Category Archives: love

Why I Write

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Why do I write?  There are many reasons, but the best one I can think of is for my own peace of mind.  Over the last month or so, I have finally started writing daily – just for myself.  It grounds me in a way I can’t fully explain.

In addition to journaling daily, I also started using 750 words again.  There are rumors that Margaret Atwood mentioned 750 words in her masterclass on creative writing.  Personally, I love it.  I joined 750 words approximately two years ago, and I am finally starting to use it daily.  I use it to spill everything out onto the page, nothing more.  I let my mind wander and go from topic to topic.

Getting the garbage out of the way helps.  It doesn’t matter if I write in my traditional journal before or after I write my 750 words entry for the day.  I am much more focused.  When I sit down to write a blog post, I am not nearly as distracted by random thoughts.

Journaling, I only write approximately a page a day.  It isn’t 750 words, but I usually have something to say that is focused on my inner life or events going on that grab my attention.  I finally found a type and size of journal that works for me.

There is a difference writing on a laptop versus writing pen on paper.  I do both daily, no matter what type of writing.  For example, I may write a blog post during lunch or conference hour.  I then type, edit, and then post it when I get home.  Allowing myself some flexibility really helped.  I don’t beat myself up if I don’t write in 750 words or my journal every day.  I am beginning to feel “off” if don’t write at least something each day.

Margaret Atwood

It comes down to finding what worked for me.  I am in the middle of reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  I love it – and I don’t want to rush it.  So far, I tend to agree with her.  There is a need to process whatever is on one’s mind before writing something for public consumption.  It doesn’t have to be done that way, but it tends to make the entire process easier.  Writing Down the Bones is a collection of essays on writing, and my favorite so far discusses the tools of the trade.  She talks about how we get all too caught up in fancy journals (so guilty, just ask my ex!) and being afraid of writing garbage in something so beautiful.  She makes the case for using cheap one-subject notebooks and just filling them.

This gave me the idea of decorating a binder and filling it with loose-leaf notebook paper.  It works like a charm!  If I completely screw up, I just start over.  I have something with a good aesthetic, but I am not worried about permanently wrecking a notebook.  For me, it is the best of all worlds, and this simple change made me much more productive.  Natalie stresses this principal throughout Writing Down the Bones:  Find what works for you.  I couldn’t agree more.  With my notebook, journal, laptop, Chromebook, and Android phone, I am set.  That isn’t to mention Google Docs, Google Drive, and 750 words.  I never have an excuse not to write or read.  More on Writing Down the Bones to come.

Girl at station

Place and Space

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The idea of place keeps coming up.  I never realized it before, but I have ordered my life around a certain geography, a certain space.  In my case, that would be my hometown of Omer, Michigan – Michigan’s smallest city.*  It expands to include my grandmother’s house (my current home), the canoe livery, my parents’ home (my home from ages 3-18), and the nearby city of Standish.  If I expanded my personal concept of place further, I would include Bay City, the nearest city of any size – the city where I spent a good share of my 20s – and Saginaw, home to both Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College, where I was recently a student.  There are several others not mentioned here, but currently, those I did name create much of my world.

Although I recognize the fact that the places mentioned above – and more – have helped to shape who I am today, none are nearly as important as the people, family and friends, who inhabit those spaces.  They, too, exist in a certain space in one’s life.  When a loved one passes away, those spaces can loom large.  Instead of filling those spaces, our lives expand to make new room for others as they come into their lives.

If I were asked to list my memories of the places I listed above, I wouldn’t know where to start.  I would be quickly overwhelmed.  Not only would those memories be tied to those spaces, they would certainly be tied to family and friends as well.  For example, each day as I ready myself for the day ahead, I think of Grandma when I look in the mirror.  As a child and teenager, I spent many hours waiting for her to “put on her face” before heading out on our next adventure.  I love and remember those little routines and moments that make up and take up so much of our lives.

I am blessed to have the ability to carve out a space for myself in various places so strongly associated with my childhood.  As a writer who ultimately plans to write creative non-fiction centered around her early life, including childhood, there is no place I’d rather be.  That isn’t to say that I don’t dream.

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I often fantasize about packing up and starting over on the west side of Michigan, near Grand Rapids, or in my wilder days, Austin, Texas.  The Grand Rapids area makes sense.  My sister and her family live in a small town called Hopkins, which happens to be situated between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.  My sister, her husband, and their two boys enjoy the best of all worlds.  They live in a small town and can take advantage of all it has to offer.  The benefits of suburban and even urban areas are still near.  Add in the facts that I have a lot of family on that side of the state and western Michigan is growing like crazy, I must give it serious consideration.

Then there is Austin.  I don’t know if I have ever fallen more deeply in love with a specific place.  Even though I only lived in Austin for six months back in 2002, those experiences left a huge hole in my heart.  In Austin, there were plenty of tech jobs to pursue at the time.  When not working, I had endless opportunities to check out live music venues and crazy art installations with friends.

Oh, and did I have great friends!  For the first time in my life, I felt as though my life had come together.  It took everything within me to drive home to Michigan to finish my degrees at Michigan State.  I had no choice.  I can still see the heavy fog and sleet – and feel the tears rolling down my cheeks as I left on that drab December day.

Even though I daydream about moving to Austin every now and then, it won’t happen.  I am too tied to Michigan – by birth, and by the people and places I love.  As much as I adore Texas – all of it – that is another story entirely.  The reality is that I am not going anywhere.  I am as much a part of my family, Omer, and the Rifle River as they are a part of me.  It is now time to claim the space for myself.

* Yes, I realize that technically Lake Angelus has a smaller population, but it is in Oakland county, near Detroit.  It is close to and surrounded by Metro Detroit.  There is no comparison.

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Memories: The Impact 89 FM @ 30


I may have only ever broadcast on The Fix, but my short stint as a DJ during my senior year at Michigan State left a lasting impression.  My only regret:  I didn’t get involved earlier (as in as soon as I hit MSU’s campus as a freshman).  I came across this video created for The Impact’s 30th anniversary, and it brought back all kinds of wonderful memories.

The Fix is the online training radio station for The Impact 89 FM:  MSU’s student radio station.

As soon as I watched the video, I thought of how much fun I had playing Modest Mouse, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes, My Chemical Romance, the White Stripes – among so many others.  I thought of all the late nights and early mornings I put in just for pure fun.  Count me among the many misfits that just loved music.  They give us a shout out in the video.  How did I forget how much I love alternative?  This list sums up some of my favorites from high school and college.

 

New Beginnings

Every New Begining

As a child of the ’90s, this will always be a line from “Closing Time” by Semisonic.

It is strange to think that everything tends to happen at once, but at times, it does.  Right now, I am facing a fresh start in my career, my personal life, and pretty much everything else.  It is exhilarating to think of all the possibilities ahead.  I know that I have talked about fresh starts ad nauseum here – in fact, one of my favorite writing instructors pointed out that it is a consistent theme in my writing – but there are a few things I have learned over the years.  That is what I want to focus on here:  what I have learned and the future.

First, it is time to let some things go.  They no longer fit into the vision I have for my life.  Now is the time to put them to rest and focus on what’s ahead.  For me, that means letting go of experiences that left me feeling less than.  I won’t detail them, but I have had my share in both in my career (business and education) and my personal life.

Enough.  I can’t hold on to any of this anymore.  I am forced to forgive people who may not even how deeply they have hurt me.  I doubt that I will ever get the opportunity to discuss the issues in person.  Even if I did, I could explain my perspective until I am out of breath and he or she may still not get it.  It doesn’t matter.  I lost sight of my worth and that is entirely on me.

Second, it is time to act.  Finally.  It is time to act.  Over the last few years, one thing or another stood in the way of acting in different parts of my life.  There isn’t anything holding me back anymore.  Nothing.  In fact, that’s been true since this past summer.  Unfortunately, that fact took its time to fully sink in.

We are our own worst enemies.  Stay tuned.

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Thank You!

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I simply want to thank all my readers who have stuck by me all these years.  I’ve blogged off and on since 2005.  Blogging saw me through so much, including the last half of my 20s and, so far, most of my 30s.  The best is still to come.  I blog simply because I love to write.  That’s it.  Actually, there is more to it.  I would love to host or participate in a thriving writing community of bloggers.

Over the years, I have come across some wonderful blogs.  As I found them, I shared them here.  I recently went through my links, and frankly, it is frustrating.  Several blogs haven’t been updated over the last few years – and yet, the wonderful content is still there.  As long as it is accessible, I left the link.  Most of the blogs and websites listed here are continually offering fresh content.

Yet, I still can’t get some of my favorites out of my head, even if they are long gone.  Christina’s Shoebox, which dates from 2006, and the Nerdy Apple, which dates from 2015-2017, come to mind.  Both offered a unique take on the world.  Since both blogs no longer exist, I feel cheated out of wonderful content and a fresh take on life.  I may not write as often as I would like – which I am trying to change – but I am still here.  Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde is going nowhere.

Now for what’s ahead.  I have long wanted to do two things:

  1. Create a realistic writing routine.

I am in the midst of working this out behind the scenes.  Hopefully, this will result in most consistent posting here at Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde.  Once I am consistent, I will share my ideas and resources with everyone here.  There are so many wonderful resources for writers!

  1. I miss writing about the role music plays in my life.

Long ago – way back in 2006 – I wrote a series of articles for the now defunct online magazine JamsBioJamsBio paid writers like me to discuss music and the role music continues to play in our lives.  As writers for JamsBio, we were encouraged to write about our memories and how we associate those memories with certain music.  As a woman who grew up watching and adoring Ally McBeal, it appealed to the idea that there is a soundtrack to my life.  There most definitely is.  Ever since I glimpsed what was possible through JamsBio, I struggled to find a way to include music in my writing – without infringing on the rights of songwriters.  It is time for me to start writing about music again.

Music

Here is to many more years!  If you are a blogger and you would like me to profile your blog, please contact me.  I am always looking to make new connections with fellow bloggers.  As a side note, I just freshly updated my reading list, which you can find here.  I am always open to book recommendations.  Finally, if you enjoy Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde, please feel free to like our Facebook page.  You can do that here.Music 2

Book Review: “The Stage is on Fire” by Katie Steedly

The Stage is on Fire Book Cover

It isn’t often that a book comes along and grabs you by the jugular.  Katie Steedly’s The Stage is on Fire did just that.  At the same time, I’ve struggled to write this review in the weeks since I finished the book.  I related to and adored the first two-thirds of the book.  The last third left me angry and upset, which I will get to later.  While I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend the book, there are certain people I feel need to read the book, namely girls and women with Turner Syndrome.  Actually, I would recommend it to anyone struggling to find their place in the world.  That said, it is not for everyone.

Let me start with what’s working.  Almost immediately, Katie’s voice struck me as authentic and powerful.  She writes spirituality well, and never gives up on her quest to find her place in the world and create her own definition of home.  In the book, Katie details several moves across the country, her experiences in academia – good and bad, and her experience participating in the study of women and girls with Turner Syndrome at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC.  Turner Syndrome aside, I couldn’t help but relate to Katie throughout the book.

I am still in awe when I think of just how much Katie and I have in common.  We both taught at some point.  We are both writers.  Both of us have moved across country to pursue new opportunities and a new life.  In addition, both of us struggled with the idea of home and family at various times.  I could go on and on.  In the end, this is why I felt so disappointed in the ending.  It seemed to unnecessarily divide people.

There are several things that stood out and continue to stand out in the book.

  1. Her first teaching experience did not end well – hence the title of the book. Oh, I can relate.  In Katie’s case, she took the opportunity to further her education, eventually landing at the University of Texas in Austin.  She did what everyone needs to do when facing failure:  Get back up and try again.  She does this many, many times throughout the book, always seeking something more.
  2. She captures the journey to find our place in the world, peace, and meaning in life beautifully. I may not agree with her completely when it comes to religion, but I can fully relate to her need to explore what religion and spirituality mean to her.
  3. It took incredible courage for her to participate in the National Institute of Health study. It is much more intense and in depth than I ever dreamed.  Her description of what she felt emotionally while having an ultrasound knowing she will likely never experience pregnancy will stay with me.  I only wish I had written it.  Even though I experienced many of those same emotions as a child when I had an ultrasound, I wasn’t mature enough to fully express them at the time.  Now, as an adult, the fact that those feelings have been so beautifully put into words is a true gift.
  4. Did I mention courage? During her time in Austin, Katie decided to walk/jog a marathon.  A marathon.  Prior to this, there is not much mention of any athletics in the book on her part.  She is much more interested in drama, writing, and education.  Yet, she did it.  She accomplished the goal she set for herself, even if it was out of her element.

Oh, and dating.  It is worth mentioning.  Katie is far more adventurous in the dating  world than I will ever be.  At the time, she had yet to meet the right man.  I get the impression that that may have changed.  Her determination to not give up on love is inspirational – and something I desperately needed to read.

There is so much more in the book, but I will leave it for readers to discover.  It is important to note that the book is written as a series of essays.  I believe they are largely in chronological order.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter much.  Katie clearly grows throughout the entire book, as does her definition of home.  It may seem to be a small point, but I wish the formatting of the Kindle edition included a full title page between essays.  Instead, they include small titles similar to chapter titles at the very top of the page.  In fact, in writing this review, I had to check my Kindle version to see if each essay included a title at all. Each essay stands alone so beautifully, it is a shame that this feature of the book isn’t more prominently displayed.

Now to discuss what isn’t working.  Frankly, I didn’t enjoy the last third of the book at all.  I almost put it down.  It became far too political for my tastes.  It is one thing to pick up a book on politics, knowing what you are about to read, it is quite another to dive in head first after reading a seemingly different book in the beginning.  I get why she wrote about politics.  It became an important part of her life at that point in time.  I don’t believe it was handled very well.  I left feeling as though she couldn’t even begin to understand anyone who didn’t agree with her politically, which is truly unfortunate.  No one has a monopoly on political truth.  No one.  I wish it had been handled with more care and less judgement.  I get the feeling that Katie would be the last person to think of herself as judgmental, but that is how the political aspect of the book comes across, whether that was her intention or not.

Politics aside, I am happy I read the book.  I am grateful that Katie can connect emotionally with people through her writing.  Her writing is just beginning to teach me how to express what I thought impossible.  For that, I am truly grateful.  I love the fact that I can annotate and highlight my Kindle version of The Stage is on Fire.  I will be coming back to it as I continue to write.  You can find her website and blog here.

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Grace’s Table

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about Grace’s Table, but it has made a lasting impression.  My sister, Erica Wolbrink, met Lisa Anderson and became involved with Grace’s Table not too long ago.  It is through Erica that I learned all about Grace’s Table’s mission to help provide young moms with space to grow personally – spiritually, professionally, and as mothers.  Ever since I first heard about Grace’s Table’s mission, it stuck with me and captured my imagination – even though I have never experienced Grace’s Table in person.  I could never quite figure out why, until recently.

As I began participating in Grace’s Table’s latest social media campaign, I thought about why I feel so drawn to Grace’s Table’s mission.  It finally hit me.  As a single woman approaching 40 preparing to adopt and become a single mom, I can only begin to imagine what young moms feel at age 15 or even 20.  Parenting is hard enough; it is infinitely harder when trying to figure out your own identity, often in the face of limited resources and support.

I am blessed.  I have a wonderful education, bright career prospects, a home, and reliable transportation.  I am surrounded by friends and family who support and love me unconditionally.  Even though I am not yet a mom, I know where I will send my children to day-care and later school.  I have a fully-developed support systems, resources, and options.  And I am still scared.

I can’t imagine facing parenthood in the middle of adolescence or even in young adulthood.  As a secondary teacher, I fully understand that adolescence and young adulthood is a time of discovering one’s identity.  That self-discovery requires space and support.  Unfortunately, that is precisely what many young mothers lack just when they need it most.  Grace’s Table is seeking to provide that space and support for young mothers in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I invite you join me in learning more about Grace’s Table, their mission, and what space for grace is all about.

Grace’s Table – Growth

#spaceforgrace