My First 35: 2016 in Review
December 27, 2016
“At FIRST people refuse to believe
that a strange new thing can be done,
then they begin to HOPE it can be done,
then they SEE it can be done–
then it is done and all the world wonders
why it was not done centuries ago.”
As 2016 comes to a close, I am overwhelmed with emotion. This was the year I CHOSE TO BELIEVE in my dream and jumped back into writing feet first. It was amazing having each of you by my side…cheering every step of the way.
What a year ago seemed so unimaginable…is now something I can’t imagine my life without. The clicks of the keyboard, the warmth of the coffee, and the words in my heart…all came together each week and filled my cup(and I hope yours) to the brim!
Below is a look back at the First 35 Blogs I published…just in case you missed one along the way. Simply CLICK ON THE COLORED TITLES to read each one.
Thank you all for your love, support and prayers for me and for this project. I can’t wait to see what new adventures 2017 will bring to FHB and Especially Me!
XXOO and Giddy Anticipation,
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I never told anyone I did, but I also never told anyone I didn’t. It was my “Secret Garden Secret” that I knew would haunt me if I didn’t finally come clean and do something about it. I was almost 40 for goodness sake…it was time.
It’s a big job to plant our garden each season, with 720 square feet of raised beds, I need all the help I can get! And I love to plant things…IN A ROW! My kids know that when we pass an orchard while driving, that no one is to speak in the car so Mommy can have her “moment”. I stare out the window and breathe deeply as I focus on the nice neat rows of trees whooshing by, not even ONE out of place. This is my visual “happy place”.
Before FHB and Me, there was SHE
SHE was the one who carried the torch for FHB from the beginning when no one really talked about her. SHE was the one who opened the box to find Frances’ life inside and took pictures proudly on the side of a busy highways with our family at markers dedicated to HER work.
So my girl tribe gave me the gift of family pictures for my 40th birthday and almost 2 years later I finally got around to scheduling them. Our first family pictures in 10 years, unless you include awkward selfies of our faces squished together.
You see, I am the great-great Granddaughter of France’s Hodgson Burnett. (No pressure right?) Evidently, she’s kind of a big deal in the writing world…writing over 60 book, 15 plays, and 1000 or more short stories. Does The Secret Garden ring a bell? She wrote it.
Joy, Wildflowers, and Eggcorns
What Have I Come Here to Say? Whew! That was a tough question. Sure, I have a famous relative…but is that really what the whole FHB and Me project is about? The answer is NO. FHB and Me is so much bigger than that! So BIG that I have a hard time some days expressing it clearly. And while the project has developed a bit since I wrote this, the basis is still the same and will remain a consistent theme throughout.
Do you remember the first time you heard your voice recorded? I was setting up my first answering machine in my college dorm and remember it so clearly. I practiced and practiced what I was going to say and then hit <record>, “Hi, this is Keri. I’m not home at the moment but if you will, leave your name and number, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks a lot and have a GREAT day.” Nailed it, or so I thought.
Unfinished Business: 5-Steps to Recovery
I woke up out of a dead sleep this week and couldn’t go back to sleep. For some reason, my mind kept playing over and over the many things I have started…and not (really) finished. Christmas cards, garden chores, answering texts and emails, laundry(ok…who really ever finishes laundry), that great marketing idea I had, those reports I had been meaning to create…the list goes on.
My Granny and Grandpa, after years of bitterness and fighting had finally decided to divorce. This box marked the finality of their life together with a thud on our “welcome” mat. Had we only know that this box would mark the beginning of a new relationship and for me a journey of self-discovery, perhaps we would have at least stopped down to make the ceremonial “drum-roll sound” before we opened it.
“BELL”y Laughs and Unused Nipples
In the NY Public Library Archives, I recently found a letter from the inventor of the telephone to his wife. It’s funny, sweet, and a little odd what he wrote. Check out this fun letter from Alexander Graham Bell to his wife Mabel Hubbard Bell written on March 8, 1908.
She’s Related to What’s-Her-Name
When I was headed off to college, one of the best pieces of advice someone gave me was this: “Get to Know Your Professors BY NAME”. Go in, talk to them, ask them questions about your assignments, get to know them as a person and let them get to know you a bit. Because when they KNOW YOUR NAME…they are more likely to help you, when you need it most.
Cue the “ugly cry”. Why does it sneak up on you out of nowhere? You are telling a perfectly good story when this unexpected emotion hits you like a wave smacking the shore. You try to open your eyes as wide as you can to keep the tears from falling, but it’s no use…the emotion has taken over and so you just have to ride it out.
21 of us total. 5 couples plus kids for 3 days headed into in the mountains this past Spring to celebrate the 40th birthday for one of our “tribe”. This was the very first time that we have all gone on vacation together WITH the kids. And let’s face it, kids add a whole other level of stress to travel in general, but skiing tends to have its own set of complications.
10 years ago this Summer, I backed our box-stuffed minivan out of my parent’s driveway, as I watched my mother crumble into a pile of tears. I am sure she was thinking the same thing Cedric was when he was told he was moving away from his friends in America to live with his grandfather in England.
NO PICTURE from her time could ever do her any REAL justice.
Black and whites, that took forever to develop, could never capture accurately this TRULY COLORFUL CHARACTER that was Frances.
An Ode, Three Cheers, and a Huge Hurrah to Her Biographers!
One night years ago, before FHB and Me was even a twinkle in my eye, I was reading through one of the several biographies written on Frances when it dawned on me how lucky I am. Who else has had this many wonderful hands, around the globe, dedicating their time to study, dig, scratch, connect, and write about their family member?
While working on the website development, my next task up was to create her life/timeline. Should be easy I figured, with 5 biographies written about her and a robust amount of information at hand, I thought to myself: I’ve got this.
Frances was OBSESSED with flowers from a very young age. She would spend hours in the winter pouring over seed catalogs planning next spring’s gardens. And no matter where life took her, Frances’ imagination could turn a clump of weeds into lush gardens. My love of flowers…well, wasn’t as natural.
Luckily, Frances didn’t have to look too far for work. She began her career as a writer when she sold her first story at age 18, and had steady work as an author until she died at age 74. Even with such a successful career, she considered her work as a Mother, the “one perfect thing in her life”.
The first day of summer is the BEST! No more rushing around the house trying to get the kids off to school. The pace slows in our house and I cherish it. But like all good things, this too must come to an end. You know it’s coming…the season will end, but are you really ever ready?
So Much More Than Just The Secret Garden
Frances was most well-known during her lifetime for her best-selling books, The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess, but wrote more than 60 books, 1000 short stories and 15 plays, and mostly for an adult audience.
Find A Happy Place: The Power of Positive Thinking
“Find a Happy Place, Find a Happy Place, Find a Happy Place!” -Dory from Nemo
This is often quoted in my family when one of us is about to do something scary…like jump into our very cold spring fed river for the first time in the early Summer. I do my level best to take my brain to somewhere warm!
10 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU ARE SICK OF BEING SICK
I have basically spent the better part of this year locked away in my room, and frankly, I’m over it. I am tired of being sick and tired. I miss people! The few people I have seen, get the “talk a million miles a minute” Keri, because as a woman…I have not used all of my words…and it seems they are all stored up ready to word vomit on anyone who steps in my path.
Wasting Away: Taking Back Time
You see, I am NOT naturally organized, but I like to be in charge. Pre-planning is generally critical to keeping me sane. This is especially true when we are headed on vacation.
So, when I spent last month organizing and planning an End-of-Summer trip with my husband and two kids to the East Coast, I may have gotten a little out of hand.
I find myself smiling uncontrollably these days. Smiling at strangers, friends, or just even smiling into space as I sit alone. I’m smiling in the mirror, smiling in the reflection of the store windows, and taking way more smiling selfies than I care to admit. I stare and marvel at the creases on my face, and the way my eyebrows arch just so when I smile. It’s such a great smile. I had never thought about it before.
Do you look like your home? What does the stuff inside say about you?I recently drove up to Colorado to help my in-laws prepare for a big estate sale. We spent all week sifting and sorting our way through each room, closet, and drawer as I called out: “KEEP-TRASH-SELL-OR-DONATE?”
GUEST POST: The First Book I Kissed
The First Book I Ever Kissed By Nicole Dieker
The first time I found a copy of Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin’s at a library, I kissed it.
18 years of marriage, plus 5 years of dating mean we have been together a long time. Now, unlike the quote from Frances’s book above, we have not lived in Fairyland. We live and love right here in the real world where time flies by instead of fairies. We met in college and have lived a life full of adventure since.
Simmering Down: A Lesson in Moving Slow
I was a third semester sophomore taking some challenging academic classes over the summer and decided to get a P.E. credit out of the way too. Patrick on the other hand, had just completed a not so stellar freshman year, and was taking some easy classes to get his GPA back up so he could remain a student the following Fall. He was definitely a WILD THING like Dickon spoke of in The Secret Garden.
ROCKS IN MY POCKETS: Remembering the Joy & Goodness
Good things happen every day: Flowers bloom, children giggle, kinds words are said and received, awards are given, projects completed, goals accomplished, high roads are taken, joy is spread, and rainbows streak the sky after storms.
BOOK REVIEW: Happiness For Beginners
Frances LOVED a happy ending. She was always frustrated with the critics who would take writers more seriously if their book ended sadly. She insisted, “There ought to be a tremendous lot of natural splendid happiness in the life of every human being. The acceptance of the belief that this is only a world of sorrows is hideous and ought to be exterminated.”
GENERATIONS ALIKE: FHB and ME at 42
Counting is so fun! Counting freckles, counting toes, and of course counting your blessings. But to some, counting birthday’s can be less fun…the older they get. And this birthday is a BIG one for Frances to count! She was born in Manchester England on November, 24th, 1849, which according to my son’s way of counting when he was just two…makes her “167 trucks old”. Whew!
SEEK and FIND: Hidden Blessings
I consider myself someone who typically sees good in everything. If you tell me you stepped in dog poop, I will remind you of the Joy of Puppy Breath.
But sometimes, even this self proclaimed Sunshine Blower gets frustrated and fails to find the joy in all things.
The Clean Plate Club: Proud Member
Are you like me, still feeling guilty about the two plates that I nearly licked clean on Thanksgiving? It’s the one day that all sensibility goes out the window and I make it my job to taste a bit of everything. It is strategy at it’s finest followed by hours and days of misery. I blame the CLEAN PLATE CLUB for my need to eat it all…and Katie’s Pies, and Mom’s Jalapeno Cream Corn, and definitely Ginger’s Chicken and Dumplings.
Give a Bit of Frances This Season
I only know of ONE other thing that has the same staying power as glitter…and that is a good book. Toys will break, clothes will wear out, but words will stay with you forever.
So consider giving the gift of her words and stories to someone you love.