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Get that to do list out of your head before you go to bed

Get that to do list out of your head, before you go to bed! If you are ever on Twitter late at night you will find out many people suffer from insomnia. One of the causes of insomnia is we have too much to do and can’t seem to shut off our brains at night. We just keep thinking about all the things we have to do.

I wrote a book that can help you get that to do list out of your head, before you go to bed. Actually, a booklet. It is only 10 pages long and can be read in less than 10 minutes!

how to make a to do list

This book is for busy people who are feeling overwhelmed. For people who do not have time to read a long book about time management. This book is for people who need to get stuff done now!

This book is also my first experience in self publishing. Thanks to the help of Amazon I was able to do it! The book is only $3 but if you follow the 7 easy steps to managing and mastering your to do list, it will change you life! You can order the book here or read more about it here.

Tamara HollandI am still working on my BIG book about other mothers but feel I am at a point where I could use some assistance. I have signed up for 2 writing workshops this fall (Michelle Favreault’s Golden Threads: Writing ReTREAT and Eric Maisel’s Deep Writing Workshop). I am selling this booklet to help raise money for the upcoming writing workshops.

Thanks for your support!

*Cool art card in image above was purchased at Two Neat in Mill Valley and
created by local artist Tamara Holland of Bean Up The Nose Art.

No Word For Me

Today I googled the definition of the word stepmother.

Here is the result:stepmom definitionstepmother: noun. a woman who is married to one’s father after the divorce of one’s parents or the death of one’s mother.

The reason I was googling the word stepmother is because I have been stuck with my writing in trying to find a word for my kind of motherhood. I realized, if I can’t even put a name to my role in this family, how can I expect society to understand.

What one word would you use to define my role?

I also googled lesbian stepmother and I am not even going to tell you what the results were. Let’s just say they were similar to the inappropriate comments dads at our kid’s school used to whisper in to my ears.

Middle School Musings

I saw this on Facebook as I was writing this blog post about middle school.

middle school adviceI recently reunited with a guy I have not seen since 8th grade graduation. Thanks Facebook. Seeing him was great, he was a cool dude then, he is still a cool dude today. And by cool, I don’t mean wearing the ‘in’ clothes or following the latest Top 40 band. When I say ‘cool’ I mean a genuine, authentic, trustworthy, reliable, caring person.

I posted a picture of us on Facebook. Posting this picture brought a flurry of comments and private messages from our old classmates. This triggered an emotion in me that I can’t quite explain: a bit of sadness and nostalgia.

I have lived through middle school 4 times! Once myself, 3 times as a parent. None of those times were easy.

I was not in the popular clique, I was not sporty, I was not the smart kid, I was not the nerd, the slut, the pretty girl, the artist, the singer, or the musician, I was kind of the invisible kid. In fact, when I reunited with my friend Joe he said he barely remembered me, all he could remember was that I was quiet and nice.

I was dealing with things outside of the classroom that didn’t leave me much opportunity to even attempt to keep up with what the ‘cool kids’ were doing.  I had a few friends. I observed the others. Also, my family did not have much money during those years, the years when it was wear the right designer brand or you might as well not even exist years. Does IZOD, Jordache, Calvin Klein, Esprit, Guess, Sergio Valente, or Sassoon ring a bell? Well I didn’t have any of those clothes. I had the latest K-mart special or something my mom had hand-sewn for me (she was a great sewer, I have to say).

Being an outsider, I did a lot of observing. Being a late bloomer, I was also quite clueless (learned a lot from my friend Joe on things that were going on in the class that I had NO idea about).  Oh my! Parents if you have not had ‘The Talk’ with your kids yet and they are already in middle school, the time is now.

I observed the dynamics of the classroom. You know that movie Mean Girls? Well there was definitely some of that happening. Some of those girls were so mean to others. I saw the same things happen when my girls were in middle school. What is it with us girls? It is so sad.

This leaves me wondering what the ramifications are. Are the girls who did mean things even aware now just how hurtful some of their behavior was? Do they realize some things they do or don’t do on Facebook now can still trigger hurt feelings in the kids who were bullied and mistreated?  Did they apologize for their behavior? Do they feel shame? If you were the girl or boy picked on during middle school, would you want an apology now? Would the brat taking ownership for their hurtful behavior be helpful to you right now? Was I one of the mean girls and not even aware of it? I definitely wasn’t an angel.

Looking back, I realize I have struggled with some of the same issues throughout life. The invisibility thing… this whole book I am writing is motivated by me being tired of feeling like the invisible parent. Probably the reason I am so out and about online too… How did middle school affect you?

Told you I was a late bloomer… me and Joe about 30 years ago.

Sally and Joe

We all have big hearts

CartLoveIt is not just mommies who have big hearts, we all have big hearts. Sometimes when parents have their first baby they wonder if they could ever love anything more than they love that little bundle of joy. Then when baby number 2 comes a long they discover their heart grows and makes room to love 2 beings with the same amount of enthusiasm. You could have 10 kids and love them all. The human heart and our capability to love is amazing.

I think we don’t always realize this kind of love is not reserved just for parents loving children. It goes both ways. If you are in a blended family your child or children are capable of loving more than just 1 or 2 parents. If  a stepmom has entered the scene in to your child’s life, your child is capable of opening her heart and adding another mommy, just like you are capable of opening your heart and adding another child to the mix of people you love and call family.

This idea can be very threatening and is often what makes mother’s day a challenging day for children of blended families. Kids may feel that in order to prove their love for their mommy they have to not acknowledge their stepmom. This is hurtful to the stepmom and to the child.

Unfortunately, I have learned this lesson in hindsight. My kids grew up with 3 mothers, their biological mom (my partner), me and their stepom. The kid’s love all of us, just like we love all of them. I don’t love one kid more than an other. Maybe they don’t love one mom more than the other, maybe they do. But who are we to decide who the kids love most? Is it really a competition? I’ve got news for you, there is no prize at the end of parenting for being the best mom or stepmom.

Just because you adore your 15 year old does not mean you do not adore your 4 year old. It works the same with kids and stepparents vs. parents.

After much research for my book I’m beginning to believe that the relationship between a bio (or original) mom and a stepmom may be the hardest relationship out there to navigate. The silly thing is those 2 women love and care about the same exact people.

If you come from a blended family I challenge you this mother’s day to take a step back and try to make room for your kids to express their love to whoever has been blessed enough to find a space in their little (big) hearts.


Mother’s Day: It’s Complicated

Mother's DayMother’s Day is just around the corner. Most of us think of sweet old ladies, flowers and chocolates when it comes to this day. Many also feel guilty for not doing enough or wake up on Mother’s Day and say “OMG I forgot to get my mom a gift!”

Besides the normal thoughts and reactions to Mother’s Day there are a lot of very complicated feelings happening on this day.

This is a day when many women feel left out and unappreciated. Whether they are childless/childfree, stepmoms, lesbian non-bio moms, or any kind of other mother this day can be a sensitive day for them.

Often non-traditional moms go unnoticed on this day. The school may have had the small children make cards for their mom and did not think of making anything for the stepmom or other mom in that child’s life. The child may worry they will hurt their “real” mom’s feelings if they make a card for their stepmom.

Women who were unable to conceive or who had abortions often feel the sting of sadness on this day.

Women who chose not to have children feel judged by others.

Women who lost children feel enormous sadness on Mother’s Day.

This can also be a day of grief for people who have lost their mothers.

Yes, Mother’s Day is a happy day to celebrate and appreciate all those wonderful mothers out there, those women who do so much and often go unnoticed. But, let’s also make it a day to be sensitive to others and maybe start a tradition of reaching out to those other mothers and non-mothers in our lives.

When my neighbor heard about the book I was writing she told me the story of how her mom died when she was 15 and that she never had children. Mother’s Day was always a very difficult day for her but then one day a friend sent her a card on Mother’s Day telling her how much they appreciated her and all the wonderful things she has done. She said that card made her so happy that ever since then she has been sending cards to women on Mother’s Day letting them know how much she appreciates them and all that they have done. Now she loves Mother’s Day and looks forward to it every year. It is no longer a day of dread but rather a day to share appreciation.

I think the story of my neighbor is so beautiful. I challenge you all to pick at least one woman this Mother’s Day to reach out to and send a letter of appreciation to.

What are your Mother’s Day stories?




The image above is a from a page created by me during one of Marilyn LoRusso’s Vision Book Art Workshops.



Stepmom or Step-mom

rely on the kindness of strangerGrammar and language expert friends I need your help!

What is the proper way to write the following titles?

stepmom vs. step-mom

stepdaughter vs. step-daughter

stepson vs. step-son

stepkids vs. step-kids

I am hearing mixed opinions on the word stepmom, many are saying stepmom (without the dash) is okay, but then does that rule apply to all the other step relationships?

Book Blurb

flowersOne of the most important things to have when you are trying to market your business is an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a simple blurb to quickly describe what you do.  Books also need an an elevator speech or book blurb. When someone asks me what my book is about I need to be able to answer them in 30 seconds or less or I risk losing their attention or worse, boring them.

I’m working on my book’s elevator speech. What do you think?

Heart Mothers is a book about women who feel they don’t fit in the “traditional mom” box. They could be single moms, step-moms, lesbian moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, women who chose not to or were not able to have children; the list goes on and on. Basically, I’m writing about the common thread I have found among women feeling like they are an outsider in the mom world.




The image above is a from a page created by me during one of Marilyn LoRusso’s Vision Book Art Workshops.


Heart Mothers

imageI found the title of my book!

Heart Mothers!

Heart mothers is a great way to describe the women I am interviewing because they truly are mothers from the heart. Many are raising children they did not birth.

Thank you to JudyAnn who first mentioned the term heart mother in a comment on one of my earlier blog posts. The words I have heard most often in listening to women’s stories over the last year has been heart and love.






The image above is a from a page created by me during one of Marilyn LoRusso’s Vision Book Art Workshops.

How do you stay focused on your writing?

humming birdDear Writers,

How do you stay focused on writing and not get distracted by all the shiny stuff? Today I woke up and told myself I was going to have a productive day. I was going to focus on writing and get this book organized! The current stage of my book is a “crappy first draft” of writing sprawl.

Instead of sitting down to write, I found myself logging on to Twitter, ‘just for a minute’ I told myself. Next thing I knew, 35 minutes had passed, I had clicked on a bunch of links, found a new program I wanted to try, was all over the place. I kept scrolling through my timeline, catching up on what all my friends were doing, and reading all the interesting posts they were linking to. Finally, one tweet caught my attention and reminded me I was planning to write today and not dawdle away my day on social media.

That tweet was from Tamara Holland. It read, “Belated huge heartfelt thanks to the wild-assed muse who visited BeanUpTheNoseArt last night & downloaded her stuff thru my fingers”. I almost responded with, “can you please send your muse my way when you are done with her?”.

Instead, I kept scrolling through my timeline getting sucked back in to Never-never land. That is when I saw a tweet from Success and Chocolate about a new program called TrapIt and was like, ‘Oh! I have to try that!’  Then the little voice in my head said, “Wait! Not another new program. Stay focused. Save it for later.”  As I was having this conversation in my head, I read another tweet from Tamara addressed to Success and Chocolate that said, “Uh-oh. Is this another place, like Instagram, that I should-but-should-not-go?”. That is when I put my phone down and began to write.

As difficult as it is for me to do this, I believe the best way to find my muse is to turn off all distractions and dedicate a certain amount of time each day to writing. No Internet! The only screen allowed is a Word document.

I am off to start organizing my crappy first draft and follow up with some of my interviewees!

What do you do to stay focused on your writing? How do you avoid the temptation of the internet and other shiny things?

PS. I still want to check out Trapit and will. 😉 @iPeggy the blogger behind Success and Chocolate is the expert on new cool programs. I guess for me it is all about finding balance and scheduling time to write.


The image above is a from a page created by me during one of Marilyn LoRusso’s Vision Book Art Workshops.

Time to update the dictionary

evil-stepmothers stepmother: a woman who has married one’s father after the death or divorce of one’s mother ~thefreedictionary.com

We need a new word! The word stepmother needs to be updated to be more inclusive of the actual role. We all know what kind of images the word stepmom conjures in our head. The problem is a stepmom used to be the woman who stepped in, in place of the mother when the mother had passed away. Nowadays stepmoms are not replacing but are usually co-parenting with the moms. Often this co-parenting is not a mutually agreed upon or wanted arrangement between to the 2 women. It is a situation thrust upon the original/birth mom by the father/ex-husband who has chosen to marry a new woman, inviting her in to his children’s lives without the consent of the birth mother at all.

As the birth mother you suddenly find yourself sharing the responsibilities and decisions made about your children with another woman. This can be a very frustrating and threatening position to be in.

As the stepmom, you suddenly find yourself caring for another woman’s children. You may even love these children like they are your own but the fact is, they are not. These kids have a mother, and they most likely will remind you of this on a regular basis. You may care for them, sacrifice for them and give everything to them but when mother’s day comes along you may not even get acknowledged.

It is a painful situation for both women. The birth mother may feel insecure that her kids won’t love her as much as they love the new stepmom who may be younger and hipper and charming the kids with new toys and clothes.

The problem with the word stepmom is the word no longer fits. You are not stepping in for the mother. You very likely may be stepping on the mother’s feelings and this is probably why the word stepmom still carries such a negative association.

Unfortunately, in all my research, I have not been able to come up with a new word. I met a woman today who refuses to use the word stepmom because of the rotten connotation associated with it but this unfortunately leaves her in a place of pain. There is no word to describe her relationship with these kids. No acknowledgment of all that she has done and does do for these kids that she loves.

Please help me think of  new word, a loving, positive one that could describe the actual role of a stepmom.

Thank you.