The Invisible Wedding Ring

Another day, another splashy page alerting us all to the fact that ‘the ring is off the finger,’ intimating that the death of the relationship is on the horizon, using as evidence the fact that “the couple hasn’t been seen together since August 13.”

I rarely even wear my “wedding” or “anniversary” or
“engagement” rings, preferring the rings that Rog gets
for other occasions. This happened to be for my 
and our 15th yr anniversary.

Two things then flash through my mind. The first is that I don’t know a single married couple (or non-married but co-parenting) who make it to every event together. Can you imagine if the biggest rise in the local paper was “Roger and Sarah not seen together for
3 months?” What news. Truth be told, we follow the motto of ‘divide and conquer,’ for most occasions (you go to one school event and I’ll go to other so we have it covered). The only time we absolutely aren’t apart is for charity events, and even that doesn’t account for health issues or family emergencies (or a delayed flight).

Together- ness aside, don’t you think this whole obsession with wearing a ring is a little nutty? Marriage and togetherness is a state of mind, not a piece of metal. In high school (remember those days) and college for that matter, I didn’t need a ring to tell the world I was in love with some guy. I simply didn’t notice anyone else. The vibes I gave out were the ‘not interested’ type instead of the ‘come hither,’ sort.

Perhaps it’s because I was married before, it was short-lived and symbolized by a beautiful ring turned out to be worthless (I kid you not. side story; our deal was I’d buy the setting, he’d buy the ring. I thought I got a good deal, until I lost it at the beach, went to put in a claim and discovered that the only “real” part of the ring was the platinum setting that I had paid for. The stones were CZ. Nice).

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good piece of jewelry. 15 years of together-ness with Rog means that he bought me a ‘friendship ring’ that I ended up using as the ring for the marriage, and for two years later, until one December day, long after we’d purchased a home together, he decided I needed “a real ring.” That one is an indestructible round stone in a tension set platinum. 12 years later, he shot for the moon, purchasing me a radiant cut stone in an ornate fancy setting. It’s beautiful. It’s elegant. The problem is that it wears me. You know a ring outshines you when the first thing the waiter says after handing you the menu is ‘nice ring.’

Three years hence, I find myself wearing my original friendship ring most of the time, and sometimes, like right now, I’m wearing nothing. To my chagrin, I’ve realized the worse I’m feeling about my relationship (or self) the nicer the ring I wear. When I’m happy and in love, I don’t need anything. I don’t need the iron around my finger, but my feeling about the man I’m with is just as evident as if one existed. And that’s the way it should be.

Being a Dream Coach

I’d like to pretend I’m on those people that wakes in the middle of the night with a  bolt of inspiration and ten months later, I’ve whipped out a best-selling novel or creating the next health bar. Dream to inspiration to success, in three easy steps like the original 1978 Guinsu knife infomercials.

A few mornings ago, I woke, not with a new idea about a book, but a new vocation. It’s called A Dream Coach. Know that a dream coach is? My job definition for a Dream Coach is a person who listens to my dreams, my desires and my aspirations, then pushes back, refines and focuses my dream into something tangible. This is radically different from a Life Coach, who would require I live in a world of reality, and that defies the point. This isn’t reality, it’s my dream.

Not Found Here

Early on, I accused my husband of killing my dream(s). Know how? By not “supporting” it. I expected him to read and re-read every page of my crappy first manuscript, offering advice and tips in a constructive thoughtful manner that would embolden our relationship and of whom I’d then applaud in the front matter of my book (without my husband, this wouldn’t have been possible type of thing).

This was not to be. Rog is not Stephen King’s wife, retrieved a draft copy of Carrie from the trash when King thought it wasn’t good enough for print and encouraged him to keep after it. My husband would just say “there goes one more tree.”

The Dream Coach

I’d like someone with a confessional ear (non-judgmental), patient (I can talk about my dream 3x a wk if I want to), who is  forceful (after hearing my dream for the fourth time, shut me up and tell me to get going), and directed (project manage me/check in with my progress) and of course, fun (knows when to stop and get my chocolate ice cream). I don’t really want a dream killer to tell me the dream will take too long, is silly, outrageously expensive and in short, a waste of time. My dream coach would tell me a)I can do it, b) I will do it, c) I can learn the skills necessary to accomplish my dream, and d) I’d have fun along the way.

Me, Myself and my dream coach

I explain all of this to Roger, who looks like I’ve slipped a drug in his Coke, for he gives me this quasi-delusional look that asks “are we really having this conversation?” I instantly know there will never be a ‘right time’ for this conversation, at least not with him. I consider my alternatives… sibling, mom, friend…knowing why the coaching relationship won’t work before I ask the question. Each of these individuals are already convoluted with preconceived notions, roles and opinions about me, my life and my role therein that might take away from the dream at hand.

The only other person(s) in my life are peers from my professional world: fellow dreamers who believe the word “no” is two letters put together in a meaningless way. Those people who have one finger for the opinions of others. Individuals who act, and don’t whine.

Thinking back, I ask myself ‘have I ever shared my dreams with others in this category?’ Absolutely. In fact, the last time was in December, right after I ‘dreamt’ up the idea to launch a new business site. I shared my dream, got the feedback it might work, received inputs on what I might include and what things I should leave out. The following week, I created the site and launched it, making it publicly available.

From dream to delivery in eight days flat.

“That’s not really a dream,” Roger tells me. “That was an idea that you ran with. You skip right over the whole dreaming part.”

Am I really?

He shakes his head, disgusted he’s even having to tell me this. “I’ve been with you 15 years. You don’t have time dream. You just do. You just like the idea of dreaming because it sounds romantic.”

Huh. I’ll go dream about it…but I still like the notion of being someone’s Dream Coach. I might not need one, but I like to think I can motivate and inspire when others are negative, like the little brown raincloud in Winnie the Pooh. I’ll hang the sign on my door…Dream Coach In. Payment due when dream realized.

Inspirational Yelling

often am awoken at 3 am out of a sound sleep-arising like a vampire at the sound of pitchforks- and have Random thoughts that usually center on what I need to do or should have done. This morning (2/6) my thought was:

Am I doing all I should be doing to help others? I pressed the mental pause button so as to drown out the sound of my cat whining for food, and the faces of two people immediately came to mind. 

I’ve come to think of these early morning wake up calls as Inspirational Yelling. It’s the only time my inner spirit can be heard.

Now it’s 3:51 and ill go back to closing my eyes. Oddly and ironically, the question  wakes me up- the inspiration for the answer usually happens through a dream.

The Writer’s Bible: schedules that work

This is my evening writing spot:
on bed, classic 80’s movie playing for background
noise and cat. Can you name the movie?

Discipline is what makes a writer. It means staying in when the weather is nice, waking up early when the kids are asleep, skipping a ski day at college to get in eight hours of writing. But you’re there…you are willing to do all these things.

In the last 20 years I’ve learned that crafting a schedule that works is harder than actually writing, because it continually changes. Writing schedules during college are different (school, study, sleep, social),  and this is dramatically different from a full-time job with no kids, which doesn’t translate to any job (or no job) with children.

College schedule

Write in between study breaks.
After class, hit the library, take 10 minutes and re-read your outline, or your last chapter. Set the timer for 15 minutes minimum. That’s it. Then stop, do your homework. Why this order? Because you have put your dream first. It’ motivating. It’s inspiring, and this inspiration will encourage you to study more intensively, ignore the hot guy who’s eyeing you and get back to writing.

Career Writing

I couldn’t focus on writing before work until I’d had several books published. I was too tired to do it after work, usually because I had more take-home office materials that left me more time. The best time for me to write? When the rest of the world is on the Internet (not kidding. Just ask Jupiter Research).
3 PM in the afternoon.
Studies show this is when the brain needs a break. Assuming you have the right location (and vocation), set the timer and go. Short break is 15-20 or 30 max. Apply the same methodology. You will find the same sense of motivation as with college, but this environment lends itself to the benefits of creativity. I found that problem solving was made easier…my mind switched from dull to sharp. I was happier, because I worked on my dream. I was getting one step closer with each sentence and each paragraph. In a week, you can have a chapter.
Friday night.
Hit the gym and then go home and get after your dream. Even if you do this two Friday nights, while your peers are spending money and preparing for a night of carbo-loading, you are geared up for a serious progress over the next two days.
Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday is a “free day,” so it’s yours to plan. I will relate a my own experiences. When I exercise first, shower and then sit down to write, I’m so relaxed that after about 30 minutes, my body wants to sleep, not write. Because of this, I will write first, take a break to exercise, then go back.
During my many years in the career world, I traveled for 70% of the time. I didn’t bother write until I got on the plane. I prepared to write by reading my present work or other materials, so the minute I was cleared to open my laptop, and got after it. I found that writing on a plane can deliver a book in just a few months.

Writing with a Family

Marriage didn’t change my writing in the least. In fact, it improved my output. Rog is as determined and disciplined in his own life as I am–who else would work a full time job, play a college sport and get his graduate degree in 13 months. Compared to him, I’m a complete slacker.
Never, EVER, prioritize yourself over your children.
From day one–to now–I never opened my laptop when my kids were home. This only changed when my oldest daughter hit 1st grade (this year), and I’d sit by her with my computer as she did her homework. When she’s done, I’m done.
I love nothing more than waking when the house is quiet. Going back to patterns I set in college, I get in at least 15 minutes–sometimes only 5!–but it’s starts me off right.
Boy, is this the best time ever. It’s a no-brainer with one kid but harder with 2 kids.
Rotation. I found that Rog and I got testy when we didn’t have our “me-time.” Because of our personalities, this ‘me-time’ usually involved either physical activity (him hockey, me lots of things), we’d rotate. Not kidding you. This is what it looked like for the first 5 years–not it’s only slightly modified.

  • Saturday outing. At least 2 Saturdays a month (usually rotating) Dad would, and still does, take the girls for an outing by himself. The park. The zoo. The library. Whatever. Two hours was more than enough for me to crank out a nice set of pages. I’ll be honest. Sometimes I just napped. Don’t tell.
  • Sunday morning. Same thing as above, but this was on the opposite weekends. It was also nice because Rog could then mix in his own personal activities and be satisfied as well.
  • Evenings. I can’t get quality/quiet time until the kids are down. This has varied with age. Since they stay up later with each passing year, it’s gotten more challenging, because I wind down. I don’t push it now, but if they get to bed 9 latest-which is quite late, I will still get 2 solid ours in.

When you add all the hours up, it’s @2.5 hrs in the am, and 4-8 each weekend. Even without any strange evening slots, I’ve got 6.5-10 hours a week. That’s nearly 40 hours a month. A ton!

Time to create a novel.

Boy, isn’t this the most over-asked question. Authors are reluctant to say–why, I’m not sure, but I guess it’s because there is no “right” answer. If you say 3 months, it comes across as an egotistical lie (unless you’re Stephen King who says he writes 20 pages a day). If you say 6 months, then you suck. Reality is you write the framework, front to end. Then you go and add ‘layers.’ One might be narrative. Another description. Another character depth, and so on. This means another 7-11 times, but it’s here and there. Nothing like the first.

Here’s my answer. I go by hours. It takes me, on average, 20 hours to write 50 pages. That means in 1-3 months, I can have a book completed. The subsequent re-writes vary dramatically, but it’s another 2-3 months. So a completed, agent-ready book is 5-6 months, and it also includes a proof-reading period so the basics are caught–only a few days.

There it is. It’s achievable. It’s straightforward. It’s bloody time consuming, but you can do it.

Dad’s Call

Sloan (my Dad), with Porsche (my daughter). Laps only get so big

Dad’s forget that when their daughters grow up, they never, and I mean never, want to stop thinking of themselves as their Daddy’s little girl. What it means is that a daughter always wants to know she is loved by her father. That she is missed. That her Dad still wants to hold her on his lap the way he did when she was eight, even though she’s well past the age where she’d fit. This desire doesn’t end with a marriage, a divorce or a change in the economic or social status. It just is.

As I type at 5 in the morning, I tell you that the bond between father and daughter never ends. I still want to get a call from my father every Friday night telling me to have fun and be safe, the way he did from the moment I left to college, even though I’ve been married 15 yrs! Dad rarely (if ever) asked what I was doing, but I took this as a sign of trust, not disinterest. He didn’t always reach me live, nor did he wait until the end of the day; sometimes his call served as my alarm. The point was he called and I knew he cared.

Dad’s lap also holds a special place for me, but he has bear-sized arms he’d wrap around me as I sat on those tree-trunk sized legs. He tickled me when I was itty-bitty, then he bounced me until I was too heavy, then gradually moved me to the center of his legs to sharing his thigh with the couch, until it was only my feet that could be on his leg like a footstool while I sat across or beside him. Yet the physical impossibility didn’t mean the sentiment or desire went away.

Last night, I felt myself wanting to be on the receiving end of Dad’s call. I wanted to hear my Dad telling me to have fun and be safe, even tho it was a Saturday night and I’m stuck in bed and in a
great deal of post-surgical pain. My father is the lone male voice in the world that will be there until he’s in the grave. It’s deeper than it was, and it’s not always has fast talking or peppered with colorful words or politically incorrect phrases. But it’s holds a lifetime of love and advice, and it has often served as the emotional lifeline that’s pulled me back into the safety of my marriage.

I believe Dad’s forget the impact and power they have on their daughter or believing that relationship a husband has replaces their own. Nope. It’s in addition to, not replacement of. When my daughters grow up, they too, will eventually get to big for Rog’s lap, but they won’t outgrow the desire for his love or attention.

And what will I, the mom, tell our girls if and when Rog ever forgets to call them? Exactly what my own mom advises me to do. “You have a phone. Pick it up and call him. The phone works both ways.” Thank heavens for that.

Naked writing and emotional artifacts

Oberon hand-crafted. have 1
for my tablet as well. love red.
got this for the Chinese dragon
theme as my first action-adv
book is set in China

10:27, Saturday, Feb 2. Transcribing from my journal, verbatim.

8 months from my last journal entry.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved rising when the house is quiet, endowed with the freedom to walk the halls in 100% solitude, no expectations and no chores. No obligations and all the ability to digest all the is around me without judgment or rush.

write first, then transcribe.

There is something alive and magical and living about my fingers pressed against the metal casing of my pen, the movement and glide of the pen tip across and up and down the smooth page. The energy from my body, my heartfelt emotions course to and through the inanimate
device, the process as revealing as being naked in the shower. it isn’t safe, the way typing on my laptop is safe, with the fingers rapping out the words in staccato hits.

In this format, I see myself in the straight lines of the l’s and the f’s and know that I only write that way when I’m trying to be strong. I notice the chopped off ends of my y’s, q’s, j’s and g’s, and it saddens me, for I immediately know that when I’m happy, the bottom curls are wide and round, like a palm scooping up water from a clear, slow-moving stream.

Our log-pole craftsman’s father
made this. end from bullet.

The way I write in my journal is far more significant than what I write. When I periodically decide to review these leather-bound, emotional artifacts, I instantly see myself for who I was at the time of writing. Bulbous, round letters written in blue ink was from my 14 year old ‘full-of’me’ self. My d’s and snowman-belly round 8s revealed I was all that. Small, tight, almost unintelligible scribbles from my 13-year-old self returned all the harshness I associated with being the object of scorn as I felt tall and gawky, my teeth in the full metal jacket of brace and my chest barely able to sustain the smallest cup size available for a person of my height.

Rifle shirt clip, the trigger depresses the
ink cartridge

What a difference a birthday, a summer, a visit with the orthodontist and gaining five pounds made.
The future reader of my journal may wonder a the transformation of both writing and attitude, but I won’t. I knew it from a single glance at my penmanship.

Today’s writing means struggling, resigned determination. Some words are slanted, others upright, the dual of battling emotions alive, the match unfinished, watching me, myself and I circling one another in an arena full of fear. Fear that all the emotions of my brother’s death, the ones I’ve so safely shut inside my emotional chest of drawers will start to appear on this page, in my m’s or truncated s’s.

My hand is cramped now, the strain of keeping it in physically hurting me, the words not so legible. Even so, I feel victorious. I moved pass just staring at the keeper of my past emotions to allowing myself to feel new ones. The thought alone has arched the curve on my S’s, and I know I’m feeling better.

Gut or God? Executives give the credit to….

It’s 1 in the morning, the dead hour where I usually stop writing (or tonight, when it happens to be the pain pills have worn off my surgery Monday) and the time when I can actually go to sleep. I frit around with the layout, usually pilfering a quote someone has recently told me, and post my latest purchase (my latest spend was on a 12 dollar organic lip balm from France. I happened to b
e desperate an in pain, and was willing to pay anything to address my cracked lips while waiting for my prescription to be filled).

At this time of day–or really morning–my mind swirls through the misty hazes of comments made to me from complete strangers. it so happens that I’ve been working on a new business book that delves into why some people succeed where others with a better college degree or background fail. It’s always a joy to listen to individuals share their trials and pains, their triumphs and trophies in single sentence sound bites. They assume that I’m your standard, pain-in-the-butt writer that has not time for long stories, and I assume they are never going to stop talking. We are usually both wrong. I want all the gory details of an experience and once the interviewee knows this, the details float in the air like pollen on a summers day.

A trend I’ve noticed is these men and women talk about the role their “gut” has played in their lives. I dig deeper.

“Is it inspiration you are talking about?” Yes, some answer. Enlightenment is another common response, “like Steve Jobs without the boring black turtleneck,” was one CEO of a Fortune 500 firm  who I shall keep anonymous until the book is published. Yet I’m a curious being, and I continue my line of questioning. “Is it internal, and self driven gut or inspiration, or is it external, a thought or notion from something else?”

I don’t have to mention God. Diety. Buddha. T
his is almost always offered up by the person I’m speaking with, and you know what? It’s rare that a person under the age of 50 is willing to give any credit or credence to the ‘external force,’ whereas those of the older generation (e.g. 50 and above) frankly acknowledge that their wisdom or inspiration is divinely sourced, like its a matter of pride and not to be ashamed of.

During an interview, I type verbatim, asking for clarification here or a exploring a point there. I don’t ponder the words being said until later–like now. All twenty-three individuals who I’ve interviewed thus far, have essentially said that gut is only “God’s way of disguising his involvement.’ In other words, letting me think I did it all myself. At least, that’s what my gut is telling me.

The way it should be

Wouldn’t it be grand if animals came towards humans rather than running from us? Clearly, it takes a desperate animal to purposefully approach a man, but it happened.

Tom Satre told the Sitka Gazette that he was out with a charter group on his 62 foot fishing vessel when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam directly toward his boat.



“Once the deer reached the boat, the four began to circle the boat, looking directly at us. We could tell right away that the young bucks were distressed. I opened up my back gate and we helped the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals onto the boat. In all my years fishing, I’ve never seen anything quite like it! Once on board, they collapsed with exhaustion, shivering.”

“This is a picture I took of the rescued bucks on the back of my boat, the Alaska Quest. We headed for Taku Harbour. Once we reached the dock, the first buck that we had pulled from the water hopped into the dock and looked back as if to say “thank you” and disappeared into the forest. After a bit of prodding and assistance, two more followed, but the smallest deer need a little help.”

“My daughter, Anna, and son Tim, helped the last buck to its feet. We didn’t know how long they had been in the icy waters or if there had been others who did not survive. My daughter later told me that the experience was something she would never forget, and I suspect the deer felt the same way.”


Dark circle remedies and wisdom, a natural combo

A few things on my mind.

Dark circles. Did you know that this is easily solved by using hemorrhoid crème and witch hazel pads? Conjures gross images of pustules on the butt, I know. But seriously, I was told this by a dermatologist friend who said it’s the most effect, cheapest and best kept secret. I used it. Works. Husband uses both all the time (one or two swipes under the eyes and walla). (put this in the tips and tricks section of this blog. I sometimes forget it’s there myself). Other home remedies exist as well.

Wisdom never retires. That’s my own phrase. I was interviewing a guy that used to run half of the country for the largest consulting firm in the world. He’s been “out of the game” for 11 years and didn’t know if he had much to contribute to my latest book. I told him that “wisdom never retires,” and then asked him what he defined as ‘retired.’

“I sit on the board of X company, and advise Y company, and I sit on the board of the Seattle Art Museum…” and then he listed off two other mentoring jobs and I told him “stop.”

“That’s what I’m talking about. Successful people don’t retire. They don’t just wake up one day and stop contributing. They keep going.”

Another gem of his? When we were talking about community service, he said too many people “sign up on a list and don’t contribute.” He went on to say that contributed means being involved to the degree that it’s making a difference in people’s lives. “Will they look back on you and say ‘that person made a difference in my life?’

“If they can’t say you made a difference in my life, then you haven’t contributed.”

Girls. Get your jewels On

The most useful gift of Christmas, then
helps make all of my other non-useful gifts sparkle
(ok. glasses are useful)

The illustrious She didn’t need to remind me that I’d not written a blog on exercise in two months. It’s self evident. The only exercise I’ve gotten in that time (since I’m she of the broken bones) is that I fell down the stairs today. Yes. You read that right. It was at about 8:30 pm, Rog was at a hockey game, I fed the girls, who were scampering off to bed whilst yelling at each other, I lumbered down our stairs on my crutches and lo, they caught on our bloody metal stoppers that are intended to…stop you from slipping.

Oh. the irony in my life. So it is that I now have a busted up bursa bag on my left leg (I’m so Daniel Day Lewis. Left ankle. Left foot. Left knee. Where’s my Oscar?), and then I thought of another type of blog I haven’t written, which is something fun and girly.

This blog is fun and girly, but it should be read by men as well, for this is the gift that will make both sexes happy. It is the Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner that LO, also cleans DVDs. So the entire family can use this thing.

A few things. It’s inexpensive. At sub-$50 US, it’s a steal. It’s also versatile. As you can see from the pic, it has a tray for rings, a ‘bridge’ that you can use for your watches and a stand for the DVDs.

What I love about this device.

It’s relatively compact. It’s also easy to use, with timers and settings for different types of items, such as rings or watches or DVDs. Press a button, go on your way, return in 1, 2 or 3 minutes. Love that. What I love the most is that it makes my rings and watches look brand spanking new. Obviously it doesn’t remove scratches from a watch band-that takes buffing, but the rings and necklaces–wow. I only wish this came in a model for stainless steel stuff or sterling. Now that would be fantastic.

I also love this gift because it’s amazing for year round. Mother’s Day. Valentines. He buys it for you. You buy it for him. Whatever. It’s gender neutral!

Tip #1: it uses water, but if your water includes heavy metal (like calcium, which is in a lot of wells or areas in Arizona-even filtered) then use bottled water, or filtered water from your fridge. Trust me, it makes a difference.

Tip #2. Use Dawn dish soap. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but I spoke with my jeweler about this. They have an ultrasonic at the jewelry store (most/all do) and you know what they include? DAWN!!! According to him, (and the Illustrious She, who used to work at one as well), the Dawn gets off the grime in no time.

My rating and review? 4.5 stars. I want my all-in-one version for sterling next. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind one in a flashy red, neon green or sea blue. that would be cool. Black for a man would also be optimal (Brookstone, are you listening??)

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