Monthly Archives: May 2014

Summers As A Teenager

I don’t know about the majority of teenagers out there but when I was 15 years old I started to work every summer. I saved money to supplement my parents putting me through four years of college, and after I graduated with a B.A., I worked full-time to put myself through grad school.

My son, who is 20, works part-time during the school year – 20 hours a week – to pay for his car insurance and any extras he needs for eating out, going to the movies, things like that. He takes 12 units per semester which is considered full-time. This summer he’ll be taking one or two classes, one online class and one regular class, for six weeks. I mentioned to him that when I was his age I worked full-time in the summers, i.e. forty hours a week, though I wasn’t going to school. I suggested he take on more work hours to supplement his income.

Well, I doubt THAT’S going to happen.

I’ve read a ton of information about how young kids today expect more for working a lot less, but I never have been faced with this in my own family. I don’t like to make generalizations because that’s just what they are – oversimplified deductions about an issue that’s not true in all cases. But it seems that in this case, the generalization may fit my son to a tee.

Does he actually expect us to pay for four to six years of college all by ourselves? We don’t qualify for financial aid and guess what? We don’t have 100,000 dollars in the bank just waiting to be spent on sending him to college and living in the dorms either.

What do you all think?

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When Fiction and Non-Fiction Collide

Rolling Stone

photo credit: vagabondblogger via photopin cc

Many of my books can be classified as New Adult fiction. What is New Adult fiction, you ask? According to this 2013 article in USA Today, New Adult novels explore the terrifying and wonderful chasm between adolescence and adulthood. Since I’m farther removed from that chasm than I’d like to admit, when one of my writing loops posted a link to this Rolling Stone article about millennials and their views on sex and marriage, I clicked over to have a look see.

And then I wanted to pour bleach in my eyes.

Never had the acronym WTF been more appropriate. Seriously, WTF, people?

I’m not sure what disturbed me more: the 30’s couple in an open relationship where she had a secondary boyfriend she saw once a week outside of her live-in boyfriend, the 20-year-old female college junior who’s had 29 sexual partners, or the 24-year-old drummer who is 95 percent monogamous because when, “…you find someone that’s just so amazing that it would be irresponsible on your life’s trajectory not to [sleep with them], then that’s what the five percent is for. I don’t want to ever feel like I missed out.”

Missed out on what? Genital herpes? Syphilis? Holy cow, Dorothy, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…

Anyone who’s ever read one of my blogs knows I’m happy in the conservative corner of the room, but really? Really? Is this truly how our next generation views sex and marriage? Say it isn’t so. Somebody out there SAY IT ISN’T SO! I’m begging you…

photo credit: vagabondblogger via photopin cc

Appreciating Our Military

soilder and childHave you seen the commercials Chevy is airing this month? You know, the ones with the returning service men and women who surprise their children? I can’t tell you how many of those clips I’ve watched online over the past several years only to end up in tears. Every stinking time. You don’t have to grow up a military brat to get misty-eyed watching these ads, but I do believe that having been the daughter of an Air Force officer, I’m able to relate to what the kids in these commercials go through every day. I’d venture to guess that military spouses and parents also feel an extra stomach clench when these types of spots run.

Military Appreciation month
May is National Military Appreciation Month, a time for celebrating those who serve our country and those who keep the home fronts chugging while they are away. I’d like to think that we don’t need a special month designated for this purpose; rather we could celebrate those who defend our freedoms year-round. Wouldn’t it be nice if they’d be offered discounts in stores and restaurants, jobs, and excellent medical care for the rest of their lives? Just something to think about as we honor those who’ve served this Memorial Day weekend.

sos aloha
Kim Lowe of the blog SOS Aloha is a military veteran who’s married to a military officer. This month, she’s been highlighting authors and their military connections on USA Today’s HEA blog. You can see my contribution to the discussion here. For some of us, that military connection is what defines us both as individuals and as writers. And I can tell you that connection is life-long, not month-long.

Remembering Grandpa

Remembering Grandpa

Memorial Day weekend is always bittersweet for me, though. Today marks fourteen years since losing my father. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on a cloudless June day, three weeks after his unexpected death. It seems a little surreal to think that his internment ceremony was likely captured on the video cameras of multiple tourists, but then, he was defending the freedom of strangers much of his life, why shouldn’t they take part in his funeral? As a military brat, spouse or parent, you share your loved one with the rest of the country. It’s a fact of life. Our family continues to share as my nephew serves in the Marines aboard a ship in an undisclosed location. It’s not easy for our servicemen and women or the ones they left behind. This weekend, as you’re enjoying that cold one at the beach, pool or in the backyard, remember not only those who’ve served, but those who are still serving and their loved ones waiting at home for them.

Fostering Your Creativity

At a conference this week, I attended a fabulous talk on creativity by Kelsey Ruger. He argues that everything we think about creativity is wrong. It isn’t a gift—it’s a habit. And all too often, it’s a habit we try to break in our kids.

Here’s a cute video illustrating his point:

The little boy’s comment at the end shows even at this early age, he’s learned there’s a time for play and a time for business. But when that divide becomes too great, we crush our ability to innovate.

According to Ruger, our habits are a way of filtering sensory information, to prevent overload. Creative types filter information differently. One of the most frustrating questions authors receive is “Where do you get your ideas?” The fact is, everyone gets ideas—novelists aren’t unique in that way. But stories don’t come from ideas. They come from nurturing ideas.

If fiction writers waited for great ideas to strike like lightning bolts, we’d never  publish anything. Instead, we take a kernel of an idea and ask “what if?” questions until it grows into something amazing. We don’t listen to that adult voice telling us our idea is flimsy and trite. We listen to the childlike voice saying, “Oh boy, I can’t wait to see how this turns out!”

But art isn’t the only arena where we need creativity. Businesses need to innovate now more than ever. It’s a global economy. They’re competing against the best in the world.

So how can you channel your child’s natural imagination into a creative habit? This TED talk on The Marshmallow Challenge explains how a kindergartener’s approach to problem-solving is better than a business school graduate’s. Children aren’t afraid to try, fail, and try again. Like fiction writers, they understand the importance of revision.

As kids progress through school, they learn they’re expected to do things “right.” When it comes to creativity, there is no right or wrong. Just different ways of trying—some better than others. An educational environment that doesn’t allow for trial and error may teach children book smarts. But how valuable are book smarts in a world of Google and Wikipedia? We’ve all got instant access to facts. That kind of knowledge is no longer a differentiator.

Ruger offers several tips for cultivating a creative habit, including:

  • Tell stories
  • Get used to breaking things
  • Embrace periods of play
  • Balance exploration with execution

What do you do to keep your creativity alive? How do you encourage it in your children?

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