Especially for a former tomboy who could transform a smidgen of dry bread coupled with a drop of spit into an siren’s call for an unsuspecting brim.
Why was I spitting into a tube?
Let me back up.
Our two youngest are ours by adoption. An amazing, incredibly complicated journey for the adoptive parents, it’s even more so for the adoptee. Who never really had a say in the whole thing in the first place.
When we received our babies years ago, I didn’t know anything about how adoption might affect the baby through child, teen or adult years — but I’ve become quite the expert by book knowledge and experience.
One thing is clear. Though those of us raised by birth parents have our issues, we also take things for granted.
Such as how both my children admitted extreme anxiety when faced with the standard elementary school introduction into genetics.
Questions like — What color are your parents’ eyes? Is your parents’ hair curly, straight? Blonde or brunette? — led one child to stare at the blank page asking how do I know? And that child became more distressed when the unknowing teacher innocently marked the paper incomplete.
How can I answer questions I don’t know the answer to?
Finding and communicating with birth parents is a private family issue and one we discuss openly with our children — but as this past Christmas rolled around, I thought of another more general way for them find out more about their genetic roots.
Back to why I spit into a tube.
I ordered everyone in the family a DNA ancestry kit for Christmas. I researched the most popular companies and ultimately went with the one that had a $10 off Black Friday sale.
Now it’s obvious why my children would find tracing their ethic past fascinating. But why would I?
A lot of my ancestry has been researched and passed down.
A paternal great aunt traced my father’s family to the Minorcans from the Spanish isle of Minorca. In 1767 a Scottish physician, Dr. Turnbull, sailed to Minorca to find a labor force to build his settlement — New Smyrna Beach, Florida. My ancestors left their beautiful island in the Mediterranean to provide something close to slave labor for Turnbull’s New World venture. When my ancestors became sick of their indentured servitude to Turnbull, they slipped away to the beach and walked north to join the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine.
My mother has traced her family back to the Mayflower. I’m genetically connected to two of those smartly dressed Pilgrim passengers.
British Puritans and Spanish. Or that’s what I’ve always thought based on family members who have researched.
But what about my paternal grandmother whose maiden name was Camp? Seems Camp can be traced all over the place . . . British, French, Dutch even way back from the Old Germanic Kemp.
What if all the while I’ve secretly attributed my scattered undisciplined creativity to my warm weather, Mediterranean genetics and it turns out my DNA is over 50 percent Germanic? Old Germanic at that.
How will I now excuse an unmade bed at 11:30 in the morning?
The other day I placed my tube in the pouch and mailed it off.
I’ll share my results in a few months.
So Adios for now.
Got to go wash the baseboards and dust the root cellar.
Five hundred words a day. You wouldn’t think it is that hard.
It’s a blog post for pity’s sake.
Day after day for over a year, the outline of a novel has wrestled around in my thoughts. Why can’t I designate time to spew out a first draft?
The other week, my eyes happened upon a book at our local library.
Daisy, our kitty, was determined to be in this photo.
Better Than Before, Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.
I need to master writing each day.
Gretchen Rubin’s book is a fascinating look at personality tendencies and what it takes to form a habit. She hypothesizes that by creating habits we change behavior.
The behavior I want to cultivate is hammering out a first draft.
Rubin stresses what works for one person — to stick with a diet or exercise plan — might not work for 10 others.
It’s important to understand yourself and your unique idiosyncrasies to form a habit or give up something such as a case of wine a day routine.
She designates four personality tendencies toward sticking to habits.
Turns out I am a Rebel which means I only follow habits, external or internal, if I want to.
(After reading the book, I thought I was a Rebel. Then I took the survey at the end of book and said yes to five of six Rebel questions.)
Why is this important?
External habits are those we stick to meet others’ expectations. Internal habits are those we adopt for personal desires.
As a Rebel I follow external pressures or internal pressures only if I want to.
Which kind of stinks and explains so much of my life.
Writing a novel falls squarely in the camp of internal expectations.
I’ve had success with pure internal challenges from small things like reading the bible each day – done that every day since January 1, 2015. To bigger challenges such as training for marathons. To huge internal commitments like completing two successful adoptions which included massive internal regrouping and navigating two failed scenarios.
Writing this novel is something I want to do and I’ve commited to tougher challenges — so what is the problem with my attempts to form a daily habit of writing a first draft?
* * *
Update. Since drafting the above last weekend, I’ve written 500 (well, almost 500) words for four days straight.
What’s the difference? I’ve made it a priority and I’ve maybe figured out why it’s so hard for me to commit to this.
There’s no quick payoff. There’s no finish line in sight. It came to me that I’m much more into tackling goals than creating habits.
Goals seem to me as doable chunks of time with a payoff.
So I set the goal to write 500 words every day for 30 days.
A beginning, an end and a clearly defined task.
I’ll report back in 30 day to let you know how I did. Well, if I want to report back I will, since I’m a Rebel and all.
Better Than Before was an insightful read.
Well researched. Rubin was a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Conner so she’s got the researching thing down.
And she’s an entertaining writer. Who obviously can finish the first draft of a book.
Any habits you’d like to adopt that you haven’t quite been able to?
“But that was the thing that I was born for.” Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
SharkWeek is the one week my entire family gathers around the television.
Sure there are the rare snow days with possible school closings and my edicts for mandatory attendance at the family Christmas Movie Festival, but this is the only voluntary, all family member watch in.
But we like sharks around here.
My son is quite the shark fisher person. And has been for years.
Today having lunch downtown, I saw a local resident and pro-grade fisher person. I got up, interrupted his lunch and pulled out pictures of my son from a few weeks ago at the beach.
Jake at three. Jake who will turn 22 this year.
Jake had a Shark Party for his 5th birthday. We made shark stick puppets and played Pin the Fin on the Shark.
One time long, long ago, running out of shark videos to watch, we headed up to Blockbuster. The helpful employee handed me children National Geographic sealife videos with cartoon fish swimming and singing on the cover.
My then three year old disagreed. “No mama. Angry animals. I want angry animals.”
So . . .
In celebration of the Ides of July and SharkWeek, I decided to interview my favorite “angry animal” lover.
(Just to let you know all these fish said “cheese” and were promptly released.)
A bull shark heading back out to sea.
Jake at 16 with a tiger shark.
When/what was your first attraction to sharks?
I truly have been fascinated by sharks for as long as I can remember and have always had a special love for the sea, and naturally had a fascination with its apex predator, the shark. From the time I was able I have been watching and reading anything I can about sharks and why they behave the way they do.”
From his teen years on, while there was still frost on the ground, he would order fishing gear for summer. Sitting on the couch, reading and watching YouTube. I lamented if only he could get that excited about school work.
When did you decide to start catching them?
The summer of my 7th grade year.I always wanted to catch the largest fish that I possibly could. At that point in my fishing career, I was limited to shore fishing. I asked myself what was the biggest fish I could catch from the beach and that’s when I decided to target sharks.
Jake pulling in a bull shark a few summers ago.
What were your trials and errors?
The first few years of shark fishing seemed to be nothing but trial and error. It seemed that I could do nothing right. I couldn’t catch bait consistently, couldn’t set my bait correctly, couldn’t get a hookup when I got a bite, and when I did finally hook a shark, I could never successfully get it in to the beach. What I didn’t appreciate at the time though, was every time that I failed I was learning something new. Every summer I was more prepared than the last.
A lemon shark. Kristin, Jake’s girlfriend and fishing mate is on the left.
I’m sure some readers are concerned about the well-being of the fish. What precautions do you take to ensure a safe release?
The first time that I caught a large shark (one that was over 5 feet) it died. I was completely unprepared. During the fight, I traveled several hundred yards down the beach. By the time I landed the shark, I was several minutes away from crucial gear such as pliers. Despite my best efforts to get the blacktip back on its way, it died. From that point on I made it my goal to not keep any shark out of water for more than two minutes. Since that first large shark I have held to my goal, and have not lost another shark.
With all the recent attacks in NC what would be your advice to people who are afraid to get in water?
I would tell beachgoers in NC that you can’t let sharks dictate your actions. Even with the recent attacks, you are still much more likely to be in a severe car accident heading to the beach than to be attacked by a shark.
However, there are warning signs. Never go swimming when there are bait fish in the water. Baitfish are what sharks are eating, and if there are baitfish around there are sharks not far behind and they are in feeding mode.
Evidence of baitfish are splashes on the surface and birds diving close to shore. It is also not advisable to swim during the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. During these time sharks are the most active.
With the increased regulation of shark fishing, what do you see in the future?
Unfortunately, I see continued regulation. The most likely being time limits on when shark fishing can be done on crowded beaches. Many beaches in South Florida have already introduced such ordinances.
Ordinances such as these are all done by county regulators trying to keep their beachgoers from being scared away by the ocean’s apex predator being pulled up on the beach. They are acting from a purely economic standpoint.
Spoken like a true Accounting Major.
What was your greatest thrill shark fishing?
There is nothing like the thrill of being hooked to an animal that is much larger that you are. There is also the thrill of getting to pull these creatures up on the beach. There is nothing like being up close and personal with these large predators.
Are you interested in another fishing challenge?
I really want to get into big game offshore fishing. The costs and time that are required to participate in big game offshore fishing are immense, however, the angling experience it provides is like no other. It is on my bucket list to catch a large blue marlin.
A nurse shark.
And how about a plug for your new business venture.
I would really like to get into the business of selling fishing leaders, including shark leaders. When I first started shark fishing, I found very few leaders for sale on the internet. Not knowing how to make my own, I made a lot of mistakes in my early years of shark fishing that could have been avoided had it been for premade shark leaders for sale.
By making shark leaders, I could make a profit while helping others get into the sport.
Any other thing you want to mention?
I would just encourage anyone that is looking to get into the sport bring lots of patience and always practice catch and release so that we will all have sharks to catch.
* * *
When I get old and gray, I’ll always remember those nights heading down to the beach after getting a text a shark’s on the line.
As a mom, it is more than fun to watch your son come alive doing something he loves.
Jake uses offshore tackle and heavy line so that he can get the fish in quickly and prevent exhaustion. For him and most importantly, the fish.
* * *
I get the thrill of fishing. I loved to fish growing up.
And centuries ago, my ancestors from my father’s side settled St. Augustine in the 1600s.
Before that, they were fisherman off the coast of Minorca, Spain.
I like to think some fishing magic trickled down to me. And then to my son. Who knows?
I can’t just dive headfirst into this post without saying my mother and I are very different in some ways.
She came out with a T-Square clutched in her bitty fist.
I hyperventilate at the thought of having to draw a straight line. Now I love to draw, but the thought of having to draw anything precise sends me searching for a brown paper bag.
Ten Things Thankful about my Dear Mom:
10. So thankful you stopped asking when I was going to host coffees.
9. That you used your powers for good and wallpapered countless walls, in countless of my houses. Painted countless cabinets and helped me clean out all my cr@p when asked. Though my albums were not such items. Nor did they need to be donated to the Orlando Rescue Mission to hang on the wall of some other midlife crazy woman and not mine.
Jesus says to forgive and I have.
8. Jesus. You always took me to church and modeled faith.
7. Let it go. You can’t let things go, but darn it. I love you for saying that you can.
6. Can I let things go? Seems I have a little problem about you asking if I’ve hosted any coffees or the owner of my complete ZZTOP and Gap Band LP collection.
5. Thankful that you were the best mom in the history of moms in cleaning up throw up.
For that I am in awe.
4. You were the best mom at ignoring my mess and let me super glue pictures of Carlton Fisk, Affirmed and Rod Stewart to my walls. My room was papered from ceiling to floor in everyone from Bucky Dent to Ron Guidry — heck, I’m sure Bruce Jenner was up there. This collage of cr@p must have killed you.
3. Thankful that you held it together when I got crazy bit by our dog when I was 12. All the surgeries that took. As a mom now, I admire how strong you were.
2. That you stopped making my clothes when I got to junior high. #thankGod.
1. That you were always there. To clean up vomit, make fried chicken on my birthday and field those sobbing calls from college when whats-his-name would break up with me for the 1,00000,001,0002.5 time.
You are such a strong woman. You need to relax at bit –– but you are the best.
I debated whether to post this pic. Full disclosure — In cropping out my thighs, my beer also disappeared from the photo where it rested a few inches from my left arm.
This is what I do well. Sit in the sun while reading. A reformed magazine-o-holic, my mother brings me all hers and the few I do get pile up. Then when I get away, I binge read Good Housekeeping, SELF, Oprah, Country Living, Southern Living — the assorted Anything Living magazines.
Part of me likes to think it helps me write a smidge better since I write for print. How other writer’s handle interviews and home redo stories interest me.
The other part of me likes to veg. Check out. And a good magazine helps.
When I see a recipe, self help or house idea I like I rip the page out old school as in the days before Pinterest.
Like this article on to-do lists in Martha Stewart’s Living. Which is ironic to me, since every issue of her magazine can be considered one big TO DO.
Martha Stewart does. And she does whatever she does well. Dang, she even did her stint in prison better than I did some 5-year-old birthday parties.
Not that I don’t try with the to-dos.
Just like the beer was in my wingspan out by the pool, this stack of 3 x 5 cards stays at my right elbow on my desk.
I recently purged the piles on my desk but that said, these were the to-do cards I found scattered about his morning.
Just looking at the photo, I can already tell the chance of that swim happening are about nil.
Also the write for an hour. On my book. That needs to become a priority and here I blog.
The Living article stated the point of writing things down is to get them off our minds. To make things less overwhelming.
It also said to find a system that works for you. I need visual reminders or I run to the brightest, flashiest object and forget the dull, yet extremely important task — like pay the water bill before it gets shut off. Who remembers that stuff when there are posts to write and seeds to sow?
There are the tasks, I move from day to day. Mail off my racing medals to Medals-for-Mettle. And tasks that don’t seem pressing but need to get done or it will be too late, like putting in my summer garden.
Am starting to get a little antsy because I need to draft a column for magazine. That needs to get done today. But so does a trip to the bank, and dinner and I want to pick strawberries with the kids this week they are out of school.
The article promises to help us “get control of our to-do list — rather than the other way around.”
I’m not sure that applies to me. How can I be controlled by a list when so much is left undone each day? The only thing it controls is my stress level by causing it to skyrocket.
April Fool’s Day. I love a good joke within reason.
Looking at the date, my already keen Spidey Sense was on high alert.
Or so I thought.
Having finished some work, today was the day to check some of those tasks that had been piling up off my list.
Number one being my camera.
It’s been sitting on my desk since it took a direct hit from a bit of spilt water. Darned if I can remember who I sent it to last time to repair. So I contacted my amazing fabuolismo photographer friend Angelina Bellebuono to get the company name again.
This was such a relief.
Because last time I thought I was texting Angelina — I had the wrong number.
I remember putting the correct number in my contacts — or did I?
To be honest I wasn’t 100 percent sure.
I was overjoyed that I did indeed have Angelina on the case to help my fix my silly camera.
So I told her the sorted tale.
This made me wonder if it had dried out? I put in new batteries.
Yes. I rejoiced!
And then they didn’t pooh.
I shared this real time tale of woe with Angelina. 🙁
Or did I?
Do you believe this sh*?
I am flippn’ loopy.
I spent the next ten minutes trying to convince Not Angelina that I wasn’t hoppin’ a ride on the Crazy Train.
Which only confirmed the Crazy Train Yurail Chip embedded in my cerebellum.
Adolescence has always been tough, but today’s youth experience the awkwardness of adolescent transformation like no generation before. What happens when your new selfie receives only five likes? Or worse, when things turn ugly and bullying starts.
Back when I was in school, a student who was the relentless target of putdowns or threats of violence, at least got a break once home for the day. With social media, bullying becomes 24/7 sport.
A freelance writer, blogger at These Little Waves, wife and mother of three, Galit Breen lives and works in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in online publications such as Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. A twist of fate surrounding a post of hers resulted in her current mission and book, Kindness Wins.
“I had a post go viral this fall about comments I received about my weight on an article I wrote about marriage. Not too long after that, my daughter and her friends began using social media platforms like Instagram. When I looked through some of the kids’ profiles, I realized there’s a lot of kindness terrain to cover. After my experience with unkind comments and fat shaming, I knew I wanted to do something about cyberbullying. This book is my ‘something.'”
Galit hopes Kindness Wins can be a guide for parents and a resource for teachers and leaders of any small group of tween and teens — such as a youth group or after school program.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Galit, her family, her work and her ideals through interacting a number of years on social media and reading her blogs and writing. Last year, I got to chat with her dear self in person at a writer’s conference. And had the opportunity to ask how to pronounce her lovely name. (Gay-leet).
In writing Kindness Wins, Galit drew upon her vast working knowledge of social media and her teaching background. With a M.A. in Education, she was in the classroom for 10 years as a reading teacher. And Galit listened to the counsel of her tween and her daughter’s friends in the writing and editing process.
Just a few of the endorsements Kindness Wins has received:
“An absolute must read for anyone raising a child in this unfamiliar (and slightly terrifying) age of social media. I’m a better parent having read it.”– Jill Smokler, New York Times bestselling author, Confessions of a Scary Mommy.
“An indispensable 21-century manual of manners written for 21st-century parents and their children. With compassion, humor, insight, and practical wisdom born of firsthand experience, Galit Breen makes a compelling case for online decency. What would happen if parents and kids everywhere could read these 10 simple rules of conduct, learn them by heart, and live by them each and every time they log in? The world would change dramatically–and for the good of us all.”– Katrina Kenison, author of Mitten Strings for God and The Gift of the Ordinary Day.
“Thought-provoking, inspiring, and simple to grasp, Kindness Wins is an invaluable parenting tool filled with extremely effective ways to teach our kids how to be kind online. Simply put, when kindness wins, we all do.”—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia.
I don’t write about the struggles with my children because it is their struggle, trying to find a true self, separate from me — as my children by adoption. But young people today are not only wondering who they are amongst their flesh and blood peers, they are contemplating who they are (or want to be) online.
Discuss online community and identity with your children. Our family does talk candidly talk about online behavior. Kindness Wins is a great way to open that dialogue with your tween or new teen. Take it from me, the social media waters drop off into a murky abyss the moment your back is turned putting a pan of lasagna in the oven.
Any tips that work for you discussing social media dos and don’ts with your children?
Oy. Life is flying by and I haven’t stopped by to chat for the longest time.
Plenty of posts started in my head but paying work, cooking collard green soup, cleaning house, changing the inner tubes on my bike tires and rearing children have taken priority.
But one post hasn’t left my mind, so I’ve decided to stop for a moment and write.
Weekend before last, I had a visit from a childhood friend.
On the porch, in the morning before heading downtown to get some breakfast.
Here we are back in the day.
Anne grew up a block from our high school in Central Florida but since leaving for college, she has lived way up north — Midwest up north.
First she went to Marquette University which is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
She met and married her journalist husband, Chris and they moved to Duluth, Minnesota. There they had two beautiful children and decided to head south for warmer temps to raise the family.
They settled on Cleveland.
I traveled to Central Georgia in my mid-20s and if we were to move again, notice how my arrows tend to drift.
Yes, I don’t get to see Anne often being that she is in Cleveland, Ohio. So it was extra special that she rented a car and came out to Madison on a Sunday night when she was in Atlanta for the weekend.
We talked and talked. In someways it seemed like just yesterday we were at her house for an after graduation luncheon.
But things have changed since May 1981.
I realized how very young her father, Glenn Miller the long time Director of the Orlando Public Library, was when he had his stroke — younger than I am today.
Her father has been gone a while now. As has mine.
Her younger 6′ 4″ brothers have families of their own. In my mind will always be the young, good-looking, fun, extremely tall boys who drank a gallon a milk each day.
One image sticks out in all that talking we did. Anne remarked we will soon be the grandmothers in the family photos.
Grandmothers in family photos. Us?
Grandmothers are the ones in photos in the spot reserved for grandmothers. Whom we adore.
A few weeks ago, I attended the BAM conference in Nashville meeting so many great women. Women who talked of their careers, life with an empty nest and their grandchildren.
That made sense.
Those conversations with my high school buddy, not so much.
No that’s not true. It does make sense and it is wonderful.
It’s just how quickly time has flown that doesn’t make sense.
Riding out of the high school parking with the windows down and The Wall playing over the radio, life on earth was an eternity.
Now we know better.
That’s why it meant so much that Anne took the time – and the extra day — to head out this way. I’m realizing it’s time to start taking the time for what’s important.
xoxo to you Anne. Hope to visit soon — in the summers.
When was the last time you reconnect with an old friend?