Hey, It’s My Anniversary–Again!

Hi all! Hope Monday (and the rest of this week) finds you all well. I’ve been dealing with a sinus infection all weekend and haven’t had energy to do much. At least Saturday ran an NCIS marathon; Sunday brought the Barcelona ATP Masters Championship featuring Rafa Nadal in the final. That worked-and the maestro of the clay courts won, too. Yay! (Thought I was linking to a single photo. What the heck–enjoy!)

Back to today: married eighteen years to my hunny and beginning to get the whole ‘depth’ thing that goes along with a long-term relationship. He and I are known for our differences, but we work hard at being respectful of what makes each of us who we are on the day to day. I promise too, that opposites really did attract on every single level, even down to us viewing my laptop screen: him with reading glasses, me with distance glasses, lol. Yet, one day at a time, one situation at a time, we’ve made it to Wedding Anniversary #18 (and even like each other today).

What keeps us strong? Speaking only for myself, choice.  As I’ve written in previous anniversary posts, choosing to be committed on those rare days I not want to be. Truth is, no matter how wonderful a relationship, it takes work. True, some might take less work than others, and there are those who find themselves in a situation in which only one person is doing most of it.

That’s par for the course. Ideas about a 50-50 share of the work is common, but most folks may not consider that 50-50 is an average number. And those of you who are mathematically inclined understand that an average is gained by adding varied sums and dividing by the total number of sums used.

What does that translate to? Simple, math-wise anyway. Sometimes I do more of the work. Sometimes hubby does.

Honestly, I may be more blessed than some. Hubby and I rarely fight, as in it gets nasty and/or ugly between us. (Maybe five or six times in eighteen years? Not bad, right?) Despite our disagreements and fundamental differences as people, we try to talk things out and approach each other as friends. I’ve also come to know that I need to explain my point of view the next day, or when we’re not in that angry moment, when one or both of us might not be thinking clearly. (That’s just plain-old impulse control, friends: an imperative life skill to practice no matter what the situation or setting, i.e., work, home, etc.)

Neither of us likes being at odds. Fortunately, those ugly times usually last little more than a week, and even when the stretch has been (much) longer, we’re still respectful when dealing with the matters a household and family bring. No directing the kids with, “Tell your father…” or “You can let your mother know…” Fights (between almost anyone, I think) are often about control issue(s) anyway. Being aware of that makes a huge difference—period.

I could probably go on and on but I most certainly will not! 😀 I will, however, point you to a pair of previous posts on commitment. (Find those here and here.) Please, also take a moment and visit April Cassidy’s Peaceful Wife’s Blog. She covers a range of related topics and shares much wisdom.

This was taken at my bridal shower. Geez, my favorite Frannie Drescher   (as Fran Fine) got nothing on this big hairdo!
This was taken at my bridal shower. Geez, my favorite Frannie Drescher (as Fran Fine) got nothing on this big hairdo!

And before I forget, happy anniversary to my hunny! My humble gratitude and love to the guy who has shown his own side of love and commitment to this looney lady all these years! I am blessed.

Until next time,

Joanna

FAFF: Who Let the Vents Out?

Happy Friday people! (And happy wedding anniversary to Maria-Sammy and Joe–20 years today! Wow.)

Off this week and gearing up for the second and final Wimbledon weekend! (Bites nails while waiting to see which of my heroes will be swinging for the title on Centre Court. ) Been working on getting caught up with blogs, cleaning the house (Check!) and yard, gardening (Check!) and start brainstorming/plotting my next story (Check!). And of course Wimbledon fills any time lags! (When do people have time to work for pay?)

So who doesn’t love to vent? As I mentioned in a previous post, a good kvetching session is always in order, especially when the focus is on getting frustrations out and NOT being hurtful or spiteful, face-to-face or on public forums.

A few of my pet peeves:

Cats that miss the litter box. (‘Nough said.)

Using funds donated to pay solicitors: This one instantly went on the list sometime week, following a call from a children’s “final wishes” charity. After going through a list of suggested donations (starting at $100) I posed my husband’s favorite question: What percentage of the donation goes directly to the cause?

After informing me this was a paid solicitation the caller provided a breakdown. Twelve percent??? Seriously? I told her kindly I only donate to charities that make more efficient use of funds. (Many do. Ask.)

Bringing day-job work home. Once my hours are clocked, my life should be mine.

Misuse of similar words by people whose general or specific level of education strongly suggests they know better!

“Nouning” a verb! (And its flip side.)

Cooking BEFORE I know everyone ate elsewhere.

Any athlete who lives and train in one country but represents another. Don’t get me started.

I had a better list somewhere–probably on that darned dining room table that grows papers and “stuff”–but these work. Maybe some of yours match mine. Have some fun folks! Vent!

Have a great Fourth of July weekend, folks! Long wave the Stars and Stripes!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

FAFF, New Love, Anniversaries and Life Lessons

Happy Friday and next-to-last-day of April friends. How is it almost May already?

Okay, before I go further, please indulge me while I digress briefly and address those of you in the Union, NJ area: I’ll be sharing a table with fellow Wild Rose Press author M. Flagg at Union High School’s vendor night from 7-10 PM! (I’m awful at promo, people, and didn’t consider this an ‘appearance’ until Ms. Flagg reminded me. :)) I hear they’re vying for table space and will have all kinds of great wares–just in time for Mother’s Day (and wedding anniversaries ;)–are you paying attention, hubby?

Speaking of wedding anniversaries, how can it be #16 at my end? And sixteen years ago, who would have ever thought I get to share the date with a royal couple? (Best wishes William and Kate!) If I read her comment yesterday, author friend Laura Hogg and her husband share the date with us, too. So in the spirit of romance, weddings, new beginnings and couples standing the test of time…

I picked my wedding song long before I met my husband. Kept it a secret, guarded it closely for a very long time. It wasn’t popular or a secular standard. The song would be a unique choice (or so I thought) for that day when I committed myself to someone else for the rest of my life.

About twelve years ago I read a powerful biography: that of Mary Kay Ashe, founder of the much-familiar Mary Kay Cosmetics (skin care that I swear by as those of you who read my most recent guest-post at Chris Redding’s blog on 4/15). As per Mary Kay’s book, this remarkable woman lived a fairly hard life very much on life’s terms but somehow made the best of whatever situation came her way. One chapter in particular (named You Can’t Outgive God) stood out.

Seems Mary Kay was a stickler for being prepared whenever she had to address a group publicly. Due to unforeseen circumstances the night before she was to address a church group about fundraising possibilities for the church’s new building, she was unable to prepare her speech. The next morning, Mary Kay honored her appointment. In an off-the-cuff moment, she felt inspired to match dollar-for-dollar the amount of money the congregation raised. She never imagined the amount that was presented her—somewhere approximating $1 million—during a time when her assets were tied up in other projects.

The woman had faith and for good reason. As Mary Kay sat there wondering how she’d honor her promise, her son called, his voice laced with excitement. Seems an oil-well she’d invested in came at exactly the right time and the cash Mary Kay needed became available exactly when she needed it. Her message to the congregation when she told them about her miracle? “You can’t outgive God.”

How does this tie in to a life lesson of mine? I’m married sixteen years today. Girlhood dreams of my wedding morphed into more concrete possibilities as I progressed through my twenties (and with no prospects, lol). At age thirteen I picked my wedding band; I was bridesmaid for my cousin and saw it on the back of one of her bridal magazines. (Can you believe I thought twice about it when it was time to pick rings? The jeweler looked at me and said, “You’ve wanted this all these years now you’re thinking about it???” Good thing she said something!)

And you already know my wedding song was chosen, Steven Curtis Chapman’s I Will Be Here. (Good thing hubby liked it, too).

Our first dance as Mr. and Mrs.

Enter one of my co-workers of the time, a departmental assistant who tended to be moody and not necessarily the best-liked person in the department. She had an upcoming wedding but expressed ambivalence about her song (the wedding, too, I think—but that’s another story…). She was probably the last person I would have ever considered sharing the title of my song, but something moved me to do so. She loved it and chose it for her first dance with her new husband.

Of course, I met my honey very soon after that. The rest, y’all already know and once again, I, like Mary Kay before me, am convinced that “you can’t outgive God.”

         

Shall we talk similar experiences? How has God, Higher Power, Universe–whatever force you feel active in your life–outgiven you? I’d love to read your story (and if you think it’s too long for the comments section, email me privately and we’ll set you up with your very own Friday post!)

Have a great day,

Joanna

The Big “C”–Part 2

Welcome back! Yesterday, we left off at the big “C” word, commitment: the big concept, the giant it that gets me over the hurdles: the “C” word is easy enough to say, and a whole other thing to live.

Let’s take it from there.

In fifteen years—sixteen and three-quarters, counting courtship time—I’ve learned a lot about what it really is. (I’ve also been lucky enough to have a partner who shares that mindset. Two months into marriage, after our first real argument, we decided the “D” word—divorce—is not a choice. No judgment implied; there are those who have no other choice or have the choice taken away. We just happen to be a Taurus and a Leo who often function on loyalty, which supposedly keeps our crazy connection…connected!)

 So, what then, is commitment?

 IMHO:

 It’s deciding when to put myself first, or him, or the kids. By no means a black-or-white choice, but usually the most subtle nuances of proverbial gray.

 It’s choosing to respond with kindness when I’d much rather snap someone away.

 It’s preparing two (sometimes three) meals out of respect for those who don’t like what I much prefer having.

 Most of all, it’s choosing to have no more ‘bad’ days. Making a conscious decision, on those days I’d rather live with my laptop (and some great book I’m reading), to have a ‘commitment’ day. That little mindshift made a huge difference.

 Sometimes a slew of those commitment days get slung together in a continuum that seems to have no end. That’s up there with the toughest of all. Yes, I’ve lived it. I’m sure many of you have and/or do. Remembering it can’t be any easier at its other end is a challenge, too. Remembering that though, helps—a lot.

 Then, there are the impasses. I think that’s when it needs to be called in full force, to decide how a given situation will be handled. We’ve worked some out. We’ve discussed others way more loudly than I care to admit sometimes (luckily, only a handful of times in our time together). And sometimes, we’ve made a conscious decision to disagree on a said subject as well as an even more conscious choice to not discuss it ever again. (That one can take a little more effort sometimes, especially if one or both of us initially forgets that we chose not to discuss it! )

 And how does any of this apply to writing?  

 Well, it provided me a rich topic to write about, lol!

 Depending on how seriously I take my writing, I need to view it the way I view my marriage and family life.

 First and foremost, my writing is a commitment I’ve made to myself.

 I’ve also committed to my readers and that very loyal block of you who read everything I put out there, no matter what, no matter why. (And I do thank you more than I can communicate to you!)

 There are things about writing I love. These are only a few that make the commitment a no-brainer.

 first draft (when it’s flowing);

 revision;

 reader comments and feedback that let me know someone got exactly what I wanted to convey.

 that gorgeous new cover;

 that scene that falls into place.

 Getting to know other authors who relate to the insanity in my head but understand I’m not out of my mind (well, maybe a little).

 Cause for Commitment days (note the boldface capital c):  No flow, no ideas for the current work-in-progress (a really BAD place for a pantster like myself) or for that next blog I should have written. Knowing how much more promo I should be doing, but my real-life doesn’t necessarily allow or I’m lacking the confidence to go out there. Everyone around interrupting me or not taking my writing time seriously, crabbing that she’s on the computer again! All the other crafts I gave up because this one demands so much time and mental energy. The TV I don’t watch anymore—most of it isn’t much to see anyway but some great story ideas are out there.

 Like my marriage and family, separation from my writing not a choice.

 Now that I’ve told you about my commitment to my writing, how do I show it?

 Not giving up on that most recent work-in-progress (wip) just because I’m having trouble figuring out exactly where it’s headed;

 Revising the previous one again!

 Writing this blog, lol!

Now, it’s your turn to talk about commitment! Tell me what IT is to you and how you show it in different aspects of your life: family, job, self, etc.

Don’t forget to leave your comment to be entered into a random drawing for a digital copy of No Matter Why. If you already have yours, pass this link on to a friend or someone you think might enjoy the post. Winner to posted on Sunday!

Thanks again for joining me! Love being back doing what I did when I first started this blog!   

A great day and wonderful weekend to all,

Joanna

The Big “C”–Part 1

I write romance.

Big revelation, right?

Why do I do so?

Because I can, was the last answer I gave at one of my last blogstops (www.patyjager.blogspot.com), but I’ve been thinking about it a little more since then. (Okay, so the idea for this essay started with the opener sentence to this post sometime early on the morning of 4/9 this year and wouldn’t leave me alone until I started hashing it out.)

I’m married, too, celebrating my fifteenth anniversary on 4/29, the day this posted. I remember spending years praying for “the one” so that I could walk down the aisle and then have kids. Three grown stepsons and two rapidly growing boys later, my prayers have been answered. I have a husband who truly loves me. (Yes, it’s mutual and despite the differences, sometimes I look at those very luminescent green eyes of his—green is my favorite color for anything—and am sometimes still surprised at how handsome he is. Plus, he loves being my hero—yes, there’s a post for that at my blog.) The boys? Each presents some kind of challenge, at present mostly from the full-timers, a ‘tween’ and a ‘teen.’ I have also been blessed to share a good relationship with my ‘part-timers,’ who at 25, 21 and 19 are now ‘all grown up.’ 

 

 Is my life what I thought it would be? Hard to say, except I realize now that I had NO idea what I expected. Definitely not the sweep-me-away Woodiwiss romances which were my favorites in my teens and early twenties.

Do I love my life?

Most days.

Many days.

Some days.

And other days, I’d give it all up just for peace, quiet, no one calling my name or expecting anything of me. Give me my laptop, a pretty space to work and a flowing story idea: happiness is mine.

So, despite writing romance and these awesome men who really look out for their ladies and kids you forget are there, I’m living reality.  Obviously, the days I love my life are easy. The in-between days are there, and being fortunate enough to not sweat too much of the small stuff or the things I can’t control or change, I can handle them.

Then there are those ‘other’ days. What gets me through?

The “C” word.

Easy enough to say.

“Commitment.”

A whole other thing to live. And that I’ll discuss tomorrow. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

In the meantime, feel free to start a discussion and share your feelings on this topic. Tell me what the “C-word” is to you and how you show it in different aspects of your life: family, job, self, etc. 

Don’t forget, those who leave a comment will be entered in a random drawing for a digital copy of No Matter Why. If you already have yours, pass this link on to a friend or someone you think might enjoy the post.

Thanks so much for stopping by and don’t forget to check in tomorrow! I’ll post the winner on Sunday and notify that person by e-mail. 

 

Joanna