Looking Back and Forward, With My Favorite Person by My Side

13088blogLife is very different today than that afternoon 28 years ago.

I look at the photos and am struck with not how young we were (though there is that) but how incredibly happy we were. Our faces showed incredible joy, hope, promise. We were right to feel this way, but we had no idea of how life would challenge us, what obstacles would be thrown in our path, how difficult things would sometimes get.

I remember looking into the eyes of the man I adore on that day and seeing complete confidence. There was not even the slightest indication that he was nervous or questioned this very big step we were taking. This fact terrified me. I had been certain that he was the one; that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man, but I hadn’t realized that he was just as sure. The intensity of his gaze unnerved me a little. The conviction in his voice while committing to me, “Til death do us part,” calmed me. We really were doing this.

Over the years the feeling of complete joy has not been there every day, but the happiness has been present overall. My husband has given me a lot. He has given me tangible gifts: diamonds, pearls, candy and flowers, but more importantly, so much more. We quickly went from newlyweds to parents and had all the joys and challenges that come along with it. After our second was born, I was gifted the chance to be a stay-at-home mom, something that I was clearly meant to be. For a while, he worked 50 and 60 hour weeks to make this work. Children three and four came along and he continued to provide. All the while he was doing this, he was still giving of himself.

He provided emotional support, through mommy melt-downs and personal disappointments. No matter what his other obligations were, he managed to find a way to be present for anything of importance to me. He has taken on responsibilities that no one else would or could and stepped in when he saw there was a need. He also has pushed me to be, well, better. I am the person I am, largely because of him.

More recently he has thrown his full support behind my dream: to actually make a living as a writer. He has been patient and encouraging and likely has no idea how very much that means to me.

The 28th anniversary may not seem like a milestone for most, but it is for us. This is the year that our lives are taking a turn and we are looking up an unknown path. Our kids are not quite on their own, but they are also not quite here. Where we are going is not yet determined, but I am happy that I know who I am going with. I look forward to the journey.

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Networking at Its Best

As a mom, I have learned that I can and should not try to do it all alone. When we aren’t focusing on our differences and how we do things differently, moms can help each other be better moms. No one can be strong all the time; we all need someone to lean on, to help us when we are feeling uncertain, overwhelmed, or even under the weather.

I consider myself fortunate to have found my own “Mommy Network,” a group of moms who have helped me through some of the tough times. Through the years, we have done some amazing (and a little crazy) things to help each other out. We have watched each others kids and pets, agreed to be co-VPs of Fundraising at the elementary school, worked together to lead Girl Scout troops, and chaperoned school and scout trips. We have wipes noses and butts of children that are not ours and have cleaned scrapes and applied band aids. We have celebrated each others’ victories and helped pick up the pieces when things went wrong.

I have benefited from being friends with other amazing moms who have taken care of my children at critical times: when one had a high fever and needed to go to the ER, when I thought I was in labor late at night and my parents (who were on call to care for the others) were well over an hour away. They have also made it easier for me to take care of me, without having to drag kids to appointments where they would be sure to be miserable.

My most recent piece to be published, “The Mommy Network,” is over at Her View From Home. Check it out and if you like it, please share. While you are there, take a look at some of the other great pieces this wonderful community has to offer.

 

What a Difference a Year Makes

I am sitting at my desk, with thoughts spinning around in my head. This has become a frequent reality for me and I try to scribble notes as ideas come to me. I have notebooks throughout the house, and have learned to use the memo feature in my phone. Taking a break, I see how different things are toady than just a year ago.

This time last year, I was struggling to get off the couch. I had things to get done, but no motivation to do anything. My head and my heart hurt – a lot. The summer before, I had made significant progress on a novel that I strongly believe in and had planned to complete over the winter months, before spring activities set in and took up my free time. Events and emotions conspired against me and there was simply no way that was going to happen.

Last year was a big one for changes. Several people I love no longer walk among us and my daily routine came to a screeching halt. I was forced to make adjustments, in my schedule and in my attitude. I resumed work on the novel and hit a point where I needed to take a break for a bit. Then I found an online world I had previously been unaware of. Yes, I had read the occasional article that a friend posted on Facebook, but I had used the social media mostly to be, you know, social. It was a tool to keep in touch with family and friends, to share news and photos. I didn’t even consider that there were online avenues to getting my work published.

Before I knew it, I was back into the freelance game, submitting articles to publishers, only now it is all online. There has been no printing of stories, addressing envelopes, finding stamps and the worst, waiting for weeks for an answer. My first week, I submitted four pieces and within 2 weeks had answers back on them all (three of these have been accepted for publication).

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. I have plenty of rejections, most of which have been very polite, even encouraging. I have been setting weekly goals, but am not beating myself up if I do not reach them. The holidays slowed me down, so I submitted fewer pieces, but I found time to get in some scribbles which will find their way into future stories. My husband, kids and dog have been patient with me as I have been rediscovering myself and embarking on this wonderful new ride. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family as I work toward establishing a career, a concept that until recently I couldn’t see myself having (I was content with being simply Mom).

I am trying to form a strategy, to discover new markets, in the circuitous way that I work best (think of a “Family Circus” comic strip). I am realizing that writing is not enough. I need to also be a publicist. I am reminded of the great truth, the more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know. I am learning more about social media and how to use it, both the technical know-how and the practical uses. I am getting frustrated at what I don’t know and how long it sometimes takes to learn new things. This is time that could be spent writing, which is obviously what I would rather be doing. I am coming closer to answering that question – What will I do with the rest of my life?

This week, I have a few new Facebook friends; those who I assume found one of my stories and liked it. Today I am starting a writer page to make it easier for those who want to follow what I am writing to get updates, without having to open up their Facebook lives (and family photos) to me. To make it a little more interesting, I may share some of my older blog posts for those who may not have seen them. I hope to have new material to share regularly and am appreciative of those who are sharing this journey with me, providing encouragement and inspiration. I hope that in doing this, I can reciprocate. We are all in this thing called life together.

Branching Out — On a Limb

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bird, Outer Banks, NC

Now I have done it. I caved to the pressure. I have repeatedly been told I need to expand my online presence. “Facebook is not enough,” they said. “Join us on Snapchat and Instagram,” they said. “You don’t have a Twitter account? You really must.”

Last night, I signed up for Twitter. That is all I did. Under “Your timeline” it informs me “You are now on Twitter” and the conversation begins:

“Tell your friends what’s happening.”
Well, I just got on Twitter, isn’t that obvious?
“Check your timeline.”
There is nothing there.
“Follow, Follow, Follow.”
Okay, but who do I want to follow?
“People and organizations that you are interested in.”
Easier said than done.
Then “Start now!”

Hmm, now I have an account, and a name. It seems that the first post should be something witty, something that will say something about me. Later posts can let the world know what I am doing, but don’t I need to start by giving them a reason to care? Yep, I’ve got nothing. Once I do get an idea, though, what about that limit? I do like concise writing, but that is ridiculous!

With so much out there, how do I chose who and what to follow? An obvious start for me would be authors I enjoy reading. But I will never get any work done if I follow EVERYONE I am interested in. Choosing just a few would be like picking one favorite book. And organizations? I will never have time to read everything posted!

I am not so sure I like the idea of social media bossing me around, but a valid point is made. Why bother joining if I’m not going to use it, so I guess I have to start now. Now you can find me on Twitter: @KimberlyYavo

Reading and Writing and Being Read

To be a writer, you have to be a reader. In the past two months, I have been discovering many new websites, from the mediocre to the excellent. I have read countless articles, for research purposes and for the sheer pleasure of reading (and sometimes both).

Of my recent finds, one of the really good ones is Grown and Flown, which is where my latest post has been published. Grown and Flown focuses on parenting teens through college-age. They have some great articles on their website and share relevant articles from other sources on their Facebook page.

Here is the link to my piece. http://grownandflown.com/my-empty-nest-what-surprised-me/# While you are there, you might want to check out the rest of their site.

Welcome 2016

For me, the year 2015 went out with a whimper, and 2016 arrived quietly. The past month had its challenges and we were living life, day to day, not planning too far ahead. As a result, we found ourselves with no plans for New Years and honestly, were okay with it. We spent the night in, with a nice dinner and then watching TV, switching to the busyness of New Year’s Eve in Times Square around 11:30. Midnight came and went. We listened to the neighborhood sounds and I watched fireworks from my kitchen window.

The past year had many changes. We lost several people we love. Our day to day lives changed dramatically since our youngest went off to college. I found myself without a “job” and took steps to relaunch my career. I made progress in researching my family history and (thanks to technology) found and corresponded with cousins whom I hope to meet in person this year.

Sometimes we need quiet to recharge, to get ready for what is to come. I am looking forward to 2016 and all it has to offer. This is the year I move out of my first half century and there is much I still want to accomplish.

I am happy with the start I made and excited about the idea of once again having a career. I don’t regret my choice to put it on hold; I am very happy that I was able to put all my energy into being Mommy instead of having to juggle roles. It made me a better person and gave me valuable insights (and stories to tell). I am a believer in the idea that I can have it all, just not all at the same time. If I am going to do something, I want to do it well. As I am finding myself again and redefining who I am, I am realizing that in some cases, I don’t have to choose, I can accomplish multiple goals. My plan for the year:

* Finish/fine-tune my book and find a publisher
* Continue to write and submit stories for publication
* Grow my family tree (I am back to 1800 on two lines)
* Continue to make new friends (I am meeting lots of interesting people lately)
* Reconnect with (or meet) family members and old friends
* Get outside and walk more
* Juggle my professional goals and schedule and still be accessible for my husband and kids

This all sounds manageable. I am looking forward to a good year.