Category Archives: Uncategorized

Learning to deal with it

I just sat down at Starbucks with my decaf coffee and was about to begin writing in my journal, but decided to share this on here instead.

I’ve written quite a bit here about my wardrobe issues — namely, going from a bazillion clothes to an almost-capusle wardrobe. It took a lot of work, and, truly, some feelings of withdrawal,  to learn just because the jeans fit doesn’t mean I need them and yes, the dress is cute, but I don’t need it and many other lessons about not buying just to buy. I still get the Gap and Old Navy emails because, let’s face it, the four people in my house do need clothes, so it’s good to know when things are on sale. But I no longer open every. single. one. and check to see what new items have been added to the clearance section of stores.

My clothes. That’s as far as the lesson had gone. Until recently.

My computer, a 2011 Macbook Air that I love, except for the minuscule hard drive, has been acting up. My trackpad sometimes works just fine, sometimes it acts like an invisible person has taken control. My cursor moves and clicks randomly, completely by itself. It’s awesome. Not really. At the Genius Bar, they cleaned it out for me and told me I can send the computer in to get it fixed for about $300.

Our bathroom faucets recently stopped shutting off. Sometimes they drip, sometimes they trickle, sometimes they full-on run. When we called the plumber, we found out that “all new pipes” in our house meant “all new except the one in the tub. To fix our faucets, we have to have the piping replaced. To do that, the tile, vintage 1950s or 60s blue ceramic that we actually kind of love, has to be ripped out. Another wall of the shower has severe water damage—last year tiles started falling off, but we were able to put them back up and re-grout around them, plus the window has a rotting wood frame (yes, a wood framed window inside the shower)— so if we’re ripping one wall out, we might as well rip the other two out too and get it redone correctly.

I’ve been going to yoga at our gym a few times a week. One of my favorite classes is Hot Vinyasa, even though it’s truly one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done (if it was two hours long, I might even say it is harder than the triathlons I did) and, because she loves or hates us, our teacher usually picks one terrible pose to hold for an insane amount of time toward the end of class. Vinyasa means movement, so this hold is to help us get our breathing and heart rate back under control, but also, as she often says, for us to “deal with it.” Whatever comes up, during the plank or chair or warrior, (for me, it’s often sweat and shaking and limps falling asleep and muscles giving up) we need to deal with it. “If you fall out, get back up.” “You can do anything for five breaths. And five more.” I freaking hate it. But when it’s done, it’s ahhhmazing.

There’s a lot of things I want, but I don’t need. A new computer would be great. A fully renovated bathroom…that would be awesome. A walk-in closet full of clothes that I love and make me look amazing. New pots and pans. A kitchenaid mixer. Brand new bikes for my kids, and rollerblades and gymnastics classes and every lego set ever made and, for Chris, the new Star Wars Droid. But none of that is what I really need.

We’ve never carried interest-bearing debt other than our mortgage, car loan and student loans. We budget carefully, do our best to stick to it, and figure stuff out. We “deal with it.” Right now, that means buying an external mouse for my computer, and getting our shower, but not the rest of the bathroom, fixed. It’s teaching our kids to appreciate what they have (if anyone has advice about this, I’d love to hear it) and save their money for what they want. It’s learning what we need, and realizing the rest might be inconvenient, but it’s not going to kill us. It’s learning to lean into the discomfort and deal with it. Because, sometimes, we learn things when we’re most uncomfortable.

It’s hard to do in our society. We see something like a billion marketing images each day. It’s easy to feel like everyone else has what they want and I’m stuck with this. I’m lucky to have friends that have chosen to live this way also- not monastic by any means, but considering what we need, considering what we can afford. In learning to deal with it, to learn what we really need and what we just maybe kind of want, we also get the opportunity to see other ways we can serve and be of use to other people.

This is what I’m thinking about this Tuesday morning. I know it was a bit ramble-y.

Book of the Week: Fangirl

Book of the Week for August 24 – August 31

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Hey Guys! Book of the Week is back from it’s summer hiatus! I’m starting with my author-of-the-summer, Rainbow Rowell. I read three of her books this summer and devoured each and every one. She captures feelings in her writing so amazingly well (Eleanor and Park was my introduction to her, you can read about that here.)

The blurb:

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


What are you reading right now?

The New Normal

The summer is officially over. School started today. While I think we were all ready, it was/is still a little sad. It’s really been a fun summer. We went to Tennessee, spent lots of time up north, went camping, lots and lots of pool and library time, a few camps, and a trip to North Dakota.

I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks thinking (fantasizing) about having my days back and what that would look like. Since the kids were born I’ve had a hard time with mornings, because it’s my most high-energy time, and that doesn’t coincide with anyone else’s energy levels in my house. I want to get up in the morning, workout, and dive right into creative work. I haven’t done that for years, because it doesn’t work for everyone else. I work out after the childcare opens, and I don’t actually start writing until after 9:30 when the kids are at school. That’s changing this year. Chris and I have decided that I will get up and work out and go right into my work day, he’ll handle the kiddos in the AM. Then I’ll be done working once I pick them up in the afternoon, and he’ll take a little extra time then.

It has been really hard for me to accept this new schedule, even though it really is a dream. I’ve done the “Ideal Day” exercise so many times, and every single time I finish feeling guilty because childcare is not part of my morning routine. With having them home this summer, though, I’ve really come to accept that being with them when I can really BE WITH THEM is 1000x better than being physically there while my mind is somewhere else. I am a better mom when I take care of myself.

This morning was a bit off because I wanted to take the kids to school (first day!) but it started out with a run and I had my day planned out and my morning pages done before I dropped them off. It’s noon now and I feel good about where I’m at rather than upset I didn’t get enough writing done or stressed about everything else that still needs to happen before I get the kids. Time will tell for sure, but I think I’m going to love this new normal.

(Oh, you didn’t think I would have a post about the first day of school without the picture, would you?)

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Ruby Slippers Updates

2015-06-11 10.04.45 IMG_1949There’s been some exciting new developments in the real-life Ruby Slippers investigation that my books are based on.

As you may or may not know, Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids, MN, the town right next to where I grew up. The town is the home of the Judy Garland Museum, and a pair of movie-worn ruby slippers was stolen from the museum in 2005. There was no evidence except for a single sequin found at the scene. In the last ten years, there have been all of the usual speculation and rumors that goes along with an event of this magnitude in a small town, but never anything actionable.

Last month, during the first two days of the annual Wizard of Oz Festival (formerly known as Judy Garland Festival and Emerald City Festival) a team of divers from the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department conducted a series of dives in the Tiago Mine Pit Lake.

2015-06-11 10.32.33Pit lakes are created when the water backfills into areas where Iron Ore mining had been happening. During the mining, the water is diverted and actively pumped out. As soon as those pumps are shut off, it fills. (If you’re not on my mailing list, check out last month’s newsletter to see a video of a dive in another mine pit.) The water in these mines is crystal clear because it’s ground water that is coming up through natural filters: rocks, sand, silt, etc. They are gorgeous.

Operations at Tioga ended in the 50s, and, from what I understand, the water backfilled especially quickly because of the lake’s proximity (across the street) from Pokegama lake. At it’s deepest point, Tioga is nearly 300 feet.

I was there for all four dives, and as far as I observed, all that was found was some garbage. However, even at the dive site, rumors abounded about what had been brought up: a sawed off shotgun, a black duffle bag and a coffee can with “ruby red coloring” inside, a plastic shoebox that would have been the right size for the shoes…

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Several news crews were on hand the first day of diving, and while I was interviewed by a few different people, I only made it on to one station. That’s fine, I wasn’t dressed for it 🙂

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The renewed interest in the theft comes as we approach the ten-year anniversary of the crime, and because Morgan White is making a documentary film about The Ruby Slippers. I did an hour-long on-camera interview for his film, but as it’s focused more on the actual shoes and the legends surrounding them, I don’t know how much of it will get used. I’m looking forward to seeing the whole thing!

Documentary Photo

Scheduling Update

Happy Monday!

Today is the beginning of what could be a very big week. The Wizard of Oz Festival starts in just three days, and in four, they will do the first dives to try to recover the stolen ruby slippers. Complete details are available here, but for those of you on my email list, I wanted to give a quick update: My signing will be from 12-1 on Friday, June 12, not 3:30-5:30 as I had listed in the newsletter. The 12-1 time was what had been agreed on before the dives were announced, and by then it was too late to get it changed in the advertising, so we’re going to stick to the original time. I’ll be around a lot of the day on Thursday and Friday though, so if you see me and we weren’t able to connect at the actual signing time, please come up and say hi! I also already signed all the books the museum currently has, and I’ll leave extra swag there if they’ll let me.

In other exciting news, I’m going to be interviewed for the documentary on the theft. I was about to say I’ve never been on TV before, but I just remembered I was seated next to the stage for a CMT special, so I was on every time they did a long-shot. But I’ve never had a speaking part before 🙂

If/when the shoes are found (trying not to jinx it) I hope they make the case files public, I would love to dive in and write the real story. Keep your fingers crossed with me.

I didn’t steal the ruby slippers, but they’re coming closer to finding who did!

I’ll be signing copies of Stealing the Ruby Slippers and Finding the Ruby Slippers at the Judy Garland Museum during Wizard of Oz Festival in Grand Rapids, MN on June 12. Ahead of the festival, I did a little interview with the museum and learned that there is a dive planned for two days during the festival— and they think the missing shoes will be recovered! You can read the whole interview here. From everything I had heard, I thought the shoes had been thrown either in the Mississippi or Pokegama Lake, this was the first I’d learned that they might be in a mine-lake. (Although, to be fair, the mine they’ve referenced, Tioga, is also the name of a beach on Pokegama, so I don’t know that I would have known there was a mine-lake associated with it!) I’m hoping to get to attend the dives, and will keep you posted if I do!


Get The Thief Audiobook and a bunch of free extras

the Thief Audio Book RGBThe Thief and The Damage are becoming audiobooks!

You can check out an interview I did with the narrator in the April edition of my newsletter. He’s awesome, and he’s done a great job bringing my characters to life.

This process has been a blast, and I want you to check the new versions out. To sweeten the deal, this summer, when you download either of my books through Audible or iTunes, email your receipt (even free downloads with your Audible subscription count!) and I’ll send you the either free digital versions of either of my books or at-cost physical copies!

Check out all the details here.

Where did May go?

It’s the end of May already, and we’re gearing up for summer here. My husband and I made the decision to save the money and keep the kids home with us, which means learning to work while they’re here, and also rearranging schedules so we each get some concentrated time.

I’ve been spending a lot of May in a really reflective mode, which makes it a bit ironic that I haven’t been blogging. I’m taking on more responsibility in my day job, which I’m excited about and thankful for, but it’s taking up a lot of my mental capacity. And there’s something about spring in Minnesota—I don’t want to work. I want to be outside. Which isn’t necessarily all bad. It’s caused me to really reflect on my goals and activities and realize some of them just really aren’t that important. You saw that a bit with the May Goals Reflection, but I’ve let things go a bit more too. I can’t do it all, and I have to do some things that aren’t entirely fun, but I don’t have to do everything. I’m learning to say no, little by little. Even to myself.

How to Write a Novel Without Even Realizing It

A little over a month ago, I started a new job at NoiseTrade while basically everyone else at the company, including my favorite husband and co-parenter, was at SXSW Music Festival in Austin. While the job, overall, is structured in a way that still allows me a lot of writing time, that week, it didn’t. I get a little…hard to live with…when I’m not writing, so I was a bit desperate. I took extreme measures. My good friend and amazing mentor Charlotte gave me the opportunity to write about it on her blog. Check it out here. 

Ruby Slippers News

the Thief ePub Cover The Damage eBook

We’re approaching the one year birthday of my first book, Stealing the Ruby Slippers, and like any “baby” he has grown up and is taking on a life of his own. In May he and his sister, Finding the Ruby Slippers, are going together to the courthouse to legally change their names. Henceforth to be known as The Thief and The Damage, they’re also getting a new voice…literally. In May The Thief will be available in audio for purchase from all the usual suspects (Audible and iTunes.) I’m hoping it will also go into library catalogues, but because of the deal I have with ACX I don’t have as much (any) control over distribution and pricing as I normally do. (If you don’t have an Audible account, don’t sign up…yet. You get one book for free when you sign up. Wait until mine is up there are get it for free!)

Details are still being worked out, but for now, let me just say: there are going to be some pretty sweet promo packages that I will be offering to those of you that decide to buy the audio version. And for those of you who have the original covers/titles…there will be options for cool name-change stickers that you can put on your books, fridge, or mom’s car. Whatever floats your boat.

More will be on as details develop.