Filling My Empty Nest
My 16-year-old got her license. Which means that I find myself at home more. This is the kid who has always had practices, rehearsals, lessons, meetings, and shows that fill up her days, and until this week, filled mine with chauffeur duties. I didn’t anticipate how much her getting her driver’s license would alter my own days.
Filling up the unused hours will be no problem for me, but facing the further emptying of my nest created by my daughter’s independence is another thing. My oldest left for college this past fall, which leaves only my baby – a six-foot-tall 13-year-old who is itching for his own independence and has taken to walking upwards of ten miles in a day exploring our countryside and town with his buddy.
Maybe I knew this was coming, even if I didn’t verbalize it. At least that’s my husband’s explanation for why I began fostering dogs last winter and have steadily increased my involvement from fostering one adult dog at a time, to entire litters of puppies for weeks on end. I thought nothing of applying for a kennel license when our numbers went above 25 dogs per year and the County laws required it and didn’t hesitate to rearrange furniture to accommodate a third large dog crate in our living room. Who is this woman?
To his credit, my husband has been supportive on the dogs and mute on the reason for the dogs. It was only when I mused, “Maybe I’m taking in all these puppies because I miss being needed by my kids,” that he said, “Ya think?”
He humors me. That’s why we stayed married.
For so many years, I was overwhelmed, exhausted, but productive, working in the trenches of raising three kids with no end in sight. And then seemingly out of nowhere, the finish line appeared.
I can just make it out on the horizon there, beckoning me.
I can’t imagine days when I won’t have to plan a real dinner, fill my cabinets with Cheezits, grumble about the belongings left on the counter or trip over several pairs of large sneakers when I enter the house. But maybe it’s time to start envisioning that life. The life where I can cook anything I want, instead of something they will eat.
Of late, I’ve pretty much given up the fight in terms of getting anyone to help with the cleaning, or even the dishes. I have no idea where the me went who made lists of chores and filled the kitchen chalk board with meal assignments and pet care duties. She seems to have run off into the night somewhere and whenever I run into her and ask, she says, “Oh, they’ll do those things when they have their own place. I’m tired of nagging. I don’t want that to be my legacy.”
Instead, I’m putting my caregiving and training efforts into random dogs who enter our lives for only a few weeks and hopefully exit our lives happier, healthier, and a little closer to being housebroken. Basically, I’m still raising children – just on a smaller scale.
After all, that’s the same goal I have for my kids when they move out, right? We all want to raise kids who are happy, healthy, and more or less, housebroken.
#emptynest #parenting #fosterdogs
Guess What I Won!??!
So I was nominated for a blogging award! (But don’t get too excited because it’s not that kind of award – no money, no fame, no limo ride or red carpet.)
The Liebster Award (and I have yet to get to the bottom of how it got its name) is basically a chainletter for bloggers.
Now, I’m gonna confess right here that I’m that person who never holds up her end of the deal on chain letters. Thankfully, their popularity has waned, but even in its hay day, I was a nonparticipant.
Some of the chain letters would say, “choose the five people you think are most likely to do X…” and for some crazy reason a perfectly reasonable friend of mine would think I was one of those five people. But I never added my recipe, sent the dollar, answered the question, etc., etc., etc. I hit delete (or in the dinosaur days – the recycling basket) and hoped the friend would never mention the letter. Sometimes I even avoided said friend for a while, just to be sure.
So what happens now with this award and why, pray tell, am I bothering with the requirements?
Here’s what I (and any of you poor schmucks I nominate) have to do:
But, will I do this? And why would I do this?
I suppose I’m doing this already, right? Gone this far, no turning back and such.
Basically, I’m only doing this to be polite. I don’t know the blogger who nominated me, but she’s new at this and I looked at her new blog and, well, she’s real. She’s an honest to goodness nice person and pretty good writer. And she has three kids. (I have three kids, so that makes her one of us moms who are outnumbered and overwhelmed more than we are not.) Elaine’s blog is called ThreePlusOneEqualsFive. It’s charming and funny and well done and it has nothing to do with math. Check it out.
Now, you have two options. One is to stop reading because now I’m going to attempt to follow through on my obligations – answer the questions, nominate the bloggers, assign them questions. You don’t have to get involved. You’re free to go.
Your second option is to keep reading this terribly long post and I’ll try to make it interesting.
So first off, thanks Elaine! (I think)
Ten Questions for me from Elaine:
I have a bit of a blogging fetish. While, this is a new blog for me, I’ve been at it for nearly a decade with Kid Friendly Organic Life which is in its twilight years and only gets occasional posts. Next, I started The Mama Load as a place to put my parenting essays because I’m so bad at backing up my files. (Really!) Another Good Dog is my most popular blog because, well, people like dogs more than organic food or children. I write that one to highlight the plight of so many dogs in the rescue system who need homes. And then there’s this blog, My Life in Paragraphs, which is my newest. This one got started because now that I’m a famous author (humor me), I needed a place to write about writing and drum up business, but mostly because of the aforementioned blogging fetish.
2. Who is your favorite celebrity to follow on twitter and why?
Twitter is my new guilty pleasure. I’m spending untold hours there. My favorite celebrity to follow is Anne Lamott because she is so crazy funny and poignant and makes me wish I’d written whatever she writes. Anne is my hero.
3. What was the last thing you purchased outside of groceries?
Chicken feed. True.
4. How do you get rid of stress?
I have many remedies. Being on this planet for almost (gasp) fifty years, raising three crazy-smart-creative-conniving kids, and trying to make it as a novelist, requires this. I run when possible, drink too much wine too often, take long baths (and fall asleep in the tub, hopefully this won’t be how I die), but mostly I write. And write. And write.
5. What is your favorite quote?
This one is hard. I’m a quote collecting person. Hmmm… I could easily waste WAY too much time on this one. Instead, I’ll go with the one in my email signature –
"The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world."- Paul Farmer
6. What is your earliest memory?
I hate this question. I have so very few memories of my childhood. I don’t know what this is. I didn’t have a particularly difficult or traumatic childhood. I blame it on my brain pruning too many memories. When I think really hard about it, I do remember being at the ocean and being knocked down by a wave and the water covering my head. I thought I was going to die and then my dad scooped me up and laughed. I’m not sure why that one sticks in my memory but maybe it was my first near-death experience. So I guess I owe my dad a thank you for saving my life. Thanks, Dad.
7. If you could rewind the last 24 hours is there anything you would change and why?
I don’t think there’s anything I would change. Except maybe I wouldn’t have eaten that second chocolate chip cookie last night while watching Madam Secretary. I had no red wine, so there really wasn’t any point.
8. You wake up, the sun is shining, you have no responsibilities for the day – what do you do?
Oh boy, I might make a few enemies here.
In less than two weeks, I will be living this fantasy question! My husband and I are spending 7 days on Grand Cayman Island with my little brother and his beautiful wife to celebrate our landmark birthdays (this gets us out of throwing surprise parties for each other). So, my plan for these responsibility-free days is to get up, go for a run, snorkel RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY CONDO, lounge on the beach or visit some awesome spot on the island, read too many books, and then drink too many rum drinks and maybe do a little dancing and lots of laughing. Oh, and there will be no children, dogs, chickens, or horses to feed! I do plan to post pictures on Facebook while I’m there because for WAY too many years, I’ve had to endure the pictures other people post of their winter vacations while I was stuck breaking ice out of buckets and falling on my ass on the driveway. Like my Facebook writer page if you want to sign up for this torture.
9. What do you love most about where you live?
The lack of people. It’s pretty rural where we are and I like that. I also like the fall. That’s about it. I’m not planning on staying here forever.
10. Do you have a nickname and how did you get it?
I don’t have many nicknames. When I was in high school, a few people called me “Face” or “CaraFace” because my name means “face” in Spanish and we all took Spanish 1 our first year and it was in the vocabulary list that first week. I wish we’d taken Italian because then they’d all call me “Dear,” or Irish, because then they’d all call me, “Friend.” In elementary school, I also got, “Carrot Head” and “Freckle Face” because kids were much less sensitive back in the day. I’ve reverted back to my childhood name, Cara Sue as my pen name because I have no nickname and it seems much more interesting than Cara.
Okay so that was super fun. For me. Now it’s time to pick out the next bunch of suckers, er, Liebster Award Winners!
Okay nominees! Here’s your questions:
Okay, that’s it. Done. I’d like to thank the academy, Elaine, and all my adoring fans for this wonderful award. I think.
What twitter Does For Me
I used to hate twitter. I complained about twitter on this very blog as recently as a few months ago. I resisted twitter for too long and now I couldn’t really tell you why.
Actually, I could.
I resisted twitter because it seemed so anonymous. It was too focused on quantity, not quality. When I surfed my feed it seemed filled with an awful lot of blather and retweets of the same blather. All those hashtags of gobbledygook made no sense. #I'mtoogoodfortwitter
I would still maintain that is the case, but I’ve discovered how to make my own twitter experience more substantial. #buildabettertwitter
I’m going for a quality twitter that is full of relationships and real people who could be and might be- friends. #realtwitterfriends
It is taking some intentional efforts and not a little time (but I try to do it mostly while walking on my treadmill desk so I don’t feel too guilty).
Instead of following anyone and everyone willy-nilly, as seems to be the strategy of many. I’m being picky. I’m following people who seem like people I’d enjoy sitting down with for a cup of tea or a glass of wine. (Except the dogs that I’m following, I don’t like dogs who wine. Badabumpbump. There seem to be an inordinate number of dogs with their own twitter feeds). #bepickyandfollowdogs
This takes time. I have to read bios. If I like the bios, I have to visit the twitter page. And read it. And maybe click a link and read that. #Ifollowcoolbiosandthatrhymes
Some people are easy. I can simply read their bio and know I like them – they mention dogs or horses, writing, my politics (notice I’m not mentioning the color of those politics), wine, annoying children, or something bizarre, like one woman talked about her affinity for mashed potatoes. Those people, I automatically follow. #kindredspiritsandmashedpotatolovers
Others, might pique my interest, but have too many hashtags or braggy stuff in their bios. I don’t want to follow people who are all about numbers or contests or free stuff or only pushing their product. Still, I give them the chance and check out their feed. #nojudgmentuntilnecessary
My process is getting faster as I’m learning to assess a twitter page more quickly:
Naked people? Nope, won't follow that. #nonakedpeopleonmyfeedkidscouldbewatching
Too pushy or judgmental with the politics? I’ll pass. #noobnoxiouspeopleormeanpeople
No original content- only retweets? Not for me. #nolazytweetersbeoriginal
I love the people who post their own pictures and thoughts. I love funny people, but I love sincere people more. #lovesincerityandrealpeople
When anyone follows me or follows me back, I always message them. I look for a connection to mention or a post I liked. I try to find some way to put some substance to our connection. Sometimes this goes, unmentioned, but most people message me back. Sometimes we start chatting. Sometimes we become friends. #FRIENDS!
I’m going to be one of the guest hosts for a Facebook Book launch party next week for another author I met through twitter. #TEONJAN19 (that’s the actual hashtag for the event! But you can sign up HERE to join me on Monday and win free stuff)
Another new friend on twitter, who is a lawyer, agreed to read the court scenes in my YA manuscript to be sure I got it right. #newcontactsareawesomebenefit
I’ve chatted with friends all over the world. I’m even considering putting up a map in my office and placing pins in the spots spots where I’ve made twitter connections. It would fill up fast. I’m friends with a third grade class in Kansas, folks in countries I've never even heard of, a bunch of people in Oz, and several neighbors who live right down the road. Maybe someday I’ll take a twitter road trip and meet some of these people! #twitterroadtriptomeetmytwerps
I suppose twitter is a chameleon. It’s whatever you want it to be. If you just want to amass numbers and impress the world (or an agent/editor/publisher), you can do that. You can even outsource it. There’s a gazillion businesses out there who will do it for you. #buyyourownfollowingifyouwant
But if you want to learn something, meet interesting people, make friends, network with cool people, and explore the world, you can do that, too. I’m reformed. I love twitter. #Ihearttwitter
For those of you who don’t know (and perhaps may not even have the slightest interest but you’re still reading, aren’t you?), my novel, I’m Not Her, was published by The Story Plant. The Story Plant is a small press in the scheme of things. In my opinion, there’s good things and bad things about publishing with a small press (as opposed to one of the BIG 5 publishing houses – which used to be the BIG 6 until Random House and Penguin merged). Let me list them for you.