Monday, December 19, 2011

No Big Deal, Only... The Purpose of Life

Tis the Season to Reflect. 

I celebrated my birthday this past weekend, and we're in the midst of the holiday season. In honor of time passing and days celebrated, here's a post I wrote a few months back on the purpose of life. 

Good tidings to all!

Eureka! 
I've got some good news, folks. I figured it all out! The search for a purpose, motivation for living, reason for the rhyme is so much easier than we thought: We are here to be awed by our own and each others' divinity.

If it's that simple, why is happiness so elusive?
Because we humans love to complain. We don't have enough. We're not rich enough, smart enough, good looking enough, respected enough, or loved enough. We wish [insert friend or relative here] acted differently. We wish certain things did or didn't happen. Wah. Wah. Wah. Poor, sad us. What's the point to all of our suffering and why is it so damn hard to be happy?
 
It's hard to be happy because we think everything needs to make sense!
Our purpose is not to understand, but to experience. We're here to love and be loved, to learn and to teach, to laugh and to cry, to amaze and be amazed. We're here to feel joy and anger, ecstasy and sadness, attraction and rejection. We are here to create, appreciate, and forgive.  

Good Life/Bad Life. It's your call.
We've been granted a brief span of time here on Earth, and what we do with it is our choice. We can be cruel or kind, compassionate or uncaring, generous or stingy, selfish or selfless. We can manifest our gifts, challenge ourselves, and listen closely, or we can ignore our talents, be lazy, and remain deaf to the needs of others. Your choices determine the quality of your life. Don't eff it up. 

What rocks your world?
My soul speaks through art. Writing music and books is how my soul communicates. Music, dancing, books, paintings, sculptures, and great acting move me in ways I can't explain. Other things that rock my world: Spending time with family and friends, delicious meals, CHOCOLATE, red wine, meditation, travel, and healthy living. FIGURE OUT WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP & DO THOSE THINGS OFTEN!

My Greatest Gifts.
My kids, my boyfriend, embraces from those I love, the sound of the waves, the purr of my cats, my health, the health of those I love, enlightening conversations, inspiring music, the words, "I love you," a good laugh...  

These are not just things I enjoy about my life. These things ARE my life. These are some of my greatest gifts, and for that and so much more, I am profoundly grateful.

What NOT to do.
Don't let a moment slip by unnoticed. Don't pass up a chance to kiss your children. Don't miss an opportunity to express your love. Don't let a kind word be left upon your lips. 

Live your life like your life depends on it.
In honor of this precious life I've been given, I hereby promise the following: To practice being gracious and grateful; joyous and generous; playful and powerful; creative and kind.  

I will allow myself and others to make mistakes! I will take honoring and thanking and appreciating and loving to a whole new level.

That's what I realized today. What about you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This is For the Children

Sometimes I spend hours arduously contemplating every word I put in a post. Other times, random unknowns like this guy (Jimmy Kimmel? What the hell kind of name is that?) make my job so freaking easy.

Click on this link for some great holiday laughs. 

http://youtu.be/q4a9CKgLprQ

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves by, Robin O'Bryant

I'm pleased to be able to plug a brilliant writer and a hilarious book. Robin O'Bryant is funny, talented, and supportive of other writers. I'm honored to call her a friend and excited to introduce you to her and her work.

Here she is (isn't she adorable?) and above is the cover of her book (isn't it cute?). The holidays are upon us, so why not treat yourself or someone you love with a copy? CLICK HERE TO ORDER. I promise, you won't be sorry.

BY THE WAY: Robin, being the generous soul that she is, has a signed copy of her book to give away to someone who tweets on Twitter about this post and/or shares this link on FB. Just make sure to leave a comment in the comment section letting her know you did this. Isn't that cool?

So, Robin, tell us about yourself, your book, finding your dream agent, and your path to publication. (And, two things for the record: 1) "Ketchup is a Vegetable" is NOT a lie, and, 2) I'm glad I'm not the only one stalking Jenny!)

Hah! Where to begin? I've been an avid reader and writer my entire life. As a child, it was common for me to have dark circles under my eyes from staying up into the wee hours to read. I've journaled since I could write a complete sentence and throughout my life have been repeatedly told, "You should write a book."

I wanted to, I really did. I wanted to be a writer but I had no idea what to write about. I was good at expressing myself in words but I wasn't creating new worlds or going all J.K. Rowling in my free time. Reading and writing were private passions until my third child was born. Three daughters in four years, it's all a blur. Do the math, people. That's a lot of crazy.

I was writing about my kids extensively, because that's what I do. I am compelled to write about my life. But because my husband and I lived hundreds of miles from our families, I was also sending out mass emails on a daily and weekly basis to update our families on our shenanigans. And I heard it again and again, “You should write a book.” (Please note: this doesn't always mean you should and I realized that this was my mom and she might be a little biased.) I thought I might have an audience when my family members started forwarding my emails to everyone in their contact lists and I began receiving feedback from people I didn't know. I started a blog and somehow convinced the editor of our local paper to let me write a weekly family humor column.

I realized I had plenty of material and a subject matter that I loved. I started writing furiously. I wrote while I fed my baby. I wrote while my two-year-old and four-year-old napped. I bugged the crap out of all my book whore friends-- because avid readers make great betas. I asked for feedback from anyone who was willing to give it. I joined my local Writer's Association and started going to group meetings to get feedback from people who weren't my mother.

I ordered books about writing query letters. I quietly stalked the Query Shark and any other resource I could find online and started writing drafts of my letter. I purchased 'The Writers Market' and started looking for agents who represented non-fiction humor and women's interest books. And I sent out my first few queries.

I queried widely and was rejected widely. Every time an agent was kind enough to tell me why they said no, I did what I could to change that part of my letter. I read as much as I could in my genre and poured over the acknowledgments to see if the author had thanked her agent and I made a magical discovery. My three favorite humorists all thanked their agent-- Jenny Bent. And when I say “favorite” writers, I mean like The-Beatles-Favorite. Like if I saw them in person, I would hyperventilate and pass out.

I began stalking Jenny. Not scary-stalking, let's all remember that I had three kids under four years old. I didn't have time to wipe after I peed, much less be threatening and what not. But I began reading interviews with Jenny online, learning what she was looking for and what she liked to read. I read her client's blogs and one of them even sent me a copy of her query letter.

By the time I wrote my query to Jenny, I felt like I knew her. The letter I wrote to her was more personal and more reflective of my writing style than any of the others. But still, before I pressed, 'Send,' I almost chickened out. Jenny Bent was totally out of my league. As other agents had pointed out my one little local newspaper column wasn't a big enough platform. This was my first book, and many authors never get their first book published.

Another agent had a requested a partial and a book proposal and I was waiting to hear back from her. My last thought before I sent the email was, “It's not going to hurt anything to send it. She'll probably never read it anyway.”

I received an email within the week from one of Jenny's readers saying Jenny wanted to read the full manuscript and I almost blacked out. I sent the manuscript and tried not to think about the fact that the agent who represented three of the funniest women on the planet had my manuscript and was actually reading it.

I received an email from Jenny's assistant only a couple of weeks later saying (this is burned into my brain forevermore) “Jenny is on a plane, doubled over in laughter reading your manuscript. She wants to offer you representation and would like to set up a time to talk to you.”

I screamed so loudly I woke up all three of my sleeping children. (Waking children during nap-time is a mortal sin and I've almost popped a cap in the UPS man for ringing my doorbell before. Even though he was bringing me magical under-eye makeup from Sephora.) I ran screaming through my yard to my neighbor's house and almost gave her heart attack.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Authors don't get signed from the slush pile. Not to high caliber agents. But I did. Jenny Bent is careful with her queries, people. She doesn't want to miss anything.

For the last two years, Jenny has been an amazing mentor and editor. Her first revisions, though VERY kind and 100% accurate, hurt. We cut over half of the material and did a major rewrite. But she saw my strengths and my potential. Her advice helped me find my voice. She encouraged me to focus on my strengths and to throw away what was subpar. She helped me shape my manuscript into a book that we both love.

My platform grew. I self-syndicated my column in three states and I found outlets online and in print for my writing. And while I've been “waiting for something to happen” I wrote another book. Getting published isn't a race and now that it's finally here, I'm glad I took my time. I can't imagine this book being "out there" before now and I'm thankful for every single round of revisions. (I'm also glad they are over.)

Read the best of Robin's Chicks, Robin's blog about about surviving motherhood with three daughters and a sense of humor. Learn helpful tips such as: how to breastfeed behind your back*, how to talk to your daughters about male genitalia, and how to write a pet obituary. Purchase "Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves" on Amazon or download to your Kindle.

*Only applies to lactating women with a DD cup or larger.

Praise for, "Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves" 
by, Robin O'Bryant

"The humor of Bombeck and warmth of a best girlfriend... one of the funniest things I've ever read." Celia Rivenbark, New York Times bestselling author of, You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl

"Witty, insightful observations from my favorite mom on Twitter!" Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, bestselling author of, Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay

"A book about motherhood that will make you nod with recognition, while simulaneously reminding you schedule a hysterectomy." Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, author of, Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Summary
If you don’t have anything nice to say about motherhood, then… read this book. Robin O’Bryant offers a no holds barred look at the day to day life of being a mother to three, running a household and the everyday monotony of parenting.

It’s not always pretty but it’s real. Whether she's stuffing cabbage in her bra… dealing with defiant yet determined daughters… yelling at the F.B.I... or explaining the birds and the bees to her preschooler… you’re sure to find dozens of humorous and relatable situations.

From the creator of Robin's Chicks, one of the South’s most popular blogs on motherhood, misunderstandings and musings, comes a collection of essays that will not only make you laugh and cry, but realize that you’re not alone in your journey.

Sit back and relax, pour yourself some “mommy juice,” throw a fresh diaper on your baby and deadbolt the bedroom door to keep your kids out… because once you start reading you'll be too busy wiping away tears of laughter to wipe anybody's butt.

Robin O'Bryant is a self-syndicated humor columnist living in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and three daughters. Visit her at www.robinschicks.com to point and laugh.

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