So you want to write a book?

I often meet people who tell me that they’ve always wanted to write a book, or they’ve written one that they’ve always wanted to publish.

I used to be one of them.

I was one of the people that said “If only I had some spare time,” or “Maybe when the kids are grown,” or “If only I knew where to begin.”

I used to languish about, wishing the right time would come or something extraordinary would happen to push me along. Until one day…something did.

While lying in bed watching television with my kids, my daughter said to me, “Mommy. You should write a book about kids like us and call it The Cul de Sac Kids,” to which I replied, “People would be bored reading about spoiled kids like you. If I ever wrote a book, it would be about kids whose lives are really hard.” And that little thought stayed in my head.

Then one day, after watching re-runs of The Golden Girls and Everybody Loves Raymond for the 5,000th time, it occurred to me that I had just spent hours watching television, that I could’ve spent writing that book.

And the next day, after my fourth time scrolling through Facebook, I realized that I could’ve better spent that time researching how to write a book.

Each day that followed contained a moment when I wondered “Why did I waste my time doing that when I could’ve been writing a book?” And with no good answers, at the end of a week, I finally sat down to write. And l kept writing.

And writing was hard.

It was hard to miss out on things that everyone else was talking about.

I’ve never seen the episode of This is Us where the dad died, never watched Housewives of anywhere and I only know Cookie and Lucius from commercials. I don’t even know what game they played on Game of Thrones.

When I decided it was time to be a writer, I had to make sacrifices. And I had to sit down and be still.

I had to put down the remote and pick up the laptop, cease to procrastinate and start to create. I had stories to tell and I had to be intentional about it. And if you want to write a book, you must too.

Start weening yourself from your favorite shows and minimize your scrolling time. Recognize distractions for just what they are…things designed to keep you from reaching your goals.  Be disciplined, be determined and be still.

If that sounds hard, it’s because IT IS HARD!  But if I can do it, you can too.

Stop telling yourself “It was a long day. I deserve to just sit here on the couch all night.” Take time for self-care, but make those lazy days the exception and not the rule.  Your book is not going to write itself.

Why spend time watching shows made from other people’s writing, when they could be watching shows made from yours?

Yes, there will be things that go undone some days…sometimes for many days in a row. But if everyone in your family is full, healthy and content, then those things can wait for a while.

Yes, life is busy for all of us. Today is February 25th. My third book, Forgiveness is Free, was released on January 30th, and I just took down my Christmas tree last weekend because the dog was beginning to think it was real, and peed on it.  But my book is out!!!

You have a story to bring to life. Give birth to it. Stop streaming and start dreaming.

I can’t wait to read it!

2020- The Year of Forgiveness

Happy New Year!!!

2020 is here!  A time of new hope, new habits, new goals and, best of all, a time for new healing.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready! It’s time to do more than pump it up at the gym. It’s time to start a real movement. Something groundbreaking and earth shaking.  It’s time to release something long overdue.  It’s time for a forgiveness revolution!

Let unforgiveness out of your heart. Give yourself freedom from the weight of that hate.

So many things are broken in this world, isn’t it time we start fixing them? Make the Forgiveness Revolution your New Year’s Resolution and forgive someone today, before another decade slips away.

April’s new book Forgiveness Is Free, Why Are You Saving It, is available January 30th.

 

When Mothers Unite

As my daughter and I were leaving the mall last weekend, we came upon a woman who was shaking, crying, and yelling out someone’s name.  Not far away was a man, yelling the same name, with a look of sheer panic on his face.

As a mother I knew that look, I recognized those cries. I knew that in a mall full of Black Friday shoppers, their child was missing.

We approached the man and discovered that he did not speak English.  I asked him if he was looking for a girl or a boy. He scrolled through his cell phone and showed me a picture of a beautiful brown-haired girl with two pigtails, about 4 or 5 years-old. Her name was Nala.

Without saying a word to one another, my daughter and I began walking in different directions, calling out the girl’s name.  We entered each store, questioned the staff and asked them to look out for her. And the further we went from the mother of that child, the louder her weeping became.  My heart was beating out of my chest, quickening with each of her cries.

After several minutes, I walked back to the mother, but the girl had not been found. The mom was hyperventilating now and other shoppers were holding her hand. So I walked off again, stopping other shoppers, asking them to help in the search.

Each mother I stopped sprang into action. Their eyes recognized that fear. Their hearts knew that horror. And our common bond said “It’s no longer time to look for a bargain, it’s time to look for that girl!”

After what seemed like an eternity, with a swarm of people looking for little Nala, she was located by a shopper who led her to her mom.

Dozens of searchers gathered around and cried tears of joy as Nala’s mother embraced her . I didn’t understand a word the Mom said, but my heart felt each and every one.  I wiped my eyes and whispered out loud “There’s just nothing like a mother’s heart.”

Minutes later, when we found each other, my daughter was annoyed with me. She’d been dialing my cell for a while, but I hadn’t noticed, as my mind was focused on the search.

I apologized and tried to explain the unexplainable.  To tell her that mothers share a bond that only we understand.  A bond that transcends language and race, religion and time. And a missing child unites us in a way few others will.

She forgave me, smiled and we headed for the exit. And as we walked together, I thought, “She’ll be a great mom one day.” Because without one word from me, her future-Mama heart had sent her searching for Nala too.

To all of the mothers out there, God bless your Mama hearts. The world is a better place when we look out for each other’s children.  And caring for others should never grow old, because everyone was once somebody’s baby.

Follow April at lovingmiddleagedlife for your chance to win a pre-release copy of her new book Forgiveness is Free…Why are You Saving It

This Holiday, Give Forgiveness

The season of giving has begun!

It’s the time of year that brings out the best in us and prompts us to become the bearers of great hugs, great food and great presents.

And as you continue your giving, I challenge you to add a unique gift to your list….one that will bless both you and the receiver, far past the holiday season.  I challenge you to add the gift of “forgiveness.”

It wasn’t for sale on Black Friday because forgiveness is free. It can never be discounted or oversold.  It is one of life’s few treasures that are both free and priceless, at the same time.

And it’s one of the best kept gift secrets ever. You won’t find it on your loved ones’ shopping list because it’s a quiet longing, seldom expressed out loud. But the gift of forgiveness speaks volumes to the heart of the receiver.

And no shopping or shipping is required!

Forgiveness sits on the shelves of our hearts, always in stock, ready and waiting to be given to those we’ve withheld it from. It needs no gift wrap, no card and no special occasion. It just needs its holder to choose freedom from bitterness, open their heart and release it. And when they do, they’ll find that they benefited, as much as their beneficiary, because their heart will be lighter and their life will be brighter.

So, why not add forgiveness to your holiday list?

Spread some around to your family, your co-workers and the neighbor who put up their Christmas lights in August.

Give it to someone, drop the mic and walk away like you just started world peace. Because, in a great way, you just did.

April’s new book Forgiveness is Free. Why Are You Saving It? will be released in January 2020. Follow her blog for upcoming giveaways!

Bulletproof Backpacks

So, it’s back to school time.

Time for laptops and lunch money, haircuts and hairdos, binders and books, bedtimes and buses…but is it time for a bulletproof backpack?

Nearly every day, there are news stories of people arrested with arsenals of weapons, many of whom are youth with plans to harm students at their school or university.  It’s terrifying, it’s sad, but it’s a fact.

So as the parent of students in both high school and college, what’s a mom to do?

I see bulletproof backpacks on sale and I wonder if I should buy two. I wonder if they actually work. I wonder what the odds are that if, God forbid, a mass murderer were in their midst, they would actually be shot in the back at the precise time they were wearing their backpack. And I know that during a typical high school day, that’s hardly ever.

But I love my babies!

And I wonder if having a chance to stop a bullet is better than no chance at all.  And I think maybe, if they needed it, they could just whip it off their back and put it in front of whatever body part they needed to protect.

And I think of how my heart aches for every parent who has lost a child. How I can’t imagine the grief that comes from suffering the greatest pain a human will ever endure. And as I pray for their comfort and strength, the backpack idea seems like a good one.

So I search online for these bulletproof backpacks and I see there’s a huge price range.  But what’s too much to protect your kids? $49.99 or $180? Really, no cost is too great.  So my budget will just have to absorb it.

Ironically, the first ad to come up under backpacks is from Under Armour, a trusted name brand that many youth like. A further look shows that the backpack is not being advertised as bulletproof; it’s just an ad for a nice backpack on sale.

But the name Under Armour starts swirling in my head, over and over again. It disrupts my train of thought and I rise from my laptop, literally shaking my head, because I just can’t get the words to disappear. “Under Armour” is flashing across my field of vision like NASDAQ updates. And it just keeps going and going.

And suddenly it hits me that, bulletproof backpack or not, my children are always Under Armour.   Because not a day passes that my husband and I don’t pray for the safety of our children.  Not a single day.

Each morning we pray that they are equipped with the whole armour of God and that no weapon formed against them shall prosper. And we pray for their friends.  And we believe that our prayers have power.

We trust that God, who is with them always, will watch over them in ways we cannot. And we believe that no bullet, knife of bomb can pierce God’s shield, unless it is His will.

We can’t control the actions of others and we don’t know which youth or adults are mentally unstable, bullied, angry or just plain hateful. And the world is comprised of them all.

So, instead of a backpack, we’re choosing to trust in the One who does, to keep our children always under armour. And we pray that, one day, there won’t be a need for any child to wear Kevlar to school.

Follow me at lovingmiddleagedlife.com

Are you Using your Gifts?

I went to a jazz festival this week and watched in awe, the faces of the musicians as they played. They absolutely loved what they were doing. In fact, one of the group’s leaders said “It’s really unfair for us to call this work. We have so much fun doing it and love it so much, that it’s not right that we get paid to do it.”

Wouldn’t you love to feel that way?  The good news is, you can!

You are tremendously gifted.  Did you know that?

Were you aware that there is something that only you know how to do? And there’s something that you do better than anyone else.

Yes. I’m talking to you.

Your mind is a womb of unborn ideas that could change one life or many. You have solutions that no one has thought of or dared to invent.  There are things that this world needs that only you can provide.

So what are you waiting for?

Do you think your gift is useless, because it’s not tied to a monetary value?

Do you have thoughts like: “I know I’m a good singer, but there are lots of wonderful singers in the world,” or, “I know that I’m a great hairdresser, but beauty salons are a dime a dozen,” or, “I know my baked goods are delicious, but who’d want to pay money for them?”

To those doubts I say:  How will you know if you never try it?

How will the world know how great your voice is if you never sing? How will we know how well you can do hair, if we never see your work? How will we find out your molasses cookies are the best thing ever baked if we never get to taste one?

You don’t have to start out by owning a business. You can start out by giving away freebies. People love free stuff!  It gets your name out there and establishes you as a service to others.  And every great venture requires some investment.

Your great singing voice would be a hit at nursing homes, your hairdressing skills could be showcased during a back to school hair competition, and cookies melt hearts everywhere.

And often life’s greatest pleasures come not in profiting from your gift, but in using your gift to profit others.

You possess abilities that are uniquely yours and talents no one else has.  You may not even know your gift is a gift. But guess what?

Your attention to detail is needed on a Hollywood set. Your color coordination skills are needed on a runway in Paris and your chicken is better than a national favorite that’s closed on Sundays. (Who I will continue to visit until your chicken is available).

If you find yourself thinking “I could’ve designed a prettier dress than that,” or “I could’ve created a better invention than that,” or “I could’ve finished that obstacle course before he did,” then go out and take your place on that podium!

You don’t have to make it your full-time vocation, but get in what you can fit in.  Use your gift for good and you will feel great about it. And, if it makes you money, all the better.

Starving artists may have empty pockets, but they are full of passion. Find yours, breathe life into it and watch your spirit soar.

Saying Goodbye to your Doctor

Like millions of others, I have a chronic illness. Something that requires care from a team of doctors and a colorful variety of medications.

Recently, I visited a new specialist. He asked who he should send my test results to, since my regular doctor would be retiring.

I looked at him, laughed and said. “Surely, you must be mistaken.  My doctor hasn’t told me he’s retiring. You must have him confused with someone else.”

The specialist assured me that he was not mistaken and suggested I call my doctor’s office to confirm it.

To my great surprise, he was right. The doctor who had treated my condition for nearly 20 years was calling it quits.  And though he called it retirement, I  felt like he was leaving ME.

I’d been treated by the same team of doctors for so long, that I thought it would always be that way. After all, though I’d missed an appointment or two through the years, they were always there when they were supposed to be.  I took it personally that my doctor was retiring and set up an appointment to see him and tell him just what I thought about his abandonment of his duties.  He was part of a team. He couldn’t just leave when he felt like it.  As long as I was breathing, he had a job to do!

As my last appointment approached, I thought about all the times we’d shared together…good news, bad news, births and deaths.  Test results, procedures and prescriptions. And the time I told him that I must have a kidney problem because my ankles were retaining water and he said “Nope. You’re just not eating the things I told you to and you’re getting fat. Those are cankles.”

I gasped, then realized he was totally right.  We laughed hard together and from that day forward, his nickname for me was Cankles.

During our last visit, we were both very solemn. He gave me a list of other doctors and told me which ones he’d recommend. Then he thoroughly went through my chart and asked for an update on every symptom I’d had over the years and advised me on what to do going forward.

I didn’t go off on him like I planned to.  I just told him I was sad he was leaving and handed him a card that I’d written. Inside was a photo of my family and a thank you, from all of us, for taking such good care of me.

As he stood up to leave, he asked if I’d like him to read the card first and I said “No,” holding back tears. He replied with “OK.  I understand.”

Then, with a look of sadness, he turned to leave and asked if I signed the card as “Cankles.”

I smiled to confirm that I had.

Isn’t it funny how we take important people in our lives for granted? How we don’t think about just how precious they are until they’re gone?

Sometimes it’s family and sometimes it’s someone whose name we don’t know.

Maybe it’s the person who serves your food at the diner, or the person who delivers your mail. Or perhaps it’s the girl who gives you extra latte at the coffee shop or the security guard who monitors your building.

If you have been fortunate enough to have a doctor, or other professional, that has taken such good care of you that you feel like you’re their favorite customer, then you have truly been blessed.

Show them some love during your next visit.  Let them know how much you appreciate  them. Tell them how much their service has meant to you and make their day, before they move on to a well-deserved rest.

Happy retirement, Dr. P.

Love, Cankles

Follow me at lovingmiddleagedlife.com

10 Ways to Spice up Your Middle-Aged Love Life

When you’re married and middle-aged, sometimes your love life can grow a little limp.

You love each other and sometimes kiss and spoon, but unless you’re newly married, you’re often a long way from your honeymoon. The days of work, kids, chores, repeat, sap your energy, while Father Time takes a toll on your libido.

You may even find yourself sashaying through the house half-naked, trying to evoke a response from your mate, only to find that Netflix has become their new lover and your desperate plea for attention goes unnoticed.

And then what? Do you throw in the towel and grab a good book to read?

No.  Because they don’t care if you’re wearing a towel or not.

But here are some things that I’ve found to be helpful:

1. Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Sure, it’s an oldie and you may have read it once, but read it again. Find out if you’re speaking to your mate in their love language. Maybe theirs is physical touch and you’re so busy providing acts of service to show your love, that you’re completely missing the mark. Perhaps they aren’t responding to you because you’re just not speaking their language. Read the book and break your language barrier. The growth in your intimacy will speak volumes.

2. Support their dream

Nothing says I love you like supporting the dream of the one you love.  There’s nothing like knowing that someone believes in you, has faith in you and has your back, no matter what. It provides a comfort level that allows you to divulge the innermost secrets and desires of your heart and draws you closer together. And knowing that your mate desires what you desire for yourself, makes them ever so much more desirable.

3. Give them space

Now this likely sounds counterintuitive to growing the closeness between you and your mate, but it’s not. It is very important, especially if your mate is requires quiet time to study, do their job or work on their dream. Anything that involves creativity requires some peace and quiet.  If your mate is tired of playing chauffeur to the kids, give them a respite.  Take on their load for a period of time and allow them to relax and rejuvenate. If they tell you that all they want for their birthday is for you to take the kids for the day, do it.  Better yet, don’t wait for them to ask.  Show them that you understand their need for down time. Respect their need for peace because peace and respect are sexy, but stress and fatigue are not.

4. Skip your nighttime beauty regimen

Yes. I said it.  And you can do it.  Skip your regular nighttime routine once in a while.  Your face is not going to fall off if you forget to apply your eye cream, wrinkle gel, charcoal mask and head wrap for a night.  And wear something to bed that’s better than that usual get-up you throw on.  Make it something you purchased this year. Let your mate mess up your hair for a change and kiss your face without an aftertaste. You’ll still glow the next day. But it’ll be a different kind of glow. Try it!

5. Tickle their non-traditional hot-spot

We’ve all got one, folks.  We’ve all got a hot spot that only those who know us most intimately are aware of.  And it’s there for the tickling. So if your mate seems more interested in washing the car or dishes than you, give them something they can feel. They can’t keep a straight face when you go there, so go ahead and make them look goofy. They’ll be surprised, they’ll widen their eyes and they won’t help but notice you’re in the room.

6. Talk dirty to them

Master the art of flirting with your mate.  Let them know you think they’re sexy. Whisper in their ear.  Tell them what a great time you had last night. Let them know they’ve still got it. Say things that confirm they are the captain of your ship and nobody steers quite like they do.  And develop a code if you need to, so the children don’t know what you’re talking about.  Keep them wondering why their parents talk about Mr. Hammer and Ms. Bellringer all the time. They’ll never guess that fluffernutter has more than one meaning.

7. Date night

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again.  Don’t forget to do date night!  Take some time away from your kids, at minimum, once a month. Whether you are parents or not, you have to be intentional about keeping your love life alive.  Making it last is hard and it requires effort. You must make time for just each other, to check in, check up and check on one another. Life moves crazy fast. Make sure you’re keeping up.  If you want to feel like you did when you were dating each other, then keep dating one another.

8. Buy them a ticket for something that you care nothing about

If you’re wondering why you should spend your hard-earned money on something that you care nothing about, the answer is, because it’s not for YOU! Purchasing something that you know will make your spouse happy, even if you find it ridiculous, will go miles toward touching their tickle spot. If you hate opera, but she loves it, buy a ticket for her and her mom. If he loves golf but you hate it, buy him some golf shoes. Show your mate that their happiness is a priority and they will make yours a priority in return.  Buy them a ticket, and then turn in yours for a ride on the love train. Woot Woot!

9. Get a sleep apnea machine

Many a good relationship has been ruined by snoring.  It has been the cause of sleeping in separate rooms for countless couples, throughout the years, and it’s difficult for a couple to grow in intimacy when their sleeping hours are spent far apart.  For many couples, the answer is a sleep apnea machine. These devices are like answered prayer to those who have tossed, turned and slept with a pillow over their head, to avoid the growls and snorts of the monster in bed beside them.  Newer, non-restrictive models are available and they’re not just good for your marriage, they’re good for your health.  So do a sleep assessment, get a machine and take back your honey and your health.  Your mate will thank you for it.

10. Forgive them

Is it possible that your love life is suffering because one of you is holding a grudge against the other?  Could it be that you haven’t felt sexy in a long time because your feelings were hurt by something she said, or he didn’t say? Or maybe you’re withholding affection as punishment for an offense you’ve told them you’ve forgiven.  If any of these are possible, then it’s time you loosen your grip on that grudge. Have an open discussion about what’s bothering you. Get it out and then get rid of it.  If you want the freedom to experience true intimacy then you have to give up the things that have held you bound, because you can’t be free and bound at the same time (unless that’s something you’re into). So let out the bitterness and let in the love. Forgive them.

Try one or a combination of these ten things and be intentional about improving your love life. Your engine’s not dead, you’ve simply stalled.  So rev it up, put it in drive and enjoy the ride.  You’re glowing just thinking about it.

Follow me at lovingmiddleagedlife.com

The Most Powerful “F” Bomb…Forgiveness

Forgiveness.  It’s elusive. It’s complex. It’s deep.

So deep that some drown in the pursuit of it, flailing about, gasping for air, hoping to receive it. And they perish for the lack of knowledge that they already have it and it’s available to us all.

We hold onto forgiveness like collateral, withholding this precious resource from someone in a compromised position. And we grasp it ever tighter from those who are closest to us, who betray our trust and our love.

We place it in our forgiveness bank, racking up interest daily, compounding it with bitterness and loathing. And it builds and builds, gaining weight and size spreading throughout our lives, enlarging its territory.

And why?

Because the one who hurt us took something from us…our pride, our trust, our self-esteem, our money, our property, our hope or maybe even our loved one. And we need to hold onto something that we’re positive they can never take away.  If we give it up, we’ll have nothing.

So we keep the upper hand, with our full forgiveness bank, which we don’t realize is our heart. And our heart is full to capacity. Our arteries are clogged, our beat is erratic and our blood supply is deeply diminished.  And we still think we’re winning…but we’re not, because heaviness on the heart is never good for us and the weight of unforgiveness is immeasurable.

So isn’t it time to make some withdrawals from our forgiveness stash?  Why not find those we’re withholding it from and drop the “F” bomb on them. Blow up the bitterness and destroy the damage.   Take a weight off ourselves and lighten our load. Improve our health, our heart and our life.

We don’t have to allow them back in our life or be in relationship with them again. In fact, they’ve likely forgotten what they did and moved on. The favor we’ll be doing is for ourselves.  It’s a win-win. And best of all…it won’t cost us a thing.

Ask yourself today… If Forgiveness is Free, why are you saving it?

Free yourself.

 

Forgiveness is Free…Why are you Saving It is the upcoming book by April Randolph, available everywhere soon.

What I tell my African American son

My son was locked out of the house yesterday, in the middle of a snowstorm.

He called me at work to ask me to drive home and let him in. None of the neighbors we knew were home, and the neighbors across the street are brand new. So he had nowhere to go.

When I told my co-workers that I was leaving because my son was locked out, one mentioned that they used to climb in a window, or pry the door open with a credit card, when they were locked out.  And my reply was, “I can’t tell my son to do that”.

My son is African-American and he’s fourteen years old.

When we go shopping after school, I tell my son he has to leave his backpack in the car.

When he’s hungry in the grocery store and sees customers eat food they’ve yet to pay for, I tell him he can’t do the same.

When he wants to take a walk past dark with his friends, I tell him “no”.

If he bounces a ball in the sporting goods store, I make him stop.

He’s not allowed to play with guns that aren’t clearly Super Soakers.

If we’re stopped by the police because our headlight is out, I say, “Remember what I taught you.”

Because my son is African American and he’s fourteen years old.

When my son couldn’t get in the house, he walked down the street to the local drugstore, to seek refuge from the relentless snow.

I drove to the drugstore as fast as I could and when I was near, I called to let him know I’d be there soon. I suggested he stay inside until I arrived, but when I got there he was out in the snow.

When he got in the car, shivering and wet, I asked why he didn’t wait inside.

His reply was, “Mom. The people who work there kept staring at me and following me around. It was like they thought I was going to steal something. I felt like I didn’t belong there.  It was awful. And I had no money on me to prove I wasn’t a thief.”

Because my son is African American and he’s fourteen years old, he can’t just be a teenager shopping for acne cream. He has to make a purchase to prove he’s not a thief.

Those who know me will tell you that I’m not one to claim every scuffle with the police is police brutality. And I’m not one who sees racism in every unique article of designer clothing or every news anchor’s slip of the tongue.

But I do remember moving to a nice neighborhood as a child, and being awaken during the night by a cross burning in the front yard and the “N” word carved into the fresh concrete sidewalk that led to our front door.  And I remember the nails in our tires, every morning when mom tried to leave for work.

I remember the neighbors staring at us, like we didn’t belong. And I remember, for our safety, mom told us things that other moms didn’t have to tell their children.

Yes. That was over forty years ago. That was then and this is now.  But just because you’re uncomfortable talking about it, doesn’t mean it no longer exists.

Accept it. Talk about it. Change it. And don’t get caught outside in a snowstorm.

 

Follow me at lovingmiddleagedlife.com