Mother’s Day

I’m watching you play guitar while I’m writing and for some reason I’m acutely aware of how fragile and short life is. I’m looking down at my chest full and spilling out of this little black strappy dress. My feet dirty from walking over the grass and mud and rocks all day.

Working in the backyard with you, the kids running through sprinklers squealing. The blistering sun on our necks and shoulders. Stealing salty kisses. I drink in your scent. The cologne I love, your sweat mixed with sunscreen.

You look at me and talk. About music. Your first band. How you need an effects pedal for this bend and how everyone can play Greenday songs. I ask you to sing. And you say no. Your dirty ball cap and your tanned forearms with the muscles playing under your skin as you pick the strings. How much I want you.

This morning when the girls came in and you all tip toed out and I pretended to sleep, I was happy. So peaceful. Squinting in the morning sun and listening to the birds greeting the gorgeous day. The smell of coffee and waffles and bacon. Giggling kids hushing each other in the hallway.

You water the plants and tell me to rotate my flowers. The day is filled with goodness and sweltering air and the smell of barbecue. Our hands sore from digging in the dirt. Sticky hugs from the kids and ice cream at Pop’s. You come up behind me and press yourself against me kissing my neck. I hold my breath and slowly exhale pulling your arms closer around me.

When everyone finally burst through the door this morning with hot coffee and waffles and whipped cream and the sweetest strawberries, I cry. And I laugh because instead of Happy Mother’s day the little one says Happy Birthday. And my heart is so full. My life so good. My love so deep.

I love the family we have together and there is a little piece of my heart that wishes we could have done this all together from the beginning. But, you are here now and how we found each other I don’t know. It seems so unlikely and sometimes I must shake my head because you exist. And then I nod my head yes because you exist and somehow our paths have crossed.

You remind me that I am many things, that I am worth time and effort. You have a depth that can swallow me whole. Your mind’s brilliance at times intimidates me and seeing our kids piled on top of you pierces me to the core.

Standing in the kitchen sauteing shallots and garlic, sharing a beer with me and joking around. You laugh your throaty reckless laugh. You with your perfect teeth and light eyes. With your big arms and veiny hands. You sing along to the music. Baby, listen to this. Are you listening? You’re missing the best part! But I’m looking at you and feeling the melody and smelling the roasting garlic and touching the fine hair on your arms and I know I’m not missing the best part.

10 Tips for Beating Collection Agencies at Their Own Game

My stint working for a local collection agency as a marketing specialist/legal assistant has given me some interesting insights into how collection agencies operate. In this short piece, published on Yahoo today, I give a short overview of steps you should take immediately, when faced with collection action.

Read more here:

10 Tips for Beating Collection Agencies at Their Own Game

You’re fired!

About a month ago I was standing at the kitchen sink, staring out of the window. I felt the panic rise in my throat. What to do?

A couple of weeks before, I had gotten fired. From my very first full time job. Ever. I had graduated from college and written about a million applications with no luck. And finally I was invited for an interview with a local collection agency looking for a marketing specialist. I was hired on the spot.

It wasn’t my dream job. I didn’t do a lot of marketing at all. I mostly prepped legal documents and processed payments. And then bit my lip when I applied $25 social security payments to the interest on a medical account of an elderly person, who would probably die without ever touching the principal. I wish I’d had money to play secret Santa and pay off the medical accounts of what could have been my grandparents.

Even though I never saw myself working at a collection agency, it was a job and it paid the bills and my boss was happy with me and gave me a raise. I was independent and could take care of my kids and felt like a real grown up for the first time.

And then there was that day, when my boss yelled at me to get out of his office, and I was so shocked I just stood there. Mouth gaping. Eyes twitching. My voice was shaking when I had finally collected myself enough to speak.

“You are being extremely disrespectful and you have no right to yell at me.” I walked away and he yelled at me again to get back in his office. I kept walking and told him no, and that he was rude and I would now go into my office, do my work and close the door.

And well, I got canned. I get it. I totally wasn’t passionate about my work, but I still did an excellent job at it, and my performance was never questioned. It was my personality that was the problem for my boss.

I felt relief driving away from a place that was slowly crushing my soul, and then I got home and my love was there and I tried to keep it together, but instead I cried. And he said it would be okay (what else could he say: well, baby, you’re screwed!).

And so, weeks later, as I was staring out the window talking to him on the phone, he asked me what I wanted to be. I had never said it out loud to anyone.

“I want to be a professional writer.”

People have labeled me a writer my whole life, my Mama, my PopPop, my friends, and the man who knows all my secrets (even the horrible ones). But for some reason, I could never say it out loud. I didn’t want people to tell me it was ridiculous. I didn’t want them to laugh.

And the older I got, the more I felt that I couldn’t say it. Too late. You can’t make a living as a writer. There are too many writers already. Think about your kids. Be rational. Get a regular job. Don’t be a fool. You’re never gonna make it. How will you stand out from the crowd. It’s immoral to make money doing something you love. That’s cheating. Work is supposed to be a drudgery.

It took 30 years of life and a man who loves me because of – not in spite of – who I am, to lay claim to my calling (yeah, it sounds dramatic, and it is, yo!).

Immediately I felt such relief. Such joy. The ideas were rushing into my head. My fingers itching. Phrases forming. I wrote and I submitted and I wrote and I cried and I wrote and I laughed and I wrote and I thought. Why I am so in love with words I do not know. Why it is so important to me to express myself in this way is beyond me.

But…

I’ve written all my life, never allowing myself to be completely immersed in the craft and letting go of the possibility of rejection. But when you choose to abandon fear in one aspect of your life, it impacts other parts of your life as well.

Surround yourself with people who courageously live to their full potential and you will also give yourself permission to be who you truly are. I’ve always been so fascinated with what drives people, what gets them excited, what makes them get up in the morning, what helps them overcome barriers, what brings tears to their eyes, and what inspires them to go on. In short: their passion.

I finally acknowledge mine. What is yours?