Trip Around the Sun

Today I begin my 53rd trip around the sun, and boy is it hot out there!! In conjunction with my birthday, I also celebrate the Anniversary of my Blog.  It has been 13 years since I started this blog! When I was turning the big 4-0, I was feeling like time was slipping away and I needed to do something new. So, I decided to start a blog.  At the time, “Mommy Blogs” were gaining popularity so that is what my focus was, since I was a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my kids.  But soooo much has changed in these 13 years!

I never got a huge blog following, but my blog became my own little space, like a favorite room I could go into and spend some me time.  Even though it was neglected often with the absence of my presence, it has always been here for me all these years. During this time, I have found my voice as a fictional writer, became a published author and met many dear friends in the blogsphere.

Finding my voice as a creative writer came at the same time that I found my voice in my life.  It became clear to me the reason why my “Mommy Blog” never took off; I was struggling as a wife and mother and kept silent. Even though my blog was something just for me, the posts I wrote were shared with my husband before they were published.  This was under the guise of being supportive, but in reality, it was a way of being controlled.  Not in a forceful, I must read anything before you publish way, but in everything that I did, in my mind it was framed by the opinion of what my husband would think, and if he would approve. As I wrote articles in the beginning, they were really more so in his voice, not mine.  But that all changed by the time I had posted my first short story in April of 2015, I was actively seeking counseling and it was confirmed I was in a mentally abusive marriage. That was the beginning of finding myself.  Finally writing my own thoughts and ideas was so liberating.  Once that door was opened, I never wanted to go back. No longer did I need his approval.  It would be several years before I worked through my healing and go through the process of divorce. I still struggle from time to time with trusting my gut and not second guessing myself, but old habits are hard to die, as this was a 27-year marriage.  During that time my blog was quiet. Not only because it was a very stressful time, but I was also building my bookkeeping business so I would have a way to support myself and my kids. My divorce was finalized the beginning of March 2020. I was so ready for this new chapter of my life! I decided to reclaim my maiden name so that I could truly walk in who I am.  But then the pandemic hit and sidelined my newfound freedom. Thankfully, I built a work-from-home business, so I was able to continue working, only losing a few clients.  It has truly been a blessing and I am so grateful to be able to provide for my family by doing something I love.  Though bookkeeping can be mentally draining, which depletes any creative thinking, it has been my first priority and my writing has taken a back seat once again.  But just like any back seat driver, it continues to remind me it is still there, nudging my thoughts with the occasional you really should be writing.

What I have learned through all this is that no matter how impossible things may seem, there is always a better day. You are never too old to follow your dreams or make a drastic change in your life. I just wanted to share my journey in hopes of encouraging someone, especially those in difficult marriages.

So, as I enjoyed my coffee this morning, and looked back at my life, this is where my thoughts had taken me. It took a while to get to where I am at, but I am excited for my future. I received my second vaccine shot on Friday, and things seem to be opening up again. The pandemic was not nice to my physical wellbeing and decided to leave me with a few extra pounds, having me feel every bit of my 53-year-old self. This has been a challenge for me since I have never actively exercised and didn’t have to worry about my weight.  But I have purchased a treadmill and take walks outside and I am determined to get in better shape, so I have more energy, and that I don’t fall victim to heart disease that runs in my family.  I am so excited that my kids gave me a new Cruiser bike and a Samsung Active Smartwatch to track my progress.  My focus for this year, is better health and a better work/life balance so that I can return to my passion for writing. I have good intentions, but we all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We also know that no matter how hard we plan, life likes to throw you a curve ball, just to keep it interesting. I plan to take it one day at a time and celebrate my small victories.

The Reason for the Season

My childhood memories of Christmas include decorating the house, baking cookies with my mom and siblings, and Christmas parties with friends. When we were younger, we did the whole Santa and reindeer thing as well, but the highlight for me was Midnight Mass. We would spend Christmas Eve at my grandmas with my mom’s brothers and sister and all of our cousins, visiting and opening presents.  Then we would go home for a while and try to rest before we went to Mass.  It was actually at midnight, which I’m not sure if many churches do that anymore.  I just remember the excitement, maybe it was just because I got to stay up late, but as I remember it now, there just seemed to be an aura of peace and joy that night.  I would be wearing a new dress, and most everyone at church would be dressed up too.  I loved walking into the church and seeing all the decorations, the huge brightly lit Christmas Trees, the wreaths draped with red bows, and the large nativity that was empty through the advent season up until this night.  People greeted each other with genuine smiles and well wishes.  Then the choir would sing all those beautiful Christmas carols, and for this one night they would add drums and a trumpet.  Even though it was the same Mass we sat through Sunday after Sunday, this night, it was different. . . special.  At the end of Mass, the choir’s finale was a resounding “Joy to the World,” that you could feel deep in your soul. At its very last note everyone could not help but applaud, which was unheard of back then in a Catholic church. . . but this night was different. . . special.  We would go out into the still night air, and it would be freezing outside, but you felt warm on the inside, and those occasions when snow would be falling, just made it complete.  I knew then that Christmas wasn’t about the fancy decorations, or the presents, or the celebrating with friends and family.  It was about the birth of Jesus and having faith in God no matter what the New Year would bring.

How ever you choose to celebrate this year, it is still the same holiday, and holds all the magic and promise of a brighter tomorrow. This year is definitely different, but each one of us can still make it special.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas Eve!!

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cheer

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!!

So excited to share the projects my sons have been working on.

Here is Elijah’s animated Christmas song. Like and subscribe to his You Tube channel for more animated fun.

Josh is one of the owner/founders of Broke Boy Media. This year has been a rough one for them as they had great plans for 2020 like we all did. But so glad they kept their creative juices flowing and did what they could. Looking forward to great things for this company.

Like and subscribe to their YouTube channel, and/or follow them on Instagram @brokeboymedia to follow their journey.

To Catch a Fish

Missing my dad today. It’s been 8 years since his passing and I miss him all the time. Thought I would share one of my favorite stories I had written about him.

 To Catch a Fish

This is a story about a little girl, a little girl who just wanted to catch a fish. This is my story, that little girl was me.

Growing up in a small town that rests on the edge of Lake Michigan, along with several other smaller lakes within its borders, one was sure to find the perfect fishing spot. My dad was an avid fisherman and taught us all how to fish. My childhood memories are ones of warm evenings spent with my whole family, fishing at the channel, which at one time connected the smaller Wolf Lake to Lake Michigan.

I’m not sure if my sister and mom actually fished when we went, but they were there nonetheless, probably reading a book or a magazine. Being the youngest after my two brothers, I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, getting caught up playing the things that they enjoyed. So, when it came time to fish with my dad and brothers, I was all in. Well, as all in as I could be at the age of six. I watched in awe as my brothers cast out their lines with those fancy rods and reels of theirs. It was a true art form, and took practice, with just the right movements to send that bobber out into the lake at the perfect spot. It was all in the timing, you pulled back, pressed the button to release the line with a flick of the wrist, you heard the whizzing sound of the line as it would sail through the air. You knew it was a perfect cast, when you heard the ever so slight plop of the bobber as it breached the surface of the glass-like lake, with only a few ripples; your worm on its hook settling in the murky water to wait. Then there was my experience, with my cane pole, and red and white bobber. No skill really needed, I just flung it out into the drink and hoped for the best. My dad always taught us about safety, reminding us how sharp and pointy the hook was, and that you needed to be careful as you cast your line out, so that the hook wouldn’t snag you in the back of the head. Even though I was a tomboy, I was still a little girl, and putting a worm on a hook, was not for me. That was my dad’s job, and I was fine with that, and it was key in this little charade he called fishing.

So, there I sat, with my cane pole and my red and white bobber just sitting there. We didn’t talk much, if we did it was quiet conversation, as to “not wake the fish.” Even when one of us got a hit, we didn’t get overly excited. It was a simple, “I got one.” As we manned our poles yet watched the dance between the fish and the fisherman as it was brought to shore. Sure enough as I heard the ‘got one’ on my left, there was two more on my right. Holding on to my trusty pole, just knowing I had to be next, needing to be ready, yet I couldn’t help but turn my attention to my brothers reeling in their catch. Once the excitement wore off, we sat. Then sat some more. . .waiting. As the sun set and the breeze began to cool, you could hear the gentle lapping of the lake on the shore, and a small voice innocently question, “Hey Dad. . .why haven’t I caught a fish yet.” Which was always answered with some wise fish tale, that only a six-year old could believe.

Then there was the one evening, as I was growing bored with the whole not catching a fish thing, I started looking through my dad’s tackle box. I found a round tin, with the letters SKOAL on it, not sure what it was, I was bent on finding out, and tried to open it. It was a struggle for my small hands, but I figured out that I had to push the top and bottom together real hard and twist to open it. With my fierce determination, I got it opened and the contents of the tin burst out and covered my entire chest. As I looked down, I was coated in what looked like saw dust, and little, tiny, squirmy, white. . .WORMS!! I’m not sure if anyone else heard the scream like I did in my head. Maybe I actually held it in, as to not wake the fish, but I was totally freaking out. Just as quickly as it happened, it was over as my dad rushed over, brushed everything off of me and saved me from the Bee Moths! Or just maybe he saved the Bee Moths from me. With those wormy-like things back in their little home, I went back to my cane pole, and sat. . .waiting. . .and sat some more. This was so much better than being eaten alive by Bee Moth Larvae. Or was it? You see, everyone, except me, knew that there was never a worm on my hook! Honestly, I’m not sure there was even a hook!

But then one day it happened. My dad, knowing he couldn’t keep up this ruse forever, decided that just him and I would go fishing, early one morning. We got out to the channel just as the sun was rising over the horizon. My dad grabbed two rods and reels from the trunk, and his tackle box. With my eyes wide, I realized the cane pole stayed behind. Is it possible? I got a quick lesson on how to cast out. My first few tries landed my bobber with a ker-plunk in the water not 3 feet from where I was standing. Try again. With my dad’s help, I was able to cast out. Proudly holding on to my precious rod and reel, I sat, waiting. . .this time with a smile on my face. It’s going to happen today!! Sure enough, I felt that little tug, and then “Dad. . .I got one!” We both stood, and he coached me as the fish tried to run with the bait in his mouth, “Let him go for a little bit, then reel him in.” I did that a few times, excitement pounding in my ears, mixed in with the whirling sound of the reel as I brought my catch to shore. My dad grabbed the line and pulled it out of the water. There on the end, frantically flipping, was my first catch, a nice little Perch. I finally did it!!

OK. . .so I totally exercised my artistic license on that last paragraph. I really don’t remember actually fishing that day, but I do remember taking this picture, and I’m sure I actually caught this particular fish. I am smiling so broadly not because I was proud of my catch, but those things are slippery little suckers, and it was hard to hold on to.

As we got older, my brothers moved on, and lost interest in fishing. I totally lost interest, and set my sights on gaining some fashion sense, thank God. (Either my dad dressed me that morning, or these were hopefully my ‘fishin’ clothes.’) My dad went on to bigger and better fishing opportunities. Fishing with his buddies on their boats, or going out alone and fishing off the shore of Lake Michigan, which earned him the Indiana State Record in 1983 by catching the largest Brown Trout weighing in at 22 lbs. 8 oz.  A title he held on to for several years.

Today, you probably couldn’t pay me to go fishing. I’ve put my time in, thank you very much. But I’m grateful for the time spent with my family and the memories I have. However, just like any good fish story, the details are subject to over-exaggeration with each telling.

© Carrie Ann 2016

Long Time No Blog

Hello!! Hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. My family had been hunkering down during our stay-at-home orders, and even as things are opening back up, we are still being cautious.  Being that we live with my mom, and since I am self-employed, I don’t want to take the chance of getting sick, and not be able to work, or get my mom sick. I was fortunate enough to be able to continue to work from home with my bookkeeping business.  A few of my clients had to shut down temporarily, but it hasn’t been too bad for me. I was able to enjoy a slower pace for the last few months, so I am grateful for that.  My son Ben didn’t miss a beat with school, I did however enjoy all the funny home school memes that cropped up on social media.  Too funny, though I could fully understand the frustrations from the parents thrusted into it!

As if 2020 wasn’t hard enough, I had recently read an article about the Cicadas 17-year return! I was like are you frickin’ kidding me? Thank God they are returning to the south, being that I experienced them when they were here the last time, I don’t think my nerves could handle it now. So, I have decided to share with you a story I wrote a few years ago that is based on my real experience. Needless to say, the kids and I freaked out when we saw thousands of them all perched on the blades of grass in our yard. They literally just appeared one morning, all of them, all at once! My oldest son filled his super-soaker water gun and open fired on them, and they did. not. move.  The noise is just as I describe and can produce a sound in excess of 100 decibels, a loud rock concert measures in at 120 decibels.  My mom did not believe me when I told her the noise was constant and how loud it was until she experienced it herself.  This went on for weeks, and we stayed indoors for the most part.  So, without further ado . . .

Rhythm is Gonna Get You

I start my day early like I always do. With coffee and newspaper in hand, I step out on my deck to enjoy the early morning quietness before work. My yard is my haven, my sanctuary, the place I retreat to for peace and quiet. My job on the floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is anything but peaceful. I stand up, take a deep breath of fresh air, and set my things down on the patio table. Stepping off the deck to check on my hanging planters, I near the grass. Something was odd, different. Yes, it was taller than normal, and at the top of my to do list for the weekend. But as I crouch down, I notice a large insect resting on the tip of a grass blade. As my eyes adjust, there are actually thousands of them, all balancing gracefully on the grass tips.  Unlike flies, they are undaunted by my presence or sudden movement as I step back. Returning to the patio table to drink my coffee, I open the newspaper, my attention drawn to a headline that reads 17-YEAR ABSENCE BILLIONS OF CICADAS TO DESCEND ON THE MIDWEST. Skimming over the article, I peer out at the scene before me, thinking, yep, they’re here. I go to work, without another thought to this unpleasant intrusion upon my haven.

Little did I know that this would be the day from hell.  I lost a boatload of money for one of my biggest clients, I’m lucky I didn’t lose my job.  Damn, I haven’t made a rookie mistake like that in 17 years.  My boss is being generous, he requests I take a mandatory vacation.  One to clear my head so I can get back in the game.  I’ve seen it happen to many of my colleagues, never thought I’d be one of them.  I stayed alert, stayed sharp, but this unexpected turn of the market came out of nowhere, I wasn’t the only one who lost big.

I spend the first 45 minutes of my drive home in silence to decompress.  The last leg of my trip, I crank up the tunes until I pull into my driveway greeted by the sweet sounds of nature that my overpriced mortgage affords me.

I pull up and turn off the ignition.  I pause, it isn’t quiet.  What I hear is something I’ve never heard before.  It is a loud hum, a buzzing kind of sound, yet it is very melodic, it isn’t made by one, but rather a legion.  The sound reverberates from the trees, the volume ebbs and flows like the swell of waves coming on to shore.  I notice my grass is no longer covered with insects.  Just like the article said, they retreat into the trees and make a lot of noise, this won’t be so bad.

I walk into the house, expecting to be hit with cool air, but I’m not.  I don’t hear the central air unit running and check the thermostat.  It’s set on 68, but it reads almost 83 as the indoor temp.  Just what I need, I’ll deal with that tomorrow, I’ll just open some windows.

All evening, and well into the night, the cadence of the cicada’s musicality serenades me.  But finally, by about 11 p.m., as if some great maestro waved his wand, it stops.  The silence is deafening.  Good I can get some sleep.  Oh, there were a few interruptions throughout the night, occasionally one rogue cicada buzzed just to be heard, like a petulant child.  But for the most part quiet.

The next morning is a different story.  With the rising of the sun, the cicadas awoke, somewhat discombobulated.  There was no melodic tune.  It was more sporadic, creating a cacophony that I thought would make my ears bleed.

I make several calls trying to get a heating and cooling guy out today, no such luck.  It won’t be until the first of the week. It is what it is, I move on with my day. I go outside to cut the grass, first checking to be sure none of the insects are still there, all clear.  With the lawnmower humming, I begin my trek across the yard.  The cicadas must be drawn to the sound of the mower, they begin to swarm around me landing on my arms and back.  They don’t bite or sting, they are just annoying, so much so I have to go back inside.  As the sun begins to set, the dissonance turns into a melodic lullaby.

Several days pass, the constant sound makes me irritable and fidgety.  My best friend and colleague calls and texts several times, leaving messages just to check on me.  Each time the phone rings or pings with an incoming message, I feel like I could jump out of my skin.  I don’t return his calls, my text replies are brief. I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone.   It’s as if the cicada’s rhythm controls me.  During the day, I’m agitated and unable to focus, but as the evening comes to a close, the lull calms me.  A Google search of these annoying invaders gives me an article that says they are good to eat, even includes a recipe, hmm.

The following afternoon, I fire up the grill and prepare myself a nice meal.  Just as I prepare to dig into my barbecue feast, my phone chirps with an incoming message.

Dude, haven’t heard from you, what’s up?

Nothing

You OK?

Fine

Thought I might stop by

No, don’t

Why not?

Not a good idea. Stay away.

The next thing I know, he’s pounding on my door.  “Martin, it’s me Greg, open up.”

I’m in no rush to open the door. My greeting lacks any enthusiasm “Hey Greg.” I flop back down on the couch.

“Dude, what the hell? Ya look like shit.”

Looking down at my clothes I can’t remember what day I put them on. I scratch the stubble on the side of my face.  Hmmm I should probably shave.

“Martin!” Greg abruptly says so loud I’m snapped back to reality.

“How can you stand this noise?” He rubs his hand down his face.

“You get used to it.  It’s not so bad at night.” I stand up but forget why and look around trying to remember what I was going to do.

Greg must have noticed my restlessness.  “I’m getting you out of here. Find your shoes I’ll grab some of your clothes, you can crash at my place for a while. Why is it so friggin’ hot in here?”

“Air conditioner is broken.” I scan the room for my shoes.

As I lace up my tennis shoes, Greg comes back down with my gym bag full, “C’mon, let’s go.”

We are only a couple of blocks away from my house, when I notice a change in the air.  The noise, it’s gone.  When I get to Greg’s house, the first thing I do is take a shower.  As the hot water streams down my body, I feel like I am waking up from a dream.  The events of the last couple of days run through my mind like a bad quality movie.

When I’m dressed, I walk into the kitchen. “Let’s eat,” Greg comes in from outside, with a couple of steaks on a plate.  The delicious aroma causes my stomach to grumble. Makes me wonder if I did in fact eat barbecued cicadas.  Nah, I couldn’t of.

© 2017 Carrie Ann