Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seeking Serenity

I'm back.  Back with new efforts towards self-improvement and new challenges with said efforts.

Here's the thing.  You may realize that I have a slight tendency to be easily annoyed by others and to be a little bit controlling, so lately I have been working on that.  I recently learned a whole new vocabulary word...dun dun duuuuunnnnnn: "serenity."

The idea behind this word is that if you can "let go" of worrying about the actions of others, no matter how irritating or idiotic those actions may be, you can achieve a sense of inner peace.  If you "let go" of thoughts of revenge, of concern for others opinions, of a desire to change other people, and only concern yourself with yourself, tranquility will fill the space formerly reserved for aggravation, frustration, irritation and self-doubt.

So, I'm plugging away - breathing deep - repeating the mantra "let go" over and over - reminding myself that I cannot control others - yadda yadda yadda.  I was doing O.K. with the whole serenity thing, so yesterday I decided that for one day, I would not make fun of anyone (a huge challenge for me), say anything negative about anyone, or act judgmentally towards anyone.  Naturally, though, with every challenge comes obstacles - and God decided to present me with some whoppers.

My class is in the midst of a "museum" theme.  So, I, in all of my awesomeness, traveled to the city where I then went to the museum and pilfered maps and museum guides from every information booth, stuffing them all into my bag so that my two classrooms could study them and use them.  My classes have enjoyed looking at and discussing the maps and we were preparing to use them for other projects next week.

So, anyway, we had this huge, annoying, meeting yesterday.  Considering the extreme nettlesomeness that these meetings bring about, I was sitting in a state of meditation, concentrating on my personal serenity, when a teacher from another class said "thank you so much for the museum maps, that was so cool!" This somehow peaked my interest, so I opened my eyes and looked in her direction, thus realizing that the comment had been directed towards me.  I answered "I didn't give you any of my maps."

She apparently didn't hear me because she and her aide continued to happily chat about how their students had cut up the maps and made collages.  So I repeated, louder, "I didn't give you my maps!!!"  Again they didn't appear to understand my words as they kept smiling and chirping on about the success of this project.  I then directed my words towards my aide, who was sitting between them "I didn't give them my maps!  Are the maps still in our room?"  She asked the person next to her "Did you take the maps out of our room?"  That person answered, "No, they were just in our classroom when I got here this morning."  So, my serenity space was about to explode - I snapped my mouth shut, scrunched up my eyes as tight as I could and, breathing heavily and loudly through my nose, furiously repeated the words "let go" and "serenity" to myself.

Later in the meeting, another teacher's aide, who is not much older than twelve, claimed that she had better classroom management skills than me or pretty much anyone else in the school.  As I had not yet managed to "let go" of the whole map incident, this comment easily put me into a quiet, calculating, revengeful state of mind.  This little girl had no idea how difficult I could make her work day.  She didn't understand what being on my bad side could mean to her.  Then, while I was busy calculating my payback plan, that damned "serenity" word popped right back into my head.  So, I was like, "WTF, inner peace means I have to let this go too?  You're kidding, right?"

Some weird, tranquil, Ghandi-esque voice answered "I'm not kidding.  Just let it go."

I looked around the room and nobody else seemed to be tuned into the "placidity channel," so I supposed the voice was speaking directly to me.  I thought "You're nuts - there is no way I'm gonna let this go!"

Again, the annoying voice of inner peace filled my head "Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails."

I answered "You stole that from Thoreau!  You're just as bad as them!  Besides, I don't even know what that means!  Now get out of my head so I can make some plans!  You are seriously getting on my nerves!"

I was hoping, at this point, that nobody else in the room had noticed I was having this inner conversation.  Then the voice said "Let it go and I will leave you alone."

I said "Fine, just shut up already!"

The voice responded "Be still and know that I am with you."

"WELL, THAT"S JUST GREAT!!!!!" I answered.

I looked at these co-workers, and decided it wasn't worth it.  I would just do the best job I could do, and let others dig their own holes to crawl out of.

Then, that stupid inner peace voice stated, fleetingly, "What hurt could it do thee if thou wouldst let it pass and make no account of it?  Could it so much as pluck one hair from thy head?"


Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Writer

I don't know, exactly, when David became a writer. Maybe he was born that way. I, however, didn't meet him until he was four years old. I do know that, by four, he was already a writer.
Don't get me wrong, he could neither read nor write by the age of four, but he had stories in his head, and he could dictate. Dictate is what he did - for hours and hours and hours.
At that time I was working as a nanny for the Pedigo family. David, as I said, was four, and his brother Jonathan was eight months old. My son, Steven, was eight months old as well, and I spent my days learning and growing with these three little boys.
I must admit that Steven and Jonathan learned early independence and developed a keen sense of mischief because much of my time was spent transcribing the stories that flowed out of young David's mind. I dare say that, at four, David was more prolific and more productive than Eliot, Hemingway or King. He had no distractions, no responsibilities, no burdens and no other focus. Every event in his life became a story, and he had a natural love for experiencing his words on paper.
So, for years, while Steven and Jonathan poured water into vents, peeled wallpaper off of walls, destroyed Lego masterpieces, and mixed potions in the toilet, David dictated and I recorded his words. 
Those words were put into a file, and now, seventeen years later, they still exist. The words of four year old David did not dissipate into the wind, they exist, and always will exist, because David is a writer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lazy Excuse

"The only advantage of not being too good a housekeeper is that your guests are so pleased to feel how very much better they are."
Eleanor Roosevelt


Thank You Eleanor.  Reading the words above made me realize that the sight of my living room does not have to be a source of embarrassment but.  Instead, with great pride, I will view it as a gift to other homemakers.  You see, anyone who visits my house is bound to feel better about their own house and their own housekeeping skills.  All this time I have viewed myself as lazy and unworthy - when, in reality, I m acting in a selfless manner- helping the housekeepers of the world.

Think about it.  When you visit a home that is clean, organized and inviting, does it make you feel good about yourself?  No - it makes you feel inferior.  It fills your mind with visions of closet organizers, vacuum cleaners and windex.  It makes you feel like moving furniture and shaking out rugs.  That is a BAD state of mind.

On the other hand, when you see baskets of clothes waiting to be put away, dishes in the sink, toys scattered across the floor and various papers covering every surface, it makes you feel great about your own house. I mean, when you sit on a chair only to find a TV controller sticking into your butt,  it makes you feel like you actually could invite people over without a two week notice.  And, be honest, when you see something really disgusting - like a dead mouse or an old soiled diaper on the floor - it makes you feel like Martha Stewart.

So, even though I could put that pile of clothes in the drawers or sort through the jumbled papers and file them away, I wont.  I mean, while I had planned to clean litter boxes, sweep floors, wash dishes and pull weeds - I think I will play a little Farmville instead.  I will do this for you.

I would never want to make anyone feel substandard.  It would hurt me deeply to know that I had caused another human being to think they needed to work harder than they already do.  My goal is bring a sense of pride to others, no matter what housekeeping level they have achieved.

So, I make this promise to you.  The next time you come to my house, it will make you experience so much pride in your own house that you will want to come back again and again.  I am giving up the little bit of housework I currently maintain.  I do this as a gift to you.

You're Welcome!

(I bet if I give up showering and teeth brushing I could encourage even more people's self-esteem - something to consider, ay?)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This is an apology, to you, my avid readers. You see, when I got this offer for this magazine print half of my story, I caught the publishing bug.

After receiving that awesome e-mail, I received a collection of emails saying that they liked the story, but it had been previously published. On the blog. The blog that is read by my mother, my husband, my great aunt, my three friends and my two acquaintances. The sad part is that my own son is not interested in reading my blog, and one of my regular readers, my husband, only reads it because I said I would beat him up if he didn't.  I explained all of that, but, apparently, published is published.

So, its not that I stopped writing. Its just that I stopped writing for the blog. The reason - I don't want to inadvertently publish anything that shows promise. So, I can only put the sucky writing on the blog, and I haven't come up wit anything sucky lately (except for this, of course).  Sorry.

I am working on things, and I am itching to post them and get your feedback. In fact, I started a young adult novel - but I can't tell you anything about it on this public forum. If you are really interested, though, send me your private e-mail. I would love to hear what you think.

So you know - I'm not ditching you for the far more glamorous and far more critical publishers. I just need to find a balance. I am working on it.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010


If you want to see my name in lights, go to:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Smile Practice

"Everybody can see my eyes except for me."

Marko - 4 years old

I heard the above quote recently, and I found it to be brilliant, magnificent and thought provoking.  My immediate reaction was that the genius behind this idea must be equal to the likes of Einstein, Newton and Da Vinci.  As it turned out, it was my own son who had said this over dinner.  Were you aware that mental capacity and IQ is always inherited maternally?  Studies have shown that there is no connection whatsoever between a man's brain and his sperm - therefore children's capacity for intelligent thought comes through the mother's genes only.  It's true - look it up.

I'm going to take that profound idea, and take it one step further.  Everybody can see my
 face except for me.  This idea made me start wondering what I look like to other people.  When I look in the mirror I look like a nice person who is pretty darn cute for her age.  But, what Marko said made me realize that I have never seen my actual face - the mirror is a reflection of my face.  Plus, when I look in the mirror, I always know I'm looking, so I make a point of looking nice.  Now, I don't know about you, but I often look at people when they don't know I'm looking - so it would be sensible to think that people look at me when I don't know they're looking.  That means that people are looking at me when I'm not making an effort to look like I'm nice.

You are probably thinking that I am spending way too much time thinking about something so stupid, and you might be right. Before you pass judgment, I think it is finally time for me to reveal some very secret and highly dangerous aspects of my life.  I only hope that, in sharing my story, I will not be putting you into mortal danger.  If you value your life, you may want to stop reading right now and forget you ever heard of The Fat Lazy Soccer Mom.  I won’t blame you.

For those of you willing to take this risk - I am finally ready to confide in you and you alone.  Just please, for both of our sakes, never repeat what I am about to tell you to anyone - not to your spouse, your children, your mother or your closest friend.  Most importantly, for your safety as well as mine, swear you will not breathe a word of this to a very tall limping man who is dressed all in black and has six fingers on one hand.

You see, when I was a
 very young child I witnessed an elusive mafia boss commit a heinous crime. This vicious criminal had been able to evade the great Detective Dave Diamond for over a decade.   Even though I was very young I was the only living person able to give an eyewitness account and a positive I.D.  I testified in court, putting this major mobster behind bars for a sentence of one hundred years.  I was then placed in the witness protection program, hidden for the rest of my life from extremely dangerous Sicilians who want me dead.  I am sure you are all intrigued, but unfortunately I am sworn to secrecy and cannot give you any more details.  In fact, what little I have said here could put me in a great danger. If this gets into the hands of the wrong people - a certain Organized Crime Ring from Chicago could make a major comeback. Still, I felt I needed to tell you this in order for you to understand the rest of my story.

I am sure you have already figured out that it was imperative that no one be allowed to take pictures of me. Because I had single-handedly exposed the Cosa Nostra they, obviously, put out a hit on me.  Pictures of me were worth millions of dollars because they would reveal my whereabouts.  I was taught, therefore, to avoid being photographed at all costs, and, as a last resort, to make a really stupid face if I couldn't avoid a camera.

While a picture is like a mirror in that it is just an image of a face and not a real face - I have never had a picture taken that is a true representation of what others see when they look at me.  The few photos that exist always show me making a really stupid face:

See what I mean?

We members of The Witness Protection Program have no real idea what we look like.  This is just one sad reality that must co-exist with a life of covertness and peril.

I know I am asking too much by putting all of this responsibility on your shoulders - but I'm afraid there's more:

I have never wanted my children to be nervous that bounty hunters might still be after me, so I never told them about my history.  I could never tell my husband because he is too simple minded to be trusted. They only know that I would rather be the one taking the pictures than be the one in the pictures.  That is why I cannot blame my son for taking a series of candid shots of me when I wasn't paying attention.  He was not aware that he was putting all of our lives in danger.

When I saw these pictures - the only undisguised photos of myself in existence - I noticed something very disturbing.  In each and every picture, I am frowning.  Actually, one could even say I was scowling.  Look quickly and carefully - in thirty seconds this image will self-destruct.

Do you see that glower?  In picture after picture I have that malicious, hateful face!  This is the first time in my life that I have seen an image of my face looking how it looks when I don't know anybody is looking!  And I look so mean!  No wonder my husband is afraid of me!

I needed to find out once and for all if this is how I appear in the eyes of others, so I asked my mother if I sometimes frown - and she, in the sweet little voice of an elderly woman, answered "I wouldn't say some of the time, I would say all of the time."

So, now I am making a conscious effort to smile all the time - no matter what. So, if I find a dead animal in my living room, I smile - if my son punches his brother right in the nose, I smile - If my husband wears the same shirt for five consecutive 98 degree days, and the air conditioner is broken, and he does not shower, swim, or wash, I smile.   I am also working at being more conscious of my facial muscles so that I will be instantly aware of my frowning lips.  When I feel the sides of my lips turning down, I automatically bring them up. I figure that if I keep working on it, I will eventually have a permanent smile on my face.  If that doesn't work - there's always Botox.


He Did Overcome!

This morning I was remembering a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that correlated directly with what I wanted to write about today.  To get the quote exactly right, I did an internet search.  I found more than just the selection I was looking for.  As I read through Eleanor's most famous excerpts, I became increasingly inspired.  I found that about 90% of the things she said were pertinent my life today. I wanted to copy these words down and hang them on my wall so I wouldn't forget (which I will likely do when I am done with this).  This introduction has little to do with today's blog - I just wanted to let you know that Eleanor had some very intelligent, sensible things to say which enlivened my spirit.  I might be a little behind the times here - but don't be surprised if I start going all Eleanor Roosevelt on you.

eleanor roosevelt


I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him. Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt lived from 1884 until 1962.  When I mentioned her to my seven year old son, Mikey, he had no idea who I was talking about.  Still, her words, above, are directly related to a recent achievement on his part of which his father and I are very proud.  You see, Mikey faced and overcame a fear that has plagued him for more than half of his life.  He accomplished this by acting just as Eleanor had suggested over 50 years ago - he did the very thing he was afraid of - and he did it in a big way.

When Mikey was three, his baby brother Marko was born.  While my husband and I were at the hospital welcoming little Marko into the world, (a very painful welcome as far as I was concerned - but that is another story) Mikey and his brothers stayed at their Grandmother's house.  We don't know whether or not that short period of separation was the inception of Mikey's anxiety  - but, what we do know is that after those few days, Mikey's willingness to sleep away from his family ceased.

Now, Mikey is not a fearful child by nature.  In fact, it is difficult to find anything that scares him.  He definitely isn't afraid of his father or me.  Mikey is a daredevil who cares nothing about danger or possible consequences.  He scales the tall fence at the ball field even though he had been told four thousand times not to go near it.  He pulled crabs out of the ocean with his bare hands.  He climbs all the way to the top of the wall at the pool, and then drops 20 feet down into ten feet of water, making sure he touched bottom before coming up for air.  He will climb anything, jump from any height and challenge anyone.  There is no dare he was willing to pass up.  Mikey was born a larger than life, fearless alpha male, and no one or no thing has ever been able to make him feel small. Except - his fear of spending the night away from his family.

This nervousness was not due to a lack of desire.  Mikey was invited to sleep over at friends houses many times - and he was always excited to go - always certain that he would succeed.  He packed his clothes, toothbrush, pillow and sleeping bag and he took off.  But then, infallibly, the moment bedtime was mentioned, his eyes widened, his two sucking fingers entered his mouth and tears started rolling down his cheeks. With great sorrow, he would whisper "I want to go home."  We have, as a result,  received numerous late night phone calls prompting us to go out in our pajamas and bring our Mikey home.  Each time this happened, we then sat up for hours consoling an angry, sobbing Mikey who was full of shame and self-loathing.

But, as Eleanor said, one conquers fear by doing the thing he fears to do.  This is exactly what my little boy finally did.

We had been bringing Mikey's older brothers to Camp Shaw Waw Nas See for eleven years. This was the first year Mikey was old enough to stay overnight.  He had seen his brothers off to camp every summer of his life, and now it was finally his turn.  Mikey had been telling people he was going away to camp for ages - but then, a few days before he and Elijah were set to leave, that old fear returned.  Mikey wanted to go to camp, but HE DID NOT WANT TO SLEEP THERE!  We took turns trying to convince him, but the more anyone talked about it, the more upset and adamant he became.  Mikey insisted that if he had to sleep at camp he wouldn't go to camp. We took turns trying to persuade him, and finally, exhausted, we made arrangements for him to attend camp during the day and come home at night. Everything was settled, Mikey was pacified, and that was the end of that.

But then, at the last possible moment - some part of that seven year old boy - some inner strength exerted itself and defeated the fear.  On the day Elijah was leaving for camp, Mikey suddenly announced that he was going too!  My first thought was "damn, now I have to pack both of them."  But then I was beaming.  I was so proud of my courageous son.

On the first night my husband and I waited anxiously for the phone call.  The second night we put the phone next to the bed.  By the third night, it was clear that he was victorious.  He had faced fear and he had overcome. He spent six nights at Camp Shaw, in a cabin of boys and counselors he had never met before, and he had the time of his life.  

I will say he came home with an even bigger larger-than-life attitude than before - and at moments I've felt he needed to humbled a bit - but I am yet to find any person or any thing sizable enough to knock Mikey down.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dear Editor

Well, I recently began looking into having some of my short stories published by people other than myself.  I had no idea how complex this process actually is.  Little by little, however, I have been figuring things out.  I started out by sending a story out to a whole bunch of publishers just to see what would happen - and, hip hip hooray - I got an offer to publish from a small literary magazine.  I also learned a couple of lessons.  The first is that you aren't actually supposed to send the same story to 40 different publishers because whoever prints it has exclusive rights to it, and then if somebody else wants to publish it they will get pissed because they can't, and you just wasted a whole bunch of their time - oops.  The second is that if you put your story on a public forum such as a blog site, many publishers consider it previously published and therefore not eligible which gets them all pissed because you just wasted a whole bunch of their time - oops.  The third is that editors receive thousands of stories a month and if you don't have a really good query letter that catches their attention, they probably wont even read your story - oops.

So, anyway - the first time was a trial run - and I learned, and I will do things differently the next time around.  I figured I should start with a really good, attention grabbing cover letter that would make an editor want to read the story I send.

Here's what I want you to do.  I am going to post my query letter, and I need you to pretend you are some big shot, rude, egotistical, thinking you're God's gift to the world editor and tell me if this letter would make you decide to send me a nasty e-mail about how I need to read your submission guidelines before I even attempt to send you any more of my crappy writing, or if it will make you want to read my story, thus discovering the hottest new talent on the writing scene.  So, let me know which it is, O.K.?

Dear Editor,

Let me introduce myself.  I am an overweight, naturally lazy 39 year old woman with a very busy, full life.  Specifically, here is a list of all the things I have to deal with each and every day:

1.       An extremely annoying husband who has absolutely no handy-man skills.
2.       A house that has an ever increasing need for a handy-man.
3.       Four sons who were all born with a natural love of and talent for destruction.
4.       A dog who loves me so much that he feels a need to be constantly touching me no matter what I am trying to do (which is very irritating, especially when I am sleeping and he cuddles up with my face).
5.       Way too many cats which I, for some mysterious reason, have accepted into my home.
6.        Some strange, unknown disorder, indicated by my allowing all those cats to live in my house,  which I am actively working on diagnosing and curing through the services of both a therapist and a very tall shaman.
7.       A job as a preschool teacher (for a classroom of children who tend to be even more destructive than my four sons).
8.       A lizard, four frogs and a hermit crab who may or may not be dead.

    Now that you have a clear idea what I am up against, you will understand why I, not so long ago, made a decision that something had to change.  You see, I woke up one morning knowing I couldn’t take it anymore.  I found myself at a crossroads – I could either pack my bags and leave everything behind, finding myself a small hut on some uninhabited island where I could live out my days alone, in total peace and tranquility or I could begin complaining about every little thing that bugs me on a public forum, therefore garnering the sympathy and empathy of the world.  The better of the two options was obvious, so I started to pack.  Then I realized that, if left unchecked, my children would quickly demolish the house and escape – thus being let loose on the world.  Because I know them so well, I could clearly envision the trail of disaster and devastation.  I just couldn’t let that happen - so the blog Fat Lazy Soccer Mom Gets Healthy was born.

    I began posting essays about the daily madness that is my unfortunate existence.   Soon after that, I began receiving correspondence from others like me  – poor souls who had wanted nice, normal lives only to find themselves surrounded by lunatics.  These people are numerous, and I continue writing for them – so that they will know that they are not alone. 

    I have attached a short story with the hope that you will consider publication, thus touching more readers than my blog alone can reach.  Feel free to read more of my work on my site:

    I would appreciate any feedback or criticism (unless you don’t like my writing, in which case, I would appreciate it if you would lie).

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Kristina Yapp