Blogging Along Through Life

My daughter with her relay celebrating in the pool.

When I started my blog in 2014, my focus was financial news for women. I had a short stint as a financial adviser working with my husband. At that time, I thought I had lots of knowledge to share. I had passed all the exams and went through training by two big firms.

One fact that stood out to me was that women own the majority of the wealth in our nation, yet they have less knowledge about investing than men. I thought I found a perfect niche to blog about. Funny thing, nobody wanted to read those posts. Maybe it was because I was new and didn’t have an audience — but when I wrote about other topics, I got way more views and comments.

My next niche was parenting — particularly sports parenting. I submitted one of my blog posts to the most read swim website, SwimSwam, and got feedback from the owner/founder Gold Medal Mel, Mel Stewart. He asked me to start writing parenting advice. He wanted me to write once a month for three months. After that trial period, I wrote every week. You can check out those articles HERE. I continued with that for six years, mostly basing my articles on my past mistakes. I didn’t want newer sports parents to go through the drama and issues that I had. I was thrilled when parents would email me and ask for advice. I started an “Ask Swim Mom” column from those emails.

My other favorite topics to blog about were about college admissions and being the parent of college kids. I learned a lot during those years. But as my kids grew, I felt I had less to offer in the parenting arena. In fact, I think my swim parenting articles put pressure on my daughter or made her feel exposed. I realized I’m far from an expert. Who am I to give advice?

Now, my blogging is me slogging through this phase of life trying to figure it out. What I enjoy most about blogging now is the community of bloggers I read every day. It’s more satisfying and supportive than before.

I’m curious how you see your blog evolving or changing through time. Do you feel you have a niche and what is it? What are your favorite topics to blog about?

An unexpected gift

Gary Gruber photo of pigeons.
Pigeons.

After we picked up Olive from boarding and unloaded the car, I went to the post office. That was Thursday after a nine-hour drive from Christmas in Santa Barbara. I was exhausted because I have anxiety on freeways and we started the trip home at 5:30 a.m. in the dark in the middle of storm. I could tell my husband, who is normally cool, was having a tough time with the drive until we left Los Angeles freeways and headed towards Palm Springs and the rain subsided. Nine hours of driving and riding in the car is bad enough without bad weather.

I was bleary-eyed at the post office and I discovered four slips for packages in my P.O. Box. I was surprised to see a flat package from Gary Gruber. He’s a photographer who I worked with during my PR career in the 80s and 90s. His wife was my boss and we shared an office for several years. She became one of my close friends and is my daughter’s Godmother.

Pool hose photo by Gary Gruber showing beautiful patterns
Pool hose photo by Gary Gruber.

When I got home, I tossed the mail and packages on my desk, but opened the flat package. Inside were three incredible prints. I’m going to take them to the framing store later today. I called my friends to thank them! Gary had included a letter to update me about his work and a gallery showing next week. He also sent me a link to his blog and his photography site. Check out his photos HERE. Be sure to go through all his tabs. The photography is stunning.

Bob Hope Classic girls, photo by Gary Gruber.
Bob Hope Classic girls.

I especially enjoyed the PR and Still Life photos. Above is a PR photo from the Bob Hope Classic golf tournament. I worked for the PR firm that put on the Classic in the 1980s. I love the photo because it reminded me of how the Classic Girls — who were ambassadors to the tournament — were selected. A group of old men affiliated with the Classic and Eisenhower Medical Center (the beneficiary of the charity golf tournament) would meet in an auditorium at the hospital. The girls one by one walked across the stage, turned round, etc. while being ogled by the old geezers.

My boss asked if I’d like to try out. I was an account executive at the time in my mid twenties. He commented that I could wear the “Bob” shirt. Chrysler became a sponsor of the tournament and the old geezers joked about the young lady they’d pick to wear all the letters of “Chrysler.” You get the drift? If not, it’s all about breast size.

Wouldn’t fly today, would it?

These prints are truly an unexpected gift that I’ll treasure. Also, I loved reconnecting and hearing about Gary’s success with his artistic photography in a gallery and in Palm Springs Life magazine. You can check out Gary’s blog here.

What are your thoughts about unexpected gifts? Are they more special than ones you know are coming?

This is one of Gary’s street photos from Italy.
Child photo with cat by Gary Gruber
A photo by Gary Gruber taken decades ago. I swear this is my Olive the cat.

Needs and Wants Add Depth to Characters

I’m finishing up my NaNo Prep and psyching myself up for November 1 when I attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month.

I got some writing advice from my son who graduated in Literature from UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies

He told me to add depth to my characters I should explore their “needs and wants.”

baby crawling and peeking out behind door.
My son a few years ago peeking out from his bedroom.

When my kids were in Catholic elementary school, a teacher explained the difference between needs and wants. I remember being impressed with how the teacher brought this lesson down to their age level. It was something that I hadn’t thought about explaining to my kids. Yet, it’s such a crucial life lesson. When you’re raising kids, they often have a lot of things they “need.” They want to fit in with their peers and when one friend gets the latest whatever, they feel they need it, too.

When my kids told me they “needed” a colorful iPod mini or a deck of Pokemon cards, I answered smugly, “Is this something you need—or something you want?”

I pretty much think they always believed it was something they needed.

Here’s how my son ended up giving me advice on needs and wants in fiction writing:

Several years ago, I was telling him how I was struggling with a rewrite of a mid-grade novel but was beginning to have a break-through. I hired an editor to review my manuscript and the main thread of advice was to add depth to my main characters. I have a “good” protagonist and an “evil” antagonist. It’s a book about friendships and growth in character, yet my characters are pretty shallow and flimsy Definitely one dimensional. My son suggested I look at their “needs and wants.”

Seriously? The child who “needed” so many material things is now lecturing me on “needs and wants?” Yes, and in literature, he explained, needs and wants takes on a subtle but different meaning. I found a good article “What your character wants versus what they need” from the Novel Factory. Here’s an excerpt:

What your character wants
We all want something. Some of us crave power, others long for heaps of cash, others want five minutes of fame. Some of us dream of having a baby, or a picture perfect wedding. Then of course there are more specific goals, like to win Countdown, to meet David Attenborough or to bake the perfect flan.

At the outset of your novel, you need to establish what it is your character wants – what it is that they are pursuing? What do they believe will give them a feeling of satisfaction?

What your character needs
However, there is something else under the surface, and that is what your character needs.

There are very few things human beings actually need, in order to be happy, and most of the things we fixate on wanting only obscure the really important things.

The things we need can usually be distilled to one thing: love.

This bit of advice from my son was eye-opening. I truly love my kids. They both continue to amaze me with their wisdom and good advice.

mom and toddler son sitting on the beach
Back when needs and wants were simple.

Have you explained to your kids about needs and wants? Have you used needs and wants to develop your characters in writing? What are your needs and wants in blogging?

Blogging from bed

view of Arizona backyard
View from my bed.

We’ve had thunder and lightening and down pouring rain since 10 p.m. last night. I’m sitting in bed watching the storm. I’ve decided this is a perfect day to blog from bed.

Right now there is a break in the rain, so I might venture out for a walk. But with all the thunder and lightning, I’m not sure it’s safe or the smartest idea. So here I sit, listening to the birds who are beginning to venture out.

It was quite a spectacular show last night — and the night before. The biggest issue is Olive who normally doesn’t meow. She was crying loudly this morning. When she got scared or nervous in the past — due to a pug named Waffles who likes to chase her — she ended up with a UTI. She’s hiding under the guest bed currently and I’m leaving her alone.

I’m enjoying my first monsoon season and blogging from bed!

Monsoon in Arizona
The water is pooling around the house.

Have you ever blogged from bed and for what reasons?

Kick It up a Notch! Or How to Build on Last Year’s Resolutions

This year I just might start swimming masters.

This year, I  might start swimming masters.

I sat down to write my New Year’s Resolutions story for my blog when I got distracted by checking out FaceBook. Just for a few mintues, mind you.

What did I see? An article written by a friend of mine, Susan Murphy, published in a local wellness and health publication, called Desert Health. She wrote about New Year’s Resolutions, too. You can read her article here. Susan’s a Ph.D., life coach, business advisor and author of several books.

images-2I tried a couple of her tips last January. I made goals that were small. They weren’t overwhelming. And, they were specific.

Too many people fail at their resolutions. Last year, I managed to make four of my goals happen.

My successes: writing, exercising and reading the Bible every single day. I’m proud to say I did it!  I also started bleuwater a year ago. I posted at least one story a week. It’s rewarding to look back on my work and know that I didn’t give up.

I also have a list of failures. But, I don’t care to discuss them right now.

So what am I going to try to do this year? As Emeril would say, “Kick it up a notch!”

I write my morning pages without fail. I have several writing projects I’m consumed with. But I want to do more. Make more progress.

My excerise is very consistent, but not challenging enough. I am getting stronger, but I need to kick it up. I walk several miles every morning and then in the evening with my husband. I am thinking about either joining a gym or swimming with masters.

What are your New Year’s goals? How did you do with your resolutions last year?

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