The House Built On L♡VE & Shenanigans

The In's and Out's of Family Life in Charlottesville, VA


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Listen Up!

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“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” – Mark Twain

Marley came home from school recently and firmly declared, “Dada, we are supposed to listen more than we talk. That’s why we have two ears and only one mouth.” Apparently, she picked this idea up from one of her teachers who obviously used this proposition, as a “classroom management technique.”  And since the teachers are required to wrangle with nearly 30 kids all day, who could blame them.  There is certainly a strong case to be made about the importance of this particular sentiment with regard to the way we choose to communicate.

There are many forms of communication that we use daily.  Verbal, which uses the spoken word to communicate one’s message.  Non-verbal, for example uses body language, gestures, and facial expressions.  Listening, is also one of the more important communication skills, but unfortunately it is the one that is probably practiced the least.  It would seem that our society has put more emphasis on “getting our point across,” to the detriment of actively listening to what others have to say.  I’ve often wondered if when we are engaged in conversations, do we really listen to what the other person is saying, or are we merely waiting for our turn to talk?

At boundless.com, they discuss the importance of listening, as well as the degrees of active listening.  They make it clear that, “listening is a skill of critical significance in all aspects of our lives–from maintaining our personal relationships, to getting our jobs done, to taking notes in class, to figuring out which bus to take to the airport. Regardless of how we’re engaged with listening, it’s important to understand that listening involves more than just hearing the words that are directed at us.”

What better way to for us to fully understand one another and connect on a deeper level than to listen?  Old angers and resentments will begin to vanish, and frustrations will seemingly melt away.

Written communication of course is also a major way of conveying a message or point of view that would be difficult to do with speech alone.  The deeper I delve into practicing the art of writing; I’m discovering one truly important fact.  As I desire to increase my skill as a writer, I’ve also begun to understand that to be a better scribe, I need to FIRST become a better listener.

The photograph above shows yours truly apparently eavesdropping on a conversation (although I would have needed The Rosetta Stone to decipher what these sculpted fellows were saying…BA-DUM TSHH).  However, it’s not really eavesdropping, but a great way for a writer to create dialogue, which is an important component to our fiction writing.  Not to mention a great way to get ideas for your next story.

So if we want to be successful in our creative pursuits, business endeavors, or in our various relationships, we could choose to do as Marley suggested, and in fact improve on our ability to listen.

Out of the mouths of babes oft times come true pearls of wisdom!

MB

 

Source: Boundless. “The Importance of Listening.” Boundless Communications. Boundless, 13 Apr. 2016. Retrieved 13 May. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/learning-to-listen-and-helping-others-do-the-same-5/understanding-listening-29/the-importance-of-listening-132-8285/

 

 


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Hooray, The Books Have Arrived!

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Great news!

My first shipment of books arrived in the mail today.  Hot off the press…fresh out the box, and ready to be delivered to your doorstep.

Just in time for the holiday season!

Be sure to pick up your copy on Amazon November 9th.

Thanks again for all those who have supported this project.  I truly appreciate you all.

Also

For all those who’ll be in the Charlottesville area, I’ll be reading the book and signing copies on Sunday, November 1st at 3pm in Crozet, VA. at Over The Moon Bookstore.  Come on out and bring the kids.

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MB


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Whoops!

Have you ever had one of those days where things just don’t seem to be going the way you expected? Well let me tell ya, I seem to be having one of those WEEKS.

I can’t figure out exactly why, but maybe it’s because we are in the process of moving and our place looks like a warehouse, filled with stacked boxes, tape, and bubble wrap, that was hit by a typhoon. Couple that with all that goes along with moving (transferring bills, forwarding your address with the post office, renting a u-haul) has me feeling a bit addled.

Or is it that I’m still adjusting to having all the girls in school which has me feeling out of sorts?

With all that’s going on lately I’ve been very preoccupied – which has led to a series of minor mishaps.  As a result, there is one word that has defined my week and has become a main stay in my vernacular, and that word is…WHOOPS!

Here’s a brief list of the happenings that have led to my new overused expression:

  • We went out of town over the weekend and I left my cell phone charger at home. Whelp, no phone calls for me for a few days.  WHOOPS!
  • On the 3 hour drive back to Charlottesville, took the wrong highway, which added an additional 1 1/2 hours to the trip. WHOOPS!
  • Got back and began unpacking and realized that I left my laptop charger out of town. WHOOPS!
  • I was working on a blog post and pushed the “Publish” button instead of “Save Draft”, and accidently posted an unfinished piece that was totally not ready for public consumption. WHOOPS!

It’s all so annoying, frustrating, inconvenient, and unpleasant when this stuff happens to us. Those times when we don’t get what we want or things don’t go our way.

And here I sit typing this post on an IPad that belongs to one my girls because without my power cord, the battery on my laptop died days ago, which is an awkward nuisance and disruption to my routine.

I guess I could sulk around, cursing the heavens, while wondering, “why is all of this happening to me right now?” Or, I could choose to put all of these worries into perspective.

I’m quickly reminded of the poem by Michelle Sedas entitled, Welcome The Rain:

As the first raindrops fall to the ground

A businessman lets out an angry sigh.

Knowing traffic will be slow he thinks,

Why me? Why today? Just tell me why!

Outside of town, a farmer scans the horizon

As the storm clouds begin to roll in.

With joy and celebration he calls out,

We are blessed! At last, this drought will end!

In every life storms will come:

Adversity, Inconvenience, or Pain.

Only we can choose how we respond:

To be overwhelmed or to

Welcome The Rain.

When we are in the midst of our troubles it’s difficult to conceive that when these storms roll into our lives, they could be designed to make us stronger. These tough times never last, and if we gain nothing, hopefully we understand that they may serve to remind us that we’ve survived them before.  And by going through it, we have greater empathy for others who may also be struggling.


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New York Is Alright With Me!

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A couple weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of spending some much needed big girl time in New York City with my couSiS (cousin/sister) Julie, and our very young and super hip aunt Cherelle.  This visit was long overdue!

Let me tell you, it was one hysterically gut busting, good eatin’,  smorgasbord-for-the-senses-good time!


Having only been to the “Big Apple” once before with my in-laws several years ago when Marley Bear was just a baby, I really wasn’t able to get the full flava of the city.
This time was very different.

I was completely immersed in that iconic NY culture, so much so, that well…I pretty much felt like a born-again New Yorker.

But you have to be in good shape, both mentally and physically, to live in the big city.  I’m pretty sure we walked nearly 15 city miles, and caught no less than 10 brain-twisting trips on the subway daily. Plus we increased our carbon footprint by discarding no fewer than five fliers, pamphlets, and brochures per block for shows and various activities.  After awhile, I even learned how to not accept them… politely.


And how about all of my preconceived notions about New Yorkers? Loud, arrogant, gruff, rude, and inconsiderate – armed with their thick accents, coney dogs and pizza slices!  Heck, I thought half of those city slickers were intent on picking my pocket or swindling me outta my travelers checks.

I was expecting to see a parade of drug addled, sideshow freaky people (well, we did see a few of those, but hey, no judgement) who planned on accosting me at every turn while I walked, eyes down and shoulders hunched, clutching my purse for dear life.

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Ha!

Instead, I discovered very helpful, friendly, hospitable, seemingly honest folks, who contributed to an amazing and  flavorful trip.

Julie even lost her credit card, but it was returned to her the next day.  How’s that for busting the stereotype of the impatient, wise-guy borough dweller!

Heck, we even scored free breakfast our last day there at Cherelle’s cute little neighborhood coffee shop.

Not to mention, all the things that the big city has to offer. Our itinerary over the course of two days included a lot, but my favorites included:


  

This trip was such a fun and eye-opening event, that we’ve decided to make it an annual affair!

We felt like Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte.

Until the next time ladies…

And speaking of Charlotte…Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Charlottesville, the husbands where dutifully holding down the fort like good daddy’s should…a couple of regular ol’ Good Fellas.

Big Eddie, Lil Eddie, and Langston came up from North Carolina to keep Marc and the girls company while we were living it up in Gotham.  Instead of Three Men and a Baby, there were Two Men and Five Babies.  But no surprise, they held it down like they do!

Thanks gentlemen for helping to making this trip possible.  Get ready to do it all again next year.

Keep your burp cloths handy!

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The Real Good Fellas

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Introducing…Lil Eddie!

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Delaney…the little helper.


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The Girl Who Carried Too Much Stuff

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Oh boy, I almost can’t believe it! This project has been a long time in the making and 2015 is finally the year!

I am happy to announce that my Children’s Book entitled The Girl Who Carried Too Much Stuff will be coming out in September.

The book will be published through our own publishing company Juju Seeds Media LLC.  Self-publishing has become a viable option that allows us to retain creative control, and frankly that’s what all artists should strive for!

The story is about a girl who has a lot of “stuff” and decides she wants to carry it around with her wherever she goes.  This causes her various problems as you can imagine!

The book is based on my daughter Delaney’s old habit of gathering up as many of her toys as possible, and bringing them along with us whenever we left the house.  She’s grown out of that now…well, sort of!

I’m running a Kickstarter campaign in April to pay for a professional group of artists who’ll help to bring this project to life.

So that’s what’s been up on this end – just a whole bunch of stuff!

 


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Water Babies

10408985_10204198263213998_1236879833410148847_nEarlier this summer, I sat chilling poolside watching as a soft breeze agitated the water just enough to create small ripples in the cool sparkling water – when suddenly, Marley strode over to where I was sitting.  By the look on her face I could tell she was very upset.  “Dada”, she said while desperately fighting back tears, “that girl over there was teasing me and said, ‘Ah ha, you still wear floaties!’ I instantly empathized with her,  as I looked in the direction that she was pointing to see who had dared to riddle my child! I took a deep calming breath, and I did my best to console her by affirming that it’s alright that she was still wearing floaties because for now, they are very necessary to helping her to stay afloat in the water.

I asked her if she was having fun? Head down looking at the ground, she sniffed and replied, “Yes.”  I then asked her if we allow other people’s thoughts of us to curtail our fun, or to diminish the positive opinions we have of ourselves? She looked up at me and quietly answered, “No.” However, I don’t think my attempts at a pep talk carried as much weight as the taunt she had just received from this little tormentor, because she took off her floaties, slipped them back into the beach bag, and slunk down in the chair behind me for the remainder of the pool visit.

Although before today, she was always too nervous to swim without her floaties – no matter how much Rach and I insisted. But little did I know at the time, she had sat there and made the mental decision to never wear a pair of floaties again!

From that moment on, it became her mission to learn how to swim without the assistance of a flotation device. Not only was she no longer interested in being helped by any sort of life preserver, but once while Rach was in the pool attempting to give her some simple instruction, Marley stressed – “No Mama, I have to do it by myself…don’t help me, not even if I drown!”

Of course that would never be an option!!

But this certainly is a testament to her unwavering determination! And in no time at all, wouldn’t you know it, Marley was out there swimming on her own like a little mermaid! Not to be out done, I knew it wouldn’t be long before Delaney would see this and follow suit. So now two of my little daughters are in the water plunging, dipping, spinning, floating, and whirling! They are doing their own thing in the pool! They’ve taken to the water so well that we signed them up for swim preparatory lessons to refine their skills in anticipation of them one day soon joining an area swim team.

So thank you little tormenter! (Na Na Nana Naa Naa)…you unwittingly provided the proper incentive to further their aquatic potential.

MB

 


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Giving Is Living – So They Say

IMG_1955Since we packed up our house in Kansas City, and began our more compact life in Charlottesville, we’ve been keeping the bulk of the overflow furniture items and knick-knacks from our former house in an onsite garage. For an additional fee, our apartment complex conveniently provides this extra space for those who are fortunate enough to land one – and we were hallelujah happy to get ours because they are in high demand.

Many of people who luck up and grab one of these garages, use them to house their cars, motorcycles, canoes and such, but they don’t come cheap.  So if you don’t absolutely need one, you probably need to let it go.  With this in mind, and in our pursuit to live more simple and frugal lives, we announced to the good folks at the office that we were giving up the garage for our second leasing term which begins this month. Unfortunately, that meant that most of our stored unused stuff would have to go!

First of all, I don’t like to part with my things, period! I’m not a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination; I just have a “thing” for my things! I mean, I bought it, it’s mine, and if it’s still nice, I wanna keep it (if I can) regardless of whether or not I’m currently putting it to good use.

 

Goodbye comfy easy-chair, we had some good times.

Goodbye comfy easy-chair, we had some good times.

One of our neighbors spotted me rearranging the space in my patio storage closet (the one that every tenant has) in anticipation of the disposal/relocation of items mission, and inquired if we were moving. I told him I was hoping to free up enough room in this tight closet to be able to stuff in and keep as much of the “stuff” that’s sitting in my garage as possible. In a good natured attempt to bestow a kernel of wisdom upon me, he offered this thought,  “if I haven’t used a particular item at all within a six month period, then I get rid of it.” Well I guess I still have to work on becoming more evolved, because needless to say I was less than receptive to his insight at the time.

In fact, I wasn’t trying to hear any of that – I smiled and listened to him pleasantly, but as he went on his merry way,  I thought to myself, “shoot I ain’t giving up nothing!”

But like in a funny movie when the sound of a record scratch abruptly bursts someone’s bubble, Rach put an end to my stockpiling dreams in her usual way.

 

IMG_1952No problem you might say, just sell the items you can’t use, and pick up a little coin in the process, right? Well, the problem with that is, we had a busy summer – which is also code for we procrastinated to point that it was far too late to try and sell the items before our September 1st leasing agreement deadline, and we didn’t want to have to pay for the garage for another year. So what we couldn’t creatively cram, fit, force, stash, or shove into an open nook or cranny inside our apartment, got donated to Goodwill – Rachael’s suggestion of course.

You see, Rachael doesn’t hold the same attachment for material things that I do, so she seemed a bit too comfortable…no, down right eager to partake in this whole purging process for my taste!

We can’t just give all these good ol’ possessions away, I thought – I mean, this is our stuff…these are our things…

Rach sweeping out the now empty garage.

Rach sweeping out the now empty garage.

And like a flash, I remembered a passage I read in Michael Bernard Beckwith’s book, “Spiritual Liberation” which said: “Evolved people give to live until they live to give. As individuals expand their understanding of universal law, they learn to give in order to live a life of inner wealth. This is a process of growing out of a mindset of getting something from the world to letting something from within you be freely given.”

I realized that I may had formed a potentially unhealthy attachment toward these objects that no longer served me, but could be of greater service to someone else.  At least that’s what I told myself as I watched the long-haired burly Goodwill guy charting away my chair, coffee table, and other once cherished items.

I admit that I’m still a work-in-progress, but I’m working to become more willing to give in and do the work that might help me live a more happy and abundant life.

 

MB