Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Firewood or Family Heirloom?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much more enriched our lives become when we create meaningful memories with family and friends. Sure we have our jobs, to do lists, pets to feed, “important” responsibilities like leading a twibe on Twitter, but when we inevitable hit that tree that we didn't see ahead, suddenly all of that is meaningless. Think for a minute. When you get together with family as adults, what do you do? We talk about the time we as sisters squirted brown Mary Kay make-up into our brother’s brand new underwear and left it on the floor for him to discover. It’s those memories that add texture and color to our lives. So let’s start creating…

I’m about to share with you what I think is the coolest (please circle one) time capsule/family discussion piece/framed honeycomb ever designed. I found it in a catalog - love at first glance. Uncommon Goods shipped it two weeks ago. I opened the package like when I was eight years old and it was the box that contained my first cabbage patch doll. And I could hardly wait to reveal my "when my boys are adults conversational piece." I carefully painted and prepped it for the big day. Never mind that Sean cocked an eyebrow when I unveiled…pause for anticipation…our brand new family wishing/worry wall. I began to doubt my passion for this home furnishing/sentimental family heirloom/fully recyclable wall hanging.

It wasn’t until I found the perfect moment to sit down with my boys (Sean included) that I explained why this was so special. As I brought it out from behind the piano, their eyes grew wide. Their eyebrows furrowed. Their eyes scanned the frame with question marks. Finally in exasperation, in stereo, they asked, “What is it?” I took out the small box that contained the neon-colored papers. I explained to them that they were to write their hopes, dreams, goals, and fears on the strips of paper. Then roll them up and tuck them inside the holes. To my surprise they excitedly sorted through the paper picking their favorite colors. They immediately started scrawling their thoughts on the paper. Then they carefully selected the hole to tuck it into. They sat back to admire with the satisfaction of creating a unique piece art. Yesterday, when I picked up the boys from school, Drew excitedly told me that he had taken first place, beating every fifth grader in his school, in the 50-yard dash. And hey Mom, “Can I write it on, you know, those pieces of paper and stick it in the wall.” Whose your Mama?

Many of you may know my favorite book is Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. This book is special because the unique story almost becomes palpable; the writing makes it feel like butterfly wings are tickling your skin, and the characters and symbolism are deep and rich. If you haven’t read this book, you’re missing out on something akin to the richest chocolate ever made. You’ll understand a new dimension of what makes this wishing wall - now hanging in our hallway - so special.

What would you write on your wishing/hopes/fears/successes wall?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Social Media: Useful Tool or Recyclable Waste?

Lately, my creativity has been locked in an airtight box hidden in my mind somewhere. As frustrating as it is, I have hope that if I take the right combination of vitamins or start mowing the lawn, or that, perhaps, just the right look at a double rainbow, it might spontaneously open. I remember the days where I'd blog, and even make it somewhat interesting, about why I line my own toilet with toilet paper before sitting down.

What’s to blame? Unproductive time spent on Twitter, Facebook, blogging? I just read a statistic, on Twitter of all places, that our time on the internet now exceeds our time spent watching television. No surprise, but wow, how do we get anything accomplished when we're hovering over our computers like information addicts anticipating the next tweet which goes something like this, "Good morning! I ate scrambled eggs for breakfast." How do we get sucked into this? How am I supposed to write, or study, with all that chirping looming over me begging to be read. As if the magpies on my roof aren't enough! In an effort to organize all this chatter, I downloaded a program, Tweetdeck, which manages all my tweets and tweeters and peeps and facebook status updates. Simplification? Nah - Pandemonium!

I have to be frank, it's nearly as addicting as an engaging book - it lassos me in and drags me to the trough. I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that I'm an information junkie, and that keeping tabs on publishing industry, autism moms, long lost cousins, and favorite authors are just a tweet away. But is it using time productively? That depends.

In lieu of my sudden realization that my rear end may have increased in size and my laundry seems to mate, reproducing multiple offspring while waiting to be folded, I've taken a lent-like vow to decrease my time using social media. There I said it in public - I must adhere! I’m living my real life, signed up for class, and I'm contemplating writing another book. I’ve been agonizing over what to write for months – until yesterday. I was sitting in the pediatrician’s office when I heard something that burst that box in the back of my mind open so wide, I thought I might lose it while I scrambled to find a pencil and paper.

So I wake up this morning and I’m not sure the idea seems as great as it did yesterday sitting in a room full of sick kids. But I think I’m going to run with it. We'll see what my literary agent thinks about it. Maybe it's just a pipe dream. But then again, how can I have pipe dreams when I'm too busy tweeting or re-posting "important" links on Facebook.

Especially when I never know when the box of creativity might once again...slam shut.

Okay now, I'm very interested in hearing your ideas for the next book...Let's see if you're even close.