Conversations with yourself can be productive

I won’t deny it. I miss talking.

There is something to be said for having your voice heard. There are so many of us out there and each of us have thoughts, opinions and feelings about everything from the kind of toothpaste we use, to what we should do about global warming. {I will keep the latter thoughts to myself, as to not start a verbal war.} Many people, myself included, can’t resist sharing those thoughts and opinions with everyone we can. It’s not so much that we like to hear ourselves talk, its more that it is in our DNA to share because it just seems wrong to keep it all to ourselves. That is not saying we {the talkers} belive we are right, at least speaking for myself I can say that, its more that we have a need and desire to hear what others have to say and the best way to start a conversation is open your mouth.

For many years I had a platform to share my thoughts. Most days I considered it a personal best if I did not embarrass myself in the process, and every day it was my goal to at least achieve a slight twitch of a smile on some unseen strangers face. Many times I succeed and many times I failed. Regardless, I was a ‘talker’ and that made me happy.

As we all know life changes and we have to assess if what we enjoy doing is worth the cost it carries on our family and friends. When I stepped back it was easy to see my choice was costing too much. So I stopped, being a ‘talker’ just like that. Now I don’t regret it, that is not what this is about, but I know myself enough to know that being a ‘talker’ is still part of my DNA so it would make sense that what I do for a living should in some way have something to do with my DNA being so dominant.

A lot of soul-searching and fried brain cells later, I actually sat down and had a conversation with myself. Not that its anything new to talk to myself, the difference is this time I actually listed to myself, and I feel like I just may have figured some things out.

All my life I have turned to books for everything from enjoyment, to comfort, to counseling.  Saying I love to read would be at best a gross understatement, I can devour a book, it can consume me, and I think that is a very good thing. There was a time in my life when things were not all sunshine and rainbows and I read a book called ‘Rose Madder’ by Stephen King. At the time it would be years before I got anywhere near a Radio microphone but having the DNA of a ‘talker’ and having spent many years on stage in theatre the idea of what she did intrigued me quite a bit. The main character Rose found a way to make a living reading books for audio form. {Yes that is one of the most minor parts of the story, but still it STUCK with me}  But as it often has, fear of failure got the best of me, I thought “I can do that” for all of about two days, and then I never even bothered looking into it.

Fast forward to the present and I have found myself more than intrigued, call it compelled with Rose’s occupation once again. There is a reason a book I read so long ago still brings me back to Rose and what she did with her voice again and again. A journey has begun you could say. One with realistic expectations of course, but a journey none the less. I know it’s a long shot, but I also know Radio was a long shot and that worked so here I go. My first step to being the voice you hear when you download your favorite audio book will be starting very soon. As I am delighted to report, I have been presented the opportunity to work with a wonderful independent bookstore in Northern Michigan doing a weekly Podcast that will hopefully become a staple for any avid reader. We will do a little reading, a little reviewing, some author interviews, industry news and much more.

I guess not talking to others for my daily bread forced me to talk to myself more, {and actually listen} which for once seems to be a good thing.

More details as they come, I promise! In the meantime, thanks for listening {in the written form for now}! :o)

Ghosts, Goblins and the Acrocanthosaurus

With Halloween fast approaching I have to remind not only my boys but myself that for us finding or coming up with a costume thing works a little differently than it does for most families.

This year Brett and Brady are playing doubles as we call it. In other words being the same as last year because the costumes were so cool they have to get the most out of them possible. So Brett will be a Ring Wraith (Lord of the Rings), Brady will be a Bat.

Now my sweet Dino obsessed child (there is a blog coming just for this boy I promise) Brandon will be an Acrocanthosaurs, think T-Rex it’s the best I can compare to unless you are into Dinosaurs or just saw the trending on Yahoo (seriously I wrote this earlier this week and edited it today and could not believe it was a trending topic)

You see I am blessed (this is no exaggeration) with a mother who has a flat-out gift. The term seamstress does not do justice to her talent. She creates, designs and brings to life the dreams of a child’s imagination to be someone or something else if only for a few short hours.

Sponge Bob 'Brady' Pants - 2006

Growing up I never knew that costumes came from stores in bags. I thought everyone’s mom spent weeks working out the details of a Pegasus (flying Unicorn) costume. Every year I looked forward to Halloween. I won countless awards, and I always made out like a candy bandit even though I went to fewer houses. The house thing was a combination of the fact that most people could not resist taking photos and commenting and praising my mothers work, so it was never Trick or Treat and go it was a spectacle at many houses.  That was a good thing considering my costume was not always done at the sound of the Trick or Treat siren, as my mother is a true perfectionist and sometimes things are never quite complete or good enough in her eyes to be “done”. So for me little effort brought great reward.

Each year I have remind my boys not only to be grateful for what their grandma creates for them but to be aware of the fact that not everyone gets the same benefit they are lucky enough to have each year.

So as we near the frenzy of costume making I have to thank my mother for giving myself and my boys the honor of showing off her talent each and every year, and I have to thank her for giving us something more.

It takes a strong person to be the center of attention, regardless of how much you love the spotlight. It’s nerve-wracking to know that everyone is looking at you, and judging you. My boys are learning, just as I did, that sometimes that spotlight is harsh and  it can be tough to handle, but more often than not its rewarding and it gives you a sense of pride. Knowing that all eyes are on you makes you strive to be better at all you do. I believe that carries over into more than just a few hours on Halloween night.

If Only I could do that…

It takes a lot of guts to be different.

You have to be prepared for the taunts and teasing as well as the funny looks and long stares, not just from children it sadly applies to adults too. I’ve never been one to follow the leader, but I’ve never gotten that knack for not worrying what someone may think if I wear or act “too different” either.

Obviously I did not pass that fear along to my 10-year-old son Brady. To begin with Brady’s DNA makes him stand out in a crowd. Pale skin, light eyes and a mass or RED hair and a sprinkling of freckles. With a family tree made up primarily of Irish and French, like me he never really had a chance in that department. I figure at some point early on Brady decided that if he was going to be a little different why not just go all the way to, “Did you see that guy?”

I am proud of my children for so many reasons, in their own way they are each so amazing and so wonderful that I have to stop and thank God for such incredible blessings. Each child has their own special quality that not only intrigues me but others as well.

With Brady its hard to put into words. He has an incredible ability to empathize with others and he is so free in giving of himself that we often can only say, he’s just so “Brady” as no other words will do. And  it’s not just his compassion and incredible imagination that make him stand apart from the crowd, he is forever saying that being himself is above all else the most important thing he can be.

Take for instance a gift from his older brother Brett. It’s no secret in our family that Brady LOVES wolves. He feels drawn to them, has photos and statues all over his side of the room. So when his big brother presented him with a Wolf Spirit Hood he won, Brady was beyond happy he went all the way to ecstatic in two seconds flat. Being the over-protective mother I am, the first thing I said when I saw it was that he couldn’t wear it out in public, only at the house or when we went on walks in the woods. (I type that and think, sheesh a wolf costume in the woods that sounds safe!) By the way if you have don’t know what a Spirit Hood is you can Google it or wait until the end of this Blog.

It only took a week or so before Brady got dressed and went and got his Spirit Hood before walking out the door so he could wear it to School.

I said no.

He said yes.

I told him he would get made fun of.

He told me he always did anyway.

This went back and forth for some time, there was yelling and even a few tears. Finally he gave in, and said he would keep it home. I told myself I did the right thing, I wanted to keep my baby safe from taunts and ridicule. I wanted him to feel confident not ashamed. I was sure I was right and he was wrong, that is until I saw the look on his face. He was crushed, and he did not shine like the Brady I know and love, he just looked defeated. I could not be responsible for that look on my child’s face. I told him I was wrong and he was right (that must have just about given him a heart attack come to think of it) and that he should be himself at all times and be strong and proud of who he was. I told him I was proud of him and I loved him and sent him on his way with Spirit Hood proudly displayed on his head.

It was one of the longest days as a mother I have ever known. I was dying to know he was OK and that the teasing was not too intense and his feelings were still intact. I should have known with Brady not to worry. He is just so, “Brady”. Not only was there no sign of tears when he came home he was grinning from ear to ear. Standing tall and strong and wearing his Spirit Hood. He was happy to report only a few people said anything bad, some thought it was even cool, but most never said a thing. He considered his choice and extreme success and so did I.

The Spirit Hood incident has now lead to other things: more Spirit Hood time, ties and his black Fedora hat. Not to mention a few shirts you would see more in a board room rather than a School yard. If he had his way he would have a suit for School I am sure of it.

So this morning as he kisses me goodbye with his latest statement (hat, tie, shirt combo) I was beaming with pride, and yes even envy. He is so much his own person that I am in constant amazement of his strength and conviction to never compromise who he is to please others.

Brady in his Spirit Hood

I firmly believe that the world would be a much better place if more of us had that conviction. Yes being more like Brady would be a good thing. Maybe its time I find my own “Spirit Hood” and never think twice about being me.

Female Testosterone

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I learned another life lesson today…
The mother that listens to her children’s crazy ideas is a fool. If you don’t know already, this is the fool talking. Remember how much fun it was to ride your bike when you were a kid? You could ride for hours on end anywhere and everywhere. Guess what? When you are over 35 but not yet 40 it’s not quite the same. Add in a 5 year old wobbling on a ‘trail a bike’ and it’s like a new twisted form of punishment.

Tonight all my boys convinced me it would be better if we rode bikes downtown rather than take a nice quiet walk. I agreed (caved) and since my hubby was out of town and I do not have a bike of my own I thought in a moment of Female Testosterone (you know when a woman believes she can do the same physical activity or task as a man without any problems, knowing full well it’s just not physically possible) that I would just use his bike. After all the ‘trail a bike’ was already hooked up so why not. Keep in mind I am more than too short to really touch the ground without practically dislocating my toes if I ride my husbands bike, and I know this full well.

So we make it out of the driveway and already realize that at any second I could tip over and not only hurt myself but terrify and break my youngest son. This was only after 50 feet, downhill no less! I have less than zero control on this thing, and I am sure the neighbors thought I had at least a few beers before getting on that awful bike because I could not keep a straight line let alone keep it from swaying side to side! Hey kids are we having fun yet?! Did I mention that it’s basically up hill both ways? Serious, Petoskey is odd that way. I am sure for some its a wonderful workout but for me it just felt like a sick game.
After teetering and tottering all six or so blocks to town and narrowly missing a tree, and a parked car I realized getting home was going to be worse as the hills are twice as steep, my legs were burning, and my passenger seemed to be getting more tippy as we went along. So I did what any good mother would do. I insisted we park the bikes, bought them all ice cream, and took them to the park. I figured by delaying the ride home it might turn out to be like childbirth and I would forget the pain and anguish right away so I could tackle it again. No such luck.

As I am sure you can tell, we made it home and all in one piece. And those who are wondering… No I did not. I am too stubborn to allow myself to have taken my oldest sons bike and ride home alone really fast and get the van and go back and load everyone in…see Female Testosterone.

That’s it I can’t read one more page!

It is safe to say I love to read. Safer to say I rarely have the time to read nearly as much as I would like to, and I am pretty sure I am not alone in that respect.

For me reading is an escape from whatever it may be that has me flustered, confused and some days just plain life in general. I can read anywhere anytime if given the chance.  Most reading that is not work related comes after the kids are tucked in bed, the house is picked up, and I have a nice cup of tea in my hand. Sadly that time comes so late most nights that its only about 1/2 hour before my head hits the pillow and my journey is over.

Oddly enough my zest and want to read has increased dramatically since last December. Odd because that is when I bought my husband a Kindle for Christmas. Needless to say I, the one who refused to use it because I like the feel and smell of a book, took it every chance I got and was fast hooked to put it mildly. I love the ability to sample books and I won’t lie, the price part is pretty damn awesome too. More than that for whatever reason I feel like its always there in its little cozy waiting for me. And its not just one but THOUSANDS of ways for me to escape whatever it is that I need escaping from.

So that brings me to the entire idea for this post (I sure hope I get better at getting to the point as I get the hang of this blog thing). I am currently about 70% (thank you Kindle) of the way through Dean Koontz, ‘Watchers’ and I have reverted to a nine year old and I am refusing to read anymore of this book. Here is the kicker, I am refusing to read anymore because I have fallen in love with one of the main characters, the dog of all things, and I just have this awful sense of what is going to happen next. I sit here after just putting the boys to bed and reading to them and on a normal night I would be running for my Kindle to steal a few precious moments. But I can’t do it, I can’t bear the thought of something happening to wonderful furry ‘Einstein’. I won’t do it! You can’t make me read the rest!

Crazy isn’t it? When a writer grabs you, I mean by the collar and does not let go even when you fight back with all you have, grabs you. It takes over your mind. Its all you think about for days. You replay the entire plot and all of the lovable and despicable characters again and again in your head. You almost feel like you were there with them. To me its what reading is really all about. Becoming a part of the story that makes you want to turn that next page. Or in my case, stare at the darn book (Kindle) and try to resist. Try as I might, I know I gotta go turn that page. But not before I say a quick prayer for ‘Einstein’ and give a little curse for Mr. Koontz.

Boys entertain

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It amazes me how children can entertain themselves. I watch my boys playing with the hose (after being in the water for hours today already) and I remember some of my best summer memories were never being dry for more than five mins. Growing up on Bald Eagle lake in Ortonville, MI it was almost a given that you just had to be near the water. To this day noting soothes me more than the sound or sight of water. Glad to see my boys love it too!

Why did it take me so long?

It’s crazy really when you stop and think about it. I started performing when I was just 5 years old, was bound and determinded to go to New York out of High School and follow my dream of being an Actress and then I learned there was something I wanted more, to be a mother and to have a family.

So I discovered community theater could hold me over and keep that “bug to perform” at bay. Almost ten years later a little or no theater, came a divorce. I became a single mother with two boys (at the time Brett- 5 and Brady- 2) and a new job…. in Radio. It started out I was just doing what people say is my other natural talent, selling. For whatever reason I have always enjoyed selling, whether it be retail, media or otherwise I love helping people, and that was a way I could do just that.

So back to my first job in Radio. I was selling and loving the everything about the industry, it was fascinating and challenging, but at the same time it felt like I had been doing it all my life. Within a few weeks was asked if I wanted to record a commercial. See I made no secret that I loved to perform and microphones did not scare me in the least. The General Manager took that knowledge and looking back I know he had an idea of what would happen. The commercial started it all. One became two, then every day. The next step nwas a 5 min. segment weekday afternoons doing an “Entertainment Report” on the Afternoon show, and 2 months later I was co-hosting a Morning Show at 92.1 ‘The Coyote’.

Oddly enough my co-host and I turned out to have more than just an on-air chemistry that made for great Radio, we had the kind of chemistry off the air that is reserved only for Soul Mates (Trust me I use that term with the utmost respect for what it is, as I never belived they existed until I met Tom). We both loved Radio and so as is the nature of the business we moved onto another station a few years down the line with an addition to our family my youngest son Brandon.

As a team and on our own we made our way in Northern Michigan Radio. Once it was just me, and no longer a morning show I have to say I was terrified I had always had Tom there to play off and lead me and teach me. After all I never studied for this job, I just did it. On my own I took my Great Grandmothers miss-pronounced last name and was known as Nikki Lynn (Her name was LYND but everyone always left off the D sound) I honestly felt like I found my true calling. I loved Radio and I can say without feeling arrongent it loved me back.

There was only one problem, it consumed my life. Literally. I was working everyday, everynight and weekends just blended into another day. I was traveling everywhere for my job and it seemed I never stopped working. You see I have this good/bad habit, I can never do anything half-way, it’s 110% on a bad day to say the least. Once I became the Program Director for 102.9 Big Country Hits it was like I had a 4th child, the Radio Station. My whole life was the station, and with Tom working there too and having his own station and duties to take care, our family life took more than a back seat to our jobs for longer than I care to remember.

So last summer after a turning point (That turning point will end up being another days discussion), I made my decision. I had to leave the business I loved so much and find something new.

So that brings me sitting here with my boys yelling that its time to go to Bear River and I am taking too long. The sum of it is this… My own business in our beautiful new home in Petoseky WITH my husband still by my side and boys always here. The what and the how is also up for another day, because right now its time for my boys something I never took time to do near enough this time last year.

I am sure you noticed, I still talk a lot, now its just going to be with my fingers instead of a microphone. The crazy thing is, as great as my “other life” was, this new life is 100 times better, so I ask myself…. Why did it take me so long?

Thanks for reading and remember to kiss the kids, tell your spouse how much you love them and always…just breathe.

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