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What Are You Waiting For? Eat the Good Cereal First

This morning, I finally used the new bottle of shampoo I bought two weeks ago. I made myself use up all of the old bottle before I tried the new brand. I was excited to try the new formula, which promised to keep my flyaways in check. It also smelled awesome, like a tropical vacation.

The last bottle was fine, but I picked it up in a hurry when I couldn’t find anything better. It didn’t really smell like anything and didn’t promise to do anything but clean my hair.

Bowl of marshmalllow sugary cereal
Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

We were talking about how when we were kids we could only have one box of cereal open at a time. If your mom went shopping and brought home a good box of cereal, in our house Cap’n Crunch, you had to finish the other cereal first. That was usually something less tasty like Cheerios or Corn Flakes. But once you’re an adult you don’t have to wait anymore. You can open the good cereal right away when you bring it home. It reminded me of something a friend once said to me. “We’re adults now, so we can eat the good cereal first.”As I looked around my shower, I noticed all the other things I was waiting to use. All the products I was doling out slowly so as not to run out. The special scrub and gel which smelled like spearmint and tea tree and promised to reduce stress, the new bottle of shower cream my sister gave me at Thanksgiving that smelled and felt luxurious that I had used once a week since. I even had leftovers of the special antimicrobial cleaner I was supposed to drain before a minor surgery sitting on the edge of the bathtub.

I could think of all the other boxes of “good cereal” I was waiting to eat.

I could think of other unopened boxes of “good cereal” in my life. I had two pre-paid sessions at a float pod I had never used after trying it last winter. I had money left on a gift card at a spa. I squirreled away trial bottles of expensive shampoo, body wash, and lotion that I bought from St. Vincent De Paul, for some day in the future.

And I even had a real cereal example. In the morning I rationed out my granola, only allowing myself a small bit on top of fruit and granola instead of the full bowl with milk that I wanted. Everywhere I looked, I was keeping myself in check for some far off day when what? When I would I would deserve all this stuff?

So I decided to stop waiting. I made an appointment to take a float and I’m bringing along my luxurious bath creams, shampoos, and lotions. I’m calling and making an appointment at the spa today. This morning I had a full bowl of granola for breakfast. I’m done waiting for the day when I’ll be worth it. Today is the day.

What about you? What is the “good cereal” you are waiting to eat? Let me know below in the comments.

Honest Graphic Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Artistic Passion

Book Review GraphicHey, Kiddo is a graphic memoir that tells the story of Jarrett J. Krosoczka from the time he goes to live with his grandparents until he graduates from high school. The subtitle gets to the meat of the story: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction.

The book is told through Krosoczka’s eyes as he loses his mother after she goes to prison, though he doesn’t know why, and eventually learns who his father is. He describes his grandparents as very old, having lived through the depression, and smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. They also often drink heavily are a bit gruff, though are loving to him.

Since it is told through his point of view and what he knew at the time, we don’t exactly find out why his mom went to prison, though there are pictures showing what he learned about the circumstances later. We also learn that she is a heroin addict and there are references to it throughout the book, often through other characters or to what the family reads in the paper after she suffers an overdose or is arrested.youngadultelement108

He wrote the book for teens who may have lived through similar circumstances, but I found the book to be pretty sad and rough at times, so I’m not sure how a teen would read it. The moments that touched me the most were those between Krosoczka and his mother. There were numerous times when she didn’t show up for him as planned and I found those heartbreaking. It was also heartbreaking when they were together, as the relationship was odd after being apart for so long.

The book does provide hope in the form of Krosoczka’s father, who he only learns the identity of at age 15. They meet when he is 17 and the epilogue tells us that they were able to have a relationship along with his two children.

The memoir also focuses on how Krosoczka became an artist and how it saved him. It details the first class his grandpa paid for him to go to, how his mother and he sent drawings back and forth to one another, and how he drew to amuse his friends in class. The book includes these drawings letters and other mementos from his childhood. The chapter breaks use the pattern from the pineapple wallpaper from his grandfather’s house.

This is a book I wouldn’t normally read. It’s a teen book and a graphic memoir, hey_kiddo_insidebut I really enjoyed it. I first heard an interview with the author on Fresh Air and I was so moved by his story I wanted to read it. I have tried to read graphic books before but have trouble finishing them. This one really gripped me. The style is very casual with limited colors and burnt orange accents, an homage to his grandfather’s touch of style and use of pocket squares.

TED Talk

After reading the book I watched the Krosoczka’s TED talk which he did before the book was written and ultimately became the inspiration after people reached out to him and told him how his story was their story. I was moved by these points:

  •  Imagination saved his life and is now his vocation
  • Loving an addict is like Charlie Brown with a football. Every time you open your heart to love that person, you end up on your back.
  • Writing is using your imagination on paper.
  • His mom was a good person who made bad decisions.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: How a boy became an artist

This talk paints the funny and touching story of a little boy who pursued a simple passion: to draw and write stories. With the help of a supporting cast of family and teachers, Jarrett J. Krosoczka tells how he grew up to create beloved children’s books.

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Everything I Learned About Blogging So (So So) Far (to Go)

Now that I’ve been blogging for a while, I thought it would be a good time to look back at where I started and where I am today. I’m not exactly in the place I thought I would be, but I’ve still learned a lot. Read on to see what I’ve learned in the nearly past year I’ve been blogging.

Why Did I Do It?

I started blogging regularly as a part of the DIY MFA Book  Club challenge. If you are not familiar with this group, it is a great way to kick-start your writing and connect with other writers. It’s not necessarily blog specific, but I used the assignments as blog posts. Once the challenge was over, I kept posting.

My bigger goal with blogging is related to my memoir. It’s about my brain tumor, my father’s stroke, and how I finally found my place in my large family and stopped being the sick one. I wrote it a few years ago and am hoping to publish it.

This blog is part of my attempt to connect with others who might read my book or be interested in such topics or my writing. I built my website before the challenge, but had no real fire to start blogging regularly until then.

What Did I Expect?

Truthfully, I thought blogging would be a drag. Though I had built my website at least six months before I started blogging, I really didn’t want to blog. Even though I liked to write, I didn’t think I would like to blog.

I thought it would be hard to come up with topics. Years ago I started a blog related to Community Supported Agriculture. I basically posted about the vegetables I received and the recipes I made from them. I knew I didn’t want to write about that anymore, since it didn’t have anything to do with my book, but I didn’t know what to write about.

What was it Really Like?

I realized that blogging was fun. Blogging is different from the more formal memoirs and essays I write. It is more immediate. Usually I get an idea and write it and post it in a few hours. I feel it is a place where I can come back to and may go deeper into topics later.

Part of my reticence to blogging was that I thought I would have trouble coming up with things to write about. There have been weeks where I have had to think a little harder about what I wanted to write about, but I can usually come up with at least one or two.

I’ve tried to blog about topics in my book, such as health and the brain, motivation and mindfulness, migraines, and family. I also have written about other memoirs I’ve read, which is something I haven’t done before. Not all posts fit these topics exactly, but I’m somewhere on the dartboard.

What Did I Learn?

I’ve learned a lot in my almost year of blogging. Compared to my last foray into blogging, I’ve really enjoyed this a lot more. I have connected with a lot more readers, many more bloggers, and learned so much about blogging and other topics that I find interesting. Here are the top three things that have helped me keep going.

Make Yourself Accountable

It's Monday

I make a rule to write and post at least one blog a week by Monday. I chose Mondays so I’m ready for:

  • Sharing my post on Facebook. I do this on the the amazing Alexa Bigwarfe’s Write, Publish, Sell. On Monday’s members are invited to share their latest blog post. There’s a real community who don’t just post their own blog, but read and follow each other.
  • #MondayBlogs on Twitter. This is a way for bloggers to connect and share other blogger’s posts on Monday using the hashtag #MondayBlogs. If you aren’t participating, check it out.
  • #MMBC – Monday Morning Blog Club. This is a blog link up  where bloggers share their blog and read other blogs. It goes live in the morning in the UK  and goes all day.

Read and Follow other Bloggers

network join the group people

In addition to connecting with bloggers and sharing their content in the ways mentioned above, I’ve learned how important it is to read other blogs. Here’s where I put my focus:

  • Find other blogs similar to mine. I searched WordPress reader for brain, stroke, migraine, memoir, and other words that are similar to those and followed them, joined their email lists, read and commented on their posts, and followed them on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Networkwith other bloggers on blog link-ups. In addition to connecting to other bloggers in the ways noted above in my Monday activities, I also connect with bloggers on other link-ups I see. I participate regularly in these on Mostly Blogging and on Twitter via Blogger Love Share and USBlog Retweets.  These are good ways to connect with bloggers on other platforms and that you may not connect with in other ways. It’s also a way to connect with bloggers who blog about blogging.
  • Check out the people who like the posts you like. When I read a post that is similar to mine or that I really like, I check out the other people that have liked it, by clicking on their profiles. If they have blogs, I check them out and follow them if it looks interesting.

Keep the Ideas Coming

ideas

Here are few ways I keep the ideas coming so that I don’t miss any of my Monday posts.

  • Write down ideas as they pop into your head. They don’t have to be fully thought out. Scraps and bits of ideas are great starting spots for later. Even better, if you have time, type these tiny pieces of thoughts into a draft post that you can fully flesh out later when the rest comes to you or when you are having trouble thinking of something to write about.
  • No idea is too dumb. Even if you don’t love an idea, or you don’t think it’s the best blog idea you’ve ever had, give it a chance. Every post doesn’t have to be the best and don’t expect perfection from yourself. Plus, you never know what’s going to really hit the reader.
  • What regular topics can you cover? Think about your topics and see what regular features might be related. For my own blog, I started writing reviews and thoughts about the memoirs I read, which I hadn’t planned on doing. It fits with my topic and is content I regularly have.
  • When you have nothing to write about, remember that you’re not alone.  When you don’t feel like writing or you can’t think of anything to write, Google “What to write when you can’t think of anything to post on your blog”. You’ll get loads and loads of ideas. One of them should get your creative juices flowing. Or if nothing else, you won’t feel so bad for not being able to come up with an idea.
  • If you still can’t think of anything write “10 Reasons I Can’t Think of Anything to Write” or any other type of list.

I know I have lots more to learn and I can’t wait to see what another year will bring. So tell me, whether you’ve been blogging a day, a year or a lot longer, what advice would you share? How do you connect with other bloggers? How do keep the ideas coming? Where do you network? What other lessons have you learned?

It’s My Very Own Hollywood Coming-of-Age Story

Once when I was in my mid-20s, when I first moved to Madison, when I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer, I volunteered my services to a local nonprofit. My job was to lay out their magazine. The magazine’s topic was something I hadn’t studied and it used words I hadn’t heard before and didn’t understand such as hegemony,  pedagogy, and pluralism.

I worked with the female head of the organization and another male volunteer and felt completely out of my league intellectually. Other times, when I would visit the woman’s home, in a wealthy area of town to work on the project, I felt socially out of place.

As the two talked I would try to keep up and use the words they did, but since I wasn’t accustomed to speaking in the way they did, I used words wrong. I said the word “impasse” once to mean “stuck” because of computer problems and was corrected in a way that I have never forgotten the nuances of the words since.
It's a pretty old story. A common Hollywood movie, actually. At first I was thinking of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, but the me now will not pretend that I've actually watched that movie. Click To Tweet
After the project was complete the head of the organization took me out for dinner at a restaurant downtown that I had never been to. She knew the owners and walked around as if it were her own home, introducing me, although I mostly looked down at my shoes.

She ordered a plethora of appetizers, asking me which of the ones I thought would be tasty. I had no idea what anything was on the menu, much less what would be good. The prices shocked me and, although I thought she would pay, I calculated the costs in my head, wondering what my portion might be and if I had enough credit on my charge card.

I had never imagined I would eat in a place like this. The fanciest restaurant I had been before was the Cheesecake Factory, paid for by my bosses at my past job in Chicago. As the food came out and we sampled from this and that, she only took a few bites of each. I followed her lead doing the same, though I wanted more and my own interest in good food was born.

But though I wanted more of the delicious food, I didn’t want more of the experience. I felt so uncomfortable around the woman and her colleagues that when I had to drop off the last layouts of the magazine, I slipped them in between the glass and her front door so I wouldn’t have to see her again.

She heard me and opened the door. I made an excuse about it being late and she invited me in, but I declined. I just didn’t feel comfortable.

Since that time, I have learned a lot.  I still don’t know many of the words in that magazine, but I know a lot of other vocabulary and concepts that probably seem just as abstract and boring to others.

I’m not the same person I was then because I know more about myself and what is interesting to me. I don’t know that woman anymore, but I know I don’t have to be the person I thought I should be when I was with her. I don’t think she’d make me uncomfortable anymore.

It’s a pretty old story. A common Hollywood movie, actually. At first I was thinking of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, but the me now will not pretend that I’ve actually watched that movie. I’ve also read enough to know that not everyone likes that ending. So I started thinking about my favorite coming-of-age and social class movies and here’s my list:

  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
  • Ladybird (2017)
  • The Way Way Back (2013)
  • Into the Wild (20017)
  • Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • About a Boy (2002)
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  • Say Anything (1989)

See, I told you I could be all abstract and boring! Are you abstract and boring in this way too? If you are into this kind of stuff, tell me below. What are your favorite coming-of-age movies or movies about social class?