Friday, May 9, 2014

Yo Mama


It teaches you a few things…

Like how to open a stroller with your teeth.

That zone defense stinks. Man-to-man is the only way to go.

And that you can achieve perfection…

in your efforts to mimic the voice of Goofy.

Only to be asked to use it in every conversation

for an entire year.

You learn that relief is always temporary…

Your next gig?

Oscar the Grouch.

You realize that those fascinating psychological studies revealed NOTHING about the real-world effects of sleep deprivation.

Because in the real world, you find yourself ending phone conversations with “Love you” no matter who is on the line…

Pediatric nurse


The cable guy.

You stumble around for days not knowing the season or year.

You use the dog’s name when speaking to your child.

And you lose your keys 87,000 times —

only to find them lurking in the strangest places…

The file cabinet under “S”

The freezer

Your hand.

Good thing the Devil never shows up —

because you become the kind of person who would gladly hand over her soul AND the 401(k) for a 20-minute nap.

You discover that hazmat suits are for sissies —

a person can actually have continual exposure to bodily fluids and live to tell the tale.

And tell the tale you will — to anyone, no matter who, no matter where…




Miss Manners be damned.

Graduate school?

Turns out, that was a cakewalk.

And unless your advanced degree was in choo choos or birdies, nobody you work with gives a hoot.

Yeah, I’m still stumbling my way through the mommy years.

I've done well enough to reach the “teen” level.

And this is a tough one

They've figured out that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Even so, I've done okay.

How do I know?

If I were in a maturity contest and pitted against my own offspring…

They would win.

PROMPT:  Erma Bombeck made an entire writing career out of motherhood. So, if you mother something — be it human, hairy, or 
houseplant  you've got material. And hey, if you see a mother this weekend, give her a hug. Better yet — a nap.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Grump-Be-Gone Gets Results!

"Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you'll be a success."
 Albert Schweitzer

Yesterday’s Grump Out Day definitely needed a follow-up. And Albert Schweitzer is just the man for the job.

Albert was one of the leaper colonyfolks I wrote about way back on our last leap year. He’s the guy who became a world-famous organist, then chucked it all at the age of 30 to go to medical school. The rest is more “world-famous” history. He saved patients, started hospitals, and wrote lots of books, yet still managed to find the time to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

What a guy.

What a deliriously happy guy.

For the sake of comparison, let’s consider another quote. I’ll tell you right now that this dude did not become a world-class organist, physician, or Nobel Peace Prize recipient. In fact, I don’t think he managed to make it through the first grade — and I think you’ll see why…

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.
(from The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh by A. A. Milne)

Unless they’re handing out Ph.D.s in gloom, this guy’s going nowhere.

But sadly, there are an awful lot of Eeyores out there clinging to the belief that they will be happy just as soon as they get some success.

Oh, if only that were true.

Tough break, Cupcake — if your wish is to be successful, you’re going to have to get yourself some happy first.

Because it turns out that Albert was right. (I guess we can add world-class psychologist to his “success even after death” resume.)

Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California says, “Previous research often assumed that success and accomplishments bring happiness, but we found that this isn't the case.”

Her studies demonstrated that “When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic, and energetic and others find them likable and sociable…”

Which, of course, leads to more of what we call “success.”

Happiness first, Cupcake.

Happiness first.

PROMPT: Get yourself some happy today! Studies show that some of the keys to wear on your happiness tool belt include gratitude, physical activity, positive thinking, and (great news!) creative endeavors — like writing!

This writing business. Pencils and what-not.
Over-rated, if you ask me.
Silly stuff. Nothing in it.

Yeah. Rock on, Eeyore… Best of luck handling all of your success.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Be happy for this moment.
This moment is your life.
—Omar Khayyam

Get lost, Grumpy! Happy's the only dwarf we want to deal with right now…

Because today is the Great American Grump Out!

That’s right.

And that means for the next 24 hours there is to be no—

whining, frowning, fussing, bellyaching, grousing, grumbling, lamenting, screeching, crabbing, sulking, griping, scowling, glowering, or even eye-rolling.

Yep, all across the fruited plain.
We must refrain from the complain.

And yeah, that means you even have to endure bad poetry without groaning.

But hey, I've got some great stuff that can get you through…

We’ll start with the obvious — some Happy.

Got work to do?

Then this is what you want.

Still need a convincer that happy is the only way to be?

Shawn Achor’s TED talk will set you straight.

Face it, every day is Grump Out Day on the good ship Elbow.

PROMPT: Get rid of the grump, and get on board with these American Authors. This could be the best day of your life!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Short and Sweet

Would you like to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week AND win a nifty key chain?

This week, the online magazine Smith is sponsoring a writing contest about teachers.

The catch?

You can only use six words.

You see, Smith is famous for its six-word memoir challenge —

The clever test of wordsmithing based on an old tale about Earnest Hemingway.

Legend has it that Mr. H. once made a bet that he could write a complete story in only six words.

His winning tale?

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

While it’s most likely that the legend itself is actually a work of fiction, you can bet your bottom dollar that the six-word story is a terrific writing exercise.

Here are few fun memoir examples to get you in the swing —

The miserable childhood leads to royalties.
~ Frank McCourt

 Well, I thought it was funny.
~Stephen Colbert

Couldn't cope so I wrote songs.
~Aimee Mann


Grew taller. But, alas, never matured.

And for all of the wonderful teachers in my life —

What?! They DON’T live at school??

PROMPT: Enter this week’s six-word teacher appreciation contest here. Or if memoir is more your cup of tea, enter your super six-word life story here.

Who knows? You might win a fabulous prize or end up in Smith’s next compilation! For inspiration, pick up a copy of Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith.

And how can I resist a “six pack” of instructions just for you?

Life’s all material — so write on!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Feature

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
—Albert Einstein

I’m not so sure that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s teacher was happy about awakening all that joy in creative expression when she saw this little ditty chalked on the board—

Going to school is lots of fun,
From laughing we have gained a ton.
We laugh until we have a pain,

Little did Laura know at the time, but “Lizy Jane” would eventually become her sister-in-law.

Yeah, I bet those family reunions were swell.

Anyway, do not let this happen to you. Instead, show the love. After all, it’s Teacher Appreciation Week

So, let’s give some thought to all those wonderful folks who taught us to read (Thank you, Miss Henry!)…

write (Merci, Mrs. Campbell, Mr. Rupert, and Dr. Z!)…

and draw (That’s you, Miss Hunt — thanks a bunch!).

And what the heck, we’re writers  so we might want to put them into a story or two.

But then again, as writers we've got to appreciate those others as well…

Like the ones with the irresistible names (I was blessed with a Miss Dry, Mrs. Coy, Mr. Saucer, and Miss Hickey)…

Or the ones with those unforgettable personalities (I had a fabulous pseudo-swearer in the 7th grade, and my class gave her unlimited opportunities to blurt “Oh fudge cake and nuts” all the livelong day)…

And, of course, the mean ones.


Future in-laws be damned, I say go for it!

PROMPT: It’s a great week to appreciate your favorite (and perhaps not-so-favorite) teachers. So, give them an adventure, a superpower, or head lice and get them into a book!