Thinking of you, Dad, on Election Day

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My dad has Alzheimer’s so unfortunately he won’t be voting today.
That said; anyone who knows him knows he loved to talk politics and that he would have probably voted Republican even though he’d have made it clear that he thinks they’re all a bunch of assholes.
 
Over the years, he and I have had endless political discussions and debates, a few of them heated to say the least. But back in 2008, when I told him I was voting for Hillary Clinton in the primary and listed my top few reasons why, surprisingly he didn’t argue with me. He knew my mind was made up so he just listened and nodded.
 
I could tell he was proud of me then and I know he would be proud of me today as I take his granddaughter to the polls with me to vote for the candidate I truly believe in. Because that’s what it’s all about!
 
Even though my dad and I have disagreed on many things, he and I actually have a lot in common. Oddly enough, he always wanted me to go to a liberal college and perhaps not so odd he raised me to be a hardworking, open minded, passionate, critical thinker just like him.
 
Thanks, Dad. I’m forever grateful for everything you’ve taught me. I love you and I miss you and I’ll surely be thinking of you a lot today.
 
What I wouldn’t give to debate you one more time. xoxo

30 Things in My 30s

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I love birthdays. Mine. Yours. Anyone’s really.

In my opinion birthdays are yet another reason to celebrate and I especially love doing that.

I’ve never been one to dread getting older either. I know some folks truly despise their birthdays like each one is another step closer to death. I never thought about it like that. Rather, I’ve always thought of my birthday as exciting and fun and honestly not at all scary or intimidating.

Maybe it’s because I don’t really feel older or because age is just a number, blah blah blah, or maybe it’s the childlike enthusiasm that comes with looking forward to an upcoming birthday that makes each year feel more magical and important than the one before. Or maybe it’s the cards and gifts and all the special “happy birthday” messages and songs. I love all that stuff!

I’m not sure what it is entirely but like every other year I’m looking forward to my birthday and as I approach this one—the big 4-0—I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, about the person I’ve become and about all the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had along the way, and specifically the things that happened in my 30s, as well as my goals and accomplishments, too.

In addition to birthdays, I also love making lists so, to mark the occasion and as a sort of decade sendoff, I made a list of thirty things I accomplished in my 30s. I made a similar list about my 20s (with just twenty things) when I turned 30 but I didn’t blog back then, or I’d have probably posted it too. To keep with the theme, in another ten years, I guess I’ll probably have to come up with forty things for my next big milestone birthday. Looks like I’ll be pretty busy in my 40s!

I also made a list of goals for the year ahead when I turned 39 (my insanity isn’t strictly limited to whole decades) and as I reviewed it recently I came to realize just how much I snuck in during the previous ten (and still counting) months.

Truly, a whole lot has happened this year! A whole fucking lot in fact! But it makes sense since it has sort of been an overall theme to the entire decade. 39 (which isn’t quite yet over but will be soon enough) has indeed been—and continues to be—a proper climax to my 30s.

It’s been a dramatic year filled with many twists and turns and more highs and lows than you can shake a stick at (I’m not sure what that means but I like how it sounds). I might even consider revising my Things to Accomplish in my 40s list (yes, of course, I’ve already drafted that, too).

Anyway. Here’s my list.

30 Things I accomplished in my 30s

  1. Lived in three states: Texas, New York and Iowa (prior to my 30s I lived in PA and NJ, too)
  2. Directed numerous large scale international events and ran a department at a media company
  3. Traveled nationally and internationally to many places and met lots of interesting people
  4. Directed two celebrity golf tournaments (in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic)
  5. Married my soul mate, Jason. Awww!
  6. Took a huge risk in giving up my career as an event planner to write a novel!
  7. Lived at the beach!
  8. Started my own company and eventually realized it wasn’t for me (this is a 2 for 1 deal)
  9. Designed two websites all by myself
  10. Started blogging
  11. Gave birth to a beautiful girl named Lyla. Being her mom has been awesome!
  12. Got diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease – not exactly a traditional accomplishment but still
  13. Learned to live with PKD and battled and survived postpartum depression!
  14. Connected with my inner hippy through meditation and astrology (I even met Susan Miller!)
  15. Taught myself how to read Tarot (this comes in super handy at parties!)
  16. Saw Prince in concert (checked that one off my concert bucket list!)
  17. Made the decision to move to Iowa!
  18. Bought a house!
  19. Made lots of amazing new friends and became a part of an awesome little community
  20. Bought new carpet for the house (so far, this is the moment I felt the most grown up)
  21. Wrote a bunch of poems and two novels (and revised and rewrote both several times)
  22. Went back to school to acquire my MFA in Creative Writing
  23. Wrote an award winning screenplay!! Yay!
  24. Got to stay downtown in Philly and play tourist in my hometown with my family
  25. Lost 50 pounds (gained half back but who’s counting?)
  26. Finally completed my novel Private Mommies Society!
  27. Graduated with honors!! I officially have my MFA in Creative Writing!
  28. Queried literary agents and kept pushing forward and revising despite rejections
  29. Received an offer of representation and signed with my agent!
  30. Hmm… Looks like I have room for one more… I have a feeling it’ll be a good one.

Another poem inspired by mommyhood…

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Hangover Mimosa
We laughed till the sun rose
Memories and wine were to blame
You couldn’t feel your nose
I might have forgotten my name

Ceiling spins and it rushes back to me
Stomach erupts as cartoons pierce my brain
Reminds me of responsibility
Oh how we now need to breathe through the pain

This time the hair of the dog won’t fix it
When the new puppy pees on the floor
Unsupervised minions run rampant
We must be Mommy and Daddy once more.

Plop plop fizz fizz in our OJ sure hits the spot.
A relief it is… though a mimosa it’s not.

A (haibun) poem for Mother’s Day

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Distraction
I spread my yellow cotton sheet out onto our lawn’s lush green grass and lay down alone with my laptop. The warm air still smells of last night’s campfire tainted with a faint hint of chlorine. Birds are chirping. Bees are buzzing. This is the perfect spot to write a poem about nature, I think. I look across the street at the young cornfield and wait for my inspiration to come to me.

I feel the sun’s warmth
as deer play in the distance,
zero distractions.

But then braided blond hair bounces by. It belongs to a giggling girl. I look up and watch as she skips through a sea of bubbles, laughing, playing fairy, granting wishes. She spies a butterfly, chases it for a moment but becomes distracted, as easily as me, by a dandelion that has gone to seed and so she pauses to make a wish of her own. I lean in and listen.

She wishes for cake
with candles. Ah, more wishes.
Mother like daughter.

She spins off and I smile and look away. I try again to write this poem. “Watch me, Mommy,” she shouts and I turn back again just as she scoots her bottom onto the swing. Then she watches me to make sure I’m watching her. I smile to reassure her. She holds on tight and launches.

Swinging on a swing,
higher and higher she goes,
toes tickling clouds.

As she looks up, I do too. I see the cotton candy blue sky above us with its big puffy white billowing clouds. They pass ethereally. Maybe they’re my inspiration. They glide by and by and as I relax into the moment my mind decides to go with them.

Floating on a cloud,
looking down, the world drifts by,
but only a dream.

The sound of sneakers on gravel brings me back to my blanket. I rub my eyes and then stare back down at the glare on the blank screen. This assignment is due soon and I feel I must focus on being inspired. I need to force this poem out of me. Just then the reflection of the sun’s rays barely stings my eyes, just enough to inspire me in a different direction.

I look away again and see Lyla at the top of the slide.

“Arr, I’m a pirate!”
Sharks are surrounding the ship.
This haiku can wait.

My New Year’s Resolutions (More or Less)

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Take less
Give more
Procrastinate less
Write more
Thirst less
Drink more
Spend less
Save more
Snack less
Workout More
Whine less
Smile more
Cocktail less
Wine more
Ache less
Sleep more
Dry out less
Moisturize more
Worry less
Meditate more
Nitpick less
Celebrate more
Cry less
Laugh more
Dislike less
Love more
Bitch less
Adore more
Sit less
Play more
Limit less
Imagine more
Fear less
Dream more
Want less
Be more.

Thank You and You and You and You and You…

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It’s not the things we have and don’t have that make us who we are. It’s the people who we love and who love us.

I am so thankful for my family, my friends and for all the people who have come in and out of my life. Thank you for making this life such a wonderful journey.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

xoxo,

Val

Lyla’s Shopping List

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I need to go to the supermarket today and do some pre-Thankgiving food shopping so this morning I decided to put together a list. While doing so, my 3-yr-old daughter, Lyla, approached and asked me what I was doing.

I told her I was making a list of food and groceries to get at the supermarket and she replied that she wanted to make one, too. So, mostly humoring her, I asked her what needed to be on the list, though I’m not sure why I bother humoring her when it’s becoming clear that she’s smarter than me.

Anyway, (without any prompting and in the order she mentioned each item) the following is exactly what she told me to put on her list:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Bologna
  • Milk
  • Apple Juicey
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Rectangle Crackers (AKA: Graham Crackers)
  • Sour Creamy
  • Colored Cereal
  • Charm Cereal
  • More veggies for dipping
  • Yo-grut (this is spelled incorrectly on purpose per her pronunciation)
  • Ranch Dressing

Not a bad list. I’ll need to add a few items of my own and maybe remove at least one (or perhaps both) of those sugary cereals she seems to love so much but all in all it’s a pretty decent shopping list… especially for a 3-yr-old.

I’m actually kind of surprised she didn’t include ice cream (Va-lil-la is her fave). I think I’ll go ahead and add that one in anyway!