Category Archives: Life

The Sunday List, 5 Do’s and a Don’t

Happy Sunday!!

And that means the Happy Sunday List here on The Novel Way.
This past week has been INSANE with life. Writing and prepping for a contest, openhouses, and then there’s that whole work thing I have to show up for.
I’m not gonna lie… I’m a little fuzzy this morning 🙂
While I was contemplating my “list” this morning, (yes, technically it should be done already, but it’s not.  No judging.) I was also getting drawn into my latest Summer Read, The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke.
Having followed Liz and Lisa from the beginning, I remember they used to post 5 Do’s and a Don’t interviews with various authors for their website.
It was always one of my favorite things.
I do love a good list.
So, in honor of Open House Season, and the release of their book, I present to you 5 Do’s and a Don’t for graduates.
It’s a win, win, win. The win trifecta.
I warned you I was fuzzy.

5 Do’s and a Don’t
Do

1. Do remember your parents have sacrificed a lot (all willingly) to get you to this point in life. Make sure they know how much you appreciate it!

2. Do find a way to give back. If you’re an athlete, help with summer camps. Bookworm? Volunteer at a literacy group. There are so many ways to give back that don’t have to take you out of your comfort zone. It’s amazing how good you’ll feel with this ‘do’.

3. Speaking of comfort zones… Do get out of yours once and a while. How will you ever know what you’re passionate about if you do take some chances? Living life means you have to get outside the box every now and then.

4. Do enjoy the ride. There will be a lot of ups and downs in your life, sort of like a rollercoaster. Always remember that there’s another hill coming your way. Life rarely moves in a straight line, unless you’re at the end. Embrace every part of the rise and fall.

5. Do remember the big picture is made of small moments. Make sure you’re aware of both of them, and never give too much weight to one or the other. Balance will be your best friend in life. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

Don’t

1. Don’t change who you are for anyone else. This is big. Huge. And easy to forget. We all get caught up with being in the right crowd, or having the most ‘likes’. Staying true to yourself isn’t always easy, but it will make you happier in the long run. Stop worrying about what other people think, and make choices based on what you want. What’s in your heart? Now that’s what matters.
Okay, that’s it! Another Sunday List on the blog!
Have a great week.
Happy Reading… 🙂

Lessons from a Super-Nanny

No, I’m not really a Super-Nanny.  They say I am but boy-oh-boy, if I am, then we all need to aim higher.

BUT I have learned a great deal from my two years as a nanny for triplets, and given this is the month we celebrate Moms, I wanted to share with you some of this knowledge.

Looking back on raising my own kids, I can see how stressed and anxious I was all the time.  I honestly feel like I didn’t enjoy the experience at all and spent most of my young mom days worrying about them.  And me.  And life.  And my marriage.  It’s crazy the places your mind will go when it doesn’t have enough sleep or balance.

So let me say these words first… Everything is going to be okay.  You cannot ruin a child, especially one you love more than anything else.  Even on your worst parenting days (we all have them), your kids are just fine and will wake up the next morning ready to make you crazy all over again.

I promise.

That being said, here are a few other reminders you can bank on…

10 Lessons From the Nanny

  1. The most important trait you will need as a parent is a sense of humor.  If you can’t learn to laugh at A) yourself and B) your life, then this parenting thing is going to feel like a really long rollercoaster ride in the front seat.  Humor will at least make the tough stuff more doable, or at least less fearful.
  2. Your mood/reaction is always a choice.  Patience is a choice.  This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned.  Parenting is exhausting, monotonous, exhilarating, crazy, fun, scary, and did I mention exhausting?  I think I did.  Start every day knowing you’re just going to be challenged in many ways, and know how you want to react… or not.  It really is that simple.  And there will be days when they get the best of you – it happens – cut yourself some slack, and start over tomorrow.  Grace over perfection, people… grace over perfection.  Thank you, Emily Ley.
  3. At some point you’ll have to learn the beautiful art of balance.  Total engagement and quiet time.  High active time and reading on the lap time.  Kids of all ages need balance, just like you do.  No one can be 100% in the moment at all times.  Not even kids.  Sometimes they just want to chill out too.  Let them and take the moment for yourself.
  4. Kids are messy.  I don’t think anything could prepare me for the yogurt eating/milk pouring/condiment loving children that I am caring for now. Nothing.  While it’s true I can be a little “structured” when it comes to clean, I have learned to embrace the mess.  It just is what it is, and me stressing about a mess at any meal time is just a losing battle.  See #2.  At the end of each day you can take 15 minutes to pick up and reorganize.  Until then, let it go.
  5.  After my second son was born, I literally couldn’t believe how different he was from my first.  Polar opposite, to be specific.  And they have remained different for the duration.  Every child has their own personality, especially in triplets.  It is amazing to see the differences all at once.  Given this information, it means you have to learn to parent each child a little different.  Figure out what makes them tick and you’re ahead of the game.  One size does not fit all with kids.
  6. Teach your children compassion.  Helping them respect someone else’s feelings will be one of those gifts that keeps on giving.  Soon they’ll be teens, and you’ll be blown away at the kindness they have for others.  I am so not kidding here.  Somehow I have managed to raise two boys in a social media world, and they are genuinely good people who care about others.  I truly believe this starts when they’re young, and as a parent you have to make sure they know how their actions have repercussions, both good and bad.
  7. Give them the gift of forgiveness.  The only way you can teach your kids, anyone really, is through your actions.  Kids learn forgiveness when they see it happening in their own home.  Let go of grudges.  Don’t hold past mistakes over their heads.  Let them know that everyone makes mistakes… yes, even parents.
  8. Living in Michigan, weather is a part of our daily life.  Good, bad, and ugly can happen on any given day, and sometimes all three in the same day.  We are lucky enough to escape the weather catastrophes that a lot of other places have, but 40 and grey is a very common forecast around here.  This is another one of those things you just have to embrace.  The triplets got rain boots last week, and I was seriously grateful for the couple rainy days we had, so we could go outside and splash in puddles.  Did I do that when my own kids were 2?  Not a chance.  I would curse the rain.  But I’ve learned that nothing will make you tolerate bad weather like a trio of stir crazy two year-olds bouncing off the walls.  Nothing.
  9. Capture the moments, but save some for your memories too.  Sometimes in my quest for the perfect picture for their parents or grandparents, I realize that I’m missing out on some pretty amazing moments too.  Kids need to see our faces, not our phones all the time.  Again, this is about balance, and I’m still learning this one.  Capture the quiet times and be present in the chaotic ones.  Everyone wins with this one.
  10. Plan, plan, plan, and then remain flexible.  Nothing with kids goes according to plan.  Well, almost never.  Have a plan, but also know that it will probably change many times.  That really amazing image in your head of taking a trip to the zoo?  That could be ruined before you pay for admission.  Plan, but be prepared for anything to come your way.  Learning to go with the flow will save you many headaches.

There are so many things that I would do over as a parent, but as I said earlier… they turned out okay.  I didn’t totally ruin them.  If I had this list when I started out, it might have saved myself some parental trauma, but would they have turned out differently?  I’m not sure.  All I know is that being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have.  There are highs and lows, and the words it’s just a phase will be said almost daily.

Love your children.  Be kind.  Everything is going to be okay.

xo, Mo

The Why

Why do we need another blog about books?

What exactly is The Novel Way?

What if no one reads this?

These are the questions rattling around my head for the past month or so since I’ve decided to create this blog.  In truth, I’ve always had this blog.  Go ahead, look at the archives… I’ll wait.  It was always just something I did for me and a few friends who knew about it.  No Facebook pages, no Instagram accounts… just the words.  Reading and writing have always just gone hand in hand for me, and while I always wanted a bigger audience, I was probably too afraid of what other people would think to put myself out there.  The phrase what other people think should be removed from our thought process.

So, back to the questions and the ever present WHY?  Why do we need another book blog?  Short answer, we don’t.  Just like we don’t need another parenting blog or healthy living blog.  There are certainly great ones out there, right?  But this won’t stop other people from starting new ones every single day.

The Novel Way isn’t just about books.  It’s about life.  It’s about finding time in your day to do more things you love, like reading.  I spent too many years miserable in a job that made me feel like there was no way out.  Like nothing I did would ever make a difference.  I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be.  Then I left, and a different world opened up to me.  No, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.  There are those sweet baby Jesus moments days when I’m counting down the hours till naptime.  But, the one thing I’ve learned about myself is that making a difference is important to me.  I like to help others find a book or solve a problem.  It’s literally in my DNA.  And If I can make you smile or laugh along the way, well that would be perfection.

So, yeah… that’s why.  My goal is to inspire you… to read, to try a different perspective, to make your load a little lighter.

If I can get one person to feel happier after reading something I wrote, then HELL YES I’m in.  Love a book I recommend, please leave a comment.  If this isn’t for you, that’s okay.

Either way, thanks for reading 🙂

See you next time!

 

 

 

 

The Sunday List

Starting today, every Sunday will include a Favorites List for the week. I have always been a list maker, and it seems that the older I get, the more I like them. I love to check things off, to find ways to praise or encourage, and of course books to read. Is there anything better?
The name alone, The Sunday List, comes from a book I read years ago and loved her idea of “tweaking” her life list every Sunday.  My list will be different each week, as opposed to her static list.  Not that I don’t have a “bucket list” but for the sake of your sanity and mine, I’ll spare you that weekly post.  Think of it like David Letterman’s Top Ten list, but without all the snark.

Well, maybe.  I make no promises.

The only promise I will make is this week’s list comes to you from the center of grief, and the only way I get through it is to write about it.  I took a running class years ago, and the only thing I remember from that class was her weekly comment, “Embrace the suck, people.  Embrace the suck.”  And she was right.  Sometimes running sucked, and if you didn’t expect that fact and embrace it, then you were done before you started.  So, I’m lacing up my literary bootstraps, and putting one foot in front of the other.

This week we had to say goodbye to the best dog ever, Goldie Girl.  And when I say best dog ever, I mean BEST DOG EVER.  Fourteen years ago, we drove to Ohio to see about a dog.  We live in Michigan.  Everyone but us knew we weren’t just going to “see” her.  We walked into the foster home, and this beautiful golden sat down in front of us and placed her paw in my son’s open hand.

“Thanks for coming!  When are we leaving???” She was asking.

The rest is history…

Goldie’s Top Ten List

  1. Everyone loved Goldie, and she loved everyone.  Except for the mailman.  To her, he was an intruder that should be barked at until he fled the house at a rapid pace.  It made us giggle every time.
  2. I can’t really talk about Goldie without mentioning one thing that drove us crazy about her.  Hair.  OMG, the hair.  It’s ironic to me that God created the most gentle and beautiful creatures on the planet, and then gave them hair that may or may not stay on their little doggy frames.  Usually not.
  3. After a solid year of provoking our cat, Putter, she finally won her over.  I’m not sure I would ever call them friends, but eventually it did become friendly.  Putter would even find his own way to play with Goldie.  It usually involved thwapping her on the nose as she walked by, but hey, it was progress.  And it made a funny little hollow sound I can still hear in my head.  It’ s the little things… 🙂
  4.  Before her hips started to give out, she would jump on our bed every night and lay in between us.  She would stay up there till we fell asleep, then get down and sleep by the bed.  Every.  Single.  Night.  It was her way of helping us fall asleep and was one of my favorite things about her.
  5. Playtime was Goldie’s favorite thing about her humans.  And with two boys, there was never a lack of playtime.  Hide and Seek with my oldest was her game of choice.  He’d throw a toy upstairs.  She’d chase it.  And by the time she came back down, he’d be hiding.  It was hours of entertainment.  Literally.  It didn’t matter if he hid in in the bathroom every time.  She was still so excited to find him.  Paper airplanes were her second game of choice.
  6. As she grew older, she learned to hate the camera (our phones) as much as George Clooney hates the paparazzi.  She would duck, turn, and walk away every time.  We still managed to find ways to capture the most photogenic dog on the planet.  Her eyes always seemed to be talking to us.
  7. Begging was not beneath our Goldie Girl.  Whether it was breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snack, she was on us like stink on a monkey.  Making popcorn was music to her ears, and smelling bacon would create so much anxiety in her, she would be barking at us by the time we sat down.  Her head in our laps, brown eyes looking up through her lashes for effect, she would blink her way to getting whatever was in our hands.  We couldn’t say no to that face.
  8. Goldie was a weather extremist.  If it was 95 and humid, she would lay in the open sun on the deck.  If it was 5 and snowing, she was laying on the deck.  We couldn’t understand why she seemed to be such a glutton for bad weather.  But that was how she was happiest.  In the extremes…
  9. Love.  To know Goldie was to love Goldie.  Our friends and family seem to be as sad as we are.  The support we have received has been nothing short of amazing.  It’s been a blessing for sure in this dark spot.
  10. As much as she has taught us to love, she is now teaching us about loss.  For my boys, this is the first real death to them that they can feel true, honest grief.  They have learned to reach out to friends, and to us as parents.  We have all learned that we never go through anything alone.  Good, bad, and ugly, we are all together in this world.

Josh Billings once wrote, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”  We have been forever changed by this furry soul that came to us so many years ago.

Thank you, Goldie, for teaching us all how to love more.  You will be missed…

 

Clarity

Simple Definition of clarity

  • : the quality of being easily understood

  • : the quality of being expressed, remembered, understood, etc., in a very exact way

  • : the quality of being easily seen or heard

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary
Seems clear, right?
But what if the “subject” needing to be easily understood is little ole me.
Not so clear.  Game over.
It seems the older I get, the more time I spend in a confused state, never sure what I want or need, let alone what’s for dinner on any given night.  It’s true, I’ve spent a huge part of the year fighting, resisting, and procrastinating what I know to be true.
I am a writer.
I’m not exactly fighting that fact, but it’s more of a priority thing.  A focus thing.  And a habit (or lack of) thing.
I’ve done everything possible to try and make myself write, forcing it upon myself till the words are literally hiding out in an unknown part of my brain.  It’s crazy, and the only way I was able to sit down and get some words out tonight is to finally stop the internal battle, and cut myself some slack.  I literally gave myself permission to stop writing earlier this week, and only then did I let my thoughts float up to the surface.
It still feels a bit stiff, and I’ve deleted more than I’ve written, but here are words, formed into sentences, on a specific subject.
Clarity.  Or something close to it.
I can’t promise anything consistent, only that I will continue on this path that is way less traveled for me.  I am learning to treat myself better, kinder, like a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.  Someone I really like to be with.  I am learning that managing two families is a really good reason to be too exhausted to write, and that this feeling won’t last forever.  I am also learning to manage myself better, opting out of the wine every night philosophy that makes me feel worse than when I started.  Cutting out on sugar… always a work in progress, and eating more real food, less junk.
None of that is easy, but I believe it’s more important than worrying about a writing habit that is adding to my pressure.
So, for now, I am taking a writing break 🙂  The irony isn’t lost on me.
If you’re still reading… thank you.  If not, I probably wouldn’t have either.  I’m only hoping that someday all of this will finally make sense to me.  And that each word I put out there is leading me closer to where I’m supposed to be.
Now that would be really cool….

what I know for sure

Is there anything better than a birthday?  I used to hate my birthday… didn’t want the attention, the hassle, or people going out of their way for me.  I never wanted to put anyone out for lil’ ole me.

But that’s changed.  Birthdays?  Bring them on.  The happier the better in my book, and this year’s didn’t disappoint.

I also use birthdays at a reset during the year for me.  Kind of a new year in the middle of the year.  A new year for me!

So, last week, I did a lot of thinking about how I want the next year, my 48th year, to look like.  In doing so, I also started to think about what I already know and have learned so far.

This is the list I’ve come up with…

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I know gratitude changes everything.

I know loving someone isn’t always easy.

I know that things aren’t supposed to make you happy, but sometimes they do.

I know I haven’t even begun to know what I’m capable of.

I know my body doesn’t respond well to sugar.

I know I can’t live without coffee, wine, or the occasional diet coke from McDonalds.

I know writing makes me calm.

I know that my mind has many voices, and many of them are unkind.

I know I have a Target addiction.

I know I miss my mom more than anything and would be a different person if she were still alive today.

I know books make my life better.

I know being a mom is the best thing I’ve ever done.  Being a nanny is the second best thing.

I know I was put on this planet to take care of other people.

I know that I will never be happy with my weight, but I can learn to accept it.  Still a work in progress.

I know life is too short, and we are not here to worry about our appearance or what others think.

I know I worry about money too much.

I know a shot of Fireball can change an entire day… or night.

I know things like photography, knitting, and yoga are things that will make my life better.

I know you will usually get what you focus on.

I know genuine kindness changes everything.  Friendships.  Marriages.  Families.  Work.  It’s all better when you approach with kindness.

I know my dad is a really great man.

I know Alzheimers is a horrible thing for a family.

I know I could go on and on and on….

The truth is, we all know so much about our own lives, and each list is different, unique, and amazing.  I believe it’s a great way to see your life differently and appreciate what you know.

Take some time this week, give yourself 20 minutes to sit down and write a list of what you know.  It can be silly or serious.  What makes you tick, and more importantly, what are the things you’re grateful for knowing?

I hope you all have a great week.  Comment to let me know what you know for sure…

 

Another School Year Ends…

It is beyond comprehension that my youngest is done with his Freshman year of high school today.

I mean, he was just a terror baby, climbing everything in sight yesterday.IMG_0407 [110340]

Right?

Nope, yesterday he was “studying” for exams while participating in a group chat and laughing.

My mantra when he was little was, “He’s going to be a great adult… he’s going to be a great adult…” and for the most part, that is remaining true.  Not yet an adult, but he is definitely heading in the right direction.  Fingers crossed 🙂

But this post isn’t about him.  Don’t worry, there will be others, but more attention is the last thing this kid needs.

No, this post is about time.

Time flies.  Where did the time go?  I don’t have enough time.  Good times.  Bad times.  High time.

I’ve written about this before, but I know it’s needs repeating… daily.  When we’re caught up in the stuff that makes us so FullSizeRender [118355]busy – work, practices, sports, emails, text, social media, BOOKS, worrying, fretting, planning, and whatever else we do with our time – we lose the gift of the presence.  The here and now.  We constantly go through our day living in the past or present, planning for the next great moment.

But then we’re never really “there” to appreciate the moment we had planned for so long.  I think this is why I have started to appreciate pictures so much.  They stop time.  Literally.  Pictures capture a moment that will pass by in seconds, but that memory will last forever.  I’ve even started to look for things that will represent how an ordinary moment can be extraordinary.  Baby feet, crossed.  A pair of wine glasses on a beautiful table.  Six grown siblings, posing in a photo booth.  Wedding shoes, kicked off for dancing.

Little, tiny things that tell a story of that moment.  Saved forever in time.

I have learned to look for these moments and take as many pictures as I can.  Sure, not everyone will appreciate them, but I do.  I know when I look at them, I’ll be taken back to that moment and smile, because the moment wasn’t lost.  Time didn’t fly away.

So make it your quest, this Summer – remember it goes by so fast – to capture the little moments.  Look around you and see what it really is you want to remember in any given moment, and capture it.  Whether it’s with your memory, phone, or camera.  Just save it somehow.

Happy Thursday!

 

 

Life

Sometimes, books come to you and find a way into your life because it’s something you need to read at that point.  I just finished reading The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern (PS, I Love You), and wow is all I have to say.  I literally read this in two days because I couldn’t put it down… it hit so close to home for me.

In short, it’s one of those books that makes you go Hmmmmm.

Am I guilty of reading books that make you think and reevaluate how you’re living?  Absolutely.  It’s almost like there’s a new genre of books called self-help fiction, and I’m all over it.  I got this.  And yes, writing one of my own.

The only thing different about this book is the amount of humor infused in there.  I found myself laughing out loud at the witty dialog throughout the book.  These characters say some pretty funny things here.  There were also times when I felt like she had read my journal, and I identified with the main character so closely it was eerie.

The basic premise of the book is about a woman who loses sight of her life after her boyfriend breaks up with her, and after many years of bad choices and avoiding anything important, she has an appointment with her Life.  In this book, her Life is an actual person who is a true reflection of her… well, life.

And so it got me thinking…. Of course it did, you’re thinking right now.  What would my Life look like

if it were a real person?  After much pondering, I came up with Maxine from the Hallmark cards.

Seriously.

She’s self-depricating.
She’s funny.
She’s a little round through the middle.
And she looks like she needs some attention.  Okay, a lot.

It’s not lost on me that I would find someone twice my age to reflect my Life, because that is how I feel most days.  See how she’s slightly hunched over?  That’s what I look like when I get out of bed 🙂  I haven’t taken care of my Life in years, and spend a huge amount of time just trying to get to the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the year.

Vicious cycle.

So in the Kristine fashion, I have posted a picture of the last paragraph of the book that I took last night just so I can keep those words with me.  It’s not really a spoiler alert, because I do believe the book is pretty predictable and this doesn’t really tell you everything that happens, but if you’re not wanting to read this I get it.

It’s completely true that we spend the majority of our Life taking care of everyone around us, leaving us feel completely drained and empty.  It’s as if our Life is not our own, but belongs to everyone we love.  It’s commendable, but after a while, we need to get a Life of our own and nurture that one just for us.

This gives a whole new meaning to get a life.

I beg of you, read this book.  Is it the best book ever written?  Probably not, but the story and the meaning are so true, and I think everyone could benefit from treating their Life better.

Get a Life… and then take care of it.

It’s officially the first day of summer!  Celebrate and happy reading 🙂

speed bumps

I have been beating myself up lately because I haven’t been the best company.  Work has been insane, death has been living up to its promise of coming in three’s, and I haven’t been able to shut my brain off long enough to read anything.  I don’t think I would classify it as depression yet, but there is definitely a speed bump in the road that I seem to keep running over.

But today, as I was waiting for Evan and going over my day, I realized that throughout all of it, today included, I have had the choice of going around the speed bump.  Avoiding it all together.  So often our first reaction is that quick-tempered, this-isn’t-what-I-expected-and-I’m-pissed reaction.
I’ve perfected that reaction.
And now I think it’s time to find a new one.  
Choosing to make the most out of whatever comes our way is what will keep us from going off the deep end wanting to sleep the day away.  It’s funny, because I do this automatically at work.  I problem solve and can switch to plan B so easily, it’s almost as if there was no plan A to begin with. 
Why I haven’t figured out how to apply this to LIFE yet is beyond me.  
I know, I know… baby steps.  And it will be with baby steps that I learn to walk around those damn speed bumps.
Sorry it’s been so long… hope you’re having a better start to this year than I am 🙂
Happy Wednesday!