fun.) “Also, could I swallow, cough, or talk?” I was told yes to breathing and swallowing, and no to coughing and talking. “Well, okie dokie,” I thought, “At least I could breathe. Now, if only I could get my breathing to calm down from panic attack-mode to slow and easy, maybe this would all be all right.” However, as she began to roll me into the capsule, my claustrophobia lit into full on “fight or flight”; only it felt more like: fight or flight? Flight! Flight! Flight! Also, although the radio idea didn’t work worth a flip, I’d still choose that option again since it provided a distracting sound for me to focus on, rather than the booming sounds the machine was emitting.

Luckily for me, instead of this crisp and efficient attendant, my actual technician turned out to be another young lady who spoke to me through the speakers periodically. She patiently described how long each imaging scan would run, when each began and ended, and then let me know when we were close to the end. It was her calm words that made the difference, and I made a point to let her know that when she pulled me out afterward.

After post-calm-me-down pill analysis, it turns out I panicked because I was placed into the same physical position as the very painful Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection I received a few months back. The result was sort of a muscle memory thing, anticipating a pain response that never came. So happy that’s over. Additionally, my hubby made sure to let me know he didn’t like how responded to my happy pill. It seems that when we kept missing our exits, I just chilled out and told him, “No worries,” as I checked the GPS, “We’ll just catch the next one.” Seems he was missing his type “A” wife, and his temporarily type “B” wife freaked him out. We are such creatures of habit.

A full week later, I phoned for my results and my doctor gave me the all clear, no cancer found, no more pre-cancer found. Feeling blessed.

In a last hurrah to my pre-surgery days, before I get rid of these gals my hubs suggested I send them off in style. Thanks for all the support ladies, but I’m glad to see you go.

IMG_0936 (2)

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Book Review: Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor


Worth the Risk (The McKinney Brothers, Book 2)
This week’s Friday Fun Read is Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor, and this one is definitely worth the read.  The novel will be released on February 3, 2015, and the Kindle edition is currently going for $2.99 in Amazon.

After reading Ms. Connor’s Worth the Fall, I could hardly wait for the next book in this series.  I wasn’t disappointed. This story has heart warmth to spare. In Worth the Risk, Ms. Connor spins a romance of two scarred people who slowly find healing in each other. I liked that Hannah and Stephen first meet in a grocery store, a nice change from the bar introduction that you find in many other stories in this genre.

Although this is the second book in the McKinney Brothers series, it can be read as a standalone novel. However, if you’ve not already read it, I would encourage you grab a copy of Worth the Fall since it’s a really good story.

Synopsis
Hannah Walker is a physical therapist using horseback riding as a therapy tool for handicapped children, having developed a love for horses while healing from her own injuries some years earlier. Stephen McKinney is a high powered businessman who lost interest in love five years earlier due to a tragedy. They each carry some emotionally crippling secrets, afraid to open up to anyone other than their families. Each must take a huge risk if they want to find their way into the other’s heart.

Cautions: Kidnapping and violence recounted, some bad language

Cushions: Large caring families, a budding steamy romance, a little bit of faith thrown in, well-developed characters, well-paced.

Another winner for Claudia Connor. Can’t wait for the next one!

I received my advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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If I Had It to Do All Over Again

hands_making_a_heart_in_the_sunset-wallpaper-1366x768

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d only use baby books as a guideline, instead of treating them like a bible.
Practically no child is textbook in their development, and trying to force them into that mold is so not a good idea.
Instead, I’d relax more and only refer to the “manual” to see what’s coming up next, and not stress if my child took a little longer to get there.

If I had it to do all over again,
I would be gentler with my children.
Even though names like “Silly goose” seem innocuous to me, I’d never say it my daughter, making her cry out “I’m not a silly goose!”
It’s hard to explain to a child that you never meant to hurt her, you only meant to laugh with her at whatever observation she just made…that it killed a part of your soul to know you had any part in making her sad.
Instead I’d learn better ways to show my joy, because what I really felt in those moments was a kind awe at how intelligent my child was, and the words she chose to express her thoughts delighted me.

If I had it to do all over again,
I wouldn’t use corporal punishment.
Oh a little spat on the hand to get their attention to keep them out of danger was all right,
But for the bigger stuff like disobedience and disrespectful bad-mouthing, I’d instead elect consequences that better fit the situation like removal of privileges, to better get the point across, having found that spanking never resulted in anything but further stubbornness and anger.
Thankful we learned this lesson in time for raising the last of our brood.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d pick up my first born more.
Instead of telling her she was too big or too old to be carried, I’d scoop her right up.
Although this taught her some independence, I really missed carrying her and holding her close more.
Affection should never be stingy.

If I had it to do all over again,
Instead of being wary of strangers around my children, I’d also be wary of friends.
I’d listen to my gut more, and if something seemed too good to be true, I would question it more, and be a better protector.
Protecting our children is everything.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be a little sweeter,
And not let my temper get the best of me, causing me to say hurtful things to my loved ones that were hard to take back once said.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be braver.
I’d speak out and be a better defender for my children, especially against school bullying – by both students and teachers.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be stronger.
Having always considered myself a strong individual with an aversion to weakness, of course that would be the one area I’d dislike within myself.
I’d draw more on my inner strength and believe in myself more.
I’d say things to loved ones that should be said and stand my ground, instead of worrying about hurting their feelings about something they really needed to hear (for example: smoking, alcoholism, abandonment of their children.)

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be a better wife and mother by finding ways to help my husband learn to be a better father.
When you are not raised with a good role model but your spouse is, you may rely on your spouse to give you cues and clues for improving your role.
Instead of using anger and impatience, I would gently but firmly sit down and explain better possibilities, and share more stories about how my father raised me. Perhaps even get him connected with a good living role model that could mentor him.
And I’d do it much sooner rather than later.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d yell less.
Instead of a knee-jerk reaction in anger, I’d take a deep breath or put myself in time out (leave the room) in order to regroup and come back to approach the situation in a calm but firm fashion.
Yelling should only be reserved for ballgames and emergencies.
And it sure doesn’t sound pretty.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d say I love you more and hug my family more.
Although I know I must have given plenty of hugs and I love you’s during their childhood, I know I didn’t give near as many as I should’ve until after all the grandparents passed.
Life is too short.
It’s important to give lots of hugs and I love you’s.
Each and every day.

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Singing at the Winspear

Rehearsal with The Gettys at the Winspear

Rehearsal at the Winspear

What an adventure I had the other day! Our church choir was one of several invited to sing carols and background vocals for a group from Northern Ireland called The Gettys, performing at the Winspear Opera House located in the arts district of downtown Dallas.

We were given the opportunity to attend one of two mandatory rehearsals if we intended to join the performance. The first was so fast paced it made our heads spin, doubly so for me since we were 15 minutes late, having had trouble finding our building on the campus. This put me behind in the ladies’ rehearsal which was scheduled first that day. Added to that was that everyone seemed to know about changes to the music that we’d never heard of. You know that dream where you end up in class in your pajamas or worse? That’s sure how I felt when the director started rattling off updates that were a total surprise, but everyone else already had them marked in their music. The lady next to me took mercy on me and attempted to indicate the updates as quickly and quietly as possible so I wouldn’t feel so lost.   It seemed like she and I were the only second sopranos at this first rehearsal so I was very grateful for the help.

When our time ended and the men’s rehearsal began, I discovered my kind section buddy arrived with the only two women I knew there.   During our break I also found that there was a mailing list whereby the director sent us modifications to the music or program, so I signed up and the amount of material they sent us was mind-boggling. Never having performed in such a venue, I didn’t realize all the details that went into making all this go well, and never before had I felt so out of my depth.

Deciding we both needed the extra rehearsal, my new friend and I braved it together the following Saturday. Thankfully, I was better prepared for the fast pace and ever-changing updates in what we would and would not sing, as well as all the updates to the arrangements. It was a fluid thing, a work in progress, at all times. Reminded me a bit of working at the bank for so many years, where you never knew when your job duties or managers would change, you just kind of went with the flow.

By this time, my better half decided the pressure of learning all this music without having any buddies in the bass section was too much for him and opted to stay home and watch the Mavericks play on TV. After the second rehearsal, my friend Linda forwarded me the latest changes (yes, more changes) since some of us were left off the email. At this point, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed myself and was seriously considering dropping out as well.   Folks who know me know I tend to be a Type A personality and since I’m taking a class this week that takes up a lot of my energy, I was wondering if this was going to be worth all the trouble. By Sunday night, I made my decision and told my friend I was not going to join them.

Two things changed my mind. My friend Linda came back with the response that they’d give me a ride (a very big incentive) and said those golden encouraging words “Oh come on, it’ll be fun.” When I mentioned all the modifications I hadn’t even looked at yet, she, with her wonderfully Type B personality, said, “I’m not even going to look at those until we get ready for the final rehearsal the day of the performance.”   Wow, that was a freeing thought. Could I really give myself permission not to go over those every day and obsess over them to make sure I got them right?   Yeah, I could do that. Nice. So I told her I’d reconsider and let her know.   It was two days prior to the performance, but of course I was already pretty convinced by this new thought process. The second thing that convinced me was something my new friend Melinda said after the previous rehearsal and that I totally stole later. She said “Now I can cross this off my bucket list.”   Okay, so maybe I wanted to be convinced.   I really wanted to do this but needed that nudge, that bit of encouragement that says “Hey, we are all in the same boat; we may be lost, but we’ll be lost together and have fun doing it.”

We met for our dress rehearsal at 4:30 pm at the Winspear and that place is just awesome. Luckily we were there early enough to take loads of pictures before going in.   The rehearsal was handled expertly by our rehearsing director and by the choir director that tours as a part of the Gettys’ band. Even at the rehearsal, all the band members and director were full of enthusiasm and put so much fun into their performance, while remaining totally professional at all times. It took me a while to realize that Keith Getty was playing the piano for us the whole time, until he stopped a moment to change something in our performance. During our break, we all by tacit agreement met in small groups to go over trouble spots as well as our memorization numbers.   Everyone worked so well together. Keith Getty came in just before we were to take the stage to give us a pep talk. Very thoughtful.

The performance itself was wonderful. I really love Irish music and this Irish Christmas performance was no exception. The band and dancers were flawless, our choir director was fantastic and we had absolutely no trouble following him. Kristyn Getty’s voice was just lovely, and it was a pretty magical evening.   No regrets, just wonderful memories.

On a side note, as we traveled home, I wasn’t paying attention to where we went, until I realized we found ourselves in the West End. My friend’s friend was driving and as he turned left to get us back on track, we suddenly found ourselves heading into oncoming traffic with four lanes of headlights coming straight for us.   Okay, not his fault, since the road we came off of gave us no warning.   Also, no judgment here since this was not my first oncoming-traffic-wrong-way-rodeo.  And as my cousins well know, at this point, had I been driving, I would have said “I’m so sorry and I’ll never do it again!”   (They won’t let me forget this.)   Luckily our driver had quick reactions and infinite patience with all our back seat and side seat “helpful” directions at this point and had us quickly out of danger’s path.

All in all, it was an evening to remember. And to borrow and tweak a phrase, I can now say “Perform on stage at the Winspear….check. On to the next item on my bucket list.”

Keith_Getty_n_Me_selfie_at_Winspear_12-09-2014

My Selfie with Keith Getty backstage after the performance.

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