Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hard Won and Now Relished

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

A friend of mine from way back had this to say in a recent email (I thought it too good to keep to myself)~

“I don't worry about many things I used to and I am much happier and easier to be around in the process. Freckles are on my hands where they didn't used to be and gravity takes its toll as with all of us in our 40's and 50's but I have a sense of peace and serenity that has been hard won and is now relished… I am finally knowledgeable of who I am and what I can do… the only thing of wonderment is where I am going.”

Well said, my friend. And then there’s this touching tribute shared by Jamie:

“I cannot clearly recall her face when thinking back to my childhood memories but her presence was always a constant. My mom has always been an important part of my life and today she is my best friend; she is the woman I admire the most in this world.

My mom has strong values by which she lives her life; in my mind she defines the word 'good'. She has never been one to force her beliefs and life laws on others but rather has led by example. She is a 'glass half-full' type of person; although she has lived through some difficult times she chooses to focus on the positives and has always encouraged my brother and I to do the same.

My mom never expected perfection from us; she taught us that as long as we had tried our best then never should we consider ourselves having failed. It has taken me a long time to really grasp my mom's message but her words certainly helped me make it through the last three years. I completed my degree in the evenings while working full-time days and planned the perfect wedding in the midst of school and work. During moments of frustration, and there were many, I flashed back to my childhood, remembering my mom's words pushing me to try my best and to not be too hard on myself if the outcome was less than I had hoped for. On my graduation day my mom's pride was clearly written on her face and it meant no less to me as a grown woman than it did when I saw that same look on many occasions when I was just a child.

Mom encouraged my brother and I to be the unique individuals we were as children and teens and continues to do so today. Rather than scoff at my teenage phase of platinum blond hair and clothing three sizes too big, she embraced my individuality and bought me baby barrettes to wear in my pixie cut locks while pointing out funky finds whenever she came across something she thought I might like. It may seem minor to some but the fact that my mom never suggested that my choice of style was anything but acceptable meant a lot to me; she knew that no matter what clothing I wore I would still be her little girl.

I have always known that my mom would be at my side no matter who or what I became in my life. I am proud of the woman I have become today and I thank the most amazing woman in my world for loving and supporting me while living as the ideal model for mother, wife and woman, my mom.

Even today at 30 years old I am still my mom's baby girl. She still gives me hugs and kisses every time I see her and tells me she loves me each time we speak or write. I know that one day when I have babies of my own I will follow in my mom's footsteps: I will shower my children with hugs, kisses, love, support and respect. I can only hope that when my children are grown they will have as much respect for and pride in me as I do for my mom. I thank my mom for loving me for everything that I am and guiding me to become the woman that I am today.”

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No Amount of Miles

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Good news - I've heard from my Editor, made the final changes to the new book and am sending it back to her today. Mom's Little Angel is on its way to line edits, one step closer to publication!

A great tribute from Heidi:

“Every Tuesday morning, at 7:00am, my Mom and I sit and chat over coffee. Sometimes we eat breakfast while chatting, sometimes I’ll whip up a batch of my mean tasting fruit smoothies, but I always, always make sure that The Wiggles are on TV so that my 19 month old son is gloriously entertained for 30 minutes while Mom and I relax and unwind, sharing about how the past 7 days have been. Its unfortunate, however, that my Mom isn’t able to compliment me on my fruit smoothies. I am unable to offer her another cup of coffee. She is unable to watch my son dance to the music, but if I hand him the telephone, she can hear him babble away. My Mom and I live in 2 different countries.

Staying connected with our weekly phone chats is so very important to us. Of course, there are emails flying back and forth between us during the week and small packages that arrive occasionally in the mail, but because we share such a close relationship, we both need to have that special weekly coffee date to look forward to.

My Mom and I haven’t always been this close, though our personalities have always been quite similar. We are both quiet and observant with a weakness for chocolate and for caring too much of what others think of us. There is an unspoken agreement between us that the most important part of every shopping trip is lunch time and we both love to watch people, wondering out loud what they might be saying or thinking.

I understand that the friendship we have is rare, and I honestly can’t explain how we’ve remained so close. I do recall, however, a specific incident that occurred when I was 13 years old. It impacted me greatly and caused me to view my Mom in a new light.

The principal of my school called my Mom one evening to inform her that I had been caught smoking marijuana on school property. I’ll never forget the calm way in which she received the news. I was expecting the same sort of treatment my friends got from their parents: yelling, threatening and grounding. Instead, my Mom told me that she wanted to take me out for dinner, just the two of us. As we were sitting there, eating, I was inwardly cringing, waiting for the gavel to fall. I thought that my punishment was going to be something so awful that she had to tell me in public so that I wouldn’t make a huge scene.

Looking back, I know that I was punished in some way, but I can’t even remember what that punishment was. All I can remember is the gentle, loving way my Mom questioned me that evening, wondering why I had done what I did and whether or not I was planning on making more bad decisions so early in life. I was able to be completely vulnerable with her and I opened up and shared with her the pressure I felt to be cool and fit in and all that goes on in a 13 year old’s world.

Ever since then, though I can’t say I made only good decisions after that, I can say that I have continually been able to be just as open and honest with my Mom as I was on that day. After every date or party in high school, I’d come home, sit on the side of her bed and tell her all about it. She has been more than just a Mother and a friend to me. She has been my spiritual advisor, my sounding board, my prayer warrior, and my mentor. My mom is the sweetest, most beautiful person I know and no amount of miles could ever change the closeness of our hearts.”

And may that always be true. I'm sure it will.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Father-Daughter Lunch

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit http://www.gregoryelang.com/ and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

I’m on my way to Athens today to see my little girl. She has been away from home for two weeks now and misses her daddy. She called the other day; the conversation went something like this~

Me: You sound like you have a cold.
Her: I do.
Me: You also sound a little blue.
Her: I’m homesick.
Me: Do you miss your daddy?
Her: Yes.
Me: What are you going to do when you get married, move your husband in with me?
Her: Yes.

So lunch with my kid it is, a pep talk peppered with hugs and kisses, and evidence of what I’ve always told her – I will be there whenever you need me. How sweet it is, to be a dad needed.

This mother-daughter story comes from Jessica:

“Writing a story about the mother-daughter bond isn’t as easy as it sounds. Mothers and daughters share so many wonderful memories and fun times throughout their years together. There are also many ups and downs that happen between a mother and a daughter. There are countless laughs, tears, and smiles.

When I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I can remember my Mom saying “You are going to be a great Mom!” I asked her how she knew that, how could she be so certain. She said that it was something that she just knew.

Here it is almost seven years later and I have to admit that my Mom was right. As soon as my little girl was born, the instincts kicked in and I was in love with being a Mom as well as with my little girl. My days were filled with tender touches, sweet breaths, cuddles, and lots of staring in utter amazement.

I think my Mom knew that because she was such a great Mom, that I in turn would be a great Mom too. All the things my Mom instilled in me, all the battles we had, all the talks, all the things she taught me, all the hugs and kisses, were passed on to me so that I could be a great Mom too. There are times when talking to my daughter I realize I sound just like my Mom, and I’m totally fine with that! I hope one day my daughter will say the same about me.”

I’m sure she will, Jessica.

If you cruise my blog and website you’ll see a new photograph appearing soon, much to Linley’s relief. Out with the photo of me wearing the “old weatherman’s haircut” and in with a new one of me in my more stylish, funky look. When the family is in the car Linley sits behind me and sculpts shapes in my hair. Usually I remember to jostle it before leaving the car, returning it to its mussed up splendor. But now and then I forget, explaining why sometimes I look like Alfalfa, other times like a UK punk fan from the late 80s.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Mother's Hope

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Another touching essay from a loving mother:

One day not too long ago my daughter found me watching a cooking show. She immediately began asking questions and I found myself giving explanations about what cooking shows are. Interested, she settled down on the couch next to me and together we learned how to make old-fashioned cupcakes. During the episode she peppered me with probing questions and comments about the chef, ingredients, utensils, in short, everything. It was a wonderful 30 minutes to share with her; we watch at least one cooking show a day now. I love our new mother/daughter activity and I have to smile when I hear "Mom, maybe tomorrow we could make those chocolate cupcakes. Does that sound like a good idea? Does it?" I cherish these small reminders of her youth. She is growing up so quickly, I would be foolish not to treasure them.

Everyday she comes up with something new which endears, entertains, and often shocks me. "Look Mom," she says while examining her new baby brother, "His head is smaller than my head, and my head is smaller than your head". That's the thing about her observations. They're all very accurate in that innocent yet brutally honest way that childhood observations are. I love the way she looks at the world. Simply put, she is my reality check. She critiques me in my role as mother everyday. I never allow myself to be offended by her criticism. She is the one person who can give me a completely honest review without hurting my feelings. Now keep in mind that she's not quite four years old, but so far so good. Of course, not every moment with her is warm and glowing. There are plenty of "bad days" between us too. That's probably one of the reasons why I enjoy our "cooking shows" so much.

"Why are you being so grumpy?" I asked her once. I don't really expect an answer. I had forgotten, however, that my little lady has an answer for everything. "Because Mom, I didn't get enough sleep last night." she replies without missing a beat. I wonder if she is really tired or if she is just repeating something she has heard me say. The scary part about being her mother is that she takes in EVERYTHING I say and it often pops up when I least expect it. At times it's funny, but it also makes me nervous. Am I living up to her expectations? What are her expectations? Does she even have expectations at her age?

At least a few of my questions were answered the day we had our first real heart to heart talk. We'd been butting heads an awful lot throughout the day and I finally got upset enough with her to put her in time out. Later I came back and took her in my arms (I find a great big hug helps us both calm down). I told her I was sorry I had gotten so upset, but I was frustrated by her behavior. I told her I knew she was a very sweet girl and it made me sad when she didn't obey.

She stared blankly ahead while I spoke and I was pretty sure my words were going in one ear and out the other. But then she turned her sweet face to me and said, "Mom, I try really, really, hard everyday to be a nice girl. I want to be good, but sometimes it's just sooooo hard to be nice.”

What could I do but agree with her. I told her I understood and sometimes feel the same way. Some days it is just too hard to be nice. When she says things like this I am reminded that despite her age she is a real person with real trials. She is struggling to figure out what to make of this world of rules and regulations just as I am trying to figure out how to teach her about them.

I have to say that this little girl definitely has a bit of me in her. It is wonderful and maddening to see those pieces of myself when they surface. I know the traits we share will bring her much joy. Unfortunately, I also foresee that they will bring her pain. Of course as her mother I wish I could spare her the painful parts of life. I know that I can't, and that's the most heart-breaking part of motherhood. I can, however, tell her how much I love her. I can make sure she knows that my love is unconditional, and that I will be there for her through it all. She is so sincere and genuine, and is constantly trying to please me. Even in the days when she acts up I can tell that deep down she really just wants my approval. This sincere desire to please reminds me to be grateful for each day with her.

To sum it all up, I love being a Mother. I love being HER mother. I love this girl. Some days she is such a challenge. Some days she wears me thin, almost to the breaking point. Some days I do break, but oh how my heart flows with love for her. After all, isn't it tradition for mothers and daughters to love each other unimaginably but also drive each other absolutely crazy? If so I am proud to be following in the footsteps of generations of mothers and daughters and all the joys and difficulties that go along with this complex relationship. My one great hope is that someday, when "all is said and done," we have learned to love and value each other in spite of it all.

Thank you, Jacie, for such a sweet story.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Few Truths

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit http://www.gregoryelang.com/ and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Jill and I went to my 30 year high school reunion the last Saturday. I went with the hope of finding a few old friends and the nagging concern that we would drive two hours only to see scarcely familiar faces – we haven’t had a very good record of attendance in the past. Holy moly, I was worried about nothing. Over 700 people showed up! And I found there is truth in the axiom “True friends are true friends forever.” Yes, people have changed, myself included, but the bonds that were documented in the pages of yearbooks and since carried around in fond memories were given new life in those hours of the evening back in my hometown when hugs, kisses and phone numbers were exchanged and laughter was shared by all. I count myself among the blessed – I left with the reassurance my mark in those friends I have loved has not faded over the years, and I saw that they were happy to see their mark still on me, held dear in my heart.

Meagan has completed her first full week at the University of Georgia. When I dropped her off I promised to set her free of my fatherly nagging – I was going to call her only once a week, pointing out if she wanted to chat more often she could call me. As the facts show, I called her twice and she called or texted me a dozen times, including the call this morning as she was walking to her first class (Italian). She teasingly wanted to know why I hadn’t shown up to take a photo of her on her first day attending college classes, just as I had done at K5, 1st grade, middle school and high school. More proof of the axiom on which I have staked my writing career – once a daddy’s little girl, always a daddy’s little girl.

Linley casually brought up at dinner that she had broken the shower head off in her bathroom. Jill, knowing how stressed out I’ve been at all the cost and inconveniences of the system failures in our home of recent, waited nervously as I climbed the stairs to the third floor muttering a few ill-spoken phrases. It turned out to be only a broken piece of plastic in the nozzle, easy to fix. While I was up there I looked in the attic at the A/C unit we just had installed and found discarded PVC pipes from the old unit. With Linley recruited as an accomplice, I walked into the den with the pipes in hand and said, “Look what your daughter has done!” I promised Jill I wouldn’t write that she nearly wet her pants, so I won’t. But I can say Linley and I nearly did, watching sweet Jill try to explain how her child could not have possibly ripped those pipes from the wall. Another axiom to remember – mother’s always stand by their babies.

It has been nearly a month since Mom’s Little Angel was turned in to my Editor – still eagerly waiting for her feedback and will share it when it arrives. In the meantime, I’ve thought of another book project I will begin soon, one about true love stories.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Achieving Balance

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about human relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: I am no longer accepting stories for “Mom’s Little Angel: Stories of the Special Bond Between Mothers and Daughters.” Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

A son needs a dad to teach him that family is more important than work.

When I wrote that statement for my second book, “Why a Son Needs a Dad,” I was working nearly seventy hours a week and much of that time was on the road. I was not committing nearly enough time to my relationships at home.

One evening while at the desk in my hotel room, I thought of my father as I began work on what would become a tribute book to him.

I remembered he worked hard to provide for our family, sometimes at two jobs to make ends meet. He pushed himself beyond his education to acquire the skills necessary for a better career. He traveled, too, and because of his efforts, rose through the ranks.

But he also made time to be with his five children, both together and one-on-one. He made sure the treehouse we built ourselves was sturdy and safe, that my mini-bike was always tuned, and once we were big enough to see over the steering wheel, each child got a chance to drive through the neighborhood in their choice of the station wagon or the old pickup truck.

With these memories in mind, I began to slow down. I traveled less and I turned down new and more promising, as well as more demanding, opportunities. No, I didn’t make a million bucks before I was forty and I never became the president of a company.

But I do attend every event at my daughters’ schools, cheer at each cheerleading competition, attend most of their medical and orthodontic appointments, and still have time to horse around in the yard. And not once while having a good laugh with my girls have I ever wished I was negotiating a quota busting sale instead.

No, I haven’t made that million, but I am rich nonetheless. I have my dad to thank for that.

Tune in tomorrow for news of the high school reunion I attended this weekend. Even 30 years later, old friends can pick up where they left off.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Letting Go

Becky, my ex-wife, and I have been divorced nearly fifteen years. During all of that time we have shared joint custody of our daughter. Meagan lives for a time with Jill, Linley and me, and then with her mom, and back again. Our homes are less than five miles apart. Becky and I talk on the phone or email one another often, negotiating agreements about extending new privileges to our daughter who has, chronologically at least, reached adulthood.

As Meagan prepared to leave home for college in the late summer of 2008, it was a time for Becky and me to come to terms with all that changes when your child leaves home. For one of us, dealing with those changes had proven been a little more difficult than for the other.

As I’ve written elsewhere, my relationship with Meagan has changed over the years, but so too has her relationship with her mother. Together they still enjoy lengthy and enthusiastic conversations about boys, girlfriend spats, celebrity news, or the latest reality television show. They still shop for hours, have their hair and nails done side by side in some salon, and get dressed up to impress when going out on the town for dinner and a movie. And for a while, it was her mother who Meagan turned to for consolation, protection and understanding. As a woman, as a mom, it was Becky who could comprehend what I could not, at least not until I began to enjoy the interpretive support and insight of Jill.

But back to the change in Meagan and he mother’s relationship. I think it was I who was better prepared for Meagan’s inevitable departure. In the last several months before she established her new residence in a college dorm, I began to slowly release the parental reigns. I gave my daughter more and more autonomy, responsibility and discretion, making sure, I believed, she could handle unbridled freedom before she was gone and then I too far away to rush in and rescue her.

Her mother, on the other hand, tightened her grip on the reigns, filled with fear that her daughter, on the verge of leaping from the nest, may not be able to fly. A role reversal of sorts took place as Meagan began to call me for suggestions on how to deal with her mother, a mom who had taken to tearfully professing, “I’m not ready for you to leave!”

Soon my conversations with Becky took the shape of me encouraging her to let go, to give our daughter room to breathe. She listened and agreed to at least try, yet I had my doubts about her willingness and ability to follow through with my advice. Becky had been a mother for eighteen years by then; I suppose it isn’t easy, when the time comes, for a woman to change how she conducts herself in that role. I know because I’ve had to remind Jill time and time again, often with Linley’s wink-wink and a nudge, that her daughter is now fourteen years old, not four.

You see, it was me who finally got Jill to stop laying out her daughter’s clothes, allow her child to walk through the neighborhood unaccompanied by an adult, and use a steak knife.

The day Meagan was to check into her dorm finally arrived and we all pitched in to help her move. Becky, Jill, Meagan, Linley and I carried box after box of clothing, bedding, school supplies and decorating accessories into the tiny room that was to be Meagan’s new home for the next ten months. While I assembled furniture the women unpacked and debated the perfect placement of everything – photos on the shelf over the desk, the refrigerator in that corner, handbags and shoes in this cabinet, and so on. All the while I watched for tears, not knowing who would cry first, but certain someone would before the day was over.

A few hours later, and surprisingly after not a single stress fueled disagreement, we broke for lunch. Meagan’s new roommate and her family joined us and soon we parents were exchanging stories across the table about our children, much to the embarrassment of the two college freshmen. Amid the laughter, I noticed the red blotches appearing on Becky’s neck, her telltale sign that she is choking back an emotion. Here they come, I thought. But, surprise me again, she held herself together and didn’t shed a tear.

When the meal was finished we rose to return to the dorm where we were to say our farewells. Except by then, I suppose, the anticipated pain of the approaching departure had become too much for Becky. She suddenly announced she was leaving right then for home. Jill and I said our goodbyes and waited in the car while Meagan and her mother stood on the sidewalk chatting a bit. They embraced a lingering embrace, Meagan smiling wide and Becky turning all the more red. They separated, Meagan jumped in the car with us and Becky walked hastily toward her own, giving only a brief wave before she disappeared inside and drove away.

Back in the dorm Meagan gave the rest of us hugs and kisses and we parted in good cheer. Meagan would spend the rest of the day making new friends and Jill, Linley and I drove home. On the way Linley entertained us with her daydreams of freedom and independence when leaving home for college four years hence. Jill scolded her for her foolishness (I looked in the rearview mirror and saw Linley roll her eyes) and then remarked how surprised she was that Becky had held back her tears. It was then when Linley made me promise to “train” her mother in the same way as I had done with Becky.

I didn’t tell them at the time and hadn’t until now, that I knew my daughter’s mother would cry her eyes out when she was alone. And indeed, she did, all the way home.

I also didn’t tell Linley I doubted my ability to help Jill to let go when the time came. I'll explain to her later that some things are more difficult than others, and some just can’t be done.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Leaving the Nest

I write heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I collect written stories and conduct recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to put together a story for my book projects. Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Not much to say today, except that I’ll be spending a large part of today and tomorrow helping Meagan move into her dorm room at the University of Georgia. It is a day we knew was coming, a day we have looked forward to for a long time, and it is a day I had secretly hoped wouldn’t arrive as soon as it has. My baby is leaving home.

Tune in Wednesday for news and photos documenting the launch of my daughter from the proverbial nest. And by the end of the week, if all goes well and Daddy isn’t too depressed to function, I plan to launch a new look to this blog.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Loving Example

I write heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I collect written stories and conduct recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to put together a story for my book projects. Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Whitney stood before the mirror getting ready for the biggest day of her life thus far, her wedding day. Her hair was done just as she had instructed, her dress was perfect, the flowers were gorgeous, yet something didn’t seem quite right. Her mind began to race; what had she forgotten, what could go wrong?

There was a light touch on her arm. “You look absolutely beautiful,” a soothing voice said. “He’s going to be so impressed, so very proud of you.” Whitney turned and looked into her mother’s beautiful reassuring green eyes. Her jitters faded away; everything was going to be all right now.

Her mother’s voice had always comforted and reassured, prompting Whitney to believe in the goodness of everyone, the best intention behind every action and the simple blessing of each new day. It was always her mother who could make anything seem better, who managed to find the bright side of things when everyone else saw only shadows. It was Claire, her mother, who Whitney had always wanted most to be like when she grew up.

Whether it was fresh bread in the oven or a pot roast whistling in a pressure cooker on the stove, the delicious smells of home cooking greeted Whitney each day when she burst through the front door returning home from school. And just as she did every afternoon when her daughter retuned home from school, Claire put aside what she was doing to sit at the kitchen table. There she and Whitney talked about the events of the young girl’s day. No detail was too small or meaningless; everything that bothered or interested Whitney was of upmost importance to Claire. And no matter what dilemma agonized Whitney, her mom managed to help her see things differently, to see things in a way that left the young girl feeling of confident, capable and worthy.

There were times when Claire had to work out of the home but she never once denied a phone call from Whitney, or any of her other children for that matter, or said that she was too busy to hear of what was on their minds. She was always there, a refuge from the big and scary world, a supporter and cheerleader for each of her children. Wanting more than anything else to be a good mom, Claire worked nights, reporting for duty after her husband had come home and her children had fallen asleep. Tired as she was, breakfast was always ready when her children arose in the morning, and she waited until they slipped out the door to catch the school bus before she let her eyelids close for some much needed rest.

The bride turned her gaze back to the mirror, not to look at herself again, but to admire the woman standing next to her, the woman who had taught her by example how to be the mother she knew she too would one day become.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lessons in Chocolate

I write heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I collect written stories and conduct recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to put together a story for my book projects. Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Zoe was barely five years old and on a grocery shopping trip with her mother and sisters. Of course, as all grocery stores do, assorted candies and tempting chocolates were strategically placed right next to the checkout counter. Spying a favorite brand of chocolate bar within arm’s reach and believing in that moment she had to eat it or die of malnourishment, Zoe begged her mother for permission to have the chocolate bar.

With four children in tow and knowing if she said “yes” to one chocolate bar she would indeed have to buy four, mom firmly and without hesitation answered “No.”

Oh, the humanity, Zoe thought, her hunger and guilty pleasures thwarted by an unsympathetic adult. Not to be denied, while mom was preoccupied unloading the groceries from her cart and onto the conveyor belt, the little girl seized what seemed at the time a golden, er, chocolate opportunity.

Hoping to satisfy her cravings and at the same time not altogether disobey her mother’s orders, Zoe quickly unwrapped one end of the bar, took an ample bite from it and returned the partially consumed candy bar to its place on the shelf. It was a moment of delirious joy, having gotten a taste of milk chocolate, peanuts and caramel, while believing briefly she had successfully evaded detection.

Still a rather young covert operative and not versed in making sure no one observed her offending conduct, Zoe was shocked when she heard the words that would send a chill down her spine.

“Are you going to pay for that, ma’am?” Busted by the cashier! I’m doomed, Zoe thought.

The disappointed mother looked down at her child with a stare anyone watching from nearby understood meant, “Just wait until I get you in the car!” Zoe trudged across the parking lot with pouty lips and while dragging her feet, the best days of her short life flashing before her eyes, certain as she was she may never see sunlight again.

Taking her place in the backseat behind the front passenger, Zoe sat diagonal from the driver’s seat, in the perfect location for mom to be able to look over her shoulder to make eye contact while yelling and driving home at the same time.

Zoe sat bracing herself for the barrage she was certain was about to come. And to her surprise, not a word of the incident was mentioned, although the piercing stares of disapproval and self-righteous indignation coming from her sisters did make her a tad uncomfortable.

Arriving home, mom sent Zoe to her room and shortly thereafter, came in with the partially-eaten candy bar in hand. Here it comes, the little girl thought. She shut her eyes in an effort to numb herself for a well deserved spanking.

But then a second surprise occurred. Mom sat down on the bed beside her daughter and softly but seriously began to speak of the importance of honesty, integrity, honoring your parents’ wishes and respecting other people’s property. When the moral lesson was over, Zoe was told to take a nap. She put her head on her pillow and watched as mom left the room, taking the candy bar with her.

When she finally stirred from her nap, Zoe shuffled into the kitchen. Dad was now home and he sat at the table with his other three daughters. All eyes were on Zoe. She noted her far from impartial jury hadn’t softened their opinion or desire for justice one iota.
“Come with me, Zoe,” mom said. And back to the grocery store the pair went. There Zoe was introduced to the store owner and instructed to confess to her crime. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she spilled everything and then gave a heartfelt apology with a promise to never steal again.

The man knelt down to eye level with Zoe and said, “More importantly, you should promise to never disappoint your mother again.”

Zoe turned to face her mom, the adult that could have spanked her but didn’t, the woman who for years to come would be Zoe’s moral compass and guiding light, and with a sorrowful heart, made just that promise.

Thirty-five years later, Zoe has remained faithful to her word.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Call of Thanks

I write heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I collect written stories and conduct recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to put together a story for my book projects. Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Rochelle adored her son in more ways than she had ever imagined she could while waiting for him to enter the world. When the doctor laid him on her chest, the eyes of mother and son met for the first time and Rochelle felt, in a way, as if they were old friends. She had wanted a child for as long as she could remember.

Now, a year later, when she holds her child in her arms she is grateful for the few moments when the boy who always seems to be in perpetual motion is still. It is during these rare occasions when he is at rest in her arms, when she can examine his fingers and toes without protest, that she turns nostalgic and thinks of her own mother.

She wonders if her mother had wished for such tender moments in their relationship to last longer than they did, in not forever. She knows that she did. Sometimes she wonders if her mother was angry when awakened from a much needed sleep by cries of hunger or fears of monsters, but she knows that she was not. She thinks of all the times she threw up in her mother’s hands or spilled food on the linen tablecloth, and remembers that her mother was never annoyed or put off. She smiles thinking of all the time her mother spent working with her on science projects and altering a prom dress and remembers she never lost her patience.

Even though the little boy is just a little more than twelve months old, everyday brings to Rochelle the realization of all her mother must have done for her. Potty training, teaching her how to brush her teeth, to always mind her manners, to tie her shoes tight, to shave her legs and apply makeup – her mother taught them all.

Sometimes Rochelle wonders if she could ever recall everything her mother did for her, and every time when she justifiably might have been angry, impatient or disappointed, but wasn’t. She knew that she could not recall every time. Now and then Rochelle asks herself, usually after each new challenging experience with her son, if she has thanked her mother enough for all the things that she did. She chuckles, knowing it is impossible to say thanks often enough when she couldn’t even remember all the things she should be grateful for, all the things her mother had done for her.

That is why on these occasions when the beautiful boy falls asleep in her arms, when gratitude for her own happy childhood nearly overwhelms her, that she carefully puts her son in bed for the remainder of his nap, and then reaches for the phone – to call her mother.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Gifts from God

I write heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I collect written stories and conduct recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to put together a story for my book projects. Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

This note of praise came to me from Ilene O’Steen:

“When you look back at the teen years and the struggles you faced with a strong willed daughter, it is so rewarding to then see the wonderful adult she has become. I think unconditional love, lots of prayers and just hanging in there showing your children how much they are loved can work miracles.

My daughter is one of my very best friends and I love spending time with her. I love watching her being a mom. I see so many things she does with her child that I wish I had done with her. I also see her doing lots of the same things I did when I raised her and it makes me feel like I did ok as a mom.

The main thing is the final outcome, I believe. Today I see a wonderful happy daughter that is also wonderful mom. The love she has for her child is just so great to see. And I also have the greatest joy having both of them close to me and getting to be a part of both their lives.

All children are a gift from God, and grandchildren are an extra special gift. I am very thankful God allowed me to be a mother of 2 and now a grandmother of 4.”

And I also recently received this note from Sara:

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the time and thought you put into your book "Why A Daughter Needs a Mom". My mother bought it for me for my 16th birthday in 2005 when I was beginning to shy away from her. She wrote a short but beautiful note on the first page to let me know how much she loves me. At the time I didn't bother with it too much, but as it nears the one year anniversary of her passing, I cherish this book and her note immensely. I keep it by my bed and read it when I miss her. It reminds me of all the lessons she's taught me and why I loved her so much.”

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, August 04, 2008

#500 and Back to School

I write heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I collect written stories and conduct recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to put together a story for my book projects. Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Wow, I can’t believe this is my 500th post.

Jill returns to work today, one week ahead of her students. She will busy herself with lesson plans and getting her room ready for the middle schoolers who will arrive with untold expectations and perhaps a little mischief on their minds. The occasion reminded me of a little tale a mother told me recently of a daughter who has already returned to school:

When I asked her how her first day of school was, I got the melodramatic heavy sigh and then she proceeded to tell me how AWFUL it was. Apparently the ONLY time she could see her friends was for TEN minutes during recess, she didn’t have enough time to eat her lunch AND she didn’t like anyone in her class.

I asked about the teacher, and she admitted the teacher seemed nice, but from her tone I could tell she wasn’t too sure about that yet. I asked her if she had homework (No), then I asked what they did all day. NOTHING, she tells me.

Apparently for whole first day of school everyone just sat there. At least that’s what she wants me to think.

While I tried to pry a little more info out of her, she began reading her To-Do list out loud and pretty much ignored me. “Empty lunchbox. Ok, done that. Feed the cats. (sighs, again very melodramatically) Cats, do you need food? You know,” she shouts my way, “I should be getting PAID for this!”

And a daughter recently told me of how her mother, who had shelved her academic ambitions to raise children, had returned to college well into her middle age:

Once my mom received her Bachelor’s Degree the only decision she had left to make was where she would go for her Master’s. There was no stopping the train now and she was ready to jump any hurdles she had to in order to obtain a graduate degree. When she graduated again two years later, I gave her this poem as a graduation gift:

Selfless, she was, so that I could grow
Making my priorities her own.
Standing behind my every move
It was she who taught me to stand.
Cheering loudly from the crowd
Building my confidence, building me.
Pushing me when I sat idle,
Comforting me when my world spun
In my weak and trembling hands.
Now I watch as she crosses the stage
About to receive her new reward -
Her priority and accomplishment.
Now I cheer loudly from the crowd
And my smile speaks of my pride
in the woman who taught me to stand,
My Mom.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Chosen Profession

I am searching for heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I am conducting recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to portray your story. Interviews last 30-45 minutes; just send me an email (See “Links” below for my address) requesting an interview appointment.

For those who prefer to write their story rather than participate in an interview, you must submit it via my website. Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab.

Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments between mothers and daughters.

If this is your first visit to my blog, please read the Frequently Asked Questions posted on March 20, 2008.

Stories about the fun moms and daughters have together, how moms teach daughters what it means to be a woman (putting on makeup, first period, first bra, first boyfriend), help with the challenges of a wedding and marriage, daughters helping mom in a technological world, etc., are all welcome.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story expires today, August 1st. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

“And what do you do?” a woman asked Trudy. Trudy gave a sly grin before she answered.

When she was a young girl her mother had always said, “Trudy, you can be anything you want to be. You could be a nurse, or even a doctor. You could go to dental school or law school.”

These words of encouragement were often stated while little Trudy sat on the kitchen counter watching her mom stir the sweet, thickening jam being made from the fresh strawberries they had picked the day before, or while mother and daughter stood side by side at the kitchen sink rinsing still-warm-from-the-sun tomatoes, squash, and peppers taken from their garden. Sometimes while cooking a delicious dinner without once referring to a cookbook, mom talked out loud as she imagined what it would be like if her daughter became an engineer or an astronaut.

As mom drove the VW camper bus to a park for a picnic, a county fair or the lake or public library, she encouraged Trudy to get as much education as possible and prepare herself well for a career. “You could do so much. You are so smart!” she would declare.

Mom took care of her children when they were sick and always seemed to know the perfect remedy for any ailment. She sang old folk songs to lull her babies to sleep, and when she folded laundry she answered everyone’s questions about life, love, and death.

Each night Trudy fell asleep listening to the clinking of dishes being washed and put away, and awoke the next morning to the smells of breakfast. “You can be anything you want to be; don’t settle for less,” her mother said while helping her make her bed before leaving for school. “You can be anything you want to be.”

All through her high school and college years, as she chose her courses of study, Trudy was pretty certain of what she wanted to be. She was going to become a handy-woman, a comforter, a coach, an explorer, a gardener, a chef, a nurturer, a dancer, a singer, a disciplinarian, and a teacher. When the time was right, she was going to be a stay-at-home Mom.

While raising her daughters and leading an active role in their lives, Trudy sometimes encountered less than tepid approval when answering the question, “What do you do?” In those moments her thoughts returned to her mom and memories of their time spent together, and regrets about her career choice never entered her mind. She, like her mom, loves her chosen profession.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!