A Real Live Author As Opposed To Me, the Barely Blogger

Have you ever come across a person who seems to have a back-handed, left-handed, snide, or otherwise insulting remark for seemingly everything and everyone?  A person who just says things and you can’t help but lower your brow and give them the side eye, smirk combo as you go on about your day?

This likely describes a family member or a co-worker. For me, it describes a person whose opinion mattered, and up until this point, I had a desire to please and cared what they thought of me.

This past July, I reconnected with an old friend. It’s an odd relationship that has an explanation that I should save for another time. I will just say, like I did above, that I really respect this person and what they think of me. I take what they have to say to heart.

So much so,  that this story actually happened just after Thanksgiving and I am still thinking about it. I am also still trying to let it go while I bite holes in my tongue. I am not sure that ever mentioning it would serve any kind of purpose.

Here’s what happened.

I reconnected with an old friend. Over the next few weeks we started to get more familiar and little by little, he started to chip away at my bubble and I started getting more comfortable sharing personal things.

I have always had an interest in writing. I excelled in creative writing in school. I carried the passion into my adult years. I loved to write poetry, short stories and then eventually, blogging became popular so I started a blog.

My current blog, the one you are reading, is probably my fourth blog. I have had these starts and stops mostly because I went through life changes (divorce) and in my transitions ( there were many) I lost my voice. Or at least I thought I did. Or I was worried about my ex husband stalking my space and that gave me stage fright.

On those blogs, I wrote a lot about my experiences  being a mother to a child with Down Syndrome. Then, I wrote about being the single mother to a child with Down Syndrome. I also shared experiences from when I worked for the county police etc.   I wrote a lot about my personal reflections in hopes that I could reach other women and girls who were facing some of the same challenges that I had made it through.

On several occasions, I had women reach out to me through post comments or e-mail to share their stories or say “Thank you,” because reading my posts reminded them that there was hope and that they were not alone.

Some of these women were pregnant with babies that were suspected of having Down Syndrome, new moms, recently divorced or whatever their story was. I was getting a lot of positive feedback.

I was published in the Huffington Post online. It was a humorous article that I had written about quirks and the human condition.  While it wasn’t a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of literature, it was published in one of the more popular media sources at the time. Most important, people enjoyed it.

I don’t remember how many hits I got to my blog after that.  I do recall looking at my stats one night and nearly going into a panic over what it was that was driving people to my blog in droves.

Dear God! What did I write?

Keeping in mind what I have explained above, I have always felt pretty good about the majority of the topics that I have written about. While I may not always use proper grammar and punctuation I think that I have always told the story and gotten my point across.

I know that there are those who don’t consider bloggers to be serious writers. That’s likely the majority of us. We do however, serve a purpose. If not to others and only to ourselves. We all started a blog for a reason. In my case, I did it as a means of therapy for myself and to help others. I have accomplished both.

Going  back to the re connection to my old friend, I did mention to him that I enjoyed writing and that over the years I have been hot and cold with blogging and that I was currently revamping my blog. I also told him that I wrote reviews for trails and parks for the Outbound Collective. At one point, he knew that I was out taking pictures so that I could update an entry I made to the Outbound Collective.

I was proud of all of this. He seemed interested so I was comfortable sharing about it a little bit but I admit I didn’t go into full detail or even provide him with the web address for anything. He didn’t ask for it either.

Fast forward to that cold day in November where I reach out to see what he’s up to. I get half assed invited to meet for lunch with him and a reserve police officer and a couple of town officials that happened to pass through.

On my arrival, I was greeted by my old, dear friend, and told that we were being joined by a reserve police officer who “was also a real author, as in, had books published,”

Stab to the chest. It wasn’t just what he said but how he said it. I was taken back a little bit. I tried to decide how he meant this and if his intentions were locked up in the crappy tone that he had. I didn’t ask.

Here’s the thing. I never bragged about writing or having a blog etc. I mentioned it as something that I enjoyed doing. I never mentioned how many followers I had or site visits. I never even revealed the title of the blog or passed on the website address.

It was an awkward lunch. I don’t know if my darling old friend was in a mood or what. I got to meet and have lunch with this real live author. He was really nice and easy to talk to. I enjoyed that.

The Real Live Author gave me the short version of his resume and told me what books he had written and published. They exist. He is the real deal. After talking to him for awhile, it didn’t even seem odd to me, that a man this accomplished,  was moonlighting as a reserve police officer.

I couldn’t help but wonder though, was he self published? What a bitter thought. It wasn’t his fault that my old pal had made the comment about being a “real live author”. Who knew if he meant it to come off that way. I am not going to bring it up.

The point of this blog entry to is to remind myself and others to keep on doing what you’re doing. We are important and serve a purpose in our own way. Don’t forget that a lot of people gather their information online from bloggers like you and I that have experience in whatever it is that they are looking for.

I really can’t afford to have a book published, but I can write article after article about my personal experiences as a single mother raising a child with Down Syndrome. I can go on and on about my battles with the public school system as much as I can about the joys of each milestone.

People all over the globe relate to me in so many ways and they relate to you too!

In closing, and I am not even kidding, my dear sweet friend gave me the “real live authors” book as a Christmas gift.  I wish I could reveal who the author is and the book that I received but I can’t count on anyone not mentioning it in conversation.

And I know how some of you can be *chuckles*

I hope everyone has a great week!

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My Thoughts and Prayers to Humboldt

On the evening of Friday, April 6, 2018,  15 members of the Humboldt Broncos Junior Hockey Team were killed in a crash, involving their bus and a semi,  as they were on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin.

I wanted to express my condolences to everyone involved. Team, family, friends and community.  All of my thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time and every day that follows. I am very sorry for your loss.  There is no other family quite like a hockey family. You hurt, we all hurt..  God bless and God speed..

You will be forever in our hearts…

Humber Broncos

Members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team are shown in a photo posted to the team Twitter feed, @HumboldtBroncos on March 24, 2018 after a playoff win over the Melfort Mustangs. RCMP say they are at the scene of a fatal collision involving a transport truck and a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos northeast of Saskatoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Twitter: @HumboldtBroncos

How I Discovered the Pileated Woodpecker

It all started this past week when I discovered damage to the mirror on the passenger side of my car. It looked like someone had either come along and punched it or shot at it with a BB gun. We have a couple of kids in my neighborhood that I suspected of causing the damage, but I never said anything to their parents.  As much as it irked me, I let it go.

I am glad that I didn’t say anything because a few days later, I discovered that no one was responsible for the damage to my mirror. At least not a human being. The culprit was actually surprising.

This is the damage to my mirror. It’s cracked pretty good and even missing pieces. What was more impressive is that the mirror itself was pushed in and down and I had to readjust it back it its original position.

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I am a member of an app called Next Door. Next door is a social networking tool that connects you with people from your own neighborhood. There are several categories or topics to chose from.  Of these many topics, one of them is “Crime”.

I saw a post made by a neighbor about vandalism to his vehicle. He posted a photograph of his own side mirror that had been damaged and he wanted to know if anyone else had their vehicles vandalized.  The damage to his mirror looked very similar to mine.

Someone else piped up and said that they had witnessed a Pileated Woodpecker attacking its own image in the side mirror of their truck. They went outside and chased it away but it was too late, they too had damage.  They explained that the birds were aggressive towards other males during mating season, which was now. The bird believed it was fighting another male.

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The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker that lives in our area of northern Indiana. They measure roughly 16  inches from head to tail and have a wingspan of almost 29 inches. They are usually recognized by the flaming red crest on their head. The Pileated Woodpecker is the second largest woodpecker in North America, second to the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which is nearly extinct.

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker species is listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The American Birding Association lists the Ivory Billed Woodpecker as a class 6 species, a category it defines as “definitely or probably extinct”

I’m an optimist.

As the day went on more and more neighbors were popping in with their own experience. They had either seen the bird or had damage to their own vehicle too.  Neighbors in the know suggested putting grocery bags over the mirrors or fold them in to avoid attacks.

Later in the week, the St. Joseph County Parks had posted a photo to their Facebook of a tree that had been pecked pretty good by a Pileated Woodpecker. They explained that they will excavate deep into the wood of dead trees to eat nests of carpenter ants.

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Photo courtesy of Audubon.com

Quite honestly, as much as I love nature, animals and the outdoors, I had never paid much attention to the woodpeckers and the  different varieties. What an interesting way for me to discover them.

While I haven’t been lucky enough to actually see the one that’s terrorizing local vehicle owners, I have heard him. He’s been hanging out somewhere nearby as I’ve heard him several times in the mornings.

They really are beautiful. To learn more about the Pileated Woodpecker, visit Adubon.com

 

The Dausman Ditch Farm Bridge

In my post about the Northern Indiana Floods, I mentioned the wooden bridge over the Dausman ditch. This bridge is located on the property that belongs to my friend Chalisa’s family.  I often take my horse, Belle, down the lane and across the bridge to ride the trails in the woods and the edges of the fields.

This was the bridge during the flood. As you can see the ditch spilled over into the back fields.  It was an incredible sight to see. This is significant for our area.

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The water came up and over the bridge for several days. Chalisa’s father and brother made attempts to save it by reinforcing the structure the best that they could. Their efforts paid off because the ditch crested and the water slowly receded.  The bridge still stands.

This past week, Belle and I took a walk down the road and down the lane to the bridge and the back fields. It was a gloomy gray and misty morning but warmer than it had been. It felt good to get outside and enjoy some quiet time.

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I can’t explain what’s so great about this bridge. It just is.

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The wooden bridge over Dausman Ditch- March 28, 2018

 

The ditch is back to the usual water level. Thankfully.  I hope we don’t have to deal with this again any time soon.

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Nothern Indiana Flood 2018

Yes, I am still alive. I have started several entries this way over the past 2 years since I began blogging here. A lot has happened since the start of the year.  The next few posts are likely to be things that already happened that I want to write about.

I will begin with the flooding in Northern Indiana that we experienced in mid February.

In three days, we received 7 inches of rain that fell on top of approximately 2 feet of packed snow.  The snow was already melting from unseasonably warm weather that we got to enjoy for a couple of days before it began to rain.

Below is a photograph of my house approximately two days before the warm up. I took this photo because I was complaining  discussing how I was clearing snow from the street so I could park and the neighbor kept stealing my space.

 

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This was the scene a few days before the warm up and the rain started. Reports stated that the rainfall would have equaled almost 60 inches of snow.

 

The mayor of south Bend, Pete Buttigieg, referred to the event as our 500 year flood.

“When we talk about flooding in an area we don’t have 500 or 1,000 years of records,” said David Call, an associate professor of meteorology at Ball State University in Muncie. “We extrapolate out, we graph it out based on the data we do have. When people say a 500-year flood, it’s what we would expect the magnitude of flooding to be once every 500 years.”

If you have been following me on social media, you have seen my numerous photographs of the St. Joseph River. I love the St. Joe. I live a couple of blocks away and I often hike along it, kayak and of course, photograph it.  The river is a huge part of our community.

I have never seen the St. Joseph River that high or the flooding that it caused. I have also never seen the local ditches spill over the way that they did. It was incredible for our area. A lot of people lost their homes and businesses.  Roads collapsed or washed out, bridges were swept away.  Schools were closed for several day and shelters were created in additions to the locations that were already available.

In addition to the St. Joseph River, I also frequent the area of the Dausman Ditch, located near Bremen, Indiana. I often take my horse down the lane and cross the ditch to ride a trail and along the fences and fields that belong to my friend Chalisa and her family.  There is a wooden bridge they use to cross their equipment to get to the back fields.

The water threatened the bridge but they were able to save it.  If you’re following me on social media, you’ve seen photographs of this bridge several times.  It’s a plan wooden bridge but for whatever reason, I am enamored with it.

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The bridge over the Dausman Ditch. I am amazed that it’s still there!!

Professionally, we handled numerous water rescues from homes and vehicles. It was bad enough that everyone was out of barricades and signs. Marshall County, Indiana was in a state of emergency.  One of my close friends is an officer there and told me that one of the most frustrating things that he was forced to deal with was figuring out how to get to the people that needed help either because he couldn’t get to them or couldn’t get to them without serious risk of getting himself killed in the process.

I am begging you to NOT drive your vehicles through high water. It never looks as deep as it really is. You’re going to stall your motor and become stranded. You can also get swept away.  Not only does this put yourself into a bad situation but you’re also putting the responders into a bad position when we have to come and save you.

If there is a barricade or a road closed sign set up that means that the road is closed. It means that it is closed for you, regardless of who you think you are or where you think you need to go.  It’s closed for a reason.  Turn around and find another way to reach your destination.

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Near Wyatt, Indiana- Someone spray painted “road closed” on this van. This was approx 3 days after the rain stopped.

 

The first morning that the water was really high and covering the roads, I had to get really creative to make my destination and at one point, I was going to simply cancel my reasons for travel. It’s not worth putting yourself at risk.

Below is a small gallery of photo’s from our area. I did my best to add captions since the locations are from different areas with different sources of water.  I wasn’t able to get very many because I didn’t go near the affected areas since the roads were closed.  I took the majority of the photo’s and noted which ones I didn’t.

 

I’m Giving Up My Smart Phone- Sort Of

I am so sick of my cell phone.

I am sick of looking at it.

I am sick of looking for it because I’ve reached that point where I’m convinced that I need to have it close by 24/7/365.

I am sick of listening to it.

I am so sick of listening to it and looking at it that I have  it set up to tell me who is calling when it rings. I have also designated special text tones for my close friends.  Chalisa is “meditation bell” while Kate is “bird whistle” and any supervisor from work is “telegraph”.  The list goes on. If you’re not a close friend, also known as the mystery messenger, then you’re the generic “ding” and I will get to you when I get to you.

Sadly, the mystery of the unknown “ding” text notification is often so overwhelming that I will go see who, outside of the tribe, has dared to send me a text message.  Thus, shattering the whole point of giving those close to me a special sound when they reach out.

It’s not just the phone calls, the notifications and the text notifications. It’s the multiple alarms that I set to wake me up every morning. I go into a blind rage at 5:45 in the morning, every morning, when the alarm goes off on my cell phone. I also have an alarm clock.

A cell phone was meant to be a tool, not to swallow your entire existence. I depend on my iPhone way too much. It’s my alarm clock, my calendar, my jukebox and camera. It has literally become this tool that I cannot live without.

I am old enough to remember life before cell phones. As an adult during that time, I never sat and stared at my phone waiting for it to ring. I was perfectly fine with leaving the house for the day and allowing anyone who called me to leave a message on my answering machine.  Sometimes, for days!

Back then, coming home to a message waiting for me was like a delightful surprise, depending on who it was from, but there was no stress over it. If someone called me then they called me.

There was no expectation from anyone to get a call back in 2.5 seconds either.

I miss the good ol’ days before all of this nonsense. Life truly was better back then. It’s great having the conveniences that come with cell phone/smart phones, but I miss the way we behaved back then. We didn’t expect people to drop everything to talk, text etc.

Seriously, I know people who will send an e-mail, then send a text that they sent an e-mail and if you don’t respond to that text quick enough to suit them, they’ll call. What is the point of all of that and why does anyone feel that entitled?

I am a mother, friend, girlfriend etc not the President Of the United States.

I am also over being annoyed at friends, relatives and the boyfriend being on their phone while we are spending time together. Nothing reminds me of how unimportant I am to the other person like watching them scroll through social media and text while we are having dinner.

I admit that I have been guilty of looking at my phone when I probably shouldn’t have. I’ve noticed that it usually encourages the person that I am with to also check their phone but that’s no excuse and it isn’t polite. It shouldn’t be the new normal. I also admit that when someone else has checked their phone when I wasn’t, I felt a little crappy because of it.

What am I going to do about it?

I have decided to challenge myself over the next month.  I am going to stop looking at my phone as often. I am going to delete the majority of the apps that I have that seem to constantly distract me from more important things.  I honestly don’t get that much out of them in the first place.

I am going to set the phone on my night stand vs allowing it to be on the bed while I sleep. If it rings or goes off during the night, I will still check it.  Main reason being, I work in public safety and am subject to last minute mandates into work and also,  my boyfriend is a police officer who works midnights.

I really don’t need to be on Instagram at 3am. Or checking Facebook.

I am just sick of feeling like I have to be connected at all times. I’m done. I am wasting too much time just mindlessly scrolling.  I am not missing anything that can’t wait until a specific time of day. The thought of breaking free from my phone feels like freedom.

We will see how long this lasts.

 

 

Happy New Year!

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Let’s get this party started…

 

For the first time in a long time, I stayed home on New Year’s Eve.

I worked my regular shift at work, picked up my kiddo from his grandmother’s house, and drove straight home.  The weather has been bad for the past week or longer. We’ve gotten a lot of snow, high winds and very cold temperatures.  The idea of going out simply wasn’t appealing.  The roads were bad and there would likely be drunk drivers everywhere.  Not a good mix.

It wasn’t just the weather that kept me home.  It was the burning desire to have some peace in my world as the clock ticked away and then moved us into the new year. I just wanted to be alone in my quiet house with my child safe in his bed and my dog at my feet.

I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice, a wine glass ( because I am fancy) and some snacks. I settled in on my couch to watch Atomic Blonde on DVD.  I also enjoyed my Christmas tree and decorations. I felt like I barely got a chance to even notice them this year.

The moment that the clock struck midnight, my phone blew up with HAPPY NEW YEAR texts and the world outside my window exploded in gunshots and fireworks.  I wasn’t lonely since my friends remembered me and the stupidity outside my window was still keeping me employed.

2017 wasn’t a bad year for me. A lot of people claimed that it was one of the hardest years of their lives. While mine certainly wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of changes and transitions that needed to happen. My acceptance of these facts made the sadness and the pain a bit easier to manage. I simply had to move on. So I am.

I am looking forward to 2018 and I am embracing life now, more than I have in a really long time. I like the direction that my life seems to be going. The unknown is always scary but it can also be exciting. It just depends on the way you choose to look at it.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to 2018!

 

Stories, Life, Figuring It Out

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Everyone has a story..

I’m planning a lengthy ( probably ) post for the end of the year that is going to go over all of the changes that I experienced in 2017. Some good, some bad and some of them were, as the saying goes,  ugly.

One of the conclusions about life that I came to is that nothing is in control and the need for perfection is going to drive me insane. Actually, it already has but I have learned to let that go.

Part of the reason that I have issues remaining faithful to blogging, journaling or anything creative is because I felt like everything had to be in chronological order as it pertained to my life.  It doesn’t.

It is impossible for me to have consistent writing time or even time to sit down and work on creative projects such as jewelry design or photography. I want to, life gets in the way, so I have to do it when I can. It’s frustrating, but that’s life.

I am not one to run with a crowd but I did look around and notice that a lot of the blogs or writers that I really enjoyed were telling stories and sharing photographs for experiences that happened weeks and even months prior to the post.

I came to the conclusion  “Who cares as long as you tell the story”.

Eventually.

I put unnecessary pressure on myself and I am really good at it.

I like to discuss life, situations, lessons I’ve learned and to share experiences. I also like to share *cough * showcase my photography.  I always say this, but, moving forward, I am going to write regardless of when it happened.

2017 brought on so many life changing events, loss, gain, revelations and attitude adjustments that I truly believe, in my heart, that 2018 is going to be an amazing year.  I am looking forward to moving forward.

I hope everyone is doing well.