Blew the deadline, saved the story

Over the years people have asked if I could write more about the process of writing and publishing.

Nope. I can’t.

Because I can’t speak to The Process or pretend I know how it works for others, but I did agree to share more about my own. As with everything, I try to be real about things, including sharing those moments when the column is due the next morning and … nothing.

Which is what happened last week with my monthly Raising the Hardy Boys column. You’d think I’d have my back-up column ready after all these years, but no.

It’s not that I had nothing to write about because that’s not even a thing! But, the column I’d been working on just wasn’t coming together at all. I hope someday it will because there were some good parts, but mostly there were a lot of soapbox moments and trite tangents. So, I was back to nothing. On deadline. Literally nothing.

Some of the possibilities swirling around my head and heart were either too personal for publication, didn’t meet my criteria for honoring the boys’ privacy preferences or were too raw to write about well.

So, here’s me the night before it’s due:

Due yesterda

 

I posted this status update:

So this is happening ... it's not that I don't have anything to say, just that, you know family paper and all that. #process #writinglife #reportermama#writingiseasywaitwhat

And went to bed.

Yes. I did. I prayed about it, wrote in my journal for awhile and had faith that it would come by morning.

And … it did.

Almost on time

Right on time

New status update:

Last night I posted about the column that was due yesterday - and I had zero words and no idea how I was going to pull this one off. Nailed it: 6:59 a.m. 29.9 inches, 897 words that matter to me, and maybe to some of you. And that headline? One of my favorites. Can't wait to share it with you guys! Now off to the job that pays the bills because#writinglife #raisingthehardyboys#deadlinesgetitdone

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with the idea of what I wanted to write about and had some sweet material collected on my Facebook page from sharing little bits and pieces of conversations and moments observed, some of which I was able to weave into the words that I woke up with. 

One of the best moments was when it hit me how tired I was going to be at work, and I still didn’t have a headline, I just typed in “the gift of now” which wasn’t quite right and then that rush of THIS came as I retyped: “The present that lasts.”

And when you read the column you’ll see why that is exactly right. And that rush, the thrill of nailing it made up for the sleep I’d lost. That passion fueled what sleep could not. I did go to bed early the next night though, because, you know, I’m 40 now.

I can’t explain or describe how that all works, right? I can only share the experience and say that it does work. There’s an alchemy of inspiration, spirit, word nerdery and the discipline of showing up to do the work. Even at 3:30 a.m. Also, deadlines are their own kind of magic.

Elizabeth Gilbert opens her book Big Magic with this:  

Q: What is creativity?

A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.

Funny story, so I posted some progress updates for my friends and readers on good old Facebook and my editor waited until everything was turned in to remind me that it was actually due last week. I used to pride myself on not missing deadlines. Ever. Then I slowly changed that to having good, respectful communication with my editors about them. And now, apparently I am blowing them off completely. But this one is worth it, at least it was to me.

Soon I will write a column about how I got my act together, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself or anything.


The kids are really all right.

The kids are all right - really!

April 12, 2016

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

The kids are all right.

My baby was a few months into kindergarten when he shook me awake in the middle of the night to ask: “Mama! What do I do if there’s a shooter at school and we’re in lockdown and I’m in the bathroom? What do I do?” 

What? What? What?!

I don’t even remember what I said to calm him and get him back to sleep. But I know I didn’t sleep another wink the rest of that night and the next few afterward.

Even now, a few years after that shocking wake-up call, I can’t answer his question.

The best I can do is help my kids accept the reality that we don’t have all the answers, and that we can’t possibly be prepared for each and every possible scenario in advance. It’s just a limitation of being human.

But first, I had to really wrap my own mind around that reality. And then I had to figure out how to reconcile that truth with a core belief of mine that we cannot live well if we are constantly in fear of Something Bad Happening.

We now live in a world where children in schools, and many adults as well, are asked to participate in “active shooter” drills, in addition to earthquake drills, fire drills and the like. That doesn’t mean they have to live each night in fear of The Big One Happening, but it acknowledges possibilities dictating we be as prepared as possible.

And you know what? When Yamhill County took its turn in the national school shooting spotlight, it was for a threat being foiled rather than carried out.

That’s because kids did the right thing by alerting responsible adults and adults did the right thing by responding responsibly. Police and school officials worked collaboratively to ensure the safety of all, even though it meant taking heat for not being able to answer all questions immediately. 

Personally, I think Newberg’s recent brush with a potential school shooter situation represents a success story — at least in terms of awareness leading to a tragedy averted.

What breaks my heart is the presence of people so disconnected and disenfranchised they are capable of plotting and sometimes pulling off such atrocities in the first place. 

I can’t protect my kids from that, nor can I protect yours. But I can do my best to emphasize violence prevention.

I can talk to my kids about how their words and actions affect others. I can work with them on identifying issues they have with others and ways they can manage those conflicts. I can be honest with them about what is reasonable to expect from others and what is not.

My oldest son recently had to work through an incredibly awkward situation with a friend at school. In the course of that, I was told that he “had a right to always feel safe at school.” 

Well, I’m not sure that’s true, even though I dearly wish it were.

We all want kids to feel safe at school, and everywhere else for that matter. But I would argue it’s more important for them to know what to do, who to trust and where to go when they don’t feel safe.

I want kids to know who their trusted adults are. I want kids to know they aren’t alone in navigating the ever-changing terrain in the transition from child to youth to adult. 

Adults, hear this: They’re watching us very closely, even when they have their headphones on and their eyes seemingly locked on their cell phones. And get this: They care what we think. 

It’s disturbingly common among us adults to point fingers and find fault these days, both with the world in general and kids in particular. It’s common for us to pat ourselves on the back as we reflect on how we did things different and better, or at least “not as bad.”

To all of that, I channel my inner 15-year-old and say: Whatever.

You want to know what I see as today’s biggest problem? It’s people being so busy identifying what goes wrong that they fail to recognize and reward what goes right.

What our kids need, just like we did before them, and our parents before us, is people speaking truth to youth. They need to hear what’s right in the world, and that includes what’s right with them.

They need to know we believe in them and their capabilities. They need to hear us say, you kids are really all right. 

 

Hardy writes in the margins of her life raising two boys who understand deadlines come before dusting and juggling a fulltime job working with some pretty awesome young people all while breaking her “I don’t really like animals” rule to love their sweet puppy Scout.

 


**Free** holiday ebook for you! No, please, take it.

Marketing tip: When you write a book, you should tell people. All the people.

Okay, so honestly it’s free for YOU … but also for everyone who downloads it between now and Thursday, December 17th. After that it’s a whopping $4.99.

(I know! And I get to keep HALF of that so Imma gonna get rich!)

Click here for your FREE copy of Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys. You don’t even have to read it now, or ever – I mean, I hope you do but no pressure. All I am saying, is download it to savor later – even next year because what I need friends, is as many downloads as possible – and for those of you who DO like it please help your writer friend out and leave a review.

All this begging and asking for help does not become me, I know … and yet being as how I’m my own marketing team … my main strategy for now is the ol’ pretty please with a cherry and free ebook on top! Which also includes my undying gratitude in all caps, like this: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! (I forgot to mention the prolific use of exclamation points).

I’m trying to figure out how to do that without annoying my dear readers, but it turns out most of you are so supportive I wonder how I got so lucky!?!?!

I sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:

“My publisher told me to tell everyone: I wrote my second book! It's an ebook and you can get it FREE until Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Tell your friends - it's like a free gift to them, too!
Ways to support your writer friend (yours truly at the moment):
- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

Thank you so much, friends, for supporting me in this writing journey and also for letting me encourage other parents with these words!
Blessings on you during this season and into the new year!


Love,
Nathalie

Behind the scenes fun fact:

Here’s the cover I submitted:

MerryIsOptionalcover

And here’s the one we went with:

cover

 

*You should totally subscribe! A little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


Privacy: A call for consideration

Parents, let's speak openly about privacy

Nov 3, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

Private Parts cli

Keep your private parts private. It’s a mantra for parents of little discoverers.

First, of course, the conversation begins by defining what makes a private part private, and why. Before that happens, parents must decide when it’s time to start having such a conversation. 

By the time my boys were entering grade school, we’d had the private parts talk. So I figured we were good to go. 

Except no. It turns out all that was just Private Parts, Phase One. 

Now, it seems we have arrived at a new life course: Private Parts and the Internet. 

What started as a fun game, where we took turns entering terms like “images of penguins” into Google, turned into a wake-up call when I discovered even searching for pictures of cute animals can open a portal to a deviant world. 

At their age, I remember the risky business of looking up words in something called a dictionary. And the worst that could happen is being exposed to a new word, for say, the biological word for a private part. Tee-hee. 

But today, a smartphone is nearly always in reach. And it provides an instantaneous gateway to images of anything you want, and even those you don’t. 

So, voila. Also, whoa. 

Parents in this Internet era have to do what generations of parents have done before them. Figure it out and adjust. And, yes, maybe pause to lament the passing of The Good Old Days. 

As with everything, opportunities come with challenges. The best we can do is embrace what is and learn to navigate the new terrain. Whether we like it or not, here we are. 

It’s up to us to give our children a compass, help them determine their own course and steer them on the right path. But it turns tricky when you want to use your folded old-school map and the tool of today is a GPS that talks back to you. 

For some of us, it’s even trickier to stay a step ahead of our kids when they are learning things in kindergarten that require YouTube tutorials for us parents.

There are ways to safeguard your Internet searches, of course. Google it and you’ll see. 

But it’s actually other people’s privacy that I want you to consider today.

When you take a picture of a group of kids at, say, a birthday party or soccer practice, do you post it on social media? If so, do you first ask the other parents if they’re cool with that? 

I’m guessing most of us don’t. Because these days, most of us are OK with it.

But some aren’t. And they aren’t for good reason — good reason that most of us have the luxury of being clueless about. 

Parents dealing with estranged and dangerous family members, with domestic violence situations or with complicated custody issues have valid fears about facial recognition software. After all, it can be used to locate the kids they are trying to protect, and thus expose them to danger.

Frankly, some people just don’t want pictures of their kids “out there.” And that deserves respect as well.

While I don’t think anyone maliciously posts pictures of other people’s kids, I think we could stand to have a broader conversation about this practice.

The trouble with wanting to have that discussion is that these days, it seems most of us are geared to instantly defend our right to do something. We are quick to exclaim, “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

But does that make it right? 

When I posted a question along these lines on my own social media network, the conversation immediately turned to what is legal. Someone suggested my column would be “more credible and thoughtful” if I interviewed an expert in privacy law or data protection. I was cautioned against making “recommendations without knowing the law.” 

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty comfortable recommending people be intentional, considerate and thoughtful without having to have an expert weigh in. In a short column, I don’t have the real estate to dedicate to interviews of that nature, but I can start a conversation. I can call for consideration.

That’s my intention here.

Specific legal questions should always be handled by a professional, not a search on the World Wide Web. But the issues extend well beyond legality.

The fact is, our expectation of privacy is becoming less a reality. And the onus on keeping things private tends to land on the person requiring more privacy than others. 

I’m less concerned with what I have a right to do than what the right thing to do is for me.

I think posting pictures of other people’s kids is less about privacy and more about courtesy. Think of it as an extension of good manners and ask before you post. 

While we’re on the subject, please think before you post. Is this something my kid will be mortified by? Would I want my mom to post this about me? Carefully consider your own privacy sensitivities and act accordingly.

We have to figure this out so we can protect our kids, even from themselves. Especially, actually, from themselves.

How many of us have said we’re lucky social media wasn’t a thing when we were in our more, uh, formative years? We’re breaking new ground here, friends, so we’d be well-advised to tread cautiously. 

If you can’t get permission from another parent for whatever reason, and you want to post a picture of your own kiddo, use an app to blur the other faces.

It’s a simple work-around. At least, that’s what You Tube told me. 

Google it and you’ll see.

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


The nothing niche

Remember when you used to write about nothing?

Um?

No, like in a good way.

I’m not sure what to …

Reading your blog was like watching Seinfeld.

You know, I used to take things the worst possible way, but with some therapy under my belt I can see perhaps this is a compliment?

Yes!

Oh, well – thank you.

So can you start doing that again?

Yes!

Yes I can. In the time I spent trying to “nail my niche,” I lost sight of the fact that I already had one.

Even though my posts documenting the sleep habits (or lack of them?) of a new mama or about interviewing and writing on deadline while nursing (multitasking at its finest) and about milkshakes and marriage never went viral, I was cultivating my own steadily growing community of readers.

And you sent me notes about what you want to hear more about and I LOVE THAT. Please keep sending them. I am listening. I am taking notes. And I have some big plans for this fall. Like, when I actually get to work normal hours because my littles are at this amazing place called school!

Without you readers I wouldn’t have this little place in the cloud to connect with you and share my writing. I am at a loss for words to express how much that means to me.

So yes, I will write about all the things. I will stop trying to be just this, or exactly that – and just be me, out loud.

I made my first fun purchase with Nathalie’s Notes money from book sales because I’m just sure it’ll help me plan my content, track deadlines and stay organized on all the things simply by sheer adorableness!

EC Planner

 

Coming up: On Snacktivism | Advil and Ammo (it’s not what you think) | Back to School tips | Currently

 

If you want to geek out on Erin Condren cuteness with me, check out this link: (it’s totally an affiliate link, I recommend products I love and if you love them too, I get some credit. Yea, us!) If you’re going to order something, send me your email so I can send you a $10 off coupon.

Getting new subscribers is like a virtual high-five plus:


I’m bringing the bon-bons

First Friday Poster

 

I was distracted on deadline because I was arguing with strangers on Facebook, ironically over a plea for us all to just let each other be. I should mention I was on deadline as the situation in Baltimore was escalating.

I’m glad the video featuring a woman now known as The Baltimore Mom didn’t go viral until after I submitted my column or I would’ve been really, really tempted to tackle that topic instead of the whole free-range fiasco, also triggered by an incident in Maryland.

Because, you know, I have some thoughts on that whole thing. But I think I’ll spend some time sorting them out before writing a reactionary post. I’m thinking we need less reflexive reacting and more careful consideration. So I’ll start with me. Except that one time on Facebook.

Here’s a peek at something that will run in next week’s column, it’s almost like I knew I was going to virtually meet The Baltimore Mom, huh?

Look, it's hard being a parent under constant public scrutiny, which if you haven't noticed is the deal these days. So it's hard enough knowing anything you say or do is game for being disseminated, dissected and distorted on social media but it is harder still to watch my kids and my back simultaneously.

 

In other business:

  • No. I haven’t seen my doctor yet. But I totally will. Soon. I’m still consulting Google and my journals to put together my list of symptoms and such to maximize my seven and a half minutes with the doctor. You can imagine my dad’s …. how you say … dismay when I told him the “we” who ruled out panic attacks and a few other things was me and my Google Machine. I know, I know. I called today. My call is very important to them. But better luck tomorrow. I’m still feeling pretty weird and foggy and short of breath and other fun stuff. But don’t worry I am “getting lots of rest and taking it easy.” No. But I totally will. Soon.
  • Meanwhile … I’m so excited to have two book signings on the calendar. And I’m bringing bon-bons. Not the melty ice cream ones, or the fancy, pricey ones but rather the kind I can afford on a writer’s budget. But still. Free chocolate. And hugs. Come! Tell your friends. And maybe even buy a book or two.  The first one is FRIDAY, May 1 in downtown Newberg at Chapters Books & Coffee from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the second one is Saturday, May 9 from 3 to 6 at The Coffee Cottage, also downtown Newberg. Thinking my book will make a fun Mother’s Day gift for your favorite mamas. (If you can’t come in person but would like to give one as a gift email me or comment and I can pop a personalized one in the mail in time for Mother’s Day next weekend.)

**Help? For those of you who have already read it, would you consider taking a picture and emailing or texting me a favorite quote or passage? I’m working on a little project and am a little … uhm…attached to pick just a few quotes. This would be a huge help! Doesn’t need to be favorites, actually – just something that resonated or maybe even made you write in the margins. You know how I love that!

 

xo,

Nathalie

Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.


That one time I made pajamas. Also, a word or two about (my) writing process

Christmas PajamasPSE*

Some of you have said you wished I wrote more about the writing process. While I can’t write with any authority about THE writing process (whatever that means) I am happy to share more about mine.

Let’s start with my most recent Raising the Hardy Boys column: So what if you don’t sew. (Click link to read it if you haven’t yet).

Alright, y’all, I’ll let you in on a secret only long-time, regular Nathalie’s Notes readers know: I sometimes recycle content from here to work into my columns. And by sometimes I mean, as often as I can.

I consider my journal my first draft, my blog the second and the column my final one.

Of course, I also write a lot of columns with no formal draft. Just lots of thinking and notes on index cards and backs of envelopes. Those become some of my most favorite, sorry English teachers of America!

But you can still tell your students drafts are important. Practice paves the path for any published writer. There’s no way I could pull off publishing a first and final draft if I didn’t maintain a daily writing practice. Since I was like, six. (But it’s also never to late to start. I’m talking to YOU! You know who you are).

So there ya go, a note about my process.

Christmas Pajamas 2

Oh, also here’s a link to the original post about That One time I made Christmas Pajamas here.

Here’s the Outtakes from our hotel room photo shoot with my sister-in-law here.

And here’s what Matt actually said about the “M” on his stocking, but it got edited being as how I write for a family paper.

*Photo taken by Carrie Hardy, and shortly after Thanksgiving dinner. I forgot to take off my necklace, I guess I was distracted by the awesomeness of these pajamas and our photo shoot in search of The One Good Picture for our annual card.

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So what if you don’t sew

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So what if you don't sew

But good for you if you do

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

NOV 4, 2014 | COMMUNITY

As I write this, mere days before the ghouls and goblins appear, many moms across America, and a few dads, are sewing Halloween costumes. And I have nothing but applause — even awe — for them.

I am, however, proud to have checked that off my list already. By which I mean, I grabbed two Skylander costumes at Target, right when they went on sale, and told the boys their costume would be a surprise this year.

Then I waited until it was basically too late to do anything about it and planned a big reveal. This elaborate plan included setting the Target bag on the table next to the toast and saying, “Surprise! Open your eyes!”

Costumes, check!

You see, while I would love to be a mom who sews costumes, or anything else, for that matter, I’m not.

I’m a mom who feeds my family fodder for funny stories about, say, the time I made matching pajamas for all four of us. The part about how I sewed the pants shut is particularly hilarious.

In my defense, the pattern I’d picked out for my first big sewing project read like a blueprint for an office building. But I was quite motivated by my husband’s doubt that I was going to pull off the pajama project.

“Plaid pajamas for you, my friend,” I promised him in response to all the teasing.

“We’re going to have matching pajamas?” he said, incredulous.

“Well, more like coordinating,” I clarified. “If I go through the trouble of making them, you’ll wear them, right?”

“Oh, honey, you bet,” he was barely able to contain his amusement.

He was surprised the next morning when I hung the first pair from the doorknob. He was impressed the following morning when I finished the second pair. He looked mildly concerned the third morning, when I handed him his very own plaid pajamas.

It seems I may have been off a bit on the measurements. That evoked the response, “Honey, you made me culottes!”

That wasn’t on purpose, honest. I ended up using my seam ripper so much my 4-year-old began calling it “the mistake thing.”

The cheerful, Christmassy mantra that got me through the hours I spent with my seam ripper was: “I don’t care if I have to staple these (expletive). We are wearing these damn pajamas!”

The finished products reminded me of what one of my best friends calls “aggressively homemade.”

They weren’t very practical, because I wouldn’t let anyone eat or play in them, and no one actually slept in them. The pictures turned out pretty cute, though.

Another time, just as I was due to deliver Jake, I got it in my head I wanted to embroider Christmas stockings for all of us, including our dog. Never mind that I’d never done such a thing.

My husband encouraged me to consider glitter and glue instead of needle and thread, but his suggestion didn’t match the picture in my head.

The stockings turned out fine, except that I hated the “M” on Matt’s. I have put fixing it on my to do list the last five Decembers.

I should’ve fixed the sloppy “M” when I first discovered it. But with all the stuff that had to be done before the baby came, Matt said he’d rather live with the misaligned “M” than a stocking forevermore labeled “att.”

Given stories like that, no one at my house is sad or surprised that I don’t sew costumes. In fact, members of my family are relieved.

Plus, it leaves me free to consider doing other things, like making a Skylanders pinata for Sam’s birthday party.

Notice I said “consider.” I thought about it, then caught myself and came down firmly on the “no” side.

Besides, I already had my hands — and counters — full with the extravaganza I was planning for Sam’s seventh birthday on Oct. 7. I happen to think being born is kind of a big deal, so we are big on birthdays around here. And “golden” birthdays come around just once, so I was planning to make a fuss.

Here’s the catch:

Yes, my kids love it. But that’s not exactly why I do it. I actually do it because I love it. I truly do.

But sewing costumes? Not so much.

I have friends who are sewing finishing touches right this moment. They aren’t sewing their kids’ costumes to show me up, though. They are sewing them because they take joy in it, and that’s a critical distinction.

Too often, I think, we project our own insecurities on others. We assume their choices amount to a commentary on ours.

Trust me, they aren’t. And if you can embrace that message, you are welcome to send cash to compensate for the therapy expense I saved you.

Because Sam delights in all things holiday, he loved and truly appreciated every detail of his golden birthday, from the seven gold star balloons to the gold star sprinkles on his lunchtime grapes.

I know, I do go a little crazy sometimes. I’m not sure I should tell you, but I wrapped his lunch in gold paper to make it even more fun. Also, did you know they make golden Oreos for just such occasions?

My younger son, Jake, will be a little harder to impress on his golden birthday. He’ll be 14 then, and he already tends to keep his joy tucked inside.

I don’t think decorating his high school locker in gold foil will cut it. Luckily, I have a few years to reflect on potential alternatives.

In the meantime, I’m considering making a Christmas tree skirt this year. And maybe an advent calendar. Or not.

Coming up: Pictures of the aforementioned aggressively homemade Christmas Pajamas | What Matt actually said about the “M” | The Elf is (almost) in the House | Golden Birthdays, that’s a thing? | Publisher, check (For. Real!!!)

Here are the costumes from left to right:

Target, Target, Crafty Friend Melisa Daily, Crafty Friend Crystal Case.

Costumes

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On word counts and deadlines

BREAKING NEWS: I submitted a column three days early.

Mostly because I had two due on the same day and needed to knock one out, but still. In the past I’ve waited until the very. last. minute.

Sometimes, usually when I’m right up on one, I lament my deadlines but then I remember hey! I have a deadline. That means someone is paying me to write, so there’s that.

Also, perhaps more key, without those deadlines there is no way I would have six years of columns to be shaping into a book this fall. Nope. I’d still be waiting for “someday when I have more time.” So, three cheers for deadlines!

In other business, I just send a note to my editor with the subject line: “Oops, I did it again.”

(Though I think I forgot the comma).

Because, alas, I am once again over my column word count. Six hundred words is a challenge for someone like me who can’t Tweet effectively due to the platform’s strict 140 word limit. (One hundred forty?! Come. On!)

But, in my defense I squeezed in a dash of depression, a spoonful of suicide and a sprinkle of God stuff, oh also a titch of volunteerism, all under 1,000 words.

(I started at 2,700 words, so … )

Some people would suggest not trying to get all of that into one column. Those people would struggle less on deadline than I do probably.

Luckily, I have awesome editors who understand we writers each bring our own blend of awesome and annoying to the table.

I happen to have super understanding editors who happen to be less attached to my writing and are able to cut and chop when needed.

One of my favorite graph’s from this new column is:

What does all this have to do with a column about parenting? Well, I'm glad you asked.

One concept I'm trying to consciously impart on my boys is the habit of identifying a need, and then meeting it.

In other words, don't be the guy standing there with his hands in his pockets. Don't be the guy sitting on the couch asking "What can I do to help?" Instead, figure it out. And then go do it.

We’ll see if it makes the cut!

Depression statistics infographic

healthline.com

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You say bored like it’s a bad thing

By NATHALIE HARDY | June, 2014

Published in the Yamhill-Valley News-Register

At the time of this writing, there are precisely 11 days until we experience our first summer vacation with a grade-schooler.

Sam is already counting down the days, not because he doesn’t like school, but because he can’t wait, and this is a direct quote, “to use my new skills to have a lemonade stand.”

He tells me, “There’s going to be a lot of math to count all my money. But first I need some money to buy supplies. Can I match socks or something for money?”

Of course, Sam isn’t the only one thinking about summer. I’ve noticed social media is all aflutter with posts like, “How to beat boredom with these easy, low-cost ideas,” which touts ideas that, in fact, don’t appear to be either easy or cheap.

You know what’s actually easy and cheap? The library. Local parks. The backyard. A picnic.

Kids don’t need gourmet sandwiches, right? Anyone who has ever prepared an elaborate spread only to be met with a tearful, “But I wanted peanut butter,” knows what I’m talking about.

You know what bugs me the moYou say bored like it’s a bad thingst about all this advice to help parents “beat boredom?”

First, I think it’s twisted to tell parents they need to find ways to fill all the moments of a day now unoccupied by school. That’s just crazy.

Second, I can assure you that my mom didn’t worry about this kind of thing. Not. Ever. This whole movement to keep kids occupied and engaged all the time seems to be a modern “problem,” and I’m not a fan.  

Third, it’s a lie. In truth, boredom is awesome.

There. I said it.

For those treating boredom as something to be cured, I beg to differ. Being bored is a luxury. Being bored is having long stretches of time with nothing to do but think, which leads to creativity.

Nobody in history has ever died of boredom.

Boredom leads to having ideas, both good and not so good ones. Boredom means time to try something new. Time to wonder. Time to stare out the window. Or, to count cracks in the ceiling, or blades of grass.

But to read some of these articles, you’d think parents everywhere should prepare to be doomed if they haven’t already scheduled every second of summer.

What am I going to do this summer? Um, laundry, maybe minus sorting socks. Supervising backyard play, from a distance. Like from inside the house, where I will be folding the aforementioned laundry. And going to the park. Also, the library. A lot. I’m also open to visiting most places with air-conditioning.

God help me, the boys seem to want to get into BMX biking, so I’m sure there will be a lot of that in my near future. Also, more stained laundry.

But other than that, we’re wide open. And that’s by choice, not chance.

I want my kids to have windows of unstructured time because you know what actually “cures” boredom? Imagination.

If well-meaning adults can stay out of the way long enough, without pressing play on a show or offering up a cure before the child has time to think up something on their own, the kids will be fine.

Obviously, I’m not advocating leaving kids to their own devices for hours on end. Some guidance and simple supplies are needed.

But kids can make a lot happen with a whisk and a bowl. Add water and it’s “Hello, happiness!”

The best antidote for boredom is a kids’ imagination. And like our muscles, imaginations must be used. They must be pushed to their limits to thrive, or they risk atrophy.

Far from being absent in the equation, I see parents as playing a key role in fostering these opportunities by offering suggestions, encouragement and, most importantly, the freedom for kids to exercise their imagination.

It’s true, I haven’t yet made it through a full summer with a school-aged child. So I may have a big, fat mea culpa for you at the end of the summer.

But right now, I’m thinking more like this: If I start getting bugged about small people being bored, I’ll have to start charging a nickel every time I hear it.

That could cut into some of that lemonade profit. Just sayin’.

Of course, looking forward to planned trips and spontaneous adventures is an awesome part of summer, too. But, I tend to have more fun being spontaneous when I, er, plan for it. 

So last night over dinner, we made a list of things everyone in the family would like to do this summer. There are a lot of repeats from last summer’s list: “county fair,” “Tunes on Tuesday” and “camping,” among others. But we also decided to check out each park in Newberg at least once this summer.

The list is long. We might not get to everything. But it’s fun having that posted where we can see the vision we created together.

I plan to master the grill, or at least stop setting food on fire. I also plan to join the kids in the library’s summer reading program. That might be wishful thinking, but that’s kind of the point.

Also on that list are “bike rides” and “play in the backyard a lot.” Just so you know, those came from the kids.

As we enter this season of squeezing lemons, stubbing toes, sunburning shoulders and stretching long days out before us, I want to remember it’s a short season in more ways than one. So, most importantly, I’m planning to soak up as much of it as I can.