Monday, January 28, 2013

Living in a bubble

"Worst air in the nation!"

That's what the news has to say about Logan, Utah, the place I call home.

I've been living in Utah for more than 20 years. Although I enjoy skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and other winter activities that northern Utah has to offer, getting through the cold months has always been hard for me due to the inversions. Inversions occur in mountain valleys, where cold air gets trapped under the lighter, warmer air that blows on by above with the jet stream. As time goes on, small airborne particles and droplets accummulate, and eventually, the entire valley is trapped in a smoggy cloud, too thick for even the sun break through.

Even driving during daytime can be treacherous.
This is what my morning commute looks like:

Gray. Gloomy. Not a ray of sunshine in sight.

Although I have to admit, the inversions can look kind of cool from a bird's eye view. Here is the inversion at Bear Lake from the top of the pass (yes, there are actually people living down in that cloud, along with a huge blue lake that fills the nearly the whole valley -- only you'd never know.)

Thankfully, I have family that visits from time to time. Last week, my entire family visited from NH and we enjoyed as much time as we could doing things out of the valley and out of the inversion, like skiing at the best kept secret on Earth - Beaver Mountain.

This visit was a special treat since I got to ski with my dad for the first time in a long time, and my nieces for the first time ever.

 And yes, that is a bright blue-bird sky behind us. That is what I wish for in the valley. Hopefully, we will see that kind of day down here soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If the Shoe Fits? A Post about "Fitting In"

Shoes. They say a lot about a person don't they?

Some hint at place of work. Others at interests. And others at personality.

And in every person's closet sits a favorite pair. As it turns out, I'm no different. Or perhaps I am. Because one would presume that a favorite pair of shoes would possess a certain level of crowd-appeal. However, the shoes that I like to wear throughout winter definitely don't do me any favors on fitting in. My kids laugh at me. My friends tend to avoid looking below my knees. And my students like to say in mocking tones, "Wearing your favorite pair of shoes today, Mrs. Wenger?"

In these situations I have to nod and acknowledge with a bit of self-serving pride that yes, I like my shoes. Because when it comes down to the nitty-gritty heart of the matter, they remind me of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. But not in a Red-and-Sparkly, Sequined, Pump-Heel-Clicking Sort-of-Way. No, mine are jazzed more in a Sketcher Tone Up, Floating-on-my-Feet, Snazzy-Silvery-Blue Kind of Way.

Like Dorothy, I've never really balked at the color of my shoes. But I'll admit, unlike me, she had good reason not to complain. After all, her shoes were a means to an end--for getting her back home to Auntie Em--for finding her way out of Oz, a place where she felt she didn't fit in. But unlike Dorothy, I already know that despite what's on my feet, I'm going to do my best to enjoy getting through my day.

On Fitting In

Like Dorothy, everyone wants to fit in. Everyone wants a pair of magic shoes that might whisk them away to down-home plaid-curtain-comfort with fresh-baked pies sitting on the windowsill. However, the reality is that shoes like that don't exist. The reality is, we have to find our own comfort on our own two feet, no matter what we happen to be wearing.

Where do we start with fitting in? In kindergarten when we learn to share crayons? In elementary school when we learn to smile brightly for our class picture? In junior high when we learn which brands work and which ones should be avoided at all costs?

Without a doubt the notion of "fitting in" follows us throughout the course of our lives, whether it is at work, among friends, at church, or shopping at the local mall. There are certain norms and boundaries on behaviors wherever we go, and as we grow, we learn what those boundaries are through verbal and social cues from others.

However, the one boundary, the one NORM that I hope any person learns to revere, love, and protect the most is the one contained within the soles of his/her own two feet. We can learn to fit in anywhere, we can learn to get along with most anyone, provided that a love of self is instilled first.

Growing a Live of Self

When I was growing up, I was incredibly shy. I remember thinking I wasn't good enough for most anyone or anything I came in contact with. No matter who I met, they had something better to say than I did, had better friends to be with, had more fun things to do. It's a horrible feeling, really, to think that you are not good enough for what is going on around you. I'm not sure what inside me changed. I'm not sure that feeling of not being good enough has ever completely gone away. Some days I hear its voice whining at the edges of my mind louder than others. But I do know that somehow, someway, I finally learned to start accepting myself for the person I am. At some point, I realized I liked how I felt when I smiled, and I liked seeing that feeling mirrored in the face of the person I was sharing it with. At some time, at some moment, I began to realize that what I had to say was worth it -- whether it was to share a comment, a joke, a kind word, or a modest observation. I knew I simply wanted to share what was on my mind, not for the sake of wanting to fit in, but also simply because I wanted to see what others might share in return. An opinion. A joke. An observation. A smile.

Moving Forward from Here to There

Finding confidence in standing on your own two feet--in your own two shoes--is a lifetime journey. For some, that confidence along with humility comes sooner than for others. I don't talk about shoes in any of my novels, but the issues of wanting to be accepted and struggling with confidence and personal identity do thread their way through the undertows of my stories. Perhaps the reason for that is because it was part of my story, and I know it is the same for many others.

More than anything, I hope that my readers, like my characters, come to realize that they are worth it. They are worth the space they are standing in. And they are worth sharing themselves from the inside-out and the outside-in. The person whom they are, should and will shine brighter than any pair of ruby-shinning or silvery-blue pair of shoes they might be wearing.Because if the shoe fits, you can bet that you are the only person -- in your own unique way -- that will be wearing it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kit Lit Items to Note

If you are interested in children's literature, here is a post at the Kid Lit Blog that you may want to check out.

Happy writing!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Relaxing Music for Sunday

Another music video for relaxing on Sunday with my twitter friend @BalletMuzik

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Liebster What?

The Liebster Blogger Award! I've been showered with it -- by Blondie over at the "Blondie in the Water" blog. Which means you shall be sprinkled with with outfall. Who is Blondie? Aside from being one of the smartest and most asute persons on the planet (after all, she stops by this corner of the web once in a while), she is an author who happens to be writing a book, that in my opinion, can not be done fast enough (as in, Hurry up already, Blondie!!).

What does this whole award mean? I dunno, except that it makes me feel special. An applicable definition of LIEBSTER as far as I can tell is this: beloved, darling, or sweetheart. I like being a sweetheart and I like trying to be a sweetheart. So, according the nature of the award game, this means I shall be pouring my heart and soul out to YOU in 11 questions which Blondie has put forth to me. Then I will point out 11 other blogs you should take note of.

Since Blondie is patient and kind (she gave me this award last week), and since I am gullible and ready to take the plunge, I shall dive in, as they say in Blondie's world (go on and have a peek at her blog and see what I mean!).

1. What is your favorite movie and why?
The Proposal, because it makes me laugh, especially when a furry white dog gets carried off by some huge honking eagle.

2. Who is your favorite author and why?
Drat. How can I pick one?

Because this is a tough choice, I shall simply pick the author whom I am currently reading, because she happens to have caught and KEPT my attention, which is a feat in and of itself. (Anne Ursu, Breadcrumbs) Although, now that I think about it, I LOVE Kathi Appelt because she wrote The Underneath.

3. What is the concept behind your blog?
It gives me a place to voice my opinions or share news or entertain myself without actually having to speak.

4. What is your favorite meal?
My mother's lasagna at my mother's table.

5. What would you describe as your biggest personal accomplishment?
I'm in the midst of it. Raising 3 happy kids.

6. Why are you so awesome? (I chose you, didn't I?)
I don't know! I think you think I'm awesome because you are too kind to know any better.

7. What is your favorite household appliance and why?
My turbo handheld mixer, for whipping up a good frothy cappochino every morning. For more details on the morning routine of my life, click here. (No, my spell of giving up coffee didn't last).

8. Uhhh.... I'm blushing. (You'll have to visit Blondie's blog for this one.)

9. What is your favorite holiday?
Valentines Day, because I buy 2 dozen roses and hand them out, one by one to the women I happen to see on this day in my life -- my daughter, my friends, my co-workers, etc. I love seeing their faces light up.

10. What is your favorite restaurant?
Charlie's Ice Cream Shoppe. (Dessert first, always!)

11. Which question was hardest to answer?
#3, probably because I lied.

Now the fun part. I get to share my NOMINEES for passing along this award:

1. Janet Kay Jensen
2. Blog Book Tours
3. Morgan Mandel
4. Patricia Totley
5. James Garcia
6. Daniel Coleman
7. The Write Type
8. Utah Children's Writers
9. Ken Baker Books
10. Confessions of a Reader
11. Diana's Amazing Book Adventures

Okay, Nominees!!! The torch is passed. Answer the following 5 questions below, along with 6 of your choice from the above list that Blondie asked me. Let me know when you've posted your award on your blog so I can share your wisdom and eternal goodness with the world which awaits. (Say that 3 times, fast).

1. What would it take to get you to do something crazy, like a polar bear plunge?
2. How do you like to take a good long break to recharge your life?
3. Do you prefer a good, old-fashioned malt shoppe, or something exotic like, gourmet truffles with a hint of what-not?
4. Do you prefer views from the beach or mountain trail?
5. Can you share information about an upcoming secret project that you shouldn't tell anyone about, but will because your readers are LIEBSTER readers?

Happy writing. And when you're done, Happy Living! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Beautiful Music for Sunday

From one of my twitter friends @BalletMuzik Beautiful music for a Sunday

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Another Giveaway! Win an Amazon gift card & book

Head on over to the Recommendations of Bestseller Bound to enter a giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a signed Copy of The Ghost in Me. While you're there enjoy a post on "If the Shoe Fits." And if after all that, and you still have time to spare, tell me what you think. Happy New Year!