So Long, Farewell

Until we meet again

Goodbyes are never easy. At least, not for me. Especially when they’re shared with loved ones, people I’m fond of, places I enjoy being, or blogs to which I feel a connection.

I guess you can see where I’m going here.

It’s my final blog on the Peanut Butter on the Keyboard site. I haven’t been a PBOK mom for very long, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The camaraderie, the shared insight and advice, the comfort in hearing from other women with similar issues. Whether we have kids or not, have toddlers or adolescents or young adults, whether we’re married or single, whether we’re writers or not… we’re all women, striving to do our best, give our best, be our best… in a world that is ever changing, ever challenging, ever hectic.

There are times we want to fix everything, accomplish anything and feel like we’re SuperWoman. And there are moments when we just want to curl up on our couch, cover up with a warm blanket and take a nap.

We’ve shared celebrations, tragedies, family traditions, and posts about ideas or organizations or injustices we feel strongly about and staunchly support. We’ve questioned ourselves, our kids, our parenting, our actions—and in return we’ve received guidance, pats on the back, reassurance, tips, “hang-in theres” and commiseration.

I’m sad to see our time here come to an end. But the rose-colored-glasses, wide-eyed optimist in me refuses to think of this as “good-bye” but rather “FAREWELL!” Until next time. On the next blog somewhere on the internet. On the bookshelves. At a conference. In the grocery line. In spirit.

I wish you and yours a life full of peace, joy, health and love—much much love.

So, in the spirit of my musical theatre-loving family, I leave you with a song, a little dance, a little laughter and a fond, fond farewell.

If you’d care to share what movie or TV show farewell is your favorite, I’d love to hear it.

I watched many sad farewell videos before I selected this one. But seeing as how I prefer to close on a happier until-we-meet-again note, I close with this classic.

Until we meet again my friends…

<a href="” title=”So long video” target=”_blank”>

Change Can Be a Good Thing

5067cd218baae4a83f42350216c6fd6b
There are numerous platitudes meant to help people push through rough times. Or to help you find the positive in what could be considered a negative situation.

Sayings like:

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Challenging times strengthen you.
Some of the best things in life are mistakes.
When God closes a door, He opens a window.
When one door closes, another opens.

Some are words of wisdom from famous people. And they become daily mantras to strengthen our character and drive.

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” Jim Valvano
“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Lou Gehrig
“Failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.” Hank Aaron
“Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky.” Dr. Seuss
“I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” Carl Jung

Sometimes, when a good thing comes to an end, we struggle with accepting the situation. Wanting to hold onto that something, even if the wise decision might be to release it.

So, it’s with a heavy heart that the PBOK moms have decided it’s time to close the blog. We all have different reasons, but there’s one major reason we have in common—lack of time in a busy world.

I’ll admit my first reaction to rally the troops. I’d set a 2015 goal to take a more professional attitude with my writing, making sure I dedicate a specific amount of time to writing every day. Without fail!

The blog has been an amazing way for me to combine my writing life with my mom/family life. What a blessing!

So why would I want that to end?

Well, because in 2015, my writing time needs to focus on doing whatever I can to make a strong push toward publication. I’m not getting any younger. For years I’ve let my writing time slip by the wayside in the wake of other responsibilities. And let’s be honest here, other “fun” activities.

I’ll miss stopping by the PBOK blog to see what my fellow moms have posted. I’ll miss sharing my thoughts with all of you. And I’ll definitely miss the camaraderie and friendship between us.

But my wish for all of us is that we finish 2015 able to look back over the year and find accomplishments we’re proud of, despite the changes or sacrifices we faced.

We’re all strong, wise passionate women. Change can be good. If we face it with the right mindset.

I’ll be back in two weeks for my final PBOK blog. For now, I’ll close with a question I hope you’ll feel inclined to answer:

What do you plan to accomplish in 2015? Personally or professionally?

And just in case you could use a mantra for the day, the week, the month or the year, here’s a little something one of my daughters shared with me:
76c2906838f537eb29392213bcb32938

When It’s Cold Out, Special Memories Can Warm You

It’s a BRRRRRRRRRR kind of day here in typically sunny Florida.

Okay, so I know there are people snowed in up north. Kids are off from school. Some offices and businesses are closed. Folks are already skiing or sledding or building snowmen.
Florida Winter
But down here in the Sunshine State—land of sandy beaches, waves lapping the shore, seagulls drifting on the wind—winter jackets don’t make it out of the closet too often.
winter-in-florida
So, when I say it’s a “bitter 41 degrees” outside this morning, that bitterness is relative. I’ve got friends in the northeast corner of the US who’d love it to be 41 where they live as they bundle up and head out the door. Another friend lives in New Mexico and she’s posting pics of her snow-covered house doing a darn fine impression of a scene on the front of a Christmas card. I got shivers just looking at her post.
0511-1008-1202-4136_Girl_Shivering_in_the_Winter_Cold_clipart_image
But while this Florida girl isn’t too keen on living in a snowy, icy, bone-chilling place, I do think it’s fun to play in the snow. And I wouldn’t mind spending a day on the ski slopes, then heading back to a warm cozy lodge for hot chocolate and a blazing fire in the fireplace. I’ve been known to plop down on the snow and make a snow angel or two. And my family has risen to the challenge when our neighbors pounded our door with snowballs—a definite call to arms initiating an intense, laughter-filled snowball fight in our front yards.
Buddy-and-Michael-in-a-snowball-fight
With Thanksgiving around the corner and December holidays not far behind, my nesting instinct starts kicking into high gear. Baking, gift buying, gift wrapping, family get-togethers, gingerbread house building, carol singing, mugs of hot chocolate, old memories shared, new memories made.

Can you tell I’m a big fan of the holiday season? Not because of the shopping and present buying, though I do love to gift giving and bringing a smile to someone’s face. But because it’s a time for families and friends to spend quality time together. A time for fun, frolic and smiles.
di7eGR4i9
I won’t ask about December holiday traditions—that’s an entire blog for later—but instead, I’d like to know what’s the one thing you’re looking forward to the most during the Thanksgiving holiday?

In this high tech world of social media and tweets and Snapchats and Instagrams and all the other apps I’m not cool enough to have heard about yet, there’s still nothing that can beat the feel of two hands held together in greeting. Or two arms wrapped around you in a welcoming hug. Or two lips pressing an I-missed-you kiss on your cheek.

For me, I’m most looking forward to when my family and I’ll gather around the table, clasp hands, and give thanks we’re all together. That’s when I’ll close my eyes, take a deep breath and give the hands I’m holding an I-love-you squeeze.
c66d3f5dab7875f317c11967822ef416
And even if it’s just for that briefest of moments, all will be right in my world.

So what’s your special moment, memory or tradition this time of year? I’d love to hear what you’re excited about!

Wishing you and yours many many many blessings! And a warm place to snuggle with your loved ones. ☺
couples holding hands.

What’s Keeping You Busy?

busy-quote-1160x773

My question of the day is: What’s keeping you busy?

Like most weeks, my calendar is pretty full. But, it’s mostly full of blessings.

Sure, there’s some stuff I’d like to erase from my “To Do” list, a few things I’m not looking forward to dealing with, but I strive really hard to remind myself that those not-so-fun To Do’s will only serve to make the really fun things that much better.

So, I thought it would be fun to take a look at our calendars and share a little about what we find filling them up.

With mine, you’ll find that I tend to spend a lot of time with my family,
family-pic_opt

my girlfriends,
girl-time

socializing with friends,
PL576EveryHourMartiniB.eps

and exercising (this one needs to get on my calendar more often).
you-need-to-exercise

There’s also rarely a week that goes by when I’m not attending some type of volunteer event or meeting.
volunter

But I also try to remember, amidst the hustle and bustle of my life, take care of myself.

Time to regroup, listen to my thoughts, enjoy a good book.
alone-time

Which is why I try to add a little quiet or alone time to my calendar.
time for what makes you happy
Some weeks I’m better at this than others.

And at the end of the day, when I’m snuggling under my blankets in bed, after racing along checking things off my To Do list, I really hope I don’t forget this mantra:
love urself

So, what’s filling up your calendar this week? Something fun you wanna share? Something important you’d like us to think good thoughts about for you?

I hope you have time to stop by and share!

Exercise + Family = FUN!

family walking

A family that plays together… well, they have fun together.

A family that exercises together…well, they are healthier together.

So, it stands to reason that a family that plays and exercises together… well, they’ll have fun and be healthier together! ☺

My family loves to play tennis, run, walk and dance. Last Christmas, we had a family reunion and held a 5K family fun run in our neighborhood followed by a family tennis tournament on our community court. Trophies were even given away to the top female and male finishers in each event. Several nights, we fired up our Wii and spent hours taking turns with our Just Dance games. Fun was definitely had by all!

family run day

This past weekend, I ran the Rock n Roll Philadelphia half marathon.

rock n roll philly

It was my first time visiting Philly and let me just say I loved the city! More importantly, I loved the opportunity to spend a fun, healthy weekend with family and close friends. Our group had people flying in from Florida, California and Las Vegas, plus one who drove from DC and another from the Philly area. It was a memorable weekend with close friends, a sister, a niece and a daughter—all of us enjoying the blessing of time together.

rocky pic

Whether it’s a walk in your neighborhood park, playing a sport like tennis, or participating in an organized event like a Rock n Roll race, the main thing is to stay active and have fun. Keep your family movin’ and groovin’ and getting their heart rates up. ☺

So, what do you and your family do for exercise and fun?

Domestic Violence Has No Place in Our Society

stop domestic violence 1
I’m not a lawyer, a judge, a trained victim’s advocate, or in any way a professional in the field of law enforcement, so I have to admit that my statements here are my unprofessional opinion.

Yes, I am a woman, so my thoughts on the topic —if you look at the statistics—may seem skewed to side with my gender.

But setting aside my profession and gender, more importantly, I am a PERSON! My sense of humanity and compassion for others precludes me from violence against another.

So, when I say that I am appalled, disgusted and saddened by the issue of domestic violence, please understand that is an abysmally gross understatement.
enough is enough
If you’re not a sports fan, until yesterday you may not have heard about the latest headline-generating incident about an NFL player’s domestic violence charge.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/ray-jones-ray-rice-domestic-violence-case-person-blame-article-1.1933003

But with new, more condemning video being released, it’s safe to say that the NFL, the player’s team, the local prosecutor and the police completely botched this case from the very beginning.

Today, the case dominates the airwaves—from our morning talk shows to ESPN, from newspapers to the web, and everywhere in between.

The silver lining here—and I cringe to even type those words—is that now more people are talking about the evils of domestic violence. Hearing a sports commentator state, “The question shouldn’t be why the victim goes back to the perpetrator, but rather, why does the perpetrator continue to be violent” is important. This backward attack—blame the victim, not the perpetrator—needs to stop.
shattered domestic violence

Domestic violence—physical, mental, emotional—does NOT begin by the victim. The person does NOT ask for it. And “just get up and leave” isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Domestic violence MUST stop.

Victims need assistance, not condemnation!

All of us deserve to live in a home, a town, and a world where we feel safe and secure. Healthy love and a healthy relationship doesn’t hurt!
stop domestic violence

If you or anyone you know needs help, please reach out. There is support available, even when it seems like a situation may be helpless.

So please, put these websites and phone numbers below in your contact list. You never know when you, someone you love, or someone you meet might need them.

http://www.thehotline.org

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_help_treatment_prevention.htm

Summer Fun

postcard KW
By now many, if not most, school districts and universities/colleges are back in session. Summer is over and it’s time to get back in a groove of school, homework, longer commutes and busier schedules.

The dog days of summer are behind us—though in the Southeast, we’re still feeling the heat and humidity. And typically will for months to come.

With our kids and teachers starting back to school, I thought I’d call upon a beloved class assignment from my past: the age old, “What did you do this summer?” essay.

I have to say, I had a blessed summer of 2014. My girls are older, so they’re not home all that often now and when they are, I treasure every moment.

I started off with a three-week visit from with my youngest before she headed back to college for the summer session. Yes, I tried to pack as much fun as I could in her short time with me.
zac brown band with belle

Then, my youngest niece and nephew arrived to spend two months with my parents and me. Talk about reliving my past. It’s been a while since I’ve had elementary and middle school kids running around the house. From World Cup soccer parties to 90 minutes of trampoline time at a local Skyzone…they certainly kept me hopping—in a fun way!

world cup gator dockside 1
Between two writers’ conferences, a rousing family reunion celebration in Texas
cousin love
and the passing of a beloved uncle, my June and July flew by.

To cap off my summer, my middle daughter arrived home for two weeks and we headed off for a long weekend in Key West, my old stomping grounds during junior high and high school.

We biked all around the island,
P & G biking KW
hit Duval for a little dancing and nightlife, watched a glorious sunset on Mallory Square, caught sunrise before hitting the tennis courts, spent a relaxing day on a boat with old friends, passed by my childhood home and enjoyed playing tourist. It was a jam-packed weekend of catching up with good friends and sharing my hometown with my daughter.

Some folks have commented on all the traveling I managed to do over the past few months. Yes, I’ve been blessed in that respect.

For me though, what I really count as a blessing is the time I’ve been able to spend with family. The memories we created together. The hours spent in each other’s company. The opportunity to say, “I love you” in person to loved ones I don’t get to see often enough.

I’d say the highlight of my summer was the blessing of family time. With the traveling being the icing on the cake. ☺

So, as the Key West sun sets, the homeschool teacher in me wants to know: What did you do this summer?
KW sunset

Depression: A Serious Disease

depression 3
I had a different idea for today’s blog, but my heart is heavy after learning about the loss of two people to depression and suicide in less than 24 hours.

One is a Hollywood legend that touched the lives of millions around the world with his laughter, insight into character and engaging personality (Robin Williams). The other was a young man, barely in his twenties. A beloved son with his entire life ahead of him.

But depression doesn’t discriminate. It knows no bounds. Age, sex, race, status… It doesn’t matter.
child depression
And depression isn’t something a person can merely “get over.” Or “set aside.” Or even worse, “just suck it up.”

For the person struggling with the disease, life can seem worthless. They feel lost, alone. The lows can be abysmal, with no light to reach for evident.
depression 2
For family members, it can be difficult as they struggle to understand the depths of the disease and how it affects their loved one.

Depression is not something to take lightly. To brush off. To dismiss as a weakness. It’s an evil disease. It takes lives. It leaves families shattered.
depression 1
If you or a loved one, a neighbor or co-worker…if anyone you come in contact with shows signs of depression, don’t let it slide. Instead, find the name and number of a local crisis center. Learn about the resources available and share that information. All it could take is for that person struggling to know that someone cares, that help is available. That they are worth it. That life can be a beautiful gift. That their life is a beautiful gift.

So please, look up that number and jot it down, add it to your phone contacts, share it with others.

And today, remember to hug your children and let them know they mean the world to you. Tell your spouse you love him or her. Call your mom and dad, sister and brother, grandmother and aunt. Email your favorite teacher. Text your best friend. Smile at the person in line at the bank or grocery store. Share a joke with a co-worker.

You never know when you have the chance to be the ray of sunshine in someone’s day.
depression 4

Resources to consider:

http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/help-for-depression#TreatmentFacts1

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depresssion-support

Celebrating Family

lifelovefamily
This past weekend was bittersweet for me as I arrived in Texas for a family reunion with my dad’s side of the family, but then wound up having to say a final good-bye to my mom’s last living uncle who happened to live in the same town.

It was a blessing to see my uncle one last time. To give him a hug, smooth back his hair as he lay in his hospital bed, look in his gentle eyes and say a prayer with him.

It’s been a blessing catching up with cousins I haven’t seen in years. Talking about our kids and our lives. Sharing laughs about old times and making new memories.
girl cousins framed pic 1
cousin love

This weekend has been a true picture of what family is all about. Helping each other through difficult times. Celebrating good times. Advice and guidance when faced with troubles. Support through good and bad. There have been ups and downs, squabbles and tears. But more importantly, there’s been love. Lots and lots of love.

So today, as I move from my aunt’s house to the RWA National Conference hotel, I leave with the certainty that I’m writing for the perfect genre. Romance novels are about love and healthy relationships conquering conflict and doubt and the ugliness of the world.

Our novels celebrate what we want for our kids: happiness, strength, peace and love. Lots and lots of love.
family love

hearts of  love
Today, I say: Go hug your kids, call your mom or dad or aunt or cousin, send a simple “I Love You” text to someone you haven’t in a while. Celebrate your family. Life is short. Your list of loved ones doesn’t have to be. 🙂

RIP My beloved Tio Pablo, te quiero mucho!
Tio Pablo

Young at Heart

trampoline time

Having and raising kids can give you gray hair, make you gain weight, and lose a ton of sleep. On the flip side, having kids has also kept me young at heart—which, in my humble opinion, overshadows or outshines all the aforementioned negatives.

Even though my girls are in college and post-college adult life, I’m blessed with a 10-year old niece and a 12-year old nephew who spend the summer with my parents and me. This means my summer is filled with dolls, video games, Disney Channel, bike rides, kid movies at the theater and—for the first time in my life—a trampoline park.

If you follow me on Instagram or twitter you probably already saw the pics of my niece, nephew, close friend and me at a Skyzone trampoline park this past weekend. I’m a big Groupon and Living Social shopper and when I saw a deal for 90 minutes of trampoline time a couple of weeks ago, my first thought was, “Oh, my kids will love this!” Quickly followed by, “Wait, I’ll love this!” ☺

sky2 copy

Let me tell you, 90 minutes is a looooong time. Especially when you’re using muscles you normally don’t. And even more so when you forget your age ‘cuz you’re feeling like a kid again—bouncing off side walls, leap frogging across 8 trampolines, pushing yourself higher ‘cuz you think you can actually do a flip in the air. Talk about a new way to get some exercise!

We all jumped like silly fools. The kids played trampoline dodgeball. No, I didn’t go for that, I was too busy acting like Spiderman throwing myself against the trampoline wall trying to stick for a second or two before careening back toward the trampoline floor.

Needless to say, we were all hot, sweaty messes by the end of our allotted time. But we were hot, sweaty, giggly, happy messes. Fun was had by all!

For a brief time I forgot my real age and enjoyed being a kid again. All thanks to my desire to help my own kids have fun.

Of course, when I woke up the next morning with sore calves and an achy lower back, my age caught up with me. I moaned for a second, then laughed when I found out my nephew was sore, too. ☺

Another happy memory created together—stretching out our soreness from our time jumping through the air, laughing at our silliness.

So sure, I’ll take the occasional gray hair and sleepless night because I’m a worrier. But I’ll treasure the moments when my kids allow me to act their age rather than my own. ☺

What about you? Have you tried anything new lately that made you feel young again—wild and crazy and like you could take on the world? If not, I suggest you see if there’s a Skyzone or something similar near you!

young at heart