Part of Your World

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Guys! Our Book Confessions has just reviewed both Hiding Haelo and Haelo Hunted, the first two books in my Candeon Heirs Series. And I’m so stoked about it! Check it out at the link below.

Source: Part of Your World

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#firstsevenjobs

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Today’s trending twitter hashtag (at least on my feed): #firstsevenjobs

I’ve never been a pig farmer. Or an arborist. Or a ninja spy. My job history has been a little more . . . unremarkable.

  1. Babysitter  (AKA: child wrangler and entertainment specialist, AKA: poop removalist)
  2. Medical Transcriptionist  (AKA: listening magician)
  3. Piano Teacher  (AKA: ADHD focus-er)
  4. Secretary in the Computer Science Dept.  (AKA: nerd monkey)
  5. Secretary and T.A. in the Fine Arts Dept.  (AKA: Excel slave, with benefits)
  6. Director of a political lobbying non-profit.  (AKA: volunteer professional eye-roller)
  7. Orchestra Conductor  (AKA: unpaid comedic arm-waving jam captain)

 

Now, I’m a writer. (AKA: stretchy pants wearing crazy lady). But guess what, that means I get to take that list and turn my unremarkable job history into a feast for the senses!

*Side note: LONG POST. If you don’t care, don’t read. Scrollllllll to the next post about the time I forgot Easter and confused my children. Maybe someday my kids will forgive that day and read this.

READY, SET, GO!

Poop. Lots of poop.

Diapers, dog poop, clogged and overflowing toilets. A kid’s pet lizard pooped in my hand once. Then there was the time I was changing a diaper on a kid much too old for diapers and he sharted. On me. That was super fun. Mac n’ cheese will never be the same. Especially after the time I thought I added butter, but it was deceptively packaged Crisco. I’d never felt so judged, and by an 11 year old, no less. There was also the time I locked myself in a bathroom because a 9 year old was coming at me with a knife. He says he was joking. I sure as hell wasn’t sure.

But there were also giggles. And sweet forts. And preschooler dance parties (the best kind of dance party). There were theatrical productions from the dining room stage and borderline inappropriate hilarious I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I battles. And art projects. Lots of art projects.

At 16, I got a “real” job.

I did medical transcription at a Physical therapy office. Too many opinionated females in a small space (the front office). Drama, Drama, Drama. I focused on my job: old head-set, dictation pedal at my foot, listening to the stereo sounds of therapists rattling of strange medical terms in long sentences that they’re so used to rattling off it all sounds like one big long 37 syllable word. But I took anatomy that semester and figured it out. It was easier than figuring out the three ladies in the desks behind me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked each of them very much. Individually.

The biggest obstacle to getting those audio transcriptions typed out was the fact that the owner (and lead therapist, also a family friend) dictated during his lunch break. I got a lot of apple crunching sounds in there.

For some reason, when I think back on that job, the thing I remember the most was a pair of shoes I wore for just one day. They were made of either foam or wood pulp, I couldn’t really tell. I know that makes no sense at all, but that’s why it was so flabbergasting. What is this material!?

But that was high school, and I got depressed. That was my dark period. And I quit. Even though it wasn’t the job that was making me depressed.

The best paid gig.

Then, my longest standing job, which I come back to frequently ad still do to this day. Piano teacher. Teaching kids a skill that I hold near and dear to my heart helped pull me from depression. How can you be depressed when a perfectly innocent second grader finally gets that measure and pops up to you with the biggest smile, beaming with pride? You can’t. Joy is infectious. I did that through high school and into college. Highest per hour pay school gig out there, ladies and gentlemen.

I married my best friend (the man of my every dream), and sugar-momma’d our way through another year of college with nearly 40 students on my plate. But that didn’t last long. Because the best adventure ever happened.

The hubs got recruited to play basketball at BYU-Hawai’i. Hawai’i!! Who goes to college in Hawai’i!?

(There was the one day I worked as an elementary school aide, but it only lasted a day. So I’m not going to count that. Even though I still get a letter every year from the State of Hawai’i informing me of the $1.42 I earned towards retirement.)

Nerd monkey

My first Hawai’i campus job was as the Administrative Assistant to the Computer and Information Sciences department. Those guys were cool. Super weird, but cool. I had to figure out how to communicate with computer nerds. And accounting. Because the main secretary over the entire “Business and Computing” college apparently wasn’t detailed enough in her budget reports. We both rolled our eyes over that one. No, no, the computer guys wanted details. From every angle. I became intimate with Excel. But at least I had my own office with a plaque at the door.

One professor had canned refried beans every day for lunch. (I’m implying something here for you, dear readers.) At least his office was down the hall a little ways. Man, those guys were quirky. But endearing. I wanted to pull my hair out on a weekly basis, but I loved ’em.

Excel master/slave.

The university was making huge changes. Business and Computing got a little too political for me. So, I transferred to the Fine Arts department; I was a music major after all. I mean, this was my chance to work for my professors! Oh the things I could learn! Oh the brownie points I could earn!

When their head secretary found out I’d been doing the computer nerds’ budget, she about cried. It was her least favorite part of the job. I’m a perfectionist and I saw the Fine Art’s budget disaster and just couldn’t say no. So instead of taking it easy at a quiet front desk a few hours a week, I was back to accounting.

I’d been intimate with Excel before, but now I was reprogramming that thing into submission. I dominated Excel. And a few of my professors might have hated me for it. “Professor So-And-So? That such-and-such you need for the studio? Well, um, you don’t exactly have the money for it. Maybe you could ask for a transfer of travel funds into your supply fund? But you’d have to adjust your upcoming trip.”  I mean, I was a super obnoxious student getting waaay in the way. “Just doin’ what I’m told.”

Me: “Don’t forget I need all of your receipts!”
Every professor in the department: “I can’t find it.”
Me: “… I’m going to need you to fill out this form…”

Super fun, guys. I was every professor’s dream. Wah-waaahhh. 

But that was the first year in over a decade they actually knew how much money they’d spent before the next year’s audit. So there’s that.

A nice change-up!

Because of my course of study, there was one particular music professor I’d had for most of my music classes. Dr. B. And he was awesome. And just my luck, he needed a T.A. My job got better after that. And I was back to teaching music, which I missed desperately. (Teaching music … grading assignments … okay, lots of making copies, but it was a break from budget!! And I got to tutor!)

One day, while working on a piece for Dr. B.’s composition class, I just couldn’t concentrate. I daydreamed my way into procrastinating that composition and instead typed out the beginning of a little story about a high school girl with incredible, magical underwater abilities. I took a creative writing elective the next semester and worked on it some more.

The hubs and I had our first daughter, we both graduated, and sadly, had to leave. As much as we’d missed our families back on the mainland, we both weren’t ready to say Aloha to the island.

Aloha O’e

Back on the mainland, I was a new mom times two and a grad student. But I got back into teaching piano. There was the time a student of mine (after finding out I was pregnant) creepily told me, “Wait, wait, wait . . . you did it? The S-sssssss word?”  I’m pretty sure he had Asbergers. It was a very interesting, delicate conversation.

I went through a few more dark periods. One with each pregnancy. But that’s a conversation for another day. And I’m a stronger woman because of it.

And then the best thing happened!

It was 9:30 pm and I had a big paper due at midnight for my master’s program. But I really didn’t want to write it. Like, really. I noticed an icon on my desktop for that mermaid-ish story I’d worked on in college. I pulled “Haelo.docx” up instead. Because, you know, priorities.

At 11:00pm, I forced myself to shut down my creative pursuits, and got back to work on that stupid grad paper. I think I got it submitted at 11:58pm. It wasn’t very polished, but it got an A. Haelo got a lot more attention after that. Though I did graduate with honors, I’m pretty sure I had candeons on my mind for most of that Public Administration degree.

Politics.

After graduation, I decided to step lightly into the local political world. I had a goal of becoming a political advisor or speech writer for a senator or diplomat, but knew that was years down the road. I somehow ended up as a non-profit lobbying Director. I still don’t know how that happened. I was sitting, rather quietly, at a Christmas brunch for the organization, minding my own business, sitting in awe of these incredible women, and walked away with an invitation to take over a particular chapter. They didn’t know me from Adam. I think they were crazy. Or desperate. It took me a few months to accept.

I wasn’t ready for that post. Technically, I think I’m still in that post, because my attempts at passing the torch haven’t been successful. I can’t say no. I really need to work on that. But I don’t trust myself to not roll my eyes in a very inconvenient moment at an important meeting one day. Even state Congressmen and women I’m supposed to support have jaded me. There’s a lot of crap in politics. Speech writing would be fun. Dealing with multiple politicians at once is not fun. Ever.

I’m surprisingly diplomatic. Very careful with my words. But a little voice in my head is starting to get feisty, and I’ve got to get out.

Jam sesh.

My sister recently wrangled me into starting a community orchestra. This is the absolute funnest job I’ve had. The music is a blast, the musicians are fun, and they laugh at my jokes. It feels like a huge jam session mixed with dancing, because you can’t direct some of those pieces without a little bit of dancing. It’s just too fun. At the same time, I’m a thrifty tight-wad and can’t afford huge symphonic sets of sheet music. So I buy the parts for strings and arranged the parts for brass and woodwinds myself. It’s stressful, and takes up time I don’t really have, but it’s keeping my composition skills from wasting away into “something I used to know how to do.”

We’re currently working on an Appalachian backstep, a Lady Gaga jam, a bit o’ Disney, the get-up-and-shout “I Will Follow Him” from Sister Act, Debussy (Satie’s Gymnopedies), and . . . The. Tango. <– the funnest thing I’ve ever jammed on in my life, and that includes my time in a hella-awesome Caribbean steel pan band. (Youtube video)

Now I’m a writer.

And the best part is that I don’t feel like a poser admitting that! It is an incredible creative outlet for a busy mother of three. That little story I started in college, worked on as a grad student, and finished in whatever meager spare time I had inbetween potty-training, dinners, and church service, is PUBLISHED! And I want to scream into a pillow at how good that feels!

AAAAAAhhhhh!

A milestone! After so many nights of feeling exhausted. So many mornings waking up knowing I was farther behind than I was the day before. Too much, too many, too little, too late. But then, I remember my favorite quote.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” – Gina Carey

Life is funny sometimes. I’m going to look back on this post ten years from now, with more jobs added to the list, and smile. I have no idea where life is taking me. But I’ve got a best friend / husband / co-parent dreamboat at my side, three incredible kids, a strong spiritual foundation, and just enough gumption to march forward with a wink.

Laugh, guys. Laugh when you think you can’t. Collect your experiences. And wink. Because there’s more comin’ down the road.

And if you want to check out my author website, where you can read the first chapter of Hiding Haelo, you can do that here. And here is a link to Hiding Haelo on Amazon.

IOU Easter Bunny

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Guys. We IOU’d Easter.

It’s a long story, but the point is this . . . we forgot about the Easter Bunny.

I was laying in bed Easter morning, thinking what a beautiful, wonderful day it was, pondering peaceful thoughts of my Savior, when the hubs and I heard our son burst forth from his bedroom proclaiming to the world, “IT’S EASTER!! WE’RE GOING TO DYE EGGS! YAY!! (SISTER), WAKE UP AND LET’S FIND OUR EASTER BASKETS!!”

I’d be lying if I said my thoughts of heavenly things didn’t go south quickly with a swear word or two.

We forgot. Completely.

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There were no hidden eggs. There were no baskets. I didn’t even have any eggs.

I kid you not, the kids searched everywhere. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so . . . not hilarious.

I ran to the laundry room and drew up a note from ol’ E. Bunny that said, “Your door was locked! I’ll come back tomorrow!” which the hubs taped to the back of the house while I was helping confused children get ready for church.

Seriously. We IOU’d Easter Bunny.

It gets worse. How do you put together Easter baskets when you observe the Sabbath day? Without going to a store? I’ll just let you ponder that one for a minute or two.

In the end, it worked out. Our children are not traumatized. Mostly.

Are you ready for the kicker? The punchline of all punchlines?

A few days later, we forgot the tooth fairy.

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Ba-dum tchhhh.

-Tara

You Go, Girl.

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Yesterday the hubs and I went to kindergarten parent teacher conference for our daughter. I wish I could make some funny comment about how we were dreading it, but I’d be lying. I wasn’t dreading it. My daughter is awesome. And I’ve got the perfect story to illustrate why.

Her teachers are amazing. (She’s got two – one mostly for English, reading, art, & kindergarten “social studies,” and one mostly for Spanish, science, & math. Spanish Dual Immersion kindergarten is so cool!) And they “get” her. They love her! They were oh so sincerely rantin’ and ravin’ about her. We ate it up.

Even the hubs got misty eyed when one of her teachers spoke about her character. And dang, my girl is smart. I couldn’t be more proud!

Both teachers told us stories about her that made us giggle and beam. But my favorite story about her was one I experienced myself.

Usually when Reese gets home from school, I “casually” ask lots of “nonchalant” questions. Who did you play with at recess? What did you play? Who did you sit by at lunch? Did you see anyone who didn’t have friends to play with today? What did you do? Did anything make you sad? Did anything make you nervous? Did anything make you laugh?

I’ve gotten lots of different responses, and then one afternoon, this conversational gem:

Me: “So who did you play with at recess today?”
(Daughter) R: “In the morning I played with *Jessie. But I didn’t play with her for the recess after lunch.”
Me: “Oh. Did something happen?”
R, with no indication of sadness: “She just didn’t want to play with me.”
Me, trying to hide my ruffled feathers: “What were you playing?”
R: “We were playing tag and Jessie didn’t want to play after lunch.”
Me, hesitantly relieved: “Oh, she was probably too hot to play tag. It’s really hot out there, huh?”
R: “No, mom. She said that tag is for babies.”
Me, eyes bulging, mouth pinched, secretly thinking WHO IN THE WORLD IS THIS JESSIE GIRL AND WHERE DOES THE LITTLE BOOGER LIVE!?: “Oh.”
R, with gleaming, glittering eyes and a stinking confident smile: “But mom, (shakes her head like an adult), babies can’t run.”

Babies can’t run, people. And tag, well, tag is no baby game.

You go, girl. You go to the moon and back.

Love, your mom.

*name changed to protect the friggin’ guilty.

Wild Zone!

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Wild Zone!

My dad is awesome. He has a hilariously skewed and unexpected sense of humor. He likes the weirdest movies, and proves it with endless obscure movie quotes that almost no one but his family recognizes. Aziz! Liiiight! 

He’s many things: an airline pilot, a stubborn debater, world-class champion of The Look, tinkerer, mechanic, sailor, grandpa, cherisher of my angel of a mother, BYU Cougars fan, intellectual, rock music aficionado, pet scorpion owner,* and secret teddy bear.**

But did you know? He’s also an inventor. No, for real. Like, the man has two patents. The guy could have been a mechanical engineer if the sky hadn’t been calling to him since he was a little tyke.

I’m going to let you in on his best creation (besides us kids, you know). It’s called WILD ZONE!. That punctuation may look funny. It’s because you can’t say “WILD ZONE!” without the “!”

Now, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. I’ve spent years, nigh, decades alongside my siblings in our combined pursuit of OMG-Dad-you’re-so-embarrassing. Wild Zone is one of those things we “tolerated.” Almost like how we barely tolerate the super worn-out overalls he deems worthy of wearing in public. Except, the overalls are truly horrifying, and Wild Zone is actually pretty awesome. But of course, we couldn’t admit that.

Years and years ago, my dad invented a game. And then he had it made. Made. As in he professionally printed his card game. Then life got busy. Four kids and his profession and all other sorts of life responsibilities took precedence, and so the card games never got sold to stores. They wallowed in storage for a very long time. Then one day, his partner-in-crime decided it was pointless paying the storage fee for years on end, so boxes of card games arrived at our house. LOTS of boxes. An INCREDIBLE amount of boxes.

Wild zone storage

This is what’s left after a good 10 years of giving away games whenever possible.

Inside each box are 48 WILD ZONE!’s. We as a family played a lot of WILD ZONE!.

Wild Zone!

What a gem. Straight outta Zack Morris/Kelly Kapowski early 90’s perfection.

Did I mention we have a lot of boxes? Guess what my parents gave out to trick-or-treaters last year? Yep.

It’s a fast game, with simple math, and a whole lot of you snooze, you lose rivalry. If you can add up to 10, can tell the difference between red & blue, and have no problem stealing your own mother’s turn, then you can play.

When Nick and I lived in Hawai’i, my Dad snuck a box of these into our luggage, which we dispersed among friends. Many a get-together resulted in heated WILD ZONE! matches across our coffee table.

My dad named Nick the Vice President of International Sales and Distribution. Which means WILD ZONE FOR EVERYONE!

So, if you want a free card game, hit us up! This is prime Monday FHE material we’re talking about here. Though if you’re a local neighbor of mine, just wait a few weeks until neighborhood Christmas gifts start making their rounds. 🙂 Why didn’t I think of that years ago?

-Tara

*Yes, my father owned a slew of scorpions for longer than I care to acknowledge. He kept them in a large fish tank on his bathroom counter. And he named them after his daughters’ ex-boyfriends. Except for the one he claimed was a member of a Mexican drug cartel. That one was named “El Jefe.”

**The mother of my childhood best friend once told me that she had always been super intimidated by my Dad. That she thought he was sorta scary. Then she declared, “But really, he’s just a big teddy bear, isn’t he?”

 

 

Please. For one blessed day. #startwithoneday

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#StartWithOneDay

This post has been on my mind for a while. I don’t how else to say it, other than World, we need to stop.

Stop it. Stop the judgments. Stop the scorn. Stop the sarcasm at the expense of another’s opinion. Stop. Really.

I have opinions, and I’ve been as judgmental as the next person. I even have some very strong opinions on some rather controversial subjects. But for just one day, could we stop?

Everywhere I turn, I see and hear catty or snippy or angry or scornful or down right scathing words about someone else’s stance. Stop. Even if you’re “right.” For today, just stop.

Some say their words with the best of intentions, but are blinded to how those on the other side interpret them. For today, just stop.

I don’t care where you stand. Immigration, race relations, feminism, religious liberty, bigotry, death penalty, politics, war, taxes, social security, welfare, climate change, gay marriage, prison policy, foreign relations, political correctness, flags, it goes on and on and on. . . .

And the mother wars? Oh, sweet heaven above me, I almost wish I had the guts to swear up and down to you about the senselessness in mother-warring. Means of delivery, nursing vs. bottle feeding, co-sleeping vs. not, cry-it-out vs. not, homeopathic remedies vs. doctor visits, disciplining, homeschool vs. public vs. private school, helicopterring vs. unstructured freedom, 100% organic vs. feeding your family the best you can . . .  just about every freaking parenting action under the sun is under a social media microscope. Even what kind of diapers to use! Did you see how many “vs.” were in that? Verses. As in, mother against mother. As if one is so right and one is so wrong. Let it go. Please. For one day, just keep your opinions to yourself. Love your kid the way your instincts are telling you to love that dear child and spare other mothers from your well-intentioned shaming. Support each other, for crying out loud. Because every mother knows how hard it can get even without the constant fear of being judged.

We all, as human beings, are doing the best we can. Our cultures, our environment, our experiences, our education, our trials, fears, and inadequacies, even our brain chemistry all come together in a whirlwind and shape how we view the world. There is no need for public shaming. Please. Just stop.

Even “helpful” advice, or “godly” wisdom, or “straight-up” logic can shame. Think through what you’re saying. What you’re typing. What you’re sharing. I’m only asking for a day. One blessed day.

There is one particular subject I didn’t mention to which I have a very strong opinion. For me, the issue is black and white. Right and very, very wrong. And that’s a rare occurrence for me. I’ve researched and contemplated both sides, but my stance has only strengthened.

But let me tell you what, NO ONE has the right to shame another. Do I have to agree? No. Do I need to try to understand why they view the issue the way they do? Yes. Do I need to understand that people in opposition to me are just that: people? With feelings? With convictions? With rights to those opinions? Yes. Though I believe in the absolute wrongness of their stance, I do not believe they, as people, are wrong. They are just as human as I am. They are just as loved by their God as I am by mine. So, for today, I will stop.

All these words floating around the internet, or dumped unceremoniously in grocery store checkout lines, or snipped about amongst parents at their kids’ play dates are a reflection of just how judgmental our world has become.

For one day, just stop. And then . . . start. Start doing something good. #startwithoneday

Imagine the good we can accomplish by doing instead of by judging?

You have a problem with the welfare system? Then go help someone who might be a receiver of such welfare and listen to their story and figure out what you can do to curb the reason welfare exists in the first place. Because I’ll tell you what, whining about it on social media doesn’t do a thing. Shaming another’s stance only makes us divided and unable to make a difference.

Are you upset by the way in which our human race is treating the planet? Go do something about it! With strength! With joy! With love! Shaming is only going to make stronger enemies.

Are you upset by the surge in hurtful race relations? Be an example of love! Because voicing an opinion on the subject on social media is probably a bad idea right now. No matter where you stand on the issue. Someone’s going to get riled up by WHATEVER you say. Riled up does not a solution make.

Us humans are pretty clever. Let’s use it. Let’s use it for good.

I think our problems get worse when we put our cleverness aside and opt for hurtful targeting. I think our problems get better when we come together and get things done.

I believe with all my heart that every single one of us human beings is a son or daughter of God. Whether you call that God Allah, Jehovah, Heavenly Father, Mother Nature, or even refuse to acknowledge a higher power, I believe you are loved by that Higher Power. And I believe that God is longing for those small moments when we stop and come together to accomplish wonderful things. When we start doing. For good. Instead of watching us bicker and shame and snip and judge.

I’ve judged. And I’ve likely hurt others unintentionally. For that I am profoundly sorry. And so I write this post, hoping, praying, that maybe someone else will stop with me. And then, maybe, that someone else will start with me.

Even if it’s for just one day. Let’s start with one day. One day of peace. One day of getting up and making a difference without an ounce of shaming or judgement.

Can we do that?

Can we Go and Do without a snide thought?

Can we love without condition? Work without argument? Help without shaming?

Share your goodness, your love, your support. Go and do. Get out and make a loving, purposeful, effective difference. Go lovingly toward solutions instead of scornfully after “the other side.”

For just one day, stop. Then START.

#startwithoneday

-Tara

Tractor Beam. Whhrrrrrrrhh.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo compadres, amigos, y familia! I just spent 3 1/2 hours surfing the internet. It started as research for book II of my novel series. That lasted about 6 minutes. Then, for reasons unknown, it shifted to looking up Cinco de Mayo recipes and Mother’s day gifts–which is on Sunday, btw. (DON’T FORGET YOUR MOTHER! SHE BROUGHT YOU FORTH INTO THIS WORLD AND RAISED YOU IN THIS HELLA-CRAZY WORLD, AND BY GOLLY SHE DESERVES THE WORLD IN RETURN!)

Pinterest did it again. Tractor beam.

Will someone please tell me to get back to work?

On second thought, maybe my next post will be about an (as yet undetermined) adorable DIY mother’s day gift I hope I don’t botch. Because I have the best mom in the whole wide world. No, no, dear reader, don’t try to argue with me about your “world’s best mother.” You’ll lose. Really, and truly, you will lose.

Love you, mom.

-me.