When you need a little help from your (blog) friends

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With the abundance of “blogging schools” and the excellent WordPress advice available I was pretty sure I could spruce up my blog on my own.  I realized early on that I didn’t want numbers/stats for the sake of just having them, and that a comment, even a negative one, meant someone was reading, and that was what I wanted: to reach and feel connected to an audience. Not that the numbers aren’t nice!

A sister blogger once said she enjoyed the randomness of my blog. It is true that I tend to write about whatever I feel like writing about on any given day. One of my passions is adoption reform. I am currently working on a piece with a goal of finishing by January 2017, the proposed time-frame my personal adoption records will be unsealed, according to NJ State Governor Chris Christie. I’m not holding my breath, but keeping my eye on the ‘Gov.

I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to blog so much as write about adoption. (I will still be blogging about advances in brain health post surgery and of course, kittens).  I was bogged down in the blogosphere until I found FistBump Media. (Full disclosure: I met the founder when our paths crossed at a conference once, although the other few hundred attendees make the memory fuzzy for both of us).

Three things set FistBump apart from other programs out there:

  1. The information is presented in bite-sized pieces, and the assignments are manageable and leave time for writing. The folks at FistBump help focus on taking the next step. It’s easy to circle back and go over something once you get an overview of that particular lesson.
  2. The instruction is presented totally backwards from all other programs I have tried-at first I was confused by this but I immediately saw the value of taking the steps in the order they are presented. This is probably my key take-away-the concrete steps I could take in order to prevent getting bogged down so I could keep going.
  3. A program of this kind can only be as good as the leader. Here is where FistBump shines, an attentive team that provides support in a timely manner-complete with encouragement that does not appear to come from a robot. In Dan King you get a warm and willing coach/cheerleader, and that makes all the difference. A look at the videos will show you if the material is going to be right for you.

If you have any questions ask-ask me or contact Dan directly at:

FistBump Media

1988 Wood Hollow Way
Sarasota, FL 34235

941-780-4179

I tend to get overly excited about things-I’m pretty stoked about the introductory (one week) offer that is the equivalent of a couple of trips to Starbucks. I know a few of you personally who have been looking for a program like this-THIS IS IT.

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Regarding same-sex partners in their pretty Easter shoes.

Two older posts from the “Freshly Pressed” section of WordPress caught my eye last week while I was doing some disability research (law) and ruminating about shoes; specifically cotton floral wedgie shoes.

My intent was to share these posts with you and make sure the proper authors got credit for them, so I hit reblog. Obsessed as Carrie Bradshaw with a new pair of Manolo Blahniks, I have a bit more say. Please be sure to visit the blogs/posts Just Stimming… and  The Church Is Responsible For This to read the original posts in their entirety, and leave a comment if you can.

The first one was about shoes. This post resonated with me as I really miss shoes. We share an affinity, Julia (the author) and me for “baby doll” or “Mary Jane” shoes; what you call them depends on your age. Neither of us can wear what we want on our feet, and we both know there are more important things to concern ourselves with, but it just helps to say it loud now and then. We miss shoes.

Shoes make me feel off balance. To be clear, I have very little physical balance since my life-saving radiation. When I am in a clear-headed mood, it seems a fair trade to me. When I am at a mall, staring at shoes on display, it doesn’t seem fair at all.

It does not escape me that I save a lot of money on shoes. I especially miss them in springtime, popping on a printed pair of espadrilles that my mom so loathed was an annual rite of spring. Shoes can make one feel complete, top off an outfit, “make the man.” If you’ve been taking yours for granted, stop for a second and be thankful for them!

***

The other post that got my attention was essentially a lamentation that there are not a lot of options for lesbians at church. I miss church sometimes, but not enough to actually attend. While I am not a lesbian, I feel empathy for the unchurched, myself included, over this issue. Does the Lord care about lesbians?

Sorry to take so long to get to my point: Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The world won’t know Him if we don’t open our hearts and our churches. To exclude groups of people who don’t match your idea/interpretation/beliefs seems dangerous to me. If you believe in salvation, even in the very broadest sense, why would you place limits, to an unbelieving world, on opportunities to hear the word of God?

It’s Easter time. One of the church’s busiest days, you might find yourself with a hankering to visit a service. Don’t stay home because you haven’t got the right shoes. Don’t stay home because of your same-sex partner, because if you go, your very presence is bound to make church a more welcoming place.

When I dug out this photo, I was surprised the artwork was not how I had remembered it!

Happy Anniversary Honey-33 Years!

What’s in the box? Episode 2 (One of the 25 jobs)

Someone taking our picture was odd for the times, it was the school photographer with his giant square camera and his blinding flash. Even as an adult, I feared him and his box of combs.

Someone taking our picture was odd for the times, it was the school photographer with his giant square camera and his blinding flash. Even as an adult, I feared him and his box of combs.

I peel another photo out of the memory box, ill-named, as there are things there I do not remember at all. Hand-written scraps in script that don’t ring a bell. Sad things, those little photos you get at funeral parlors, with a Psalm on one side and the dead’s picture on the other. This picture is a happy thing, and it rings a school bell! There are some old computers in this classroom,  and yes, that is a 5 1/4″  floppy drive on the desk, along with a dot-matrix printer. This stuff would replace the IBM Selectric Typewriters in a few short years. For now, it was like something out of Star Trek.

I spent a school year volunteering to help out in the new (first) computer lab at the kid’s elementary school. I did this because like computers and figured I was capable of the task; it seemed the least painful way to be a part of the school (read: not much interaction with other authority figures), it would enhance my resume. But I mostly did it for selfish reasons. I needed to know what my little angels, just down the hall, were up to, and this gave me a little glimpse.

I can’t remember the little girl’s name but she was my favorite. She had a calm demeanor and really liked the computers. I liked hearing her call me Mrs. Roth. She had the audacity to chew gum, and I never stopped her. We had an understanding.

This picture is so old, not every was on board with computers in the classroom, and entire PTA meetings would be devoted to the topic. Today the questions lean towards “Should we still be teaching cursive writing?” I feel Bernice shaking her head.

This was the same grammar school I attended I as a child, the school I was supposed to walk to the day I had to be bailed out. The only kid who needed a map for grammar school, that was me.

The notes on the wall said things like “plug in before use” and “do not use with wet hands.” The difference between keyboarding and word processing was painstakingly written out.

My glasses kept getting larger and heavier each year.The color of cough medicine, this particular pair  had a liquid look to the rims and were likely the “daring “ pair on the rack when I bought them. The photo proves I took the advice to dress casually to the next level. Sometimes we crawled around on the floor to plug things in, we were our own IT department. My daughters were in grade school and I still appear to be wearing maternity clothes. The teachers all wore skirts and nylons, so it was easy to separate the grown-ups.

I took this assignment without knowing I would be the only adult in the classroom. Since the job was titled “Technology Aid” I somehow expected to be aiding someone. Since I was an Audio Visual Aid Society member in high-school, I figured I could surely keep a room full of networked computers running for a couple of hours a week.

This was during the time I also sold Avon. I did these things because the thought of a full-time job and child-care was overwhelming, but also, I liked doing them. The kids in the class were little enough to enjoy learning and were respectful, except one or two that you already knew were going to spend most of their later lives in some form of detention.

They let me have coffee in the teacher’s room, an empty room save the coffee pot that made twelve cups at a time. Primarily a place where teachers went to smoke, I enjoyed feeling connected to the education world by hanging out after class. A few of the teachers had me as a student, and I couldn’t believe they were still at it. I would last one year in this volunteer position.

One more thing, that kid raising his hand in the back of the room? He probably just needed a reboot. I didn’t yet know it yet, but I did, too.

What’s in the box? Episode 1

This was a happy day before all hell broke loose.  It was around Halloween, as evidenced by my orange cup.

This was a happy day before all hell broke loose. It was around Halloween, and I remember this orange cup was the cafeteria’s way of celebrating.

I found some old pictures and this particular one brought back a ton of memories. My baby, my youngest, once told me about keeping a memory box. I loved the idea but wasn’t so good at it, and my memory box ended up hidden away for 25 years. This box is no time capsule, mostly filled with concert ticket stubs, and a lot of “what did I save THIS for?  Let’s dive in!

The first picture was taken around ’79 for my book jacket. Yes, just as I took a picture for my blog before I had one, I had a picture taken for my book before I had one. I fancied myself a writer. So fancy, that I took this photo meant for the back of my book.

I gleefully showed my parents my first publicity shot. Bernice sucked on her can of Tab and stroked her white, deaf cat.
“ Would it kill you to wear a bra?”
No one was questioning my career choice, but everyone was entitled to their opinion on my underthings or lack thereof. It was the turn of the decade, two of my classes were women’s studies, too many layers seemed downright un-American.

I want to be sure I am clear about the vanity involved here, my photographer friend took this picture specifically for my book jacket, although I never wore a skirt I put one on for this photo. We were in beautiful sunny St. Petersburg Florida and it didn’t even occur to me to go outdoors. I had yet to learn about the benefits of natural light but I knew the benefits of air-conditioning.

I was 30 pages into my book. I would only make it to page 33 but on the day that this picture was taken I didn’t yet know that my grandfather would die in a few days, and I was in no way prepared for the toll it would take on me, and my family, physically, academically, really in all areas of life.

The picture brings back details that I am sure are evident because it was in hiding for so long. I can feel the texture of my top in my hands, a fine terry like fabric with intricate little loops.I took the advice to “wear something neutral” ultra seriously. Once in a while over the years I would wonder “whatever happened to the paisley skirt?” It was a satiny one-size-fits all wrap-around that I would later wear through two pregnancies during that stage where nothing fits, but you aren’t ready to face maternity fashion.

I feel the salty breeze coming through the windows when I see the photo. In the background: a print that was popular in the day, the hand giving a daisy to a hand thing. That reminds me that the picture was not taken in my room, and I wonder whose room it was.

You would think I would hate this picture for some of the memories it provides but mostly I remember my friend taking it, at a time when we both believed anything was possible.

Stay tuned for some other scenes from inside the box.

jayesbrain turns two!

Jayesbrain turns this many!

Jayesbrain turns this many!

If you count Prodigy, Internet Relay Chat, the now defunct Diaryland (Have you backed up your writing lately?), poetry contests, a brief stint of resume writing (and yeah, I’m still irked about one guy that didn’t pay me-thanks for asking) (but it was fun getting a case of Dos XX that time): I’ve been at this a while.

Two posts stand out as most misunderstood, by writing that was unclear and reaching too far. I would like to amend them but I am too lazy to go back, must march forward. I will say this about them:

When I wrote about seeing Johnny Cash, I wrote a very literal account of (me, it’s all about  me) descending the stairs at Madison Square Garden, age 10, thinking I was going to the dreaded circus.. I wrote about this so literally it wasn’t understood, the feedback was kind of “what the hell?”

It wasn’t supposed to be metaphorical. I was telling the story (in my mind, only in MY mind, mind you) . The next second I heard “Hello. I’m Johnny Cash.” He seemed small on the distant stage, but I could tell it was him, by the “gravel in his gut and the spit in his eye…” I wanted to take the reader along with me on an exciting moment from childhood and instead my post looked like a poorly edited string of typos and dangling participles. I failed miserably, but on the upside I have always wanted to use dangling participles in a sentence.

Another widely misunderstood post was the one that was supposed to be metaphorical, here is where it wouldn’t have hurt to be MORE literal. Go figure. This post, like each post, taught me a lesson. Lessons help with the  momentum.

Last week I was so overcome with media grief, I wrote about Edith Bunker and Robin Williams-and my inbox filled with private messages that said “sorry we can’t read any more of this now.” I got the idea to create a page where folks could expand on ideas or see what I am  up to writing-wise without having to log-into a separate app. Of course as soon as i made this so, I started getting feedback about privacy issues with Facebook. We’ll see how this little experiment goes. The FB page is simply called Jayesbrain. Say hi if you visit.

People dumping ice on themselves (and God bless them for raising hope and funds for ALS) failed to cheer me until my Brit friend sent me this:(turn it up).

So on I trod, hoping to bring a smile to your face and/or make you think, and at times, hoping to do those two simultaneously. Heartfelt t.hanks for riding along.