Monday, August 22, 2011

The College Experience

Today my son started his college experience.

My pride in my son increases - he's worked hard to earn his scholarships to the college of choice and is making full use of them starting today. Mondays and Thursdays are his very busy class days, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays leaving time for a class or two and then plenty of study opportunities. Fridays are a busy day as well, but he finishes up early enough in the day to enjoy some hours to himself.

Over the summer he took a required gen ed course to dip his toes into college life and see what he could expect come fall. He's really glad he did.

Plus he got an "A" in said course, which makes mommie dearest very happy indeed. Then two of the guys he got to know in that class ended up being in one of his classes today - he's already made some friends!

This evening he has two IT classes - those will be the real test of his college mettle. They're three hours each. Ouch!

But hey, they will be pretty fun classes (for him anyway). Because of his college prep classes and hard work his senior year, he was allowed to skip the pre-req gen ed requirements and go straight to the "fun" classes. Of course, he'll have to squeeze those gen ed classes in somewhere along the way, but at least he doesn't have to experience just another year of "school" before having some fun.

Another one of those "method to the madness" moments. I think after the last several years of experiencing those moments, he's come to the realization that mom actually DOES know what she's talking about.


Sometimes it's fun being right. :-) My prayer is that his college experiences only get better from here on out.

Friday, July 29, 2011

An Announcement

Hello my dear readers!

Some exciting things are beginning to happen in my little realm of indie authorship. I'm working hard on completing my final draft of Running into the Darkness. Today I also created a blog specifically for my professional life as an author. There I posted a smattering of RITD to (hopefully) whet your reading appetite.

But I must warn you - some of my writing deals with very sensitive subject matter. In my personal life, I've tried to live as realistically and honestly as humanly possible - the good, bad, and ugly, warts and all. I don't cover it up but face it head on. Therefore, I've tried to create my stories to reflect the good, bad, ugly. You get the picture.

As a Christian, I have struggled with this in my writing. When I originally started this particular work, I'd planned to publish under a pseudonym - that is if I were so lucky to actually get a contract. However, as time has gone on I've had a chance to become familiar with even greater depravaties that human beings come up with. I've been reminded how the Bible shows we humans for exactly who we are - the good, bad, and ugly, warts and all. God didn't conceal our propensity toward evil acts - but he also didn't excuse it. There are consequences for our behavior.

Therefore, I've decided to publish under my name. That way in the event I actually gain some readership, I'll have a vehicle to explain why I chose to create this or that character and place them into this or that situation, with the outcome of their decisions in full view. It might even make for some charged conversation.

I always did like making people think.

So if you've a mind to check out my new author blog, you can find it at . Enjoy reading the posted excerpt if you dare.

But remember - I warned you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Making Good Out of Bad

Sad news today.

Found out this evening that Border's Bookstore is closing down for good. Not really surprised at this point.

Since 2002, the critique group I've been with has met at a Border's Bookstore for our meetings. We've laughed (sometimes at each other's writing submissions), we've unmercifully teased, drank tons of great java and chillers, and just plain had fun since that time.

That is until earlier this year.

We were all saddened to learn that our regular meeting place was one of several around the country being closed down, and rather quickly too.

Now this news that all Border's stores are being closed and liquidated. Ugh! But with the advent of competition from various sources, particularly eBooks, it seemed like only a matter of time after the first stores went down.

It's almost a double-edged sword. Our group has been busy working on the eBook challenge and it appears eBooks have been part of the reason Border's couldn't keep up any longer. Makes me wonder who might be next.

I only hope we're able to make something good happen out of the bad.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Still Here!!!

It's getting crazier by the minute!

My apologies, oh patient readers, for not posting for the past month. My new cosmo career has had me working like a dog both mentally and physically - but that's been a really good thing.

But the biggest craziness has been my focus on finishing up my final draft to publishing as an eBook. All of my extra time and energy has been sitting here at my overwrought computer as I slash away unnecessary fodder and add additional hints of information to tie the loose ends of my story together. The effort is sooo going to be worth it!

Yesterday a group of about 25 of us got together to have a meeting for the Indie Writer's Alliance (see us at and ) to discuss the early experiences of our illustrious leader. He just started a blog tour for his recent work. Since most of us weren't familiar with such an event, he spent several hours giving us the low-down on what it is, how to organize a blog tour, and how the tour progressed at the end of the first week.

I'm exhausted twice over now just thinking of all the additional work still left to do AFTER completing the final draft.

He also informed us that eBook sales have surpassed traditional paper sales on - another important milestone in the rapidly changing publishing industry. Sales of Kindle for last Christmas were huge and are expected to be even bigger this season. Then with all stores closed Christmas Day, where do you think these new Kindle, etc. owners are going to look to populate their new toys?


So our gang is pushing hard to have our eBooks published by September. I'm still pursuing the end of July, but I still want to ensure I put out the best possible work. We'll see where things stand by the end of the month.

So just in case you don't hear from me for awhile, please know that I'm still here plugging away on my handy-dandy computer. Then look for me and my pals on

Your positive reviews will be most appreciated then. :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting Off The Ground

My new career has taken off - actually both of them. :-)

The past two and ahalf weeks I have been feverishly learning everything I can about my new employer and the signature color and cut looks they offer. It has been an exhausting but rewarding experience thus far - and we haven't even had our official grand opening yet (that's tomorrow).

In the midst of all of this, I took my State Board practical exam in Topeka. Let me say, that experience was the most nerve wracking I can remember. The whole way home I second-guessed myself and ran over all of the supposed errors I thought I'd made and the things I couldn't remember if I did properly. It was a nightmare!

For three days before the exam I hardly slept. Then I took the exam and hardly slept for days thereafter. I'd run into a girl there who was retaking her exam and she had to come back and retake the critical blood spill section. Her overall score was a 92% but since she'd failed the critical portion, she failed the entire thing and had to stop work and wait two months before she could retake that section. The idea of that happening sent me into a bit of a tailspin.

So when I received my letter two days ago, I whooped and hollered so much I couldn't stand myself - passed with a 94% and 100% for the critical blood spill. My son never had any doubts (nor did Tonya, you little stinker). For the first night in more than two weeks I slept like a log.

Today is my first day off in ten days and I'm hitting the second part of my career full-force in the midst of a full-blown storm outside. I just LOVE writing amidst thunderstorms! I've been furiously working on cleaning up and perfecting my second draft for posting as an eBook on Amazon. More and more I am convinced that this window of opportunity could lead to success in this industry.

For the past several years, there have been just dramatic changes in the publishing industry that will never allow it to go back to its former days. Think of it as the i-Tunes of publishing. Online music changed that industry in many ways for the better. That is my (and many others) hope for the publishing realm.

And I want to be one of those on the ground floor to see it happen.

So soon you will see and on a computer screen near you.

Then shortly thereafter you'll see the first of my novels, Running into the Darkness, hit the screen.

The small screen, that is. But hey, I'll take the big screen maybe someday too. :-)

But first things first - getting off the ground with my cosmo career. Isn't life interesting these days?

That's what I thought.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's Official

It is with enormous pleasure and pride that I post today's news.

As of Sunday, my son is officially graduated from high school!

There were times I thought we'd never get to this momentous event, that I was birthing my son all over again but this time it was years instead of mere hours. There have been years of agony, pain, and sorrow - years of anger and hurt. But now we look back on it all and realize that the good AND bad years have contributed to where he is today.

And that place is an awesome place.

Instead of surviving, he's at that place where he is truly looking forward to the future and making plans for what it holds. Even though transition is somewhat scary, he's been ready to get past high school for some time now and move into college and career considerations.

That's so cool! My son, actually looking forward to college - who'd have thunk it?

This morning I made the request for his high school transcripts to be forwarded to his college of choice. Tomorrow we'll be going to get his classes for fall tentatively scheduled and scholarship info finalized.

The interesting thing about all of this, I'm not feeling nostalgic or sad. Sunday I never once cried because I was so happy for my son and his accomplishments (I did enough of that preparing his DVD life montage). Well, and perhaps I was also trying to take care of everything under the sun too, but that's beside the point. How could I cry when my son was obviously so thrilled?

So on this eve of Memorial Day weekend there is much to be thankful for.

I'll include my son in that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In The Homestretch

Well we are now in the homestretch!

My son is in the final week of his high school experience, and the last two weeks have been a whirlwind indeed. Last week was full of awards presentations, assemblies, etc.

I'm so glad I've been available to be a part of all of this.

At one of the awards presentations last week, my son received an ACE Award. Now the ACE Award is given by individual teachers to students of any grade level who they believe were the best and greatest example to their fellow classmates. My son didn't expect to receive one, but figured the only one he'd be in the running for would be choir, though he already knew who was probably going to get that award as the teacher's biggest helper.

So call my son surprised when, of all teachers, Mr. K called his name as his ACE Award student. Mr. K had my son in a technology class last year, when my son royally skunked the entire group of PT classes by building an awesome bridge that had by far the best weight to strength ratio. In fact, because of his design and beating everyone so badly, they changed a few parameters for the bridge project going forward.


So if that wasn't a high enough point in his week, the next assembly - in front of the entire school and faculty - had the school presenting him with a plaque to be displayed in the school, honoring him for his State Choir participation.

I told you it was a big deal.

The plaque has his honor referenced and picture so everyone will be able to see and remember who he was. I look forward to seeing where they put it and showing everyone who comes for his graduation. Certainly hope they plan to have it up by then.

But the thing that I believe meant so much to him was being chosen by his senior class as the person most likely to succeed on Broadway. :-) What an honor indeed to be regarded by one's peers.

So finals are ongoing throughout the next few days, and he's been working hard on his chemistry and physics finals projects. Friday is senior graduation rehearsal and then senior walkout.

Thursday my mother comes in, so she'll get to be a part of that great tradition. Friday my dad will arrive, while Saturday my oldest sister and some of her family will be here. Sunday morning my middle sister and some of her family, and my son's father's side will arrive.

Then it is the big walk down the stairs. I can hear the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" already.

Someone pass the tissues.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Publishing Potential

The last few days have been quite interesting.

Last night was our writer's group night, and we had alot of fodder to discuss. At the recent OWFI conference in Oklahoma City, the group attendees found out some great information on self-publishing and promoting Ebooks through Amazon.

Didn't know this, but for about a year now Amazon has been allowing any and all indie authors to self-publish free of charge under their Kindle site. This is quite the breakthrough needed for many first-time hopefuls.

So now our little group is attempting to learn more about this avenue and how we can collectively promote our own work as well as one another's. At the conference, a little old lady mentioned how she'd posted her work for Kindle and how with a little self-promotion, her sales grew to 1,300 in one month.

Now that may not sound like alot to you, but for a never before published author that is heaven!

So the one who attended this workshop has had one of his novels available for Kindle purchase on Amazon for several months. He's done no publicity thus far, had it priced on the upper end of the Ebook spectrum, and has sold seven copies. After attending this workshop, he's now lowered his price substantially and plans to start promoting it next month. He's also working on a collective website where indie authors can promote their work.

This has the potential to be a real opportunity for our writer's group. I've already gone online and created a posting page. Now I just need to finish more of my novels-in-progress. Think I'm going to try and make it a priority these next severals weeks until my return to the workforce. After that, my time is not my own.

But it has the potential to be...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Take Me Up To Cloud Nine

Today was so much fun.

This morning, my sister, niece, and great-niece all came up to visit and have a girls day of frivolity and hair. We started off with a visit to the State Beauty Supply in town, lunch at a local restaurant, and back to my house for cutting, coloring, and highlighting all afternoon.

Twas a blast indeed. :-)

To be completely frank, I needed a day to play and do some hair. Finding the right fit in where to work has been more difficult than I imagined it would be. I've spent weeks sending out resumes, interviewing, and am ready to accept a position. However, all of this time away from the chair has put me into a bit of a tailspin.

The questions mount in my mind:

Am I really qualified to work on the public and get paid for it?
Am I ready for the State Board practical exam in Topeka?
Why should someone hire me right out of school?
Did I really get the most out of my schooling?
Why does it still take me so long to complete people's hair?

And on and on it goes.

That's why today was so special. Not only did I get to play hair with my sister and niece, not only did they actually trust me to do a good job, but we just enjoyed each other's company.

And their hair looked great when I was done! I really was proud of the job I did. The whole time I was relaxed and comfortable and never once worried if I was doing something right or not. My foils looked just like puffy little pillows, the way they're supposed to look. The haircuts fell just right and shaped their faces beautifully. Take me up to cloud nine.

So after waking up this morning wondering if I was ever going to really feel like I could make it in this industry, tonight I go to bed knowing I will.

I have my family to thank for that.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Skidding Into Home Plate

We are now in the home stretch.

My son and me, that is.

It is May and that means high school graduation is officially three weeks from today. He's counting down the days as we speak (or type, in my case).

The job search for myself is also taking off and hopefully landing somewhere wonderful soon. Tomorrow I have two job interviews at two different types of salons. One is a corporate-type facility while the other is a private, very upscale salon. Each type has its perks, but if all goes well and the vibe is right, I'd love to have the luxury of leaning toward the private salon.

For most of my life, I have worked the corporate lifestyle and mentality. Time is never one's own and your value is determined by someone else.

Not that I'm into money alone, mind you. I've had some wonderful jobs where I got paid well.

But it's just that the time/money thing is so heavily connected that you don't have the freedom to really live. Part of my doing the cometology thing is to finally gain back some of my own life and be able to live again. That's really hard to do in a corporate environment.

So if all goes well, I'm hoping for a chance at the private salon. It will be an enormous risk, something that is a real struggle right now. But with risk comes the chance for reward. Plus it gives me another opportunity to show my son that mindset not just in word but in deed.

So here's hoping for sunny skies ahead these next few days and weeks. I'll let you know when I skid into home plate.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Through Troubled Waters

While I've been awaiting the arrival of my temporary license, I've been busily working on preparations for my son's approaching high school graduation.

As part of that day's events, I've planned a DVD montage of his life replete with pictures, music, and fun. One of the songs I'm using will be from his State Choir CD - rather gratuitous, I realize, but the song is spectacular and fits the mood of the particular pictures in that segment.

The prep time has been quite the journey for me. I've laughed and cried, remembering the good times and bad, as I've perused a lifetime of pictures. But the reminiscing has been quite interesting.

See the tears aren't so much for the pain of the hard times but the joy of knowing that my son has truly made it THROUGH those times. He's not stuck in a mire of pain and bitter memories but has learned so many valuable lessons that only the difficulties of life can teach.

Then when I look at all he's accomplished thus far, in his short eighteen years, it makes this momentous occasion that much sweeter. It gives both him and me great hope for his future endeavors. It is a balm of peace that God is still in control through the tough times and that He still leads us through and beyond them to greater life on the other side.

My pastor once talked about the song of the "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and how that was a misnomer. A bridge implies that God keeps us over or out of the troubles of this life, but that is by far incorrect. He is not our bridge over troubled waters but our submarine through them.

Jesus promised that in this world we would have trouble, but that He has overcome the world. Therefore we have hope through the difficulties of life.

It is a beautiful thing to see that my son has been through life's troubles thus far and has made it through with his faith intact. There are struggles that await him in the future - of that, I'm certain, but I also have hope that he has the foundation in place to make it through those as well.

But let's just get through graduation first.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sharing the Experiences

I'm so conflicted!

Part jealousy and part pride - yes, my baby boy once again.

All my life, I've wanted to sing the National Anthem before an event and never have had the opportunity to do so. Yesterday, amidst the threat and turmoil of bad weather, my son was invited to sing the National Anthem before the start of a soccer game. Once again, he did AWESOME.

Sorry, Valley Girl moment again - the eighties are coming back, you know. But I digress.

Beforehand he was rather nervous, but after doing such a fabulous job he wished he'd have volunteered to sing it for sporting events throughout the school year. The choir has sung it several times during the basketball season, but otherwise they typically get the canned CD offering.

There's something to be said about the live version though.

So as part of remembering these senior year moments, I had to show up and take pictures. I'm putting together a little montage of his life for his graduation and decided to include this moment in the mix. That's part of the pride thing there, don't you know.

So enjoy more pictures of milestones in my son's life. At least I get to share in the experiences. :-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Posting Pics

End of the school year for my son is quickly winding up.

Only to eventually wind down, but that is beside the point at present.

Tonight I'm posting a few pictures of his State Choir participation. This week he also had his annual Black and Gold concert, where his music director presented him with his State Choir award plaque.

Today he also officially received his letter of acceptance to his chosen college this fall. Now we've got to get busy with registration.

Graduation announcements finally arrived also and I'm putting together the final list of those to whom we'll send a formal announcement and invite to his post-graduation party.

That's what the wedding catering funds are being utilized for. Once again, method to the madness, dearie.

So enjoy the pictures from a proud mother. Remember mine's the one with the beard. :-)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fond Farewell

Tomorrow is it - the big day.

The last day.

Yes, tomorrow is my final day of cosmetology school. It feels almost surreal. I've been so busy lately that I have hardly had time to process it all. Plus the last few days I've been preparing an enormous meal for 150 people.

I'm catering a wedding dinner for a friend for a little extra cash. Hey, I'm an entrepreneur now, remember?

Being so busy has also helped the time go by quickly. From the little bit of buzz I've been picking up at school this week, sounds like there may be a little send-off from the gang.

Yes, I'll probably cry a bit.

These months I've shared alot with these girls and guys - their heartaches and joys, losses and gains - that it is hard not to be sad in a way. Likely I will never see them again after this.

But yet I'll also be running off and starting employment in the next few weeks once I get my temporary license. Then it is off to Topeka to take my practical exam and obtain my full-fledged license. After a few years of working hard, hopefully I'll get to open up that long-dreamed-of salon.

In the meantime, I'll savor my last few hours with the girls tomorrow. Let us eat cake!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nine Months Down

Check off another milestone in nine months of my schooling.

Today I completed the remainder of my final tests in anticipation of my graduation next week from cosmetology school. After having already completed and passed my State Board written examination, it almost seemed redundant.

But I still aced it!

It seems so strange to think that nine months ago I started this journey. Now it is nearly complete. At first, it felt as if the idea of nine months was going to drag on and on forever. At this stage, it seems almost surreal that I'm almost done. However, this week things have begun to drag again in anticipation of that 1,500 hours mark.

Gee, I wonder what next week will feel like???

Monday and Tuesday I'll be putting in whole days (booked solid, by the way). Wednesday morning I'll put in two and ahalf hours. Then it is off to packing up my stuff and loading up the bus.

Several girls have already gotten a little teary-eyed when we start talking about next week. Others keep saying they wonder how it will feel when I'm no longer there.

Hopefully it will give them incentive to make it to class everyday so they too can be missed soon.

For me, I'll be off tackling that first job in my chosen field. Then onto my future dreams of salon ownership.

Can hardly wait!

After all, look how quickly nine months have passed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Sweet Refrain

I'm so proud of my son!

That seems to be a common refrain of late. :-)

Today we received the first confirmation of a scholarship to his chosen college. The vocal music scholarship is now officially in the bag. He's very pleased.

I'm so excited - and relieved.

For years I've had funds set aside to help him with college. Not much, but something to assist him so that he doesn't have to live the first ten years post-college saddled with a bunch of debt. However, during these last few years of layoffs and my own school endeavors, the kettle has become quite dry and depleted.

So this scholarship is a HUGE answer to prayer, as it covers all of his tuition and books. There will also be some fees, food, and gas money to consider, but he still has his small savings that I set up for him a long time ago. When he used to get an allowance, he was required to save half of it and then he could spend the other half as he saw fit.

That's where most of his Legos came from. Once he realized the value of a dollar, he'd save his spending money until he had enough to buy something for his collection.

Over the years he's socked away about a thousand dollars. That, plus his small academic scholarship and (hopefully) a small local business scholarship that he's writing an essay for during spring break, will cover the additional fees and give him some spending money for food and gas. Thank God we live close enough that he'll be able to commute and save on living expenses.

The only thing I keep thinking about is how guilty I'll feel if he gets the other scholarship as well. Then he has to turn one down. Ouch!

Oh well - life is about the choices we make, even when those choices are a bit difficult. The choices we make will hopefully make each of us a better person in the end.

I know that's the case for my son.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hair in My Pudding

Even though the past two months have been enough to make me go bald, the good keeps on getting better.

Monday night I arrived home from school exhausted, more than tired, and feeling just plain ill. Then my son piped up, "Hey, Mom! I have to be down at the Board of Education meeting at 6:30 tonight."

Huh? When have we ever attended a BOE meeting, much less been invited?

Turns out my son was being honored by our local BOE for being in State Choir. Imagine that! He received a certificate and will have his picture in the local paper.

Not too bad of pickings for a quiet kid from a single parent household.

The last few weeks I've come to realize - this is what can happen when a parent puts aside themselves for the sake of their children. For eighteen years now I have placed my son's needs ahead of my own.

Yes, I've had "well-meaning" family, friends, and even a pastor tell me they thought I've been wrong not to remarry. Now all I can say is that the proof is in the pudding.

My son's successes are the pudding of my life.

Just hope I have hair left by the time he leaves the nest. :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

One Big Thing Off My List

Today my son had two scholarship interviews with an area college.

The interviews are in two separate fields but could be worked together in his choice of careers. I expected we'd be there for a couple of hours.

We arrived just before noon and left just before 4:30. I'd say that means they went well, wouldn't you?

The first interview/audition was for a vocal music scholarship. The lead professor was quite busy rushing here and there getting a couple of ensembles finished up and ready to leave for a contest over the weekend. She managed to squeeze a good hour out of our time and was impressed with my son's ability and resume.

Then onto the second interview/audition for a radio/TV/film production scholarship that lasted from 1:30 to nearly 4:30. I think it is in the bag also - the professor pretty much told us so but couldn't officially tell us so, you know? Wink-wink!

The second was the one I was most nervous about. You see, my son has an incredible ability to film and edit all sorts of video scripts and stills and write his own work. Then he ties it all up with music and vocal overwriting (or whatever it is called) - and all of it is done with simple equipment and programs he has on his computer.

The other interesting thing about it is that he's had no formal training with any of it - he's virtually taught himself everything he knows over the last few years. The past few months he's been asked to put together lead-in videos and clips for church from youth outings and warm-ups to the youth sermon. A man at his church who owns his own production company has taken notice and worked with him a bit, even offering him use of some of his old equipment. This man is so impressed with my son's natural ability that he plans to hire him to work on some video projects for his company this summer.

The communications professor was also impressed with my son's ability. He's very excited about having him in the program next year. As I sat down the hall during their initial meeting, I was hopeful when I heard loud belly laughs - not once but multiple times - as they reviewed his prepared DVD. Then after being invited into the meeting, I knew it was going well when they both started spouting off at each other first in Scottish accents then flipping over to Irish.

My son will be completely in his element in that department.

So now the big question will be which scholarship he'll accept and which to turn down, since he can only accept one from the Fine Arts department.

It's a good problem to have.

And now that his scholarship auditions and interviews are complete, that means I can mark one enormous thing off of my March "to-do" list.

While he's off tonight setting up for his band's gig tomorrow. His "to-do" list keeps growing - and as a young adult that's as it should be.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beware of the Ides of March

March is becoming crazier by the minute!

So if my looming graduation and employment search aren't heavy enough, let's see how much more we can toss into the heap.

My son has been frantic with scholarship applications/interviews/auditions. There's a few small, local scholarships that he's writing essays for, but the big ones are his vocal and video production auditions. Decisions will be made soon and we've got to find time to squeeze a few more opportunities into the schedule before they slip away.

Then there's trying to get my taxes done so that we can file for his FAFSA considerations before the April 1st deadline (don't you find it interesting that April Fool's Day is the deadline for financial aid considerations - hmmm). That's becoming quite an interesting bear in and of itself.

In order for me to be able to pay the bills and go to school at the same time, I've had to liquidate my investments and the majority of my retirement. Now comes the tax bill. Only once have I ever had to pay into State but never Federal. This year is changing that and scaring me to death.

But it's got to be done in order to have any hope of my son receiving grant money to help pay for college expenses in excess of scholarships. Now the question is how the tax man is going to get paid.

Another hurdle to overcome in this amazing year.

So with my graduation, my employment search, taxes due, my son's scholarship deadlines, FAFSA deadline, his graduation, etc., etc., etc., I'm really feeling the pressure this month.

Beware of the Ides of March!

Here's hoping I won't suffer the same fate as Caesar.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spent Yet Satisfied

An enormously busy last few days is drawing to a satisfying close.

My son's KMEA State Choir performance was Saturday, the culmination of two full day rehearsals Thursday and Friday followed by a very early Saturday rehearsal and afternoon performance. I still have goosebumps and tears when thinking about it.

He has been blessed to have participated in many incredible choral performances these last few years, all of which offered a CD recording of the performances. I've never been that interested in purchasing any of the audio recordings.

Until now.

Dr. Craig Jessop (formally with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) led these hundreds of students from across the State of Kansas in one of the most incredible music performances I've had the pleasure to experience. My mom and I sat in awe from the first blaring notes of "Fanfare for a Festival" (one my son knows by heart) to the haunting strains of "Lux Aurumque" (fabulous soprano solo), the foot stomping (literally) rhythms of "Wade in de Water" ending with one of my all-time favorites of sacred music "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Every single song was wonderful, but these four stood out to me.

Each note and word held such power no matter how loud or soft. At times it was difficult to realize that these were high school kids and not professional musicians.

And my dear son was among them.

There were several songs where I could pick out his voice from among the throng, and only one song where he needed to utilize his sheet music (he's a quick study). Even though he was absolutely spent, he had such a joy in his demeanor after it was all over. How could one not in the midst of such circumstances?

I think it even spilled over into my own choir performance this morning - felt the grandeur and awe in every note of music played and sang. Many commented after service how incredible the music was, my Sunday School teacher even saying that if you weren't moved by this morning's worship services to just drive yourself to the funeral home because you must be dead.

I laughed.

But my son also inspired me by his incredible performance yesterday. So even though I was already tired from a very busy last few days, I gave all I had this morning. Now I'm spent too.

Yet thoroughly satisfied.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Riding the Whirlwind

The last few days have been a whirlwind.

Last November I wrote about my son making District Choir and being an alternate for State Choir, both of which are incredible honors and opportunities. District Choir was in early December before the season swept us away, while State Choir was scheduled for February. So February is almost gone and with it State Choir possibilities.

Or so we thought.

Wednesday night I arrived home from my own choir rehearsal to find a message from my son's high school choir director. A quick return phone call confirmed that a last minute cancellation had come in from (it just so happens) a first tenor. Come to find out, my son wasn't just a high alternate on the list but the first alternate on the list for a first tenor position. We started scrambling and were up until nearly midnight trying to get everything together.

Yesterday morning rehearsals began (thank God nearby) and went until late. This morning he left before 7:30 to get to the rehearsal venue and will be rehearsing throughout the day until 9:30 tonight. Then Saturday morning we go early again before their one o'clock performance that afternoon.

I'm about to burst at the seams for this kid. What an honor it is (and it doesn't hurt that this pretty much guarantees him an in-state scholarship). I've been telling practically anything that walks and breathes the last couple of days.

I also find it interesting that it just so happens the one student who has to cancel, also happens to be a first tenor, and that my son just happens to be the first alternate and that we are close enough that the last minute machinations don't really mess up our schedule. Do you believe in coincidence?

Me neither.

I've always told my son that when opportunities come we need to be ready to drop the things we're holding so we can grasp what God is handing out in that moment. Otherwise all too soon it will pass and we'll be left wondering, "what if?"

So give me the whirlwind. All we've gotta do when it passes by is grab and hold on tight.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Down - 200 More To Go

Well I have completed one major step in pursuit of my new career path and aspirations.

I passed my written State Board exam this morning!

It's hard to believe that eight months ago I started cosmetology school and now have only one more month to go. Then I'll get scheduled for my practical examination in Topeka.

For now this is a huge hurdle to have surmounted. I feel such relief tonight!

To graduate from school I'll need 1,500 hours, however a student may apply to the State Board to take their written exam at 1,000 hours (with the school's permission, of course). After several weeks of waiting, last week I finally received acknowledgment that they were approving me to proceed.

Having passed with a 91% means that the moment I certify completion of 1,500 hours I can accept employment and start working in a salon prior to my practical exam. Sometimes the wait to get into an available testing date for the practical can take a month or two. This way I won't be hampered by more time without an income stream into my happy little home.

But it does add a little more pressure for that crazy practical because if for some strange reason I DON'T pass my practical I then lose my temporary license immediately, must cease employment, and spend more time and money to retake the exam.

It can be a little hairy I've heard.

That's okay. For now I'm celebrating this little moment in time. Then in a month's time I'll celebrate the big completion.

Just under 200 hours more to go - woo-hoo!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blessings In Disguise

It's been a busy writer's day.

President's Day weekend has been our little writer's retreat weekend for the last four years now. The same thing, the same weekend - no questions asked.

Well this year the park office staff screwed us up big-time by making our reservations for last weekend instead of this weekend.

So we cancelled said reservations and decided perhaps it was time to consider other options.

Since it was too late this year, the GK Brainstormers decided to get together today over here at my humble abode to cuss and discuss reading, writing, and stringing up the stupid people who can't pull their heads out long enough to figure out which weekend is President's Day weekend when they have a calendar sitting right there in front of them.

We weren't bitter about it at all - can you tell?

Milford Lake twill be our chosen venue for 2012, and we'll be trying something brand new and see if we don't kill each other in the process. Typically at Osage Hills we've each had our own cabin in which to write during the day and gather at the big cabin that evening for our main meal and meeting time. At Milford Lake, we've decided to get the big two-story, five bedroom, two living room cabin with a full kitchen. Divided between the group, it works out to be about $41 apiece per night, much better than the $85 per cabin per night rates we have been paying.

Plus there's an added bonus.

Gordon, our dearly departed (only from the group, not the earth), leader who, once he moved, was unable to make such a long drive south. However, our new retreat location will be less than half the distance and will allow him to rejoin us for our annual retreats. I think we were all excited for that.

So all in all, the reservations screw-up could end up being a blessing in disguise. Can we all say an "AMEN" to that?

Then maybe next year I'll actually have some time to write again. That is if I can find a quiet corner to myself.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Controlling the Weather

February has come in like a lion!

A veritable white lion, but a lion nonetheless.

Since the beginning of February we have been hit by snow, snow, and more snow. This week my son used up his last snow day for school.

They have five total each school year.

So since I'm also attending school, my hours have been hit by our school being closed several days this month as well. Only problem is that keeps pushing my graduation date further and further back. Before all of the snow hit, I was on track to graduate the 23rd of March.

Now I'm looking at the 28th of March.

I guess I should be glad that it is still going to be March but I'd hoped to graduate nearly a month early because of my good attendance. My attendance percentage as a whole is still very high and unaffected by the snow closures, but each day we're closed I'm thrown further behind in graduating.

I should be thankful though. My technical graduation was to be April 17th, so I'm still well ahead of that date. Suppose my frustration has more to do with the fact that I'm so READY to get out of school and back into life again.

But it is quite interesting - even though I'm in school, it seems I'm still in the midst of life. There's so many lives that I've had the honor of touching in these months I've attended, that perhaps God needs me to linger just a bit longer in order to be of the greatest import to someone else.

Yes - I'll hold onto that mindset to get me through these next few weeks.

Unless I figure out a way to control the weather.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Well Mom is here in Kansas.

We're celebrating an enormous milestone that I never thought would come. It's been a year today since her breast cancer journey began.

This time last year we were all gathered in Mom's hospital room post-op and telling her the good news (under the circumstances) that they found no further trace of cancer after the sentinel node biopsy. I still remember her groggy "good!" response and the nurse chuckling that she'd been asking about that while in recovery.

It was an enormous praise and relief to begin the journey with something positive (or negative, if you get my drift). :-)

That was a time of intense heartache, panic, stress, followed by moments of the peace that passes all understanding. I still remember the following night watching the snow fall outside the hospital window and being awakened by the snowshovels as the maintanence staff tried to keep ahead of the biggest snowstorm to hit their area all of last year.

Then there were the hourly requests for potty break. Hey, that was great news because it meant everything was in working order! Mom and I got so good at our system that we didn't have to bother the nurses all night, that is until they needed something from Mom. It's funny now because Mom kept saying how sorry she was to constantly get me up, but I was so glad to know that she COULD get up. During that time, we had to celebrate every little step forward.

Even though I still had to constantly get onto her for using that crazy right arm to get up from bed and chairs - she got so frustrated with that one. But it is with great fondness that I remember the nickname with which she dubbed me. Maybe we can get matching hats that say "sergeant" as a memento. :-)

During chemo when Mom lost her sense of taste, we said we were going to celebrate the return of her tastebuds with chocolate cake as soon as treatments were completed. Well tonight we celebrate the one year anniversary of her journey with (what else) CHOCOLATE CAKE. Wee!

The hair is back and growing longer and thicker every day. One more month and she'll be done with the Herceptin treatments, then four years more with this crazy pill and it will be completely finished.

Yet tonight we celebrate more than just a milestone of a year down in her journey.

We celebrate LIFE!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Living A Full Life

So many wonderful things have taken place the last several months that at times I cannot believe they are happening. Makes me also wonder what God is up to. :-)

Last fall I had to make a difficult decision in my life, but since that time it seems God has opened up doorway after doorway and confirmed Himself all over again in the paths I'm walking.

Shortly after making said decision, I was asked to be a part of the praise team at my church. I've not had a place on the platform since 2000 due to having to back off of involvements to deal with life's difficulties and to be more available to my son during that time. Plus losing my voice capacity had a bit to do with it too. I've been back in choir now for five years with a new worship pastor but have maintained a background stance. Not sure what the catalyst was that prompted our worship pastor to take notice of me, but I'm so thankful he did because it feels absolutely incredible to be used once again in my heart's desire - music.

Then there was winning first place in the salon fair at my school, additional confirmation that I'm on the right track. The past month there have been so many situations where God has opened doors that have allowed me to share with a few of the girls at the school, one who fell away from Him in high school after the failings of their youth pastor were revealed. She and I have been talking extensively. I love being used by the Lord in such ways. It also shows me how this industry will allow me a front-row seat in God's arena.

Today my Sunday School leader asked me about sharing my testimony in class in a couple of weeks. Wow! Heavy load and I haven't shared like that in Lord knows how long. But my son is eighteen now and is living proof what a life sold out to God can accomplish even through the mistakes we make. My life has been dedicated to raising him and that part of my path-walk is rapidly drawing to a close.

So maybe the idea of opening my own salon is on the horizon. I'm still jiggling doorknobs in that regard to see if any are open at the present time. I'll walk through those doors as I can and share that journey with you as it develops.

My life feels very full at the moment - busy too! Makes me wonder what is coming up around the bend.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy News

Our little writer's group received some awesome news this past week at our meeting. One of our own signed a contract to be published!

It's now official.

Mighty Bri has written a great horror piece that has elements involving Thor, the god of thunder. With the new Thor movie coming out this summer the timing couldn't be better. He's about as excited as the guy gets - maybe a little dazed too.

Or is that too much Jack Daniels?

So starting this spring the book will be available in electronic format and hopefully hardcopy later in the year. They'll go through the jacket design turmoil, debates over whether to change his title or not (alert to writers - your agonizingly thought-out title most likely will not be the published final so don't waste too much time on it), etc., etc. His new blog page on publishing is located at if you wish to follow his exploits.

So now we other GK Brainstormers will have to get our butts in gear and follow suit. Twill be some tough shoes in which to follow.

And Brian remember - don't forget to make it to meetings from now on, you hear? We know where you live and will be glad to drag your sorry butt out of your absinthe stupor!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Faith and Fear

Graduation is fast approaching!

This time I mean me from cosmetology school. My son's graduation will follow shortly upon its heels but at the moment I've got alot of decisions to make for myself first.

Isn't it amazing that in just two and ahalf months I will be taking up the mantle of cosmetologist and accepting my professional grade shears from school? It's so freaking AWESOME!

Sorry - I am an 80's child remember.

So several options lay before me, but I'm having trouble throwing one very risky venture aside - that of establishing my own salon. My original plan called for me to work about three years in a salon to learn additional trade secrets and then to open my own place. Then that changed to maybe two years. Recently I decided to re-evaluate after one year. But now faith is taking a stranglehold on me.

There seem to be some other things happening in the heavens that may be pointing in the direction of sooner rather than later. Much sooner. I can't yet share all of those specific things yet, but I've been deep in prayer concerning this possibility. Some of my close family and friends have also committed to praying for leading in this regard as well.

I'm scared to death!!!

But I'm also jazzed about the possibility of becoming a small business owner in a short amount of time. The decision needs to be made very soon.

Any of you praying readers out there are invited to join with me in seeking the Lord's direction.

And whatever direction that may be, I'll step out in faith - regardless of my fear.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011

It is with great joy that I spit goodbye to 2010 and wholeheartedly embrace 2011.

This first day of 2011 has been fun and relaxing, unlike this time last year when all you-know-what was breaking loose in my family. First there was my mother's cancer diagnosis confirmation, followed shortly by my grandmother's (mom's mom) death. Then the seemingly endless chemo treatments, job layoff, the unexpected loss of mom's best friend, etc., etc., etc.

But then again there were some glimpses of light even in the midst of absolute chaos and darkness.

Even though it was difficult to lose my grandma, it also seemed to be time. Please don't take that as being cold and unfeeling, but my mom was responsible for Grandma's visitation and care and with the looming surgery, recovery, then chemo it was time for someone else to step in.

That someone else ended up being the Lord, as He took her home to be with Him. He is, after all, the best caretaker anyone could need. Grandma ended up in good Hands.

The job loss also had a bright spot - it allowed me to be more available to my mom when she needed it and not just when it was convenient for the job situation. I didn't have to feel constantly torn between my responsibilities to work and my God-given responsibilities to my mom. It has also given me a chance to embrace a new calling and explore the possibility of realizing a long-held dream.

I've yet to come up with a positive light shined on the loss of Mom's best friend, but perhaps that's one that will have to wait until reaching the other side. There's some questions that will never be adequately answered until we have a chance to ask them face-to-face.

I hope God has a way to duplicate my questions in my notebook. Heck, He already knows them.

So many difficult things have happened this past year, and yet each one seems to have driven me closer to the Lord's feet. I can definitely say I've laid prostrate there so much of this past year. I guess that's another positive that's come from the difficulties myself and my family have faced. It gives greater meaning to the hurts.

And greater hope for the future. Welcome 2011!