This might get weird

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Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash

Dear Housemate,

We’ve lived together for just over six years and there are some things I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. I have a hard time with difficult conversations and you know I’ve been in therapy, so she suggested I write you a letter.

First, I want you to know that I value our friendship. Please understand that I bring these things up so that we can address them, fix them, and hopefully move forward. Or one of us will be moving out.

I’m learning about setting boundaries.

To start, let’s talk about privacy. One of the more intrusive habits you have is joining me in the bathroom. I keep the door closed for privacy. Just because it doesn’t latch sometimes, is not an invitation for you to come on in and have a chat. I don’t feel comfortable peeing in front of others like you do. …


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Photo by @rw.studios on Unsplash

For all that is dumped on my plate as a mom, I think peppering my day with a guilty pleasure or two balances out life’s flavor.

My indulgences began small. Just little escapes and silly secrets.

When I stayed at home with our first-born, I craved Beverly Hills, 90210 reruns. Call it borderline addiction. Kelly, Brenda and Dylan in their love triangle kept me from having dinner ready. I’d time my housework around the two daily showings, clicking the TV off if my husband came home earlier than expected.

My mother’s “new mom” advice would trill in my head, “Mar, make sure you’re showered, have dinner on the table for your husband and have the kids and house clean.” But those 90210 episodes reconnected me to my youth, something I was sorely missing as a frazzled new mom. …


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Photo by Logan Fisher on Unsplash

What do you do when your pen won’t move because it no longer feels the pulse of your heart? Your heart has been thrumming along on automatic for much too long.

I am underground.

Buried beneath clumps of hardened memories,

the dry dust of recent funerals,

a feeble promise of new jobs pouring down like rain.

I’ll tell you, this post began as a battle of doubts within me.

My writing well has dried up.

Parched. Dusty.

Maybe a few pebbles of ideas, but nothing worth picking, shining and setting in a turquoise bowl on display.

I could ramble on about all that is on my plate, but you already know. …


Nature Journaling with your kids

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“An empty white bridge over a waterfall tumbling down from a rocky face” by Blake Richard Verdoorn on Unsplash

Journaling for me began as a “Dear Diary” notebook to pour my secrets in.

Ray is so cute! Michele is the worst friend ever! Stupid freckles and frizzy hair. No wonder I never get asked to slow skate. (Remember roller skating parties?)

Then my love of lyrical words and images slipped in and my personal turmoil and tirades bloomed into a deeper understanding of self.

My superficial opinions about boys became a reflection on relationships and shoe shopping lists turned into a prioritizing of my life goals.


They say a Mother just knows. And we do.

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Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

That summer didn’t start out the way we had planned with BBQ’s, pool dips and day trips to hike, bike or fish.

My oldest son was ill.

He didn’t look sick.

He didn’t feel sick.

But a mother just knows.

Now, I’m not a hypochondriac, far from it.

However, his constant thirst, trips to the bathroom throughout the night, and outrageous mood swings had me suspicious.

But during our trip to the lake over Memorial Day weekend, I noticed that David had lost some weight. He’s a slim boy already, like his dad. …


“Whatever you want to do — begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.” ~Goethe

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photo credit: my own {Young Writers’ Summer Studio}

You finally got up the nerve to share your writing with someone outside your family circle and the response was amazing.

Now you’re craving that rush of energy from a positive critique.

Well, what if you could get that feeling once a month or once a week, even? You need readers for your writing but you can’t go thrusting your manuscripts at strangers on the street.

This is a small tribe of writers who meet locally at a designated place on a designated day to share their writing and offer each other feedback.


Which family activities do you remember most from your childhood?

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“A spread of various sliced fruits.” by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I can remember sitting on the back porch with my brothers. A static radio playing, while we listened to our parents tell stories of how they met.

I also recall the impromptu volleyball games we played in our yard, using a makeshift “net” and my dad playing along like one of us kids.

Simple, unplanned, no cost!

And twenty-some years later, these are the memories I treasure — proving that frugal can be fun!


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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I was 12 years old, reading my latest story aloud for the camera.

My dad was all too eager to bust out the 30 lb camcorder to capture the event. It was the 80's.

Except, when I went back to watch what he’d recorded, I saw a trembling me with teeth too big for her head, face of freckles and a perm gone bad.

Then, the camera spanning out to record my little brother, Patrick, sitting on the couch, making faces. And my dad’s quiet snickering behind the lens.

Coughing out my words. Diminishing my story.

Many years later, I got up the nerve to share another short fictional piece about a single mom who had to perform CPR on her twin child who was pulled from a river. …


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“A man wearing boxing gloves, kicking a punching bag at a gym in Manhattan” by Justin Ng on Unsplash

Resistance is a way of shutting down fear. Fear is unpleasant. ~Heather Sellers

Of course, I signed up for the 6am class, which started on a bitter cold Chicago morning just days after Christmas.

It was dark. It was negative 30 degrees.

My car was covered in an ice cocoon.

My stomach hurt, my coffee was bitter, I was nervous. Okay, maybe even a little afraid.

I hadn’t done any sort of organized exercise in months. Now, kickboxing?

This was probably going to hurt. This was definitely going to suck.

Expect the resistance. And have a plan of attack.

While attending only my second early morning bitter cold stupid mother-f#ather#%# kickboxing class, I almost threw up from exertion. …


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Photo by Marc-Olivier Paquin on Unsplash

I write about creative block a lot.

Because I’m still blocked, or at least, I get blocked once, no, five or more times a week.

I can only guess at the reasons:

I’m bored.

I’m anxious.

I’m depressed.

I’m over worked.

I’m over stimulated.

I’m over-consuming and under-producing.

Not months, but years of feeling this, writing about this — this BLOCK.

Fat stacks. Of notebooks.

Piled in my attic, collecting dust under my desk, shoved into bookshelves and stacked into crates.

Notebooks of all kinds — spiral, soft cover, hard cover. Expensive. Cheap. Lined, unlined. …

About

Mary Jo Campbell

Raising 2 teen boys, 2 dogs + 1 husband while consuming coffee + distributing sass. Inspiring the lost creatives and wounded writers on my pub: shehaswritten.

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