Under Construction


Hello All,

It’s been a while, but growing a baby human can be quite exhausting at times. On an exciting front there’s only about 5 weeks left until Baby T makes his way earthside. I know that once he is born things will be even more wonderfully hectic. Between preparing for the baby and house hunting for our new forever home I haven’t been online very much.

Hopefully, there is some more exciting news in the works on the house front, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself yet. Stay tuned!

As many of you know I am in the process of writing my memoir of the adventures Richie and I have shared focusing on a lot of our time in Japan. I’m considering switching gears slightly and focusing a bit more on how anxiety has affected our journey.

I am also in the process of constructing my own website and online portfolio. A friend reached out to me requesting some editing help recently. I realized I don’t have any kind of portfolio or list of services for my freelance work. (I can do anything from ghost writing assistance to editing to constructing professional resumes if anyone is looking for some help).

I’m hoping this blog will be a main focus once I finish my new website so don’t go anywhere! I appreciate all the love and encouragement everyone always gives here and thanks for sticking with me.

Aly

 

 

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The Dream Job


I never imagined I would be a stay at home mother. I never imagined that I would find so much joy in being with one little tiny person day in and day out. I guess that’s motherhood. My mother used to say, “You’ll never understand until you have kids of your own.” (You know your mom said it too). I would just laugh and brush her off. I knew everything. I knew that she just didn’t understand ME or MY FEELINGS.  Wrong again. My mother was right. (Hear that, Mom?). I never understood how much love I could feel for my own child. So I’m glad that I have been given the opportunity to stay home with her. I haven’t worked outside of my home in almost two years. And I’m eternally grateful for that.

But, as I mentioned in my previous post I have been job hunting and looking at opportunities for writing and editing. I LOVE writing. I really do. It’s been my creative outlet for twenty years. I also love being home with my baby girl. She’s still my baby and I want to be here for her during the day. We are still proudly breastfeeding at 19 months old and I know it would be hard on both of us for me to be gone all day. (Oh yes, Happy World Breastfeeding Week!). I’ve been submitting article after article for publication as well as applying to writing and editing positions. I have even had one decent interview, but no luck so far. I have also been working on my memoir. I’d love to be able to work from home to still have time with Sophie.

It’s not truly about money. Though, being paid to write would be ideal. It’s more about keeping up with the other parts of me. I’m not just a mother (though I am devoted to that part of me) and I’m not just a wife (also one of my favorite parts of life). I am many things among them a devoted mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I’m also a writer and (if my husband is to be believed) I’m pretty good at it. I’d like to keep writing, share my words, express myself in that way, and grow in my craft.

Yes, I’d love to get paid for it too.

I know there really is no “dream job”, but there is something out there for me, I hope. Something that I can do to share my writing and editing skills. To take the passion in my heart and the knowledge from 7 plus years of schooling and do something amazing with it. Know what I mean?

A Little Humor to Get You Through the Day


10 Steps to Getting Ready (with a toddler)

We all know that once our precious little angels begin to crawl and walk there is no stopping them. All of the sudden you are screaming “Grab the baby gates!” and “Did you shut the toilet lid?” because you never know what (seemingly) harmless household object they will get into next. When you turn your back for a second they have unraveled four paper towel rolls, squeezed out an entire tube of diaper rash cream, and poured out a box of cheerios on the floor. Keeping your toddler in check and being a functioning member of society can be a challenge. Sometimes we wish that parenting came with a manual, especially one that tells us how to wrangle a two year old with the ability to demolish a living room in under two minutes. With this in mind I have compiled a list of 10 easy steps for getting ready for your day when you have a toddler in your life.

  1. Decide what your plan for the day is. Do you need to leave the house? Will you be having any visitors today? Then, yes you need to put pants on. And a bra, maybe.
  2. Realize that you haven’t showered in about three days and even the dog doesn’t want to come near you anymore.
  3. Try (unsuccessfully) to get your little one to take a nap so that you can enjoy the peace and quiet of a warm shower.
  4. Check the time and notice that you now only have 30 minutes to get ready or you will be late.
  5. Consider going back to bed instead.
  6. Say “Let’s get a shower with Mommy!” in an attempt to get clean somehow.
  7. Stand under the water for five minutes while your toddler tries to climb up your legs and screams for “boobies!”
  8. Attempt to put on clothes until you notice said toddler pooping on your white carpet. Then, try to remain calm when they step in it.
  9. After cleaning up poop, chasing your little naked monster around the house, and wrangling them into a diaper throw on the first thing you see that doesn’t stink.
  10. Decide that everything can wait and put off leaving the house until tomorrow

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Life with a toddler can be crazy, but it’s also precious. Live it up and don’t forget to laugh.

Journey On


Being a stay at home mother to my darling girl is the joy of my life. I love being able to wake up with her, feed her breakfast, play and learn and grow with her. I also enjoy being able to work on my memoir during nap time. I know there are so many people who can’t afford this opportunity. There is a reason for that! This job while wonderful and fulfilling doesn’t pay anything in monetary value. Living on a single income is a challenge for so many people. Another great challenge is returning to the workforce after staying home to raise children.

I’ve been out of work for two years now and I am slowly easing my way back in by applying for work-at-home jobs. I would love to have the flexibility to work from home doing something with writing, online media, editing, or something similar to these fields. I don’t want to end up sitting home alone in 10 years when all my kids are in school and my husband is at work. I want to keep myself sharp and relevant.

The toughest thing about the job search is the rejection. You feel so hopeful when you click “Submit” just to get let down when they have “decided to pursue other candidates.” I know it’s not personal, but it feels like it sometimes. For now, I’ll just keep pushing forward. There is the perfect position out there for me and hopefully I can find it. In the mean time hopefully I can publish some of my writing. Don’t forget about me, world.

Write on, my friends, write on.

Inspiration


I’ve been working on my memoir for the past three years. I pull it out I work on intensely for a while and then I put it away to think on it. At the end of last month I had close to 70 pages completed. I know what I want to write, but sometimes the motivation isn’t there.

As a writer I’m always looking for inspiration, the lucky thing is I see it all around me. I keep this blog as a record for my thoughts and my writing because when I’m inspired to write I don’t want to keep it in. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a subject close to my heart and that is motherhood. I’ve read approximately 4 billion articles/blogs/editorials about motherhood and I can say it never really gets old because every single piece reaches a piece of me. The one that tugs at my heartstrings the most is the loneliness that comes along with being a mother (or a parent).

My baby girl is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She lights up my world in a way I never imagined. I am fortunate that I can afford to stay home, write, and be with my little princess all day long. Sometimes though, it’s lonely.

How can you be lonely, Aly? You are with Sophia day and night. Your husband never deploys and comes home right at dinner every day. You are never alone. That’s true, I am never alone, but sometimes it can be lonely. Sometimes I go weeks without talking to people I used to consider my best friends, most nights I go to bed before Richie while I’m trying to get the baby settled for bed, 90% of my days are spent trying to please a little person who can’t yet articulate what she needs.

The loneliest part is that even though there are billions of people on the Earth, many of them are mothers who are feeling the exact same way that I do, I feel like I’m alone on this island where all I am is a milk machine who fixes meals and changes dirty diapers. Even though the love I feel for my daughter exceeds anything I’ve ever felt before she’s too little to know that sometimes parenthood is tough.

So today I am inspired to reach out there into cyberspace. And say, “Hey Momma, (or Daddy) you aren’t alone! There is someone out there just like you, who feels the same way that you do. Next time you are feeling like you are alone on that island…go to the park, smile at that other parent sitting by themselves, go introduce yourself! Finally make that play date you’ve been meaning too. Your babies deserve the best and the best is a happy mommy! Chin up and when you feel alone, know that I’m out here too!

The Real World


Hey everyone,

Look at me two posts in a week! I’ve been looking online at different jobs. I’m hoping to get into something flexible/part-time so that I don’t have to put Sophia into daycare. I love our days together, I’m already sad thinking about her going to school.

I find job hunting really scary. Reading requirements for jobs and thinking about starting at a new job is overwhelming. Even though I spent two years writing for a magazine and doing advertisements it still seems like a lifetime ago. The past year and a half with Sophia has been amazing, but it is so different from working at a nine to five job. It’s challenging and frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. I’m just not sure how to put myself back into “the real world.” I’m guessing I’ll need to start out slowly.

I’m also currently in the middle of my memoir. I love writing about our life and journey to Japan. I can’t wait to have a finished draft. It’s a life long dream of mine to write a full length book.  That’s also my goal for 2015 is to finish the first draft.

I promised that I would share part of my book so I am including the opening chapter here. If you would like to share this chapter or any chapters please ask permission first.

©.2011-2015. Embracing Life. lifepassionlove.wordpress.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All work on this blog is original writing by me and not to be reproduced, copied or distributed.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

           “Get in the water. Get IN. Come on.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just watch. Hmm, I’m not sure.”

“Just get in here. It’s easy. Everyone else has tried it.”

I laughed at the exchange between my brother, Michael’s girlfriend, Renee and my great-aunt, Angie. Renee stood in the waist deep water holding the 10 foot paddle board while she cajoled and pleaded with my aunt to get in and try the board. After three years of living overseas in Okinawa, Japan it was refreshing and comforting to be back with the comforts of my childhood; the creek, The Shore House, my family. Everything felt so perfect, it made me wonder why I had never appreciated it before. I had been so eager to grow up and leave my home town behind that I never realized how blessed I really was. I knew everyone or so it seemed. I guess that’s what happens when you live on a peninsula. One road in or out. Unless you went by boat you had to meet up with the same people; the same gas station attendants, the same grocery clerks, the same preachers.  The town I grew up in, Pasadena, (Maryland not California) had a population of about 25,000. It may seem like a large number of people to be acquainted with, but I really felt like knew everyone in town. There were only two high schools in town and plenty of people to be friends with. Even though I attended a private high school in another town I still knew so many people from my neighborhood and through other friends. I had my immediate and extended family all around me and we never wanted for company because we always had each other.

“Why don’t you let Aly try? She’s never been on there.”

“I’m getting in the kayak now. Go on in,” I said.

“Mmm, I don’t know,” she hemmed and hawed at the idea, “I don’t think I could stay on there.”

I slowly paddled the kayak up the creek and against the current putting the house behind me. The sun beat down on me and reflected off the water making the day seem that much hotter. It wasn’t unlike the humid temperatures we had grown used to in Okinawa. The scenery was quite different though. Living on a subtropical island just wasn’t the same as growing up on the Bay. From the time I was born, I had been fortunate enough to be able to experience summers on the water. My great-great grandparents bought a summer house in 1908 on the Bodkin just off the Chesapeake Bay in Pasadena, Maryland. They spent their winters in a house up the beltway on the northern outskirts of Baltimore City, but every weekend in the summer they were at The Shore house. The property is now co-owned by my great grandmother and her remaining living brothers. The house sits on a corner lot that in today’s market would cost several million dollars to purchase. If we had the money, my grandparents would buy out everyone else’s share. Just so we could keep the house in our family and never have to worry about someone wanting to sell it. It has charm and it is definitely old, but I loved going there when I was a child. It never occurred to me that other people didn’t have the luxury of a waterfront view and a readymade vacation home. We spent our days riding jet skis into the mouth of the Bodkin and taking boat rides out on the Bay.

When my grandfather would drive the boat, he would give us a history lesson; pointing out all of the landmarks and historical points on the water.

“There’s Bethlehem,” he would say waving his hand in the direction of the smoke stacks. It used to be so much busier and more alive. Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard was known to local residents as Bethlehem Steel for the steel plant that you could see the smoke stacks from the Bay. I always thought it looked intimidating and never wanted to go near there. These days the steel plant sits empty and cold because it couldn’t survive the tough economic times. I hear they are demolishing the place piece by piece. Just past that you can see the Key Bridge named after Francis Scott Key, the man who penned the Star Spangled Banner. The raising of the American flag at Fort McHenry in Baltimore was said to have inspired the beloved anthem. That little piece of trivia is one that Marylanders are proud of.

As I grew older and became busier I spent less time at the Shore and on the water even though it was only a few miles from my mother’s house. When I left for Okinawa I never thought about how much I would miss this place and the people that came along with it. I figured a subtropical island country would satisfy my need to be on the water and my desire to see something besides my town. It wasn’t the same. The sounds and smells were different. Instead of flowing creeks, chirping crickets, and muggy summer nights you had crashing waves and overly salty air. It was pretty, but it was never home. There were so many days and nights that I fought homesickness and the urge to just jump on a plane and go back. Back to my family, back to my hometown. Even in my darkest days of anxiety when I thought I would lose my mind, I stayed in Japan to be close to my husband because I knew that I would miss him just as much if I left. But still always there was a part of me that longed to be where I grew up.

“Ang, just get on the board. I’ll hold it up here and Michael can hold the other end,” Renee told her, “Pull up onto the board on your belly. Then, get up on your knees.”

“I’m tryin’, I’m trying. Ahgh.”

Splash.

The sound of laughter echoed across the creek as Angie tumbled into the water. I craned my neck to see her, but the kayak had floated down the creek and I had lost sight of the house. As I paddled farther ahead, I looked into the tree line where the trail leading to Downs Park. The park is located on the Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County. It is situated at the end of a peninsula just before a gated community called Gibson Island. The park is named for former County Councilman, John (Jack) H. Downs. The park was named in his honor for his years of service in Anne Arundel County. We never cared about the park’s name or history. It was just a fun place to hang out when we were kids. To run and scream and chase one another throughout the trails and picnic spots.

The park has so many winding trails throughout the woods and along the water line. It’s great for riding bikes or running through the woods. There are children’s playgrounds and an outdoor performance theater where Sunday concerts are held during the summer months. Local residents and tourists can learn more about the indigenous wildlife by visiting the information center located at the park. When my cousins and I were kids we sat through two Saturdays of classes to receive our personal boating license right at the park. These days children can attend summer camps and families can picnic and cook out at one of the many pavilions with charcoal grills. It is the perfect place for families to go and it was the perfect place to be a kid. I had craved this familiarity when I was gone. Even though I didn’t know I would miss it at all.

“There ya go, there ya go. Just stand up from your knees,” Michael’s voice echoed down the creek.

“I don’t have my balance. I think I’m going to fall,” Angie replied.

Splash.

The town where I grew up and the areas surrounding it are rich with history and culture. It wasn’t just a place for me to learn about it. It was the place where I grew up. It was the town I learned to be an adult in. I learned so much about myself and I grew into a woman. I was so eager to get out that I never stopped to think about all that I was leaving behind. I can hear my brother pulling the paddleboard out of the water. My aunt must have given up for the day. Maybe she’ll try again tomorrow. I reflect once more on how glad I am to finally be back where I belong.

Three years had passed in the blink of an eye. There were amazing memories, there were okay times, and there were some downright frightening moments that were all behind me now. Being back here made Japan feel like nothing, but a distant memory or a dream, even. I turn the kayak around and let the current take me home.

xo Aly

A Writer Writes


It’s been about 9 months since I have updated this particular blog. For that I am sorry. I have been sort of busy trying out this new thing called mothering. I really think I am getting the hang of it. But there is one thing I truly miss and that is keeping up with my writing. Don’t get me wrong, I write all the time for school or in emails or texts, but I don’t usually take the time I need to write, to practice my craft, and to share my stories.

Today I turned in my final project for my 10th Masters class. That is 10 out of 12 meaning that I only have two classes left until graduation and both of those are workshops. I almost can’t believe it. It doesn’t seem like it is really that close. Originally, I was supposed to graduate by December 2014, but I took off some time when my Nana came to visit me in Japan and last summer when we moved back home. I didn’t want to waste my classes by not paying attention. I think that this program turned out really well for me. I learned alot about research, literature, writing papers, and then I learned a lot about writing, critiquing, and sharing. To believe that I am finally in my “thesis” classes seems to good to be true (I say “thesis” because it is not like a doctoral thesis in any way. It is more about the writing).

As I was looking over the course descriptions for my next class I read the introduction from the professor and this is what struck me, “A writer writes…” She was saying that graduation, publication, or accolades do not make the writer. The only thing that makes a writer is if he writes. Most days I’m just Momma, but today I want to be a writer. I want to be a writer on more days because I love it and I miss it.

I am excited for the opportunity that this class is providing because it will give me that push to write every day. I will be working on my memoir, To The Ends of the Earth. (This is a very old, very rough draft so please bear with me if you choose to read it). I already have close to 30 pages of content that I can expand on and really work with. I hope one day to publish and share my stories with the world.

So for now, I’m back in the blogging world and I hope that I don’t let myself leave for so long. I have so many stories to tell. (My little girl is almost one years old!). I think I’ll leave those for another day.

Aly

School Days


Well, my 7th Master’s class toward my graduate degree is almost over. We are in the last week and we are doing “reflections” about the semester. Mine are already done, but we just have to comment on our classmates as well. It feels very surreal that I am over halfway finished my degree. When I graduated Towson U. in 2009 I considered grad school, but didn’t know what to make of it. I even started an application to Hopkins that I never finished. Anyway, fast forward 2 1/2 years and I decided I wanted to go to graduate school while living here on Okinawa.

So two years ago in November 2011, I found a graduate program online through a private university called Southern New Hampshire University. I liked that the classes could be taken online with no residency program. Many of the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programs require a residency in which the student has to go to the university or another location for 4-10 days a semester to participate in workshops during a semester or a year. An MFA consists of more writing workshops and skill sets than an MA which is more traditional schooling in my opinion. Unfortunately, an MFA wasn’t in the cards for me because I couldn’t just leave my husband, my dog and my job several times a year to fly to America. It’s expensive! That is when I came across the MA (Master of Arts) program with SNHU. It combines English and Creative Writing. Half the classes are literature and English based and half the classes are writing and publishing based so it is a solid mix. I took an English language derivative class, literature theory, three literature classes and a teaching writing class. These were all very challenging, but have opened up job possibilities so that I can potentially get a job teaching writing at the college level.

The second half of my degree program is the writing portion (YAY!) My first writing class was an elective Poetry Fundamentals <3. Since I was very young, I have always had a love of poetry and this class really fulfilled that passion again. It was challenging, but exciting and fun. It almost made me want to switch my concentration to Poetry instead of non-fiction, but I know that non-fiction is something I can do on many levels. It is what I did for two years here writing for Okinawa Living. It is also something I truly enjoy writing about (real life experience) and can see myself doing it forever. Poetry is something I can always come back to later though.

As I said before, I have just finished my seventh Master’s class which happened to be my last literature requirement. It was American Modernism and luckily for me, I had a wonderful instructor. I got to write about Hemingway and it was fun. It was definitely a challenge putting together weekly papers and discussion questions, but now that it is over I’m sort of bored! I thought for sure Sophia would arrive by now and I’d have my hands full. I’m kind of wishing there was a bit more class to keep me busy over the next week or so. Oh well….

If nothing else, I’d love to see my grades! I turned in my final paper (13 pages) and my short essay (2 pages) on Thanksgiving and I am very impatient to see how they turned out. I’ve also signed up for my next class that will start in January. I’m on the fence if I am going to take it or not. I almost did not take this most recent class (being so far into my pregnancy I was worried I couldn’t keep up) but I am so glad I did. It kept me busy and focused and put me one step closer to my goal of a degree. My mom will be arriving in January for two weeks and my Nana for three weeks so I think that I could do well to take the next class (Setting and Place writing workshop) while they are here. It is only 11 weeks long and it sounds like fun. I really don’t want to get behind again, I took a “term” off last fall because I was busy with work and now I won’t be finished until early 2015. I’ve only been taking one class at a time due to cost and time restrictions so it is taking me a bit longer than expected.

The one thing I am proud of is my GPA it’s 3.99 currently and I feel that it really reflects the time and energy I have put into my graduate work. I didn’t know I would ever be going back to school, but in the end, I am so glad I did. After my settings class and the next class (contemporary publishing) I will move on to my capstone classes….non fiction fundamentals, thesis 1 and thesis 2). It’s not necessarily a true thesis project, more like a manuscript. That’s the goal, finish with a degree and a manuscript that could be used for publication.

Maybe, I’ll be famous or maybe I’ll keep going to school forever…I don’t know. All I do know is that I will be proud to tell my daughter that I stuck with writing and that even when its tough I still enjoy the outcome.

Writing is Joy


I love to write. Whether it’s poetry or memoir or even casual blogs…I love it. I always have. I think it’s the one thing that I can see myself doing as a career and the one thing I can say I truly don’t feel is a chore. Now, writing for school can seem like  a chore and writing things that I find boring can seem like a chore, but deep down I love it. I am really proud of myself for the progress I have made in school (my creative writing program for my Master’s degree) and the progress I have made on my own personal blog. I seem to start my blog and write in it 2 or 3 times and then forget about it for months. In the beginning of 2012, I would write for a few weeks and then stop. In August 2012, I wrote several blogs and I did again t in November 2012 then again in January/February of this year. It’s like I would take several months off from my blog and I don’t want to do that anymore. I love writing and I love sharing my views even if no one reads them. My progress has been great this time. Since the end of June I have written a blog almost every single week, sometimes more!

The sad thing is I forgot how much relaxation and serenity writing brings me. As I suffer from anxiety, pregnancy hormones, raging emotions I know that I can easily turn these stressors into writing and it brings me joy. I guess sometimes we forget. I don’t want to forget anymore. I have 94 days left in my pregnancy and then a whole new amazing, awe inspiring, life changing chapter of our lives will begin. I need to embrace it and write about it. I want to say thank you (again) to all my readers and family and friends who stick by me, pray for me, send good, happy vibes my way. You all are the best. You help remind me who I am when the world around me seems dim. <3.  

Look out for more writing, more chapters to my memoir, To the Ends of the Earth and more updates about baby bug. I may just share another short post later today <3. (I know, I know three blog posts in one day! It’s a miracle.)