Waiting to Fail – Advice from A GenXer

I’m a GenXer…raised in the 1980s. The generation of “Latch Key Kids.” We didn’t wear helmets when we rode our bikes, or elbow pads when we roller skated, if we had done so, our friends would have laughed at us. Our parents didn’t hover over our grades, they didn’t blame our teachers when we failed a test. We got our driver’s license the day we turned sixteen and had a part time job the very next day. We drove used cars, usually the cast-off family car, and we didn’t have GPS. We used a telephone and if we wanted to have a social life, we had to actually got OUT of the house to create one.

And we failed. A LOT.

Somewhere along the line, and I’m not really sure where, because there are still a bunch of us trying to raise our children the same way, things went haywire.

Somehow, we were convinced that our kids needed to have it easier. It started with “time out,” and making a child think about what they did wrong instead of paying a consequence.

And then we decided that if they weren’t doing well in school, it was the teacher’s fault for not teaching them. I’ve raised my kids in two different school districts, so I can attest to the fact that not every school district is created equal. Our current school district is far more superior than our previous district. But that comes with different pressures too. If you don’t fit in the “STEM” box , you’re going to have a tough time in school.

We decided that it wasn’t possible for teens to both have a job AND go to school at the same time. We made it harder for them to get real life experience. Having a job early on allows you to learn responsibility, with showing up and with your money. It’s also the ONLY time in your life you will get to PLAY with your money. You have no debt to pay off, you have no real bills. My first big purchase as a teen was a pair of black suede boots that reached just over the knee and laced all the way up the back. I still remember that they cost $135.00. I put them on lay-away at “Wild Pair” (an awesome shoe store from the 80s) and paid them off little by little until they were mine. And then I took care of them because I worked so hard to get them.

I had several jobs when I was a teen (at different times) because I could change the job when I got bored. I wasn’t locked in. If you wait until after you’ve gone through college, and trained for a career (which is a great plan), but then can’t change the job because you can’t find another one and are locked in because you owe so much on school debt, then no wonder you’re miserable. You never had the chance to PLAY with your money and fail. You can’t afford to fail now.

We had friendships and relationships and realized what it meant to have a good friend that would stand by you no matter what. That would get into trouble with you (in a good way, of course), but you knew what to expect from them, because you had created a face to face relationship. Your friendship was tried and tested. You cried through the bad times and laughed through the good. I know, I’m old and I don’t understand, but on-line relationships don’t provide that same closeness. They just don’t! I have “on-line” friends, to some extent, and they don’t measure up to the friends who have hugged me through break-ups and loss, who have celebrated births and marriages and achievements. It’s different. Read the research. This on-line generation is one of the loneliest, depressed and anxiety-ridden generation of all time. That’s not just my opinion.

“But you don’t understand,” is what I hear. You’re right. I don’t. But you also forget that we were young once too. I grew up under the fear of nuclear war. It was a real fear. But instead of withdrawing, my friends and I made a plan that in the event that they dropped “the bomb,” we would all go outside, put on our sunglasses, sit in our lawn chairs and watch the fireworks. It was how we coped…with sick and twisted humor.

And financially? We get it. My family was caught up in the Aerospace crash of the 80s. My dad was an Aerospace Engineer and had a pension plan. He was set for life…until the aerospace companies crashed and took away everyone’s pensions that they worked for their whole life. My family was devastated. I get it.

But I think the biggest lesson that GenXer’s we’re good at was “failing.” We learned skills to cope with failing. You get up, dust yourself off, and keep moving. It was just a given. Was there anxiety? Sure. Was there depression? You betcha. But that was just a diagnosis, not an excuse. We figured out how to deal with things. We didn’t have time, nor was it acceptable, to give up. “Just Do It” was what we lived by.

My advice to the younger generations?

Work now, so you can play with your money.

Get a job, so you can figure out what you like and don’t like before you get all the way through college.

Get out of the house. For goodness sake, get a gang of friends that really know you. Go to concerts (and DON’T RECORD THEM), just enjoy them. Go bowling, go hang out at a friend’s house, go to the mall, and talk to each other.

Pick up a phone…and CALL someone. Don’t just text them.

Do something for someone else…maybe even one of us “old” people. Do it for the human contact, not because you need “volunteer hours” to graduate.

Be still. Sit in awe and wonder at the world around you. Know that you can make a difference in someone else’s life.

And don’t be afraid to fail.

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison.


My Kids Think I’m an Idiot

Originally posted 11/17/2015

My kids think I’m an idiot…maybe I’ll keep it that way.

I don’t mean in an intellectual way, but in a social way. When I first realized my kids thought of me that way, my feelings were hurt, and admittedly, depending on the day, I still feel a little tinge of hurt when  my daughter says “You don’t understand how things are now days” or “things are different now than when you were my age.” Wow…have I really hit THAT age?

And she’s right…things were different 30 years ago. But not as different as SHE thinks they were. We just got into trouble in different ways “back then.” True, we didn’t have the internet that put the world at our fingertips like they do now. Our trouble wasn’t usually on a global scale.

But trouble always managed to find us, just like it will find her.

There are moments of “Mom cool-ness,” like when we’re shopping in Hot Topic and I know the band playing in the background (Bauhaus) and she catches me singing along, to which I’m met with a look of shock and, “YOU know THIS?” I just smile, and nod. Like I said…she thinks I’m an idiot, like I never had a life before I was a mom.

So if they think I’m an idiot when it comes to not knowing what they’re doing when I’m not around, maybe letting them think that way is not such a bad idea after all.

The bottom line is this: what she DOESN’T think I know, I don’t mind keeping from her. But what I DO know will save her a whole lot of grief some day. She just doesn’t always need to know that I know…ya know?

When your children want to know the gory details…

(Original Post July 2015)


So I found myself caught between a rock and a hard place (sorry for the cliché) the other night.

My daughter wanted to know if I was a rebel when I was younger.

Maybe it was the deer in the headlights expression that gave it away, but she knew immediately that I was not always the straight-laced, button-down, Christian woman that I am today.

Don’t get me wrong, I was always the one who everyone’s parents trusted, including my own. And for good reason.  For the most part, I stayed out of trouble, rarely broke the rules (I was usually too scared) or at least was smart enough not to get caught. But my daughter wanted the dirt, the gory details.

At first I told her that if she could guess something that I had done, that I would fess up. She couldn’t really come up with anything, to my relief, but she was relentless.

So what’s a parent to do? Make up something? No, that’s not my style. I’m too honest for that. I mean, really…honesty has always been my enemy.

This was a dilemma. If I told her a rebellious story she may use it against me further down the line. You know, throw my words back at me…”But YOU did it!” That would be bad. Or she could go the other way…”Just because YOU never did it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it!”

There really was no way to get out of the messy situation. It was a teachable moment…for both of us. So I thought of something forgivable, and told her a brief story from my rebellious youth. It was entertaining and not something she could really duplicate, so I was safe there. No one in the story got hurt. I told her how I learned a lesson and why it wasn’t a good idea to begin with.

Discernment…that’s what I learned. I learned that it isn’t so bad to tell my kids the gory details of my past mistakes, as long as I keep them in my past, and as long as my kids can learn a lesson from them. I think I’ll be ready for the next time one of them asks about my history, and I’ll keep the gore to a minimum. I’d like to keep my straight-laced, button-down reputation intact.

I’m just glad I got to live my teenage years BEFORE the internet.

Do you tell your kids about your gory details?

You Seem to have Mistaken Me for a “Girl”

This is an open letter to all industries run by men.

I’ll begin by saying that I am in NO WAY a man-hating-bra-burning feminist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I love men. I’m married to one. I love when a man opens the door for me, I love when a man pulls out my chair for me or offers his jacket or remembers to let me order first at dinner.

But if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when in business, a man treats me like “a girl.” (I don’t mean to use “girl” in a derogatory way, but it seems like what these men are picturing.)

I was the only girl in a household of men (other than my mother). I was raised to see men as my equal in most aspects. My dad especially made sure that I could take care of myself: change a tire, use a screwdriver, compete with guys but still embrace my womanhood.

So, when I’m dealing with a man in a male-dominated occupation, I am taken back when they feel the need to “dumb-down” their language or “pull one over on me” just because I’m a woman.

I once had an auto mechanic try to tell me that the reason my ’66 Mustang pulled to the right was in fact, not because of a steering problem (after he tried to fix it and didn’t, or couldn’t) but because (and I quote) “all of the roads slope to the right towards the gutters and that’s probably what you’re noticing.” Seriously?!

Years ago, I worked in the carpet industry with a friend of mine. It was a third-generation female-owned carpet store that sold and installed carpet and rugs. That meant we had to measure carpet jobs (using a tape measure no less – note my sarcasm), do the math and figure out how much carpet was needed (yes, girls can do math), order the carpet, unload the carpet from the delivery truck with a fork lift (my female friend and her mother did that – I can’t drive), and sometimes we even got down on our knees and cut the carpet using a utility knife. I know, it’s astounding! (Again, sarcasm). I can’t tell you how many times we would have to argue with men (usually engineers) and educate them regarding how much carpet they needed to buy. I can’t imagine what my friend’s grandmother, who opened the store some 40 years ago must have had to deal with.

So when contractors, mechanics, installers, and repairmen talk to me like I’m a 3 year old girl, they better realize that they just lost my business. Because you can bet that even if it’s an industry that I’m not familiar with, I’m going to educate myself before I talk to them. And chances are, the reason I called them is simply because I don’t have the right tools to do the job.

That being said, I’d also like to say “thank you” to all the men who DON’T treat women like they’re idiots. Since women are usually the ones hiring you to do whatever job needs to be done in the home, chances are treating them like your equal with respect will most likely guarantee that you will get the job. Because I can tell you that the other two quotes she got before you probably mistook her for a silly girl.

To my sisters out there, has this ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it?

Unwanted Parenting Advice

I had a flashback today. I’m not sure why. It was just one of those random memories that pops into your head every now and then, but I thought I’d share with any of my fellow mom’s who have younger children who are struggling.

When my son was at that stage where he was starting to give up the afternoon nap, but he wasn’t quite ready (and, quite frankly, neither was I), I think he must have been around 2 or so. That was over 10 years ago, so I’d have to look it up in the baby book to be sure, but I think that should be pretty close.

Anyways, my daughter was in first grade or so, and I had to pick her up everyday from school at 2:15…RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF NAP TIME FOR MY SON.

So, daily, I would fight with him to get him to nap right after lunch time, so that he would be up in time to go get my daughter. He wasn’t a willing participant in this schedule at all. In fact, most days, I would try to let him cry it out, only to have him fuss right through his nap time, making it too late to go down. The result? A cranky two-year-old who would fuss until dinner, then try to fight his way through bath time, now over-tired, until he’d finally crash, only to be up at the crack of dawn to start all over the next day.

Why not just skip the nap, you say? Then he would sleep in later the next morning, right? Well, logic would dictate that scenario, but my son was a strong-willed baby, and would still be up at the crack of dawn no matter how late I kept him up the night before. He’s still an early-riser to this day.

About this same time, he had mastered the public temper-tantrum, complete with arching his back, as I tried to buckle him into the stroller or car seat, which brings me to my topic.

One morning, while out with friends for coffee, one of my friends decided that she would “help me” (or rather, teach me, in full humiliating Super Nanny style) how to handle my unruly child. She’d taken a Child Development Course after all, so she figured she would be able to convince him that she was right.

She proceeded to buckle him into the stroller, and we made it to the car. I must admit that watching her try to “reason” him into the car seat was rather amusing, even though I was doing everything I could to restrain my motherly pride.

When we got home, she took the car seat out of the car, with my son still buckled into it, and brought him into the house, still buckled, and continued to “reason” with him before she would unbuckle him. Her goal was to get him to take the nap he so needed, that I had not been able to accomplish successfully. It took everything I had in me, to humble myself, and try to learn something from the situation. But a part of me was insulted, and the help was not wanted. Still, she was my friend, and meant well. So, I let the demonstration continue.

She finally got him calmed down enough to let him out of the car seat, then proceeded to put him in his crib to take his nap, while I stayed in the living room and let her “handle him.” Again, feeling wounded and prideful, I sucked it up.

She spent the next TWO HOURS going in and out of my son’s room, speaking to him in a low voice, and trying to convince him that he needed to take a nap. As I sat there in the other room, all I could think was, “Son, you’d better not go to sleep for her! Please, let me keep my dignity.”

And, do you know, that my son NEVER did go to sleep or calm down for her that day. He never gave in to her “child development training.” He made me proud that day. I know it’s wrong for me to say, but sometimes, especially in the early years, when you are doing your very best to hold it together amid a screaming toddler’s tantrum, the last thing you want is for someone else to come in and do it better than you. Admit it…it’s true. AND THAT’S OKAY.

The point of my story?

For any of you mothers of young children, especially if they’re going through the “Terrible Two’s,” or “Colicky Sleepless Nights,” or “Teething,” or any of the other myriad of baby unknowns, sometimes doing the best you can do IS the best you can do. And not all advice is wanted, or even good, advice. What works for one child will NOT work for the next, no matter what the books say. Sometimes we need to realize, our babies didn’t read the books. They are fumbling through it too.

Keep doing what you’re doing. There is another side. It does get better. Sometimes it just takes time…and prayer. And it never hurts to pray.

By the way, my friend and I can laugh about that moment now. Especially now that she has two children as well. Have you ever gotten unwanted parenting advice? I’d love to hear your stories.

Women’s Fiction POV Opinions Wanted

Hi, fellow women’s fiction readers and writers. It’s opinion time.

First, a brief background. When I say I write women’s fiction, it’s not to be confused with romance. My stories are about relationships between women, usually friends, often unlikely friends. There is no romantic leading man involved.

I write in third person POV 100% of the time, until this latest manuscript.

To switch things up, I started it in First Person POV. But after reading several blogs by well-respected writers, I reconsidered my initial decision.

One opinion that I read brought up an interesting point, and I’m paraphrasing here. One drawback to writing in First Person POV is that if the reader can’t identify with, or straight up dislikes the protagonist, then it can possibly ruin the book for them.

So, I went back and changed the 15,000 words or so that I had already written in First Person to Third Person POV. (I don’t recommend doing this…it’s a pain in the a**)

But every once in a while, as I’m writing, I find myself using “me” or “I said” accidentally, and wonder if I should go back to First Person. Which is odd, because the story isn’t biographical, and as I said, I don’t usually write in First Person.

I think most women’s fiction is written in Third Person, though it isn’t unheard of to find a book in First Person POV.

My question to you, the readers and writers of Women’s Fiction, is which do you prefer?

Do you think there’s merit to that opinion about risking the reader not being able to identify with the protagonist?

I’d love to know what you think. I’m now 20,000 words in and if I decide to change it again, I have to commit to it. I couldn’t imagine getting to the end of a novel and going back and change the ENTIRE 80,000+ words to a different POV. #womensfictionPOV

Shaving relief…at last


I don’t write about beauty very often…okay…ever. I mean, I am a t-shirt and jeans girls through and through. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I don’t polish my nails, color my hair (professionally or regularly), wear makeup unless I absolutely have to, and when I go shopping I usually come home with more things for my kids than I do for myself. #notashopper

But I have to share this beauty tip I just discovered.

For years, I’ve been suffering through horrible itchy legs after shaving. It’s not razor burn. I’m talking about a burning itching sensation that starts immediately after shaving and never goes away, because it runs into the next shaving cycle. #stopthepain

I know there are others out there like me, because I’ve seen you on message boards when I’ve been searching desperately for a “cure.”

At first I thought it was our water. It seemed to start when we moved to the Mid-Atlantic a few years ago, and for the first time experienced “hard water.” So I bought a filter for the shower. It didn’t help.

It got so bad, that I even gave up shaving for a week. Sorry, TMI, but that’s how desperate I was.

Then last night I ran across a miracle on a message board.

Someone explained that shaving with the newer multi-blade razors, even if they have a lubricant strip on them, actually irritates your skin more than the simple, single-use, single blade razors. (My pocket book liked the sound of that – razor blades are crazy expensive)

So here’s the solution: Get one of those disposable single blade (I had a double) razors; Lather your legs up with something like Cetaphil skin cleanser; And then shave…now here’s the key…WITH THE HAIR, as in shave DOWN (from knee to ankle) rather than up, and rinse as usual! You won’t get a super smooth shave, but who cares! No one but you will be able to tell. And you won’t be miserable!

I didn’t have any Cetaphil on hand, but I also read on that same message board that someone used hair conditioner. I happen to use Mane’N Tail Shampoo and Conditioner (which I highly recommend for your hair), so I tried shaving using that conditioner… IT WORKED! Hallelujah!

I shaved my legs, and then didn’t spend the next 5 hours (or longer) scratching in pain. Sweet relief!

This might not be news to some of you, but if it helps even one of you, then my work here is done.

So that’s all the beauty tips I’ve got, well, that and O’Keeffe’s Working Hands is great for winter elbows!

And if you happen to work for any of the above mentioned companies, I’ll happily collect my commission now.