Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Doubt. — Suspending Disbelief is the Cure.

If you could create a painless, inexpensive cure for a single ailment, what would you cure and why?

Doubt. I would cure … doubt.

Because doubt is the thing that keeps us from trying.

Doubt is the thing that keeps us from achieving.

Doubt is the thing that keeps us from believing that the most amazing things can happen.

Doubt is the thing that holds us back and makes us … miss the magic.

My girl-child just started reading a book in her third grade class about the great Shoeless Joe Jackson.

So. Without a doubt, we had to watch Field of Dreams.

Field of Dreams. A story about a farmer. A farmer who believed. A farmer who believed and built a baseball field. A baseball field in the middle of a corn field.

And then watched as his childhood heroes stepped through the stalks and played a game.

Heroes, that included his own father.

On a day like All Saints Day, when we honor and remember those we have loved who have passed, there is power in believing in some magic. Magic that the world wants us to doubt everyday. Magic that doesn’t include hats or wands or white furry rabbits. But instead, the magic that is all around us in the form of miracles and blessings and unexplained amazing. It is the peace that we feel. It is the calm that washes over us. It is courage and strength that our loved ones send our way. Magic that might be angels and saints and … faith.

Doubt is where this kind of magic goes to die.

I believe that the cure for doubt is simply suspending disbelief.

Suspend Disbelief.  It is the one thing that I remember from that freshman Film Class in college.

And in order to suspend disbelief, we simply have to turn off doubt.

And believe.

During the movie, Y was trying to understand why Joe couldn’t leave the field. Why he could step up to the line, but couldn’t cross it.

I tried to explain it to her. I tried dream. I tried time travel. I even tried magic.

But finally, I ended up telling her, that she needed to stop questioning and just … believe it.

Suspending disbelief is the art of believing and leaving doubt behind.

It is the art of putting all doubts aside.

And it happens when we stop trying to figure it all out.

When we stop trying to be rational all of the time.

When we stop trying to make it all make sense.

When we just have faith.

Just believe.

For so many of us, that is a really hard task. Almost impossible.

Because we need everything to make sense. We need everything to have a reason. We need it to have order and explanations and definitions.

And we look in the mirror and we question. The What Ifs. The Not Nows. The Maybe Somedays.

Then there are The Not Good Enoughs or The Not Pretty Enoughs or The Not Thin Enoughs or The Not Smart Enoughs.

All of these doubts cloud our vision and make everything seem so much harder. So much more unattainable.

But the challenge is to clear that mirror. Suspend disbelief. Move the doubts to the side

And Believe. Have faith. Take the steps, the leaps.

And let the magic happen.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Make a list of the doubts you have that hold you back. Then take a pen and mark them out. And rewrite them in the positive. What would those doubts look like if you suspended disbelief. If you put the power back in the believing? How does that list change? Does that list begin to look like your dreams? Your goals?

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

field of dreams


Sock. — Saturated in Mismatched Colors.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturatedsocks

A bunch of new socks

together for the last time

in the girl’s drawer. 

Click here to learn more about our mis-matched sock MommyVerb Adventures. 


Fall. — Color it in…One Piece at a Time

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I would love to be able to have the talent to pick up a pen and draw what I see or what I imagine. It would make my life so much easier because I have so many stories. Stories that are just waiting for an illustrator.

But I’ve never been an artist. At least not in the traditional sense.

Give me a pen. A journal. Some paint. A canvas. Some material. A sewing machine. Some magazines and scissors.

Then give me some TIME.

And then see what I can make happen.


In college, I was given an assignment. To this day, it is one of my all-time favorite projects.

The goal was to learn about color.

Not just learn about color, but really get inside color. Create color. Play with color. Make your own color.

I started with one of my favorite photographs.

fall photo picmonkey

A tree in New York City. In Central Park. In front of the Dakota Building. Where John Lennon once lived.

Then, I had to create a collage. One piece at a time. Cut out pictures and colors from magazines to re-create this image.

three fall pictures picmonkey

In a new way. Create a new image. Full of color. One tiny piece at a time.

Try it a few different ways. See what works and what doesn’t.

fall collage picmonkey

Then, I had to use only six acrylic paint colors to recreate this image.

Red. Yellow. Blue. Green. White. Black.

To mix. And try. And try again. And start over. And mix again.

To make every other color in life.

And then paint it. Recreate the same image in a brand new way.

Recreate it to see what you get.

fall painting picmonkey

It might just be my own personal masterpiece. Maybe no one else sees it.

But, I framed it and hung it on my wall along with the original photograph and the collage I created.

Because the process of getting there, was just as important to me as the final product.

It is and always has been a tribute to my favorite season.


Fall is a turning.

Fall is an opportunity.

Fall is another trip around this side of the Sun.

Fall is the colors.

Fall is golds and yellows and faded greens. Fall is oranges and maroons.

Fall is cool evenings and the possibility of campfires on the weekends.

Fall is sleeping with the windows open.

Fall is hearing the echo of the High School football game announcements of tackles and touchdowns, as I sit on the back porch with a glass of Cabernet.

Fall is the return of my favorite sweatshirts and jeans.

Fall is the chance to try again.

Fall is trying something new.

Fall is preparing.

Fall is practicing.

And fall never expects perfection.

It just wants you to really get in there…and play with its color.

Let’s All, Go. Do that.


Grant. — What the RFP doesn’t tell you…

If you have never had the chance to participate in the writing of a federal grant, you are missing out. I don’t always have a competitive streak, however, when I apply for funding that can make things happen, I intend to win. 

In case you haven’t heard, money is tight in the education world.  School systems and teachers across the country are getting ready to resort to bake sales in order to make things happen for students everyday.  But, before we all go out and buy our organic coconut sugar and flour to start making those cupcakes from scratch, we do still hold out for the chance to apply for and win a competitive grant with dollar signs attached.

During my career in education, I’ve gone through this process a few times and I’m proud to say I have what I would call a decent track record of awards. I am also very lucky to say that I have had incredible writing partners along the way. And I’m thrilled to say that while is a TON of work, we still always manage to have some fun.

In case you have not experienced this, I’ll fill you in on some of the behind the scenes, just for fun. It is a long process with many steps that begins with just finding out what kind of funding might be available. Then you wait. You can start gathering your team and thinking about what you might like to do if you were the recipient of the grant.

When the RFP (Request For Proposals) is actually released, it is like the gun at the starting line.  GO! The RFP includes the deadlines and requirements and formats and instructions.  Sometimes they are clear, sometimes you wonder if the authors have been smoking something while writing this ‘don’t use drugs’ grant proposal.  Just sayin’. If you are really lucky, you have someone on the team who will painstakingly read the entire RFP and highlight all of the details that are so important about getting this right. Really, it comes down to the random hoops you must jump through in order to be considered for funding.

The writing process starts with a calendar comparison in order to set multiple dates for brainstorming and planning.  Once the team is assembled, jobs are assigned–action plans, logic models, organizational charts, data collection, evaluation plans, multiple forms, intent to apply registrations, budget narrative and justifications, job descriptions, resume’s, partner letters…. It is a LOT.

But the most important part of the grant writing process is to assemble a team that can LAUGH.

On Friday, we just submitted a federal grant application.  My summary of the project is this: “It will give us some money to do some good things in the community.” That pretty much says it all. We had a great team for this grant project. Everyone pitched in and did their jobs. Whether it was writing or editing or running around getting letters signed, which may or may not have included some arts and crafts projects, everyone did their part.

When it comes down to the actual submission part,  you would think that would be the easy part. However, I guarantee you, this is when the action really happens.  No matter how well prepared you are, something will happen. It always does, so it is vital that you don’t try to do this on your own.

For this one, there were three of us. We started by discussing the unjust email we received. Yes, it appears that the secure registration site was not so secure after all and someone hacked into it, revealing personal information (and bank accounts!) of those already registered. YIKES is right! So, they extended the deadline, giving folks another week to submit.  That’s not fair, we concluded! Alas, we were ready to move on, so we continued with our plan.  Of course, one of our team is 39 weeks pregnant, so the clock was ticking in more ways than one!

It is vitally important to have a member of the team who remembers to bring coffee and one who can also go out and retrieve food without a lot of directions.  By this point in the grant process, no one is capable of making decisions anymore, we having someone who can decide what everyone might like to eat and show up with it=a major WIN!

Beyond the security breach, other random things happen at the last minute. We clicked on an icon to learn more about something called a Burden Statement, which opened up a window on our screen that couldn’t be closed. It took all three of us about 20 minutes to reset the orientation on the monitor just to find the close button. That turned into a real burden alright.

The online registration application packet will freeze, causing you to have to close and reopen the document several times. Or when you try to PDF your 40+ pages of attachments, you learn that the machine isn’t working as it should and sometimes skips pages. Or you can’t find the file that you need to upload. Or the directions are so absurd that you find yourself completing a checklist that requires you to predict the future before you can include it. Which can cause you to laugh hysterically and begin singing songs about time warps.

Or when the federal government gives directions that include telling you where you are supposed to attach the attachments that read like this:


Just make sure that you attach the “Other Attachment” attachments by using one of the attachment buttons to be sure your “Other Attachments” are indeed attached.

And when we finally made it to the Submit and Save button, we held our breath a little bit, all put our fingers on the mouse and on the count of three, clicked the button.

I am familiar with the anti-climatic feeling that can happen, however this time, a screen like this appeared which, in all of the drama and adrenaline, made an involuntary “WTF!?” come out of my mouth:


A screen with 4 point font popped up and we had to scroll back and forth to understand that we were then supposed to click on the tiny, stupid-looking pushpin clip art that seemed to want to talk to us because it had a tiny, stupid-looking speech bubble next to it.  You would think if the government is going to sponsor a potential million dollar grant, they could afford a slightly better looking piece of clip art to let you know about the submission confirmation notification. But then again, maybe not.

Needless to say, as punchy as we all were at this point, we enjoyed another few laughs about this.

All in all, it is a competitive grant, so many teams across the nation are doing just what we did on Friday.

I can’t guarantee that we will win; however, I can guarantee with 100% certainty that no one can…

Put the FUN in funding like we can!

Thanks TEAM!  Until August when we find out ….


(This post is dedicated to “Baby DFC”… who spent the last few months in utero, hearing way too much about action plans and budget narratives.  🙂 Sending good vibes to you and your Momma, for the exciting day — especially since it is coming two days earlier than everyone planned!) 

Show and Tell. — In Dr. Seuss Style

Daily Prompt: Show and Tell  —  You have  been asked to do a five-minute presentation to a group of young schoolchildren on the topic of your choice. Describe your presentation. 

Well, of course, the topic of the presentation was simply: Eat Well. Play More. In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday last week, I was able to visit Y’s 2nd grade class and share the fun of healthy snacks.

It was good to be back in the classroom for a little bit, even in the same classroom that I once taught my own crew of 2nd graders many years ago.  Things have changed a little bit, and yet most things are pretty much the same. It really is like riding a bike, I can slip right back into the Mrs. Z. mode pretty quickly.

We gave each student a paper plate, a plastic knife, a wooden skewer (with explicit directions about the expectations of how to use this tool and a description of the consequences for misuse!), a handful of strawberries and a banana. Done.

Then we proceeded to make a very tall replica of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. The kiddos had fun and they all enjoyed the strawberries and bananas. What an easy, healthy snack with a little fun and imagination mixed in.  And come on, food is always more fun when you get to eat it off of a stick!

snack 3snack 4y snack

Interesting, how life changes so quickly. Now, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, but…. last year, for Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I made the exact same snack. Except….. I spent hours gluing red gummy life savers together with layers of white icing sitting on top of an Oreo cookie to send in to Y’s 1st grade class. It’s true. I’m so grossed out by that now, but am happy that we are all making better choices these days.

Biggest Lesson to Learn: It is never too late to start making better choices when it comes to what you put into your mouth and how you spend your time.

And in Dr. Seuss language: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”  Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!

Decide: Eat Well. Play More.


Prompt. — MommyVerb’s First Guest Blogger: Y!

It’s Valentine’s Day, so write an ode to someone or something you love.  (Daily Post writing prompt)

We, here at MommyVerbs, are very excited to introduce our very first guest blogger! It just so happens, she just brought home a writing prompt of her very own that matched perfectly with the WordPress writing assignment of the day.

You know her already, folks. But here, for the first time, in her very own words is …. Y!


“My laptop is special to me. I got my laptop for Christmas. It is special to me because if I’m bored, if it is charged, I will play on it. And me and my Mom can have Mom and Daughter laptop time. On a long car ride, I can play on it. If I need to know something and my parents don’t know, I can look on Google. My laptop is red. I put star stickers, heart stickers and diamonds on it. If my Grandma is out of town, I can Skype with her. Skype is like calling someone only you can see them. That is why I like my laptop.”


(Her 2nd grade teacher sent this to me. The writing prompt was “Write about someone or something you love.” She didn’t choose her Mom or Dad or brother to write about. She knows we know she loves us. Instead, she chose to write about her laptop. I love that about her. She’s got a practical side that I find so endearing!


Build. — Room for Writing

A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

At first, I was thinking about something like this.  A little hideaway room in the backyard.

writing coop

But, I don’t think I would really like that because it would take me away from all the action. I mean, I write about my family.  How would I be able to hear the amazing chaos that is, in fact, most of my MommyVerbs material, if I am holed away in a chicken coop outside? It would be like a sports writer who doesn’t go to games. That’s not real.

Still the private space would be lovely.  Although, it looks a little like a dollhouse, which isn’t really my style. So…now I’m thinking about…

When I was about 8 or 9, my Dad and Grandpa built a treehouse that was so…awesome.  If I could have that back, that would be perfect.  I’m sure the kiddos would want to invade and join me, but it was that … awesome.  It would be wrong to keep them out of that kind of magic, so little to no writing would actually get accomplished.

Here is the little writing space I just created. Just last weekend. Yes, it is in my closet. And yes, they have already found me. I just used a dresser that was already in there, formerly piled up with boxes and whatnot.  The chair came from the garage…part of a very old kitchen set that I painted years ago and used in college and beyond.  The action words are the kites I painted that used to be on Y’s nursery wall. I love the re-purposing of it all. Not the comfiest and the chair creaks quite a bit, and there is no outlet, so the computer needs to have a lot of battery. But I usually don’t get long stretches of writing time anyway, so it usually doesn’t matter that much.

writing room

So, if I had to make an improvement on this, the only space that I really have to sit and be and write…I would do something a little more comfortable. Someplace that I could put my feet up and get a little cozier.


This whole prompt and conversation has me laughing right now, because my actual writing space is right here, where I am. In the kitchen, leaning up against the corner of the countertop. Watching the kiddos on the couch playing a game together. With dinner in the oven. In the middle of all of the action.  Imagine that.

That is really the glory behind a MommyVerbs post.  Now you know my secret.



Treasure. — X marks the spot…Hurry, Grab them!


I haven’t picked up the Simple Abundance book in years. But this morning, its pink paisley pages called out to me from my little cozy writing nook (aka closet).  In the few minutes I had before deciding which shade of grey (it is not about the books people, but my new signature color as my own personal and utterly useless protest of winter) to wear today…I picked up the book and decided to check out the message of the day.

I immediately remembered the topic and smiled. Treasure maps. Define what you want. Tell the universe what you want. Own it. Claim it. Create your treasure map. X marks the spot.

As an experienced journal keeper over many, many years, I’m sure I have completed this task. Many times. Cutting things out of magazines. glue-sticking into journals, creating the very cool, very hip collages of all the little things I believe, what I want and what I want to do.

But looking at it this morning, I began to wonder what do I really treasure? What would I want to find under a spot marked with X? And I started a brainstorm list of questions in my little on-the-go notebook as possible angles on this topic:

What are the things that I long for? What do I want to do?

What are the things I have that I don’t want to lose?

What are my treasures?

…..What do I save if there’s a fire?

And then, I can’t make this up—Another synchronicity of life presents itself, as lo and behold, WordPress offered this as a Daily Prompt: Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

Are you kidding me? So, obviously, I’m going with the last question (and buying a lottery ticket!)…what treasures do I grab!?

Since all of my people treasures are safe and sound, waiting for me by the mailbox, as is our plan, just in case…

I grab as many photo albums and pictures as I can carry.  I might take the time to get a box and load them up. Those would be the things I would be devastated to lose. Other than the ones actually hanging on the walls, they are mostly found clumped together in albums and boxes on the office bookshelf. My family. Growing up days. The days of me and the best friend/partner/hubby pre-kiddos. The wedding album. Kiddos as babies. The scrapbooks I used to spend hours upon hours on.

I would grab the laptop and the external hard drive because that is where the rest of the digital pictures are.

Then, if there is time … and completely against the advice of my Dad who is a firefighter… I would make a run upstairs to grab the box of home videos, since I haven’t done what I have always said I should do, which is to digitize those.

I grab my JoJo. My sock monkey trusted friend from forever.

If I can carry this, I would grab the lockbox with our birth certificates and important documents….but that is supposed to be fireproof, so maybe I’ll take my chances…it is pretty heavy.

As long as I’m in my closet, then I might as well try to save my wedding dress.  It is boxed up for Y someday and as long as there is time, I might want to grab it.  It is big though and a bit unwieldy, so that might have to be sacrificed.  Really, what are the chances that she will actually want anything to do with that in 20 years?

There are a few other things I might grab, if possible, some notes and journals, my box of mother’s day cards and gifts, anything I spot on my way out of the house that is of the sentimental sort.

My treasures are not worth much.  Nothing that the insurance company would value afterwards.  But these are the things I call my treasures.

The things I would look for under any spot marked with an X…and hopefully without the pressure of a burning house in the background! EEEK!


Flavor. — Family Time @ Sweet Frog.

How do you flavor your day? 

sweet frog

This is a Tale of Sweet Frog–  Z-Fam Style. And for the record, I swear I do not work for Sweet Frog. Although some days, it does seem like a sweet job (pun intended.) Y has already declared that this will be her first job someday.

It goes a little something like this:

First, we say “Hello” to the big eyed frog.  We walk into a heavenly place of pink and green and white-cloud-globe lights.  Go  quickly by the lime green andirondack chairs. Skip the funky clear tables and chairs and head straight back to the cool tiled wall.

There is usually very little conversation—the excitement is too overwhelming — and we are all focused on the task at hand.

Choose a size. Know Momma doesn’t allow much choice here–one size only.

But then. Then. The world is your … flavor. (By the way, don’t worry, the proverbial ‘oyster’ is NOT a flavor choice.)

Standing before us is a wall…literally a wall of flavor. So many flavors. So many choices.

Ok, not all of these are available all the time, but this gives you an idea of the variety.

Pull the handle. Hold your cup carefully under the spout and fill it up.  The best friend/partner/hubby and I made the mistake —one time—- of not keeping a close eye on the boy child.  Just one time.  We turned around and before we knew it, his little bowl was filled to the rim! From then on, we monitor him very carefully.

X usually goes for the mix of vanilla and chocolate. T and I usually get the no sugar added cheesecake. (We are trying to be intentional in reducing sugar in our world.)

But Y. Y takes her Sweet Frog exploits very seriously. She is more adventurous.  She’s a little bit like Mikey. She’ll try anything.  She still says that Mango is one of her all-time favorites.  Go figure. And … she’ll mix it with stuff like… cake batter. Interesting? Yes.

Then comes the antithesis of the salad bar. It is a ‘salad’ bar of candy and semi-goodness. The first few choices do, in fact, include some fruit choices.  But it quickly turns to sugary nonsense with some random cereal and crackers and granola and just about anything you can imagine crumbled up, ready to be added to your bowl with a spoon.

The hard part is … this Momma set a limit of only two things.  So, choose wisely and carefully. And come on, X, choose quickly! We can’t be here all night. (To which Y declares, “Sure, we can!”)

There are also different kinds of syrups and other liquid additives to the frozen goodness, but that is where I draw the line. No. Move along. I have my dignity as a parent after all.

We take our little cups, add a green spoon and weigh the frozen treat.  Yes, we pay by the ounce.

And, I have to say, it is worth every penny. Not just because it is a yummy treat.  But because it has become a thing. A thing we do.  It has become a family treat.  A treat we do.  Something we enjoy together.

Which makes it all kind of priceless.

And as X says, “Yum!”


Fear.– Small Space. Locked Door. ‘Nuff Said.

Here’s the prompt:

You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.

This was an email I read last night before wrapping things up for the evening. We have just moved into a new space in my workplace and we are all learning about our new work environment,  as we go.  I haven’t asked yet, but I’m fairly certain that ‘someone’ learned this little bit of truth the hard way.

“Hello All. Just a “be aware” message for our department. One can lock oneself in the conference room if one shuts the door and inadvertently pushes the lock on the handle! We have placed a request to change this, but in the meantime,      be aware!”

Are you freakin’ kidding me?! Well, this led to a night full of dreams that included me being locked in this conference room (aka a glorified closet) and other small rooms that my subconscious could design. Who knew I was such an architect?! Sometimes there was a small window that I made plans to break and climb out of. Sometimes there was no window and seemingly very little air. Sometimes the ceiling slanted as if it were under some stairs. Sometimes  there was a light switch. Sometimes I seemed to make it a Friday afternoon with a long weekend ahead and before you have time to wonder…it was the one time that I don’t have my cell phone.

It all felt very real in those moments.

So, as it turns out….It is not what is in the room with me…it is the room itself. The room with no way out. The room(s) I can design while I sleep.

Which makes me think….Isn’t that really what fear is?  It isn’t really always the actual object or the dark or the scary monster or the hand that grabs your ankle from under the bed. Egads. It is the feeling of the fear itself, of our own design. That terrible, out of control, irrational emotion that this… could… be… really… bad.

As a Momma, I try to take the fear away for X and Y.

Y, my resident sleep-staller, will occasionally call me in to her room because of random shadows.  Most of the time, had she straightened up her room like I had asked (at least 20 times), things would be where they should be, therefore not causing said random shadows.  But that is for another blog.  She is also terrified of the ADT commercial where the Momma and Daughter walk in on a burglar in their house.  Which by the way, I will totally give her that one, … that is just scary and kind of real and I hate that commercial and have a mind to write a strongly worded letter to ADT to take it off the air, or at least off of the Disney Channels. Shew. Taking a breath now.

I say things like, “Oh, you’re ok. There’s nothing in your closet. There’s nothing to be afraid of. I’m right here.” And with that, she just has to trust me. Trust me that there isn’t a reason to feel afraid. That there isn’t a monster in the closet.

What I need to remember is that just like me, it isn’t the thing in the room. It is just the room. It is just the fear. And that fear is very real to her. And right then, in that moment, she is just not ok.

Hugs are needed.

And yes, I will ‘be aware’ of that lock on that conference room (closet) door. Always.

But I think I will still carry my cell phone with me. Where. Ever. I. Go.

Just in case.



%d bloggers like this: