Reverb 10: Party

Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

The party of the year occurred on November 6th and 7th. We celebrated Junior’s 1st birthday that weekend. Day 1 we spent with family; day 2 we partied with friends.

Day 1: My grandparents came to visit. I baked homemade pepperoni pizzas. The kids enjoyed chocolate milk, while the adults drank soda. After pizza, we let the guest of honor open presents. He did quite well compared to his older siblings, seemingly knowing what to do with little prompting. The clothes worn matter little when compared to the cake worn by the birthday boy. We spring for Publix cakes when we celebrate our children’s birthdays. Honestly, I’m not skilled at decorating cakes, and it’s just as much a present to the kids as any other gift they receive. Now, Publix offers complementary “smash cakes” with the purchase of a first birthday cake. The idea behind a smash cake is fairly simple — you have a small round cake that you put in front of the baby, who then proceeds to smash it to bits. Junior, a boy who loves to play with his food, dove right in for a delicious first taste of chocolate cake. By the time he was finished, nearly half the cake had been decimated. Cake coated the table and high chair. It covered his face, bib, and clothing. Chunks lay on the floor, chocolaty reminders of the excitement experienced by a little boy celebrating his very first birthday. I can’t say that my grandparents appreciated the messy show of amusement, but my husband and older children giggled with delight.

Day 2: My friend who served as my doula at Junior’s birth brought her three children over to play and eat cake. For about an hour, the children played with cars and legos. The girls played dress up. The birthday boy marveled over the baby, who was a mere two months away from her own birth at the time of Junior’s birth. Then, there was more cake, chocolate milk, and soda. We had saved the remaining half of cake for more demolition the next day, so we brought that back out. Again, my sweet baby boy poked, grabbed, and devoured handfuls of chocolate cake. Apparently, we inspired my friend’s oldest son — he said he wants a smash cake at his next birthday!

Overall, Junior’s birthday was the most fun party of the year. There’s just nothing like watching a baby complete his first full year of life with a cake to celebrate.


Reverb 10: Beautifully Different

Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

On the surface, I possess a very unique birth mark that I’ve come to love. Even though I was picked on and taunted as a child, I still think it’s a beautiful mark that makes me so different from everyone else. And while they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, my unique birth mark absolutely indicates that the personality is just as unique as the mark itself.

I consider myself to be a very complex, complicated individual. I have varied tastes, preferences, opinions, beliefs, and interests. Did you know my master playlist includes both Metallica and Beethoven? My wardrobe contains big, baggy JNCO jeans and brightly colored, feminine skirts and shirts. I like to think my chocolate chip cookies are the very best. The question of cats or dogs/ dogs or cats should be answered with both — actually, my favorite cuddly pets have been guinea pigs.

While it’s the inside that counts, I still fall victim to worrying about my outward appearance. Is that a gray hair? And why is there a pimple developing? Have I gained weight? Unfortunately, our society places so much emphasis on outer beauty that most women have been bred to believe their looks matter. Just when I feel like I’m completely, utterly unattractive, my husband will say something to compliment me. I tell him that his vision’s tainted by his love for me — but today I followed up with, “and that’s alright.” While we might feel unattractive, someone else might think we’re the most beautiful creature they’ve ever seen. So smile, channel some confidence, and remember that it’s all about your mindset.


On a personal note, this is my 300th post. (I always thought I’d quote a movie for this post, but today it seems inappropriate.) It’s taken a little over three years to post that much, but I’ve finally reached this milestone. Since today’s prompt didn’t have much of a manifesting what’s next angle, I’d like to use this opportunity to do so. By this time next year, I’d like to have at least surpassed the 500 mark. Surely there’s no reason I can’t achieve that within the next 365 days.


Reverb 10: Community

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

I really haven’t stumbled onto any new communities either on or offline this year. Most of the amazing communities I’ve discovered have been mainstays for years, actually. However, this is incredibly relevant in regards to my move on the 28th. I will be leaving the state of Florida to live with my aging and disabled in-laws — really, there are so many conveniences for both my family and my husband’s parents with regards to this situation. Aside from moving to a new state, the community itself will be much more rural than I am accustomed to. Apparently it’s within commuting distance of several cities — Chattanooga, Tennessee, for example — and preserves the historical battlegrounds from the American Civil War. I’d imagine the land itself tells many stories. My husband visited the area back in October and reported back that Southern Hospitality is alive and well in Northwest Georgia. I’m particularly used to living in portions of Florida that should be referred to as “New New York” and “New New Jersey,” so this seems a little intriguing to me. Living in Gainesville usually produces encounters with college students and disenfranchised locals, two seemingly opposite groups of people. However, this is what I’ve grown accustomed to.

In 2011, I will be starting life anew among a very different community filled with very different people. I really don’t know how to process this change just yet, but all the signs around me seem to shout, “this is a good thing!” The message that life will turn out okay reverberates through my daily routines. I’m maintaining an open mind and listening to the thoughts flowing around me. A fresh start among new people might be just the thing I need right now.


Reverb 10: Make

Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Somehow I get the idea that food stuffs aren’t necessarily what the prompter had in mind, otherwise we could all very easily answer this. The last thing I made? Oh yeah, that was dinner. A pork meatloaf with green beans and mashed cauliflower. Yes, that would very easily constitute an entire post. However, that seems like cheating. I make food every day — but what about other creative outlets? The last thing I got hands on with happened to be one of my favorite long sleeved shirts. It’s a brown hoodie, and it’s comfortable both by itself and as a second layer to a tank top or tee. I’d torn a hole in one of the sleeves, so I reseamed it. However, that was reviving something that had already been created by some manufacturer.

I really can’t recall any creative endeavors I’ve completed since piecing together my manifestation board for New Hampshire. I’ve been collecting pieces for a career motivation board, but I have yet to sit and begin pasting everything in place. I’ve always had the bad habit of starting projects that I never really finish. I recently left a comment on Gwen Bell’s blog detailing childhood stories I’ve started yet never finished. Time always seems to seep through my fingers like water. There’s never enough time for all the things I’d like to fit in. Too many days I feel that my last day on this planet will be spent ruing all the things I never got around to — and what a pitiful end it would be at that. If I could fabricate time, I would spin as much as possible. Could you imagine that? Having as much time as you needed? It would be a wondrous thing indeed. However, I think it all comes down to cutting out the fluff.

On that note, I’m noticing a recurring theme — too much fluff monopolizing my time. I whine about not having enough time, but then I seem to have plenty of time to devote to my daily internet rituals. Perhaps next year I should work on systematically withdrawing from internet activities that do not directly nourish my soul or feed my creative outlets. How many items truly belong on my Google reader? How much time really belongs to FaceBook? When and how often should I check my email? Sadly, I admit I had grandiose intentions of following Gwen Bell’s lead by weaning myself down to one email check per day. Perhaps the upcoming year will yield better results as I focus more on the here and now, rather than the rat race occurring around me.


Reverb 10: Let Go

Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Wow. So many emotions washed over my last night as I read this prompt. Aside from disappointment, this year seemed to be about letting go. I let go of quite a few things. I let go of a grudge in February. I let go of an entire department of people who I’d come to be so comfortable and familiar with. I let go of my attachments to an entire town — more specifically, I will be letting go of my eight year stint of autonomy. Letting go is hard to do sometimes, especially when it’s something you’ve become so attached to…

I’d say letting go of a past grudge was the easiest of the three majors things this year. I had hints that it would happen this year, and I realized that sometimes forgiving and moving on is the right course of actions. Things have turned out just fine in that regard, and I’m happy I made that decision. I feel a better person for moving on and making that change in my life.

Letting go of MSE was a lot harder. I was complacent with my situation there. Sure, I didn’t receive benefits or a pay that would’ve covered my student loans — though now I realize that it would’ve worked out just fine because of the income contingent repayment plan the federal government offers. But it was something more than just a job. It was a place where I knew everyone by face and name. I looked forward to the colorful delivery drivers who’d pepper my day with relatively different stories. One was a man who seemed suited for a career in used car sales, a bit of a blue-collar comedian if you will. Another was a family man who’d strive to make it home in time to watch his son play sports. The other had a very interesting sense of humor. And then there were the students, who I began to memorize by face and name. Some were notorious for receiving several packages at once. I could see different cliques, usually dependent on which advising group they belonged to. Some habitually arrived late to seminar — and depending on my rapport with said student, I might be a little lenient. Then there were the professors. For the most part, they were very congenial. The younger professors attempted to get me to refer to them by first name. I came around for two of them — one because he consistently responded to my emails with his first name, the other because she was so close in age to me that it felt more natural to do so. Otherwise, I maintained the salutations of Dr. Last-Name. Spend several years earning a degree that gives you that title, and you most definitely deserve to referred to as a doctor. My coworkers got along for the most part. My bosses were pretty much hands off. People complain about micromanagers — these two were definitely not micromanagers. How lucky was I to have two bosses who gave me the freedom to go about my daily tasks without checking in every five minutes? Nothing says “I’ve got a great job” like being able to gather all your work together, walk over to your boss, and say, “here, this is what I’ve got. What do you think?” quite like the job I’d held for two and a half years. I was given the opportunity to expand my knowledge and gain experience. I doubt another job would have given me the opportunity to dabble in Adobe InDesign. It hurt to leave. It felt like the wrong time to leave. And it probably was the wrong time to leave. But then again…

All of the events occurring from that point onward culminated in my imminent departure from Gainesville. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this town for most of my time living here. It’s a bittersweet move because I wanted it to be more on my terms. I wanted it to be to a place I had chosen. I wanted it to be after I’d been a little more established in my work. And yet I realize that I’m going to need to think much more positively if I intend to move forward. I’m going to have to find the silver lining. For starters, I’ll have the opportunity to make a living off of my craft. I’ll have the opportunity to grow my own food. We’ll be away from the partying students and the increasing crime rates. Heck, we’ll be half an hour away from White Castle — which was my favorite fast food restaurant as a little girl in New York. Mmm, sliders and onion rings.

I’m trying to make the most of it. I’m trying to reflect on these changes, why the needed to happen, and how they will manifest in the next year.


Reverb 10: Wonder

Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

So far, I’m finding these prompts to be a little difficult, but today’s prompt just raised that bar about 100 feet into the air. How did I cultivate a sense of wonder in my life this year? I really couldn’t say — I doubt I really made a conscious effort to do so, therefore I really haven’t the slightest clue as to how I could have possibly done such a thing. So in order to further understand the meaning of this prompt, I took to Twitter to see what others have said. I checked what fellow reverbers who’ve commented on my posts had to say on the subject. Luckily, Kristen of Media Tinker wrote some very helpful statements that made me realize I’ve been subconsciously cultivating wonder throughout the entire year.

I’ve been paying closer attention to the milestones, the accomplishments that my children seem to pass so quickly. Particularly, I notice with wonderment that my youngest — my baby — is growing into his very own little personality. He’s got quite a strong personality already, actually. He’s shy around people he’s not familiar with, but around our nuclear family he’s quite the little clown. He’s recently taken to initiating games of peek-a-boo by hiding himself then popping up and shouting “BOO!” I stop in amazement to reflect on how much he’s grown over the past year of his life. Then I reflect on how my daughter’s becoming such an advanced little girl. No longer are the days of babbling and toddling. She’s very eloquent and holds some very interesting conversations. And my oldest? Oh my. One day a few months ago, I looked at his hands and realized he’s got little boy hands. They’re not baby hands. They’re not toddler hands. No, they’re not even preschooler hands. They are little boy hands. The type of hands that play with dirt and mud. They type of hands that speed toy cars around in circles, crashing into each other and all things in between. They type of hands that scream, “I’m a boy!” His facial structure has become more defined as an older child. The baby face is gone. Sure, he’s still the same old button pusher he’s always been, but he’s quite obviously more advanced in his boundary testing these days. When sent to his room for causing trouble, he storms away quickly, pouting and muttering, sometimes slamming the door. I think the first time that happens, I kind of giggled quietly, realizing that he’s growing into his own individuality. It’s become less funny, just as new habits and achievements tend to do.

Ever notice how we marvel over babies learning to walk and talk, yet we take for granted our own walking and talking skills? That thought always crosses my mind when thinking about how my children have been growing. I wonder when it’ll become the norm and loss the novelty. I wonder what new and exciting challenges they will overcome. I wonder if I will revert to a state of helplessness eventually in my lifetime. It really makes me appreciate all that I’m capable of doing that much more.


Reverb 10: Moment

Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

When I opened my email this morning and found this prompt waiting for me, I immediately locked up. This is like that essay I had in my final semester of undergrad: when did you realize you were not a child anymore? Really? I need to choose one particular moment? Honestly, the progression from child to adult was a rather complex and drawn out process. And now to choose one particular moment in which I felt most alive this year seems equally challenging. By 10pm, I had flopped on the bed while watching the baby explore the room, contemplating when I last felt most alive. To be honest, the last time I felt the most alive was on November 3rd, 2009 — but that’s last year. I realized I had a lot of reflection to do and some serious back tracking.

After getting the baby to bed and finishing up with my daily internet readings, I decided to go over previous journal entries. I started with LiveJournal, which proved to be the correct course of actions. I felt the most alive this year right around February 16th when I discovered the relatives of my biological father. Actually, I take that back — the moment I got the test results that confirmed my biological father’s paternity was the exact moment I felt the most alive this year. For over 26 years I hadn’t had any interaction with this man, and then I finally answered some questions about him. While things didn’t quite pan out with that, it’s still comforting to have all those answers.


Reverb 10: Writing

Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

This is such a loaded question for me. I do so many things everyday that likely do not contribute a single thing to my writing, yet most of them are things necessary tasks. Dishes? Laundry? Meal preparation? Diaper changes? Retrieving a mobile baby from furniture every five minutes? All necessities. What could I eliminate from my daily routines? Actually, I could stand to detach from my inbox a bit more. Recently, I signed up for a Gmail system tray notification application — probably not the best idea if I want to quit compulsively checking my email. However, I signed up with the idea that seeing the subject titles would suffice. Theoretically, that should be sufficient for my basis needs, but it’s become more of an attraction to log in and read the actual emails.

On the other hand, I feel I should do more to promote my daily writing, to focus more on making the time to do so. Sure, it might be nice to eliminate distractions, but then I’m focusing more on the distractions themselves. I feel that I don’t do enough to flesh out a time and place to sit and write on a regular basis. I find more often than not that I’m regularly in a situation that requires my attention to be elsewhere, and those situations tend to present as both important and urgent. Nothing’s more pressing than a little boy who’s discovered the thrill of climbing onto the couch, watching the horrified expressions on his mother’s face. The impish grin, the devious twinkle in his eyes — my son knows what he’s doing, and I fear my future with this child holds many terrifying rides. “Mommy, that one’s an inverted roller coaster! Let’s go on that!” Um, no thanks — I like my feet firmly planted on the ground, not dangling in midair while thrusting forward at 60 miles per hour. On the other hand, I’ll bet that would make for some seriously interesting reading.


Reverb 10: One Word

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Disappointment. That’s exactly how I feel about the year 2010. It began with bright hopes and big dreams. I began looking for a job that would pay me what I wanted and offer benefits. Instead, I took a job I wasn’t entirely wild about. The pay wasn’t up to par, and the people weren’t nearly as bonded as I had been accustomed to. I didn’t quite want to take it, but I knew restructuring would eventually force me to leave my former job. I also found a way to make the salary work, but somehow it still didn’t feel like the right move to make. Ultimately, it was not meant to be as I spent the later half of this year unemployed. I was cautioned that the last one hired is the first one fired, but that thinking wouldn’t permit for me to accept employment elsewhere. This time of unemployment has set the stage for the rest of my 2010, and it’s been quite unpleasant. I’d prefer never to relive this sort of discomfort again.

I would like 2011 to be summarized by success. I’m preparing to start my own business as a freelance writer, editor, English consultant, and English tutor. I see a real need for enhanced writing skills amid the nonsense of texting and “lolspeak.” Don’t get me wrong — I love a good macro just as much as the next person, but I can’t stand seeing it pervade everyday writing. I’d also love to finally make my words count for something more than pennies. I would love to wrap up my 2011 knowing my single member limited liability corporation can pay the bills and make life comfortable. I want to know I’m capable of employing myself — no bosses, no office politics, no nonsense.


Mindful Monday: Gearing up for Reverb 10

Last December, I participated in Gwen Bell’s Best 09 blog challenge. It was a great way to get some creative ideas following and reflect on the year gone by. This year she’s done it again, along with two other amazing women — and I plan to participate again. I will be reflecting on the year 2010 and manifesting what’s next for 2011 via her Reverb 10 project. The year 2010 has brought me some very interesting life changes, and I’m looking towards 2011 for something fresh and new. June 11th, 2011 will mark the 10th anniversary of my high school graduation. Whether or not I’m able to attend the reunion remains to be seen, but the occasion will still be momentous in my life. Has it really been that long already? And yet, it also seems like decade ago in that regard. Life has changed so very, very much since high school. I’m looking towards 2011 for the formal beginning of my career as an entrepreneur, a freelancer, an independent contractor, a free agent. I’m looking towards 2011 to be my escape from the rat race, being someone’s assistant, having someone to tell me when, where, and how to work. It would seem all signs are pointing to the perfect opportunity to do so.

As the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaches, I will be counting my blessings in life. Sure, things aren’t exactly perfect and shiny at the moment, but life could be so much worse. For example, did you know that most people settle for a partner they’re not entirely in love with just avoid being alone? Yet here I am, nearly 10 years involved with my soul mate, feeling blessed to have him enriching my life on a daily basis. As I’ve told my wise friend who drives one of the buses we take regularly, I really do scratch my head about that one everyday. I might not have all the greatest things, but I’ve got something that even the wealthiest never find. See? Always something to be thankful for in life.