Friday, July 29, 2011

Banish Your Inner Wuss

Today I did not barf on a cop.
I did not sing Welsh songs in Welsh.
I did not perform weed-brownie-inspired dances on a fireplace at a party.
I did not clog my boss' toilet.
I did not throw myself so heartily into the Race for the Cure that my chest reached the finish-line before I did.
I did not break a door and bloody a wall trying to get a Welsh moth out of my bedroom.
And I did not lose my hairpiece in front of hot gym-guy.

And I want to know why.

Why have I done none of the things that make Maegan and Russo's lives so interesting? Is it because I say "Never?" Yes! Or because my secret superhero identity, like our lovely reader Britta's, is "Worst-Case-Scenario-Girl?" Yes! Or because my stupid gnome of self-doubt, Mr. Angus Darkspume-the-gnome-of-despair, plays havoc with my confidence--mostly because I let him? Yes, yes, and YES!

Could this all come down to fear? Fear of failure, fear of looking silly, fear of being deemed an idiot? Why does it matter, hmm? If people think I'm an idiot, then there's nothing more to worry about, is there? If I can't do anything else to make it worse, I'm free. Free to hang by my knees from the towel rack and sing "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" if I want to. Free to shock my husband at least once a week. Free to inspire my children to change their last name and pretend they don't know me. No more worrying about what other people think. No more slinking quietly away from embarrassing situations. No more being afraid to try.

Perhaps the old saying, "It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt" has it wrong. At least where being afraid is concerned. Maybe it is better to just throw it all out there, and get the whole "what if I look stupid"-thing over with. Remove all doubt that you're human and imperfect, and thereby remove all pressure.

All right folks, that's the new goal. Throw it all out there. Close your eyes and take the plunge. Then let all the stress wash away in the fall-out and enjoy the rest of your time.

Peace-out,  my people.

(And now for a shameless plug: Do you suffer from Shopping-Eyes? Find out what to do about it on Janiel Miller: Life in Bits.  See? I'm being fearless.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is the Word 'Never' in Your Vocabulary?

It has come to my attention that I use the word 'never' way too much. Lemme give you the dirt, I just got cussed out by my tennis instructor. No, not the hot one but the guy who looks like a mix of Einstein and Mel Gibson. Not a pretty combo.

He asked me to run in place while hitting the ball. I looked at him like he had slime all over his body and said, "With a sprained ankle, I could never do that."

He then proceeded to yell (in Mel Gibson fashion), "Do you know much time you waste saying never?"

The problem is- the guy's right. As a dreamer, the word never shouldn't be in our vocabulary. We have to tune out the lil negative thoughts that trace our mind. Instead of second guessing yourself, just go for it.

And remember, "The more impossible something is, the more it must be done."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tair Mwy o Ganeuon Gymraeg

As promised, three more Welsh songs that make me happy.

Myfanwy A love song about a woman named - you guessed it - Myfanwy.

Ar Lan y Mor (Beside the Sea)

Gweddi Dros Gymru (Prayer for Wales) You might recognize this tune as Be Still My Soul, probably my all-time favorite church hymn.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tair Can Gymraeg

Three Welsh Songs

I spent the last week at a Welsh course in Virginia. Five hours of language classes per day combined with the insane heat and humidity have left my brains scrambled and fried. Since I'm still in the whole Welsh mode, I thought I'd share some of what I love most about the culture of Wales: the music.

Calon Lan (A Pure Heart) - a Welsh hymn. Check out the lyrics and a translation here.

Ar Hyd y Nos (All Through the Night) - a folksong. More lyrics here.

Mor o Gariad (Sea of Love) - As you've probably guessed, this one's a love song. A sad, rather depressing love song. (Is there any other kind?) Trust me, it's better if you don't know what the lyrics mean. The tune is lovely. Just pretend like he's singing about sunshine and fuzzy little bunny rabbits.

That's all for now, but do come back tomorrow for some more of my favorite songs from the, uh, land of song.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today I barfed on a cop

*Embarressing moment alert

Yep, the title is correct. I lost my lunch all over the cities finest.

I wish I could say that the man looked disgusting but noooo, I just happened to yak on the hottest cop ever.

Let's back this story up a bit. I'll admit, I was speeding. You would too if you had a gigantic great dane in the backseat. My sister had me dog sit for her because precious Ralphie (that's the name of the great dane) had just been put on a mood stabilizer.

First off, when did dogs get placed on uppers? Seriously. Anways, I'm speeding down the road and the cop's lights are flashing.

The cop exits his car and does the typical thing, "Can I see your liscense and registration."

He returns to his car to check my info and I start shaking. Which really baffles me because my old job required me to have a tough skin. I've had a knife pulled on me, been head butted and punched repeatedly. But somehow, the mere precense of this cop sends me into a tailspin.

My voice is weak, and I am on the verge of tears. My body has completly shut down. I tried to collect myself but I just couldn't. My throat begins to feel a tickle. My stomache acid is going out of control. With utter abandon, I empty my stomache contents onto the poor policeman's shoes.

There is nothing to say. I am mortified at this point. I wipe my mouth and whisper, "I'm sorry, I'm just really nervous."

The cop was ever-so nice. He did nothing more than smile and helped me calm down.

The lesson of the story? Well, there isn't one. Sometimes you're gonna make choices that have consequences. Some horrid and some just plain embarressing. It's one of the joys of life. Sometimes you gotta live with it. And laugh at the crazy moments.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Contest Winners!

Our very first contest has come to an end. Now we get to give out free stuff! After much Deep Thought and Contemplation, Janiel, Russo and I decided to tweak the rules a bit. We appreciate y'all taking the time to help us celebrate our first year of blogging, and every caption was pretty freakin' hilarious, so we're going to give a copy of HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK by Chuck Sambuchino to every person who entered! So, Robin, Shelly and Jen McNaughton: drop us a note at 3gnomes@gmail.com with your mailing address.

It turns out that the three of us are kind of scattered all over everywhere at the moment. Janiel is currently singing for her supper in Seattle (say that five times fast), I'm in Virginia for a Welsh language course, and Russo is holding down the Gnome Slaying fort. Please bear with us; it may be a few days before we can send the prizes your way, but rest assured they will get to you one way or another.

And without further ado, here are the winners of our caption contest. (You can see all the entries here and here.)

Via Shelly: "Did y'all see where that alien went? I think he went up . . ."

Courtesy of Robin: "Dude, if I give you this, will you PLEASE stop stalking me?"

Thanks again, everybody!

(From Janiel: Forgive me for hacking, Maegan, but I just want to show y'all dudes what the Gnomes bumper sticker looks like:

Whaddaya think? Should we give away more of these in the future?)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Anniversary, Food, and Kickin' It Chilly-Willy in Seattle

Hey Dudelets!

I am so sorry I'm late. I'm in Seattle right now and it's an hour earlier here. So, as far as I'm concerned I'm only like 4 hours late getting this post up, not 5.

And let me just say that Seattle does know how to do its bacon-wrapped dates, gyros, greek lemon soup, breakfast sandwiches, bratwurst with sauerkraut, bienenshtich, and herb salad. 

I gain 5 pounds whenever I come up here. But it's an awesome place. And its going to get even awesomer in just a minute when I leave with my peeps to go see the last "Harry Potter" flick. I KNOW! I'll let you know how it goes.

This month marks the 1 year anniversary of our blog. I actually started thinking about creating one clear back a year ago last April during a writer's conference we all help with. Maegan and I were sitting on the stairs judging an opening-sentence contest (all of whose entries centered on people waking up dead, by the way. wonder what that means), and we both sort of simultaneously told each other that we ought to start a blog together. And we ought to grab Russo to do it with us.  We all had been hanging with each other outside of our writing class, going to see movies, etc. This seemed like a logical extension of that. Especially since most of our convos when we hung together were hilarious, solved most of the world's problems, and often involved a lot of angst. WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO READ ABOUT STUFF LIKE THAT? we asked ourselves.

And then we answered ourselves: NO ONE WOULN'T WANT TO! And thus "Challenging the Gnome" was born. (Actually that's not really how we answered ourselves. We answered ourselves this way: "Do you think anyone will, you know, want to, like, read anything we write? I don't know. We're not that bright. No one knows who we are. Maybe everyone will like comment about how lame we are. Maybe no one will comment! Oh no! Maybe we'll last like a week and then get letters urging us to quit. OR, maybe we'll get stalked. Yeah. That could happen. Ooohh, how creepy. Maybe we shouldn't blog. OR we might get famous and a movie might get made based on our blog. Yeah! But probably not.)

We're not neurotic.

In any case, we have loved doing this. Maegan and Russo have brightened my life in ways they probably don't know about--unless they read my post where I tributed them--but they truly have. As have all of you who have commented, and whose warm fuzzies we feel on a regular basis. Thanks to all of you! We are loving it! And we are humbled by your kind support. Thank you so much.

Keep challenging your gnomes, people! Together we've almost created world peace!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One year anniversary

This month marks our one year anniversary and I am grateful beyond words. Writing two blogs has been the craziest-cool experience I could be given. I have met some of the most incredible people during this process called writing. My smashing writing group, fellow bloggers who are making a difference with their words. And I have reconnected with longtime friends.

You're all on the path to greatness. I'm so grateful to know you and call you friend.

Thank you for reading this blog. Thanks for your insightful comments and more importantly, your friendship.

And cheers to my blogging team, Janiel and Maegan. You both are so dear to me. These two ladies have taught me that I am more than my past. They helped me dig deep and grow as a writer and as a person. The second I met these two I was amazed by their talent and grace.

Janiel is fire-ball of energy, she uses that in her life and writing. She has a unique voice that draws the reader in. She knows how to speak her mind well. She looks out for her friends. And she is never without a good story. Janiel notices things about people because she truly cares. This is the woman who gave me the courage to face my dad. We had many car rides together where she helped me piece together my life and etc.

The first time I met Maegan I was in awe. Writing is in her blood, she's inspiring. She can construct a sentence like no other. She's sweet, kind and smart as whip. Maegan's the kind of person that looks out for the underdogs. Her ability to care for animals shows her benevolent ways. Plus, she is accomplished-traveled to Europe, worked in Africa. I know no one like her (and that's a great thing.)

These two ladies have become my dearest friends, they know so much dirt about me. Yet, they never judge (And trust me, they could)

I'm a lucky girl. Thank you to everyone who has supported our blog and our lives.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Plot Device: The Movie

Does anyone know where I can get me one of these?

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

Remember we have a caption contest going on, here and here. You can enter on one or both pics. It's open until Friday. Happy captioning everybody!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Contest Adjustment - and - When Good Things Come To An End

Hi guys!
Due to circumstances beyond our control--involving Russo's picture--there will only be two pictures in the caption contest: That belonging to Maegan, and that belonging to me. Sometime in the future we shall digitally capture Russo in a situation that involves the same hilarity-level as her erstwhile photo, but until then, if you want to come up with a clever caption(s) and win prizes which include a Challenging the Gnome bumper sticker, chocolate, and the grand prize of a handbook on handling gnomes, please go to Maegan's picture and/or mine and comment with words of brilliance. Or cuteness. Or niceness. After our raucous laughter has died away, we'll evaluate the captions, select winners, and get back to you. The contest is open for another week.

Here's a link to Maegan's photo. Here's a link to mine.

Now, a moment of silence for Russ and her picture, please. Also, a moment of good vibes her way, as she is undergoing some serious dental procedures next week and will be a very uncomfortable young Gnomeslayer for a while.  Love ya, Russo, babes.

Before I go, I want to share some thoughts on good things coming to an end. I've had the great pleasure of performing in "High School Musical" for the past week, with my two daughters and a gaggle of really fabulous teenagers. Now first of all, before doing this show the idea of being in this show sort of made me want to peel my skin off. I mean, seriously.

But now that I've done it? Well, it's been charming, and delightful. The show is fluff, to be sure. But--and this is referring specifically to the stage version, which in my humble opinion is much better than the movie version--fluff done with love and friendship brings happiness and joy to the observer. And that's what we had here: silly, happy, wholesome joy and fun. The audience and the cast left each performance feeling lighter and brighter. And that, my dear gnomeslayers, is a very good thing indeed in this world.

The tragic part? It ends tonight. I hate it when good things come to an end: I hated to leave Ireland in May. Hated moving back to the States from Germany when I was a teenager after four years of living there. Mourned each of my own children's passages into more independent states. Wept when high school ended and my friends and I all scattered. Missed every family vacation we've taken with our kidlets long before they began to wind down. What to do? Endings are painful.

But you know? I've learned something with this show. Mostly by accident, and partly because I started learning it on my anniversary trip to the Emerald Isle with my husband. And that is this: When you are doing something you love--and even if you aren't--if you live in every single individual moment, not looking forward with concern about what is coming, not fretting about the past and its mistakes, not worrying about endings, not stressing about doing well or not doing well, then you experience whatever you are doing to your deepest dearest parts. And it never leaves you.

I learned this because Ireland was so new and such an anticipated trip--and who knew if I'd ever go back?--that I breathed in every moment of it as strongly as I could. And when I came home, I did not have that odd feeling that I hadn't really gone. I felt that trip to my bones. Still do. And I feel so comforted by it.

I also learned this because it's been a few years since I did a play and I am old now. I had a whip-cracking memory back in the day. Now? Scary. Major Swiss-cheese holes in the blessed thing. I was freaking out over memorizing the lines (especially as Ms. Darbus has the most unbelievably absurd lines in the play. She speaks modern english with a melodramatic Shakespearean flare), and was having a heck of a time with the choreography--something else I used to excel at.

So, in order to survive I hyper focused. And each night instead of thinking about the entire show and reviewing scenes in my head that came later, I just focused on the scene in front of me. What were my character's goals in that scene? What was her motivation? What did she fear above all? What drove her. Then on (and off) stage I embraced the other actors and everything that made up my character for all I was worth. And I did this out of desperation, so I wouldn't blow it and make life hard for my fellow castmates (as well as the audience).

What happened? A miracle. The same thing that happened with Ireland: Besides remembering my part, I have been experiencing this show fully. It has become a part of me. I adore Ms. Darbus (who'd'a thunk?) And above all, I love, love, love the wonderful kids who people this show with me and with whom it is my great pleasure to associate. I'll never forget them or this experience. And I know we'll remain friends, and hopefully do more shows together.

I am convinced. You want to live and love life to its fullest? Embrace it. Focus on what you are doing in each moment--not what's in the future, not what's in the past, not mistakes (real or perceived), not other peoples' failings. Just the moment. Live in it. Embrace it. Embrace the people with you. And love it.

And then everything and everyone will stay with you forever. What could be better than that?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fire works and physical therapy

For the past year, I have been in physical therapy with my foot. I have a screw holding my arch together-an injury brought on by my own stubbornness.

This week while grinding it out with my therapist he said the most fascinating quote. Maybe it will help you in your journey toward your dream.

After an excruciating day with weights, he stared at me and said, "It's not happening because you want it too much. Just stop for a moment and breathe."

Which got me thinking, how often to we push for our wishes to happen the way we want it to?

Sure our dreams require us to have an absolute drive toward the goal. But what would happen if every now and then we took a step back and breath. Allow the dream to have some air.

This is my example of wanting something so badly and then finally taking a step back. Its written with my grandma in mind.

As a little girl I wanted to see the fireworks with you. Bask in their splendor while listening to the pops and booms all around us. You, in your moccasins, me, in my pigtails and tights. But wishes never come true when you want them desperately.

You passed away before I ever got my wish. For twenty-one years bouquets of fire have flashed in the night sky. Some Independence Days were rainy, others were sweltering hot. Year after year, I wished you were near me.

And just when I had laid to rest my burning desire, you surprised me.

On the Fourth of July 2011, I sit on a blanket across the street from your grave. The crickets chirp and the air is warm. I didn't drive to this spot but somehow, I am here.

My dearest friend smiles wildly and says, "See, I told you this was the perfect place to watch fireworks."

No words would form as I stared at your headstone. I got my wish, just not in the way I had planned.

*And so my friends, the lesson is simple. Just stop for a moment and breath. Everything will work out in time. Until that day, just breath.

PS- We have an amazing caption contest going on right now- want some cool prizes? Just check out Maegan's post (it's right below mine) She'll fill you in with the details.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Feeling Patriotic, Plus a Contest

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills.
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.*

Happy 4th of July, everybody! As I get older, I try to think of this day as more than an excuse to indulge my love of s'mores or write my name in the air with sparklers or catch the latest loud, explosion-laden, save-the-world-from-aliens/robot aliens/giant asteroid-flick with the fam (all fine ways to celebrate, btw).

I've been to a few places that aren't America, places that were all beautiful and interesting and fabulous. But the neatest thing about traveling is that it makes you realize all over again how much you love home. We may not be a perfect country, but we are a country where We the People get to choose our own individual and collective destiny. And for that I'm grateful. On this anniversary of our independence, I'm here to say that the United States is a fine place to live, and American is a fine thing to be.

In other news: Hey, we have a contest going on, folks! As in our first contest ever, in honor of our first year of Challenging the Gnome. Ever. With prizes! The grand prize being your very own copy of HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, because when those darn Gnomes aren't assaulting your confidence or stifling your creativity, they're ravaging your garden and figuring out how to infiltrate your home. We want you, dear readers, to be prepared for the coming Gnopocalypse.

To enter, leave a silly caption for the hideous picture of yours truly below in the comments. Click here for Janiel's pic and a more detailed rundown of the contest.

Go ahead. Make us laugh. We dare you.

*My Country, 'Tis of Thee,
Samuel F. Smith

Friday, July 1, 2011


Hey there, dear Peeps!

We here at the gnome-slaying mecca of the world would like to tell you about a little anniversary we have coming up . . . well . . . TODAY! We started this blog one year ago. *streamers, confetti, non-alcoholic-sparkling-grape-juice, sugar-boat-loads of chocolate* And what a year it has been. Lots of learning, lots of fun, three very unlikely friends who totally do like each other, and who go hang out and get frozen yogurt and laugh our (as Russo would say) toukuses off on as regular a basis as possible.

But we couldn't have done ANYTHING without y'all dudes. You totally cool people who read and comment and are so nice and supportive. You're AWESOME!

So, now we'd like to do something for you. We're going to have a contest. It will run for two weeks, and here's how it will go down: Our challenge of the Month for July goes out to you. Each of us will post a completely absurd picture of ourselves on our posting day this week (mine starts today. obviously :). All you have to do--if you want to participate--is come up with the best, silliest, goofiest, funniest caption to match the picture that you can possibly think of, and post it in the comments for that post. You can do it for just one picture if you like, or you can do it for all three. There will be a prize (involving chocolate, and other stuff) for the best caption for each picture (so, three prizes in all. If you're ΓΌber clever you could win all three. Just sayin'.) And one grand prize for the dude or dudette who says the stinkin' dang funniest thing over all. (There's chocolate AND written words for that one. Written word that looks something like this:)

Now, bear in mind that the judging will be completely subjective. We're the judges. We are occasionally lunatics. Occasionally. So it's going to totally depend on how we feel and how much frozen yogurt we've consumed.

Also bear in mind that I am seriously either pre-menopausal or menopausal (all votes say the latter), Maegan is in the throes of throwing all writing out the window and going to Wales, and Russo . . . well, bless her fuzzy head. It could be anything: Lortab, bugs up noses, hashish-brownies. You know. What I'm trying to say is, our funny may not be other peoples' funny, but that's all right. We'll do our best. And we'll have more contests in the future to try to spread the gnome-slaying weirdness around.

Right, darlings. Let the contest begin. My picture is the goofy one above. Please put your captions in the comments box for this post. We'll leave the contest open for two weeks, then we'll decide on the winners and let you know. You can go back and comment any of the contest posts at any time. We'll try to remember to link back to the pictures in our posts during the contest. Also, once I figure out if I can actually FIND the thing we want to give out as part of the prizes, will give you more details on them. :)

Thanks, all you gnome-eradicating-people! We heart you!

 (*sending ultra-funnyness vibes your way*)