How I Accidentally Wrote a Book

So I’ve always been a lover and writer of words. Not necessarily for public consumption but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I love telling stories, making people laugh, and generally sharing too much information. 

I’ve secretly dreamed of being a writer since I starting keeping a journal in seventh grade. I started honing my writing skills by describing all the sordid middle school gossip. You know: breakups, makeup, and what we saw written on the bathroom wall at our away basketball game. Real after school special stuff. 

I put writing to the side after kids came on the scene. My time was no longer my own so I used that as a convenient excuse. My job, my friends, my other procrastinations provided acceptable ways out of producing any written words. I still thought about writing but thinking about it didn’t get much done.

Then I was suddenly a single mom and I was just lost. I had no way to process the enormous feelings I felt so I decided it might help if I wrote them down. I bought myself a notebook to jot things down as I could, not even daring to type them out on a computer-that would be too writer-y and real.

And then along came Mr. Wonderful. When we met he was a ballroom dancing inner city mentoring tough Army guy (much more on this in another post, I promise!). He also was a man secure enough in himself and his own contributions to encourage the crap out of me.

I remember the first time I got brave enough just to tell Mr. Wonderful I wrote things down. He immediately said reassuringly that he wanted to read whatever I wanted to show him, whenever I was ready. 

I was not ready.

But the fact that he wanted to read anything at all made me want to keep writing. And writing. And pretty soon, after nearly two decades of missing the thing I loved more than cupcakes but less than God, Mr. Wonderful, and my kids came pouring out.

I had sticky notes everywhere as I had figured out that if I didn’t immediately write a thought down it was lost in the vast jumble of mama thoughts, to do lists, kid noise and job requirements. 

And then I organized them. Me-organizing things! And in a computer no less. I’m barely able to type much less blog, tweet, Facebook, and any the other stuff all the cool kids are doing these days.

When I finally let Mr. Wonderful read something he was genuine. He took the time to tell me what he liked and that he had laughed out loud. He said he would read anything else I let him. He read everything else. 

Mr. Wonderful is actually the one responsible for my book, My Pink Champagne Life (shameless plug: available at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com). He made the suggestion that everything I was writing seemed to be headed towards a book.

A book?!?

Digesting that took awhile, but even so, I wrote. And wrote. And edited and wrote. And cursed. And threw lots of words away in frustration. And wrote. And cried. And threw a few tantrums. But still I wrote.

And I found that the more I wrote, the more my kids gave me to write about and the more I was doing what God had placed as a little seedlet in my heart years ago. And I found that the promises he made to me-that there was a purpose for my pain and that he had a plan for me-were being kept.

I ended up with a book that I sent to a wonderful publishing house that actually wanted to turn my words and years and tears into a book. During this process they have treated me like royalty instead of an unknown writer. I’m ever so grateful to the folks at Tate Publishing for helping turn my dream into a tangible thing I can hold in my hands.

So thank you to all who have made me the accidentally on purpose author.

I owe you.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Advertisements

Work From Home They Said

Can I tell you how much I love my day job? I’m the Director of a foundation that gives grants to organizations in our metro area that help the most underserved, forgotten and abused populations of our community. I get to see beautiful things happen every week in the most broken areas of our city. Things that restore my hope and faith. In God and in humans.

I’ve been doing this job for over a decade and it never ceases to amaze me the capacity that some have for service to others. Hugs, food, clothing, prayer, shelter, time, faith, joy and love are just some of the things I’ve witnessed passed from one person to another.

Did I mention I love my job?

On the days where I’m not out and about watching miracles and moments and mission happen, I’m working from home. With two of our four kids underfoot. Who just happen to be three and one.

After having had a succession of three year olds in my house I now know that this is the one to keep your eye on.

In my experience, the three year old is the one who floods your bathroom. Who fingerpaints an entire room with five tubes of fingerpaint you didn’t even know you had the day before you put your house in the market. Who gets stuck at the top of the stairs when they climbed the OUTSIDE of it.

In fact, just during the writing of this post I had to stop and clean up a 120 pack of wipes the current three year old had freed one by one from the package because they were “butterflies.” All over the living room.



I’m so grateful that my board of directors allows me the luxury of working from home. It’s amazing that I don’t have to punch a clock or commute into an office or have someone looking over my shoulder constantly. I could not be more grateful.

I’m finding that I just have to be much more creative with how and when I get my actual work done. Nap times, early mornings, bedtimes and times when Mr. Wonderful can corral the crazy are my optimum work times. This may be unconventional, and it certainly takes some getting used to, but it’s working for our family.

And when I’m home working, my background noise is often, as it is right this second, the sound of kids laughing. As they dump out a 100 piece army soldier set and throw them at each other. Especially the one year old-he seems to really enjoy this.





So my home office is a wreck and now my living room is too. But I will get some work done, then I will play with my munchkins for a bit before nap time. 

And I think, though this time is hard and weird and a giant mess of kid chaos most of the time, that I will look back on this as one of the highlights of my life. I think I will have hindsight to show me that the gift of both working from home and my kids being in the midst of it, was something very special.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Things Are Piling Up

Every mom has those weeks (months, years) where there seem to be more kids than time, more stuff than space, and more laundry than you could have ever imagined! I feel your pain sisters.

I am currently in one of those seasons. There are literal piles of work papers, home papers, a kid’s speech exercise papers and bill papers that all seem to have their own zip codes because the piles are so big. I should probably be more alarmed than I am. 

This is not really a DefCon 5 situation for me though. Being an artsy type, I need a little bit of clutter-it’s how I think and organize. Poor Mr. Wonderful is a different story though.

He’s retired military and is used to things being just so and shipshape and in good working condition. Alas, our family is none of those things. 

However, I say that with joy. My kids don’t have to be perfect for me-I am by far no example of perfection or organization. Some days I’m pretty sure I’m barely an example of mediocre, but again, I’m ok with that.

My kids just know that I only expect them to try their best. Work hard, be kind, show grace. Have gratitude. In fact, I think that the intersection of grace and gratitude is where a lot of cool stuff really starts to happen, especially inside a family.

Where grace and gratitude meet is where forgiveness starts. Where appreciation is shown. Where encouragement happens. These are all good things as far as a family is concerned. These are the oily fluids that keep family dynamics lubricated and functioning. When our spirits get gummed up with a lack of grace or gratitude stuff gets stuck. Gets gross. Gets broken.

Mr. Wonderful probably has to bite his tongue when I get creative with time management or when the paper avalanche created in our bedroom (because hey, it’s almost tax season as well!) threatens to tumble. He probably has other things planned to accomplish when I suggest playing hooky. But he shows me grace and is grateful that I’m the CFO of the family. And I don’t have to twist his arm too hard to get him to play hooky.

Grace shown leads to gratitude. I’m shown grace by my Heavenly Father, which then gets spread all over my family because of my gratitude. Sometimes the only difference between me thinking I’m having a good day versus me believing it’s rotten is my gratitude.

Frankly, things are piling up: bills, outgrown clothes, clean clothes, To Do Lists, children. I also have some other things piling up: love, joy, great memories, fun times, pictures, happiness. 

I guess when I focus on the right piles, my life seems pretty sweet.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Just Keep Swimming

I have four kids. On special occasions like Birthdays and Snow Days and well, let’s be real, Tuesdays, they get to watch a movie. Or seven.

I kid. Mostly. I’m probably admitting to a major parental sin right here but I love it when my kids are engrossed in a fun movie. And not just because it gives me two minutes to go to the bathroom by myself-such luxury!

I love it because there’s always a moral to the story. One that I’ve probably been harping about already but apparently is much more palatable when animated and sung by characters with funny voices.

A moral to the story is much more than a bow on top of a neatly wrapped movie package where good triumphs over evil in under 90 minutes. It’s the very thread that’s been woven into stories throughout time. Parable, fairytale, fable, allegory, legend-call it what you will. It seems we’ve enjoyed a good moral to the story for quite some time now.

In one of my kids’ favorite Disney movies, the supporting character is a plucky discombobulated little fishlet with short-term memory issues called Dory. Of all the characters in Finding Nemo, she’s one of my faves.

No matter what happens or what she forgets, she is the encourager to poor little Nemo. She believes in him and tells him he can find his way home. Even after shark attacks and traveling to distant lands and getting lost, Dory speaks words of wisdom in a funny made-up song with only three words. Be careful, this is really catchy-

Just keep swimming. Words to live by for kids and a great reminder for me. For my kids it imparts a “never give up” attitude. To me it reminds me that no matter where I am, what craziness has ensued because there are lots of kids at my house and that includes the three year old (it’s always the three year old! More on this later.), I need to just keep swimming.

Keep pushing forward. Don’t give up the fight. Keep going. Just keep swimming. Sometimes I need this moral to the story to remind myself that 1) it’s ok if life is crazy, 2) I can do this, and 3) something good always comes from this kind of persistence.

We are big believers in the philosophy that you can’t do the right things over and over and something good not come from it. This year we are reminding ourselves (a lot) to give ourselves a break and that progress by degrees is just fine.

So maybe we’re not winning any Parent of the Year Awards. But you will probably catch my kids singing Dory’s little song. I would encourage you to learn it too.

Just keep swimming.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Monday Again

I usually face Mondays with dread, covers pulled over my head knowing there’s no way I can stop its approach. It shouldn’t sneak up on me since it always follows Sunday. And yet it does.

Even this morning I could barely pull myself out from under the warm blankets, only doing so because a bunch of kids that live at my house have to get to school.

As I was grumping my way to the kitchen to find coffee before I crushed someone like a bug, it dawned on me that I should take back my Mondays.

Some people didn’t have the privilege of waking up this morning but I did. Some didn’t know how they were going to feed their family breakfast but my pantry was full. Some were just hoping to find a job today and I had one waiting for me. Some prayed for children to be part of their morning routine. I have four munchkins running around, bring chaos and laughter to every corner of my home.

An amazing thing happens when you start replacing the dank, dark Monday thoughts with grateful Friday ones: you look around at your blessings and realize this day too, is a day for celebration!

So I’m going to gleefully dance in the snow, give Mr. Wonderful extra smooches today, hug my children tightly and say thanks for my world. Have a terrific Monday!!!
#MondaysRock

Meredith

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

The Week in Pictures

We’re always running and gunning through our weeks, but I’ve started trying to pause. Catch my breath. Take a minute. And then take a picture.

I don’t want to miss a moment. Even the crazy ones, because every heartbeat that goes by is one more closer to my babies not being babies anymore.
IMG_1681I now know how to get red lipstick out of carpet and upholstery!

IMG_1702Final arm doctor visit-woo hoo!

IMG_1746Charlie still needs a little training…

IMG_1633A superhero lives here

IMG_1747Handsome Big Brother

IMG_1754Big Sister rocking the baby after he bumped his head:)

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Overwhelmed

Today is one of those days where I am, frankly, overwhelmed. The dishes are piled as high as my To Do List is long, the kids are especially feisty, and Mr. Wonderful’s PTSD is on high alert.

Every family has that perfect storm of circumstances that just makes the Mama lose her mind. Today I’m close. What to do?

When the crazy is heavy and the fan is broken from all of the $%!# hitting it, I do the only thing I can think of: run away.

Just kidding mostly. I pray. And then I put on my red lipstick and hope for the best. And I remind myself that I can be just as easily overwhelmed with the goodness in my life as I can the difficult.

So I make a list. I LOVE lists! I remind myself how great a lot of things are going in my world. Here’s my List of Awesome for today:

-red lipstick
-baby’s kisses
-our new service dog is house trained
-warm boots
-my leopard print scarf from my friend Dyani
-Speaking engagements coming up for My Pink Champagne Life
-the new fringe-y faux leather purse Mr. Wonderful got me for VDay
-health insurance
-my fedora hiding my lion’s mane today
-mermaids
-did I mention red lipstick?

I’d love to hear about your list! Here’s to a happy Friday afternoon!

Meredith

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

IMG_1684

Hello World!

This is my very first post! If you’re looking for fancy or for all the answers, this is NOT the blog for you. If you want to share in someone’s messy journey through parenthood, marriage, PTSD, learning how to be a civilian family after a military retirement or just want to feel better about your cooking and cleaning skills, this is the place for you!

My name is Meredith and my husband, Mr. Wonderful, and I have four kids ranging in ages one to eleven. I usually know where at least 75% of them are at any given time. We just got a PTSD Service Dog in Training for Mr. Wonderful–her name is Charlie and she’s instantly become a part of the family. Throw in a couple of jobs, a penchant for cupcakes, a love of all things show tunes and leopard print and you’ve got a lot going on. Oh, and I wrote a book called My Pink Champagne Life for sale here and here.

I can’t wait to get to know you, I’m hoping you’ll stop by often. Sit back, relax, and drink a cuppa joe with me. Maybe we can figure this thing out together.

Much love & many blessings!

Meredith

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015