Friday, October 29, 2010

The Good Witch!

As an adult, I've never been a huge fan of Halloween. I loved it as a child: dressing up, trick or treating, pumpkins, candy, all of it. But since I've had kids of my own, it has become one of those holidays that I almost dread. I feel kind of grinch-y even admitting this here, but it's the truth.

Of course, I love seeing my kids in their costumes, and I love watching how excited they get over the whole thing. But I hate all the candy, and even more I hate dressing up myself. A few years ago my husband and oldest son talked me into doing a Scooby Doo themed Halloween. I had to dress up as Velma -- I'm still a little traumatized!

But, I am a more positive person this year, so decided that maybe I should learn to enjoy this holiday again. Yesterday, I bought myself a sparkly witches' hat yesterday and promised oldest son I'd come help out at his school costume party dressed up myself. Then my kids spent most of the night last night debating whether I would be a good witch or an evil witch (They settled on a good witch!)

As they debated the merits of good vs. bad witches, I saw the world, and Halloween, for a few moments through their eyes. Halloween is all about dressing up, become something that you're not, just for a night, transforming yourself. I guess as an adult I do this sort of thing all the time as a writer -- and also admittedly, I enjoy doing it more in my head in my introverted writerly way than outwardly in costume.

But this weekend, I won't be writing. I'll be a good witch!

How do you feel about Halloween? Do you plan on dressing up?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Power of Positive Envisioning: Part II

Exciting news, you can now "Browse Inside" The Transformation of Things on the HarperCollins' site! Click here if you want to check out the beginning of the book. (I also put it up on the sidebar if you want to click from there.)

Also some time today you should be able to read my bucket list over at Chick Lit is Not Dead (and enter to win one of five giveaway copies of the book!)

So, remember when I blogged about the power of positive envisioning back in August? Well, one thing that I actually envisioned happening for a few weeks in a row in August/September has begun to happen. I can't tell you what it is yet (and also, remember I'm superstitious, so I wouldn't want to jinx it anyway). But, I did tell a close friend of mine, and her first question was, "Do you think this was the result of all your positive thinking?"

I was stumped for a minute. Did I? Really? I'm not sure. If I think about it logically, it probably would've happened regardless of what I did or didn't do. But. I'd been envisioning this thing, and then it happened. That had to mean something, right?

I'm a person who likes control, and I guess by envisioning these things that I want to happen to me, as if they've already happened, by creating a clear and vivid picture of them in my mind at night before I go to bed, I feel it gives me some element of control. Is it an illusion? Maybe. Probably. Certainly, what I've been doing doesn't hurt. (And this is what I finally told my friend).

And now that it's worked once, I'm convinced it could work again. This week I started envisioning something new. Will it work again? Yes, because I'm being positive here, I'm going to believe it will.

For those of you a few months ago who told me you also envisioned, has it actually worked for you? And for the rest of you, have I convinced you to start doing this now?!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Of Morning Walks and Creepy Animals

Yesterday morning as my friend and I were taking a walk, we noticed something staring at us from a distance: a coyote. It wasn't super close, maybe about 50 feet away, just standing in the middle of a wash, but as we walked by it was staring at us, really, really intensely. Once we walked by it, we decided it was time to turn around and go home, and as we walked by it again, we picked up our pace (I guess that's the positive note here. My fear of the coyote probably caused me to burn more calories!)

Anyway, I'm a huge fan of exercising outside, whenever I get the chance to. When I can't, I'll get on the elliptical, but it's always with a bit more reluctance. I love fresh air, sunshine, the feeling that I'm actually going somewhere of some substantial distance, rather than moving in place. I like walking with a friend, the conversation that propels us to go faster and walk further, better than the reality TV I usually end up trying to pass the time with on the elliptical. One of the things I love about living in the desert is that the majority of fall/winter/spring it's perfect exercising outdoors weather.

But, one thing I'm not a fan of are those desert creatures we occasionally walk by. Last week we found a rattlesnake skin (Thank goodness it was the only the skin, or I may have never walked outside again), and once my husband and I walked by a mountain lion in a parking lot (This still gives me nightmares). Don't even get me started on the story I read last year about a man who was attacked by a rabid javelina while taking a morning stroll.

Do the positives of exercising outside here outweigh my fear of desert creatures? Probably. And yes, I'm going to keep on doing it. Besides, if I keep seeing creepy creatures, I may even become a good distance runner!

What would you rather do, exercise inside or outside? And how do you feel when your path crosses with a wild animal?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Week Until. . .

Something happened to me yesterday morning. Barack Obama called my house. Well, not really him, but a recorded message from him telling me to vote. . . I'm not really sure for what, because as soon as I realized it was one of those countless recorded election calls, I hung up.

And today it's Tuesday, so you know what that means . . . one week until Election Day! No, actually, what I was really thinking was one week until THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS is out. Somewhere in my brain I know that this whole election thing is on a much bigger scale than the release of my novel -- after all, I'm not calling Barack Obama at 8 AM telling him to buy my book, am I?

As I was trying to work on some guest blog posts for the upcoming release yesterday, my husband interrupted to try and share a political article he was reading. I kind of had the same reaction I get to those recorded calls, and I might have glared at him, just a little bit. But after the fact, I did actually feel bad about it.

Because the truth of the matter is, I do think the election is important. I promise you no matter how excited I am next Tuesday, or how many bookstores I feel the need to stop into to visit my lovely book on the shelves, I will vote. Voting is part of being positive, yes? It's part of having a voice and making a difference and trying to make the things we want to change change. I think it's easy to feel that we're only one person and that our vote doesn't matter, but I really firmly believe that it's important to feel like our vote is, well, important.

But, I can't say I'll be quite as excited about voting as I will be about THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS being out :)

What about you? Do you plan on voting? Does voting make you feel positive?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where is Spiderman's Head?

The winner of last week's contest is Tiffany! Tiffany, you get my absolute last ARC of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS -- send me your address to jill (at) and let me know if/how you'd like it signed.

Starting later this week, there will be some contests to win THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS (gorgeous, final copies!) on some other blogs. I'll keep you posted about that here, and for my weekly contest here, I'm supposed to get a shipment of some very pretty bookmarks this afternoon, so to anyone who leaves a comment this week, I'm more than happy to send you one. All you need to do is e-mail me to let me know where you want it sent!

So as I'm sitting here writing this, this is the conversation going on in my house right now. My husband, who just walked into the room, picked up youngest son's Spiderman figurine and said, "Where's Spiderman's head?" (I just looked up to him clutching a headless Spiderman.)

Youngest son didn't even flinch before saying, nonchalantly, "It's right here, in Batman's car." He opened Batman's car and ripped the head out of the driver's seat.

I just chimed in with. "You know you're not supposed to take Spiderman's head off!" (We had a little incident last week where Spiderman's head was missing for a few hours to youngest son's great dismay.)

Anyway, after I said this, I started laughing, and I pointed out to my husband how ridiculous our conversation sounded. Even more ridiculous, we've had similar conversations already about ten times today.

But that's part of the amazing thing about having little kids isn't it, the importance (or lack there of) of Spiderman's head. Sometimes as adults we get so wrapped up in adult problems and adult conversations, that it feels refreshing to have a conversation like this, a dilemma so (literally) small, and a dialogue so inane. Sometimes, it's refreshing to laugh about these things.

What kinds of ridiculous conversations do you have in your house or with your kids? And honestly -- why would the Spiderman manufacturer think it's a good idea for the head to pop on and off?!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rain, Rain, Glad to See Ya!

Don't forget to leave a comment today (or on any post from this week) and I'll enter you to win my very last ARC of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS. I'll announce the winner on Monday!

Yesterday morning it was raining and cold -- well relatively cold for Arizona. When I grew up in Pennsylvania, I used to hate the rain, and I hated it even more in college when I had to walk every where and it rained what felt like every day.

But now that I've lived in the desert for ten years, I've become one of those strange desert people who actually like the rain, you know, the people I used to roll my eyes at when I first moved here. I like the way the rain sounds on my back patio, soothing somehow, and the way the air feels damp and crisp at the same time, and takes on a certain rainy smell in the desert that it doesn't other places I've lived. This morning, I opened the back door, had an extra cup of coffee, and felt strangely calmed and happy, even despite being cold and soaked from taking older son to school.

I thought about the fact that once something becomes a rarity, the way rain is for me now, we begin to appreciate it more. I'm also pretty sure that I now take sunshine, warm weather, and shorts for granted, but that if I moved somewhere like say, Alaska, I would grow to appreciate them again.

How do you feel about rain? What weather do you hate or love? Do you change your mind about these things depending on where you live?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I'm not a big fan of baseball (or any team sport, for that matter). But now that the Phillies are playing in the post-season games, my husband has suddenly become invested in them, and thus, I've been forced to watch the past two weeks. Even older child has decided he enjoys the games. (Younger child seems, like me, completely bored and would rather destroy the house with his train set than actually sit quietly and watch).

Anyway, my problem with baseball is that it's so slow and boring, and I have trouble really caring about balls, bats, and bases. But as I was watching last night, it occurred to me that baseball fans are actually optimists. Everyone who watches those first eight innings is really just sitting there thinking that something amazing/interesting/exciting might happen in the ninth inning. (At least, this is what I tell myself as I sit here writing this in the top of the fifth inning. Something good is bound to happen in the end, right? There must be some payoff?)

The other positive, I guess, is that we're all hanging out together as a family watching something in common, rooting for something together. And in my attempt to find something interesting, I engaged my husband in a 20 minute debate over Brian Wilson's bizarrely un-matching beard last night-- when do we ever get to talk about things like this :)

But even though I'm pretty bored by baseball, I have to admit, I do understand my husband's urge to watch. There's something positive about rooting for a team, wanting them to win something big, something that feels important.

How do you feel about baseball? Have you been a reluctant watcher this week like me, or do you enjoy it or just ignore it?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Positivity and Colds

Yesterday my mom sent me a link to this article called "Colds Hate Positive People." Basically it talks about a study that concluded that our emotions can be tied to our immunity. Not only do positive people get sick less often, the article says, but also, when they do get colds, the colds tend to be less severe.

This is interesting because since I've made an effort to be more positive, I have also felt physically better. I've had more energy, and though I did have that one cold a few weeks ago, it only lasted for a few days, and so far, I've only had one this fall (not bad considering oldest child is in kindergarten and seems to bring home every germ in the world!).

But do I really believe the two things are linked? I'm not sure. I've also been making an effort lately to exercise every day, and I'm obsessive about eating fruits and vegetables, so I don't know if it's positivity alone that's keeping me healthy. But I do think a positive attitude might have something to do with it.

What do you think? Do you think a positive outlook can really keep you from getting sick?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Yesterday, a surprise package landed on my doorstep that contained two finished copies of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS! First, I have to say the book is even more gorgeous in person than it appears from the gorgeous cover you (and I) have been looking at online. I found myself dropping my writing for a little while and just holding the book in my hand, staring at it, flipping through it, admiring the front and back covers.

And I'll admit, I got a little teary eyed. It's one thing to sit in my office and type and imagine my way into a fictional world, to think about plot lines in the shower, or to dream about my characters when I'm sleeping at night. But it's quite another thing all together to hold all of that in your hand, something tangible: a book wrapped inside a stunning cover. A book that, two weeks from today, will sit on book store shelves waiting for readers.

It occurred to me that this was a moment where something I'd dreamed about and hoped for and wished for was actually happening, and I was holding that in my hand. It was kind of the way I felt after each one of my kids were born -- where even though I knew for nine very long months that there was this person living inside of me -- I didn't actually really, truly believe it, or understand it, until I held a baby in my arms.

Have you ever had a moment where you got to hold a physical representation of something you dreamed about in your hands?

Monday, October 18, 2010


Check out this week's contest on the right sidebar -- leave a comment this week to enter to win my very last ARC of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS! (And, if you're interested, there's also a Goodreads giveaway going on for the book. Click here to enter that.)

On Saturday my kids had some friends over to play Play Doh in the backyard. The weather was gorgeous, and the kids were thrilled. A picnic table, a few tubs of Play Doh, some molds and spaghetti makers and all of them sat there quietly playing, engrossed in their creations. Maybe it's because my kids (and their friends) hardly ever get to play with Play Doh, but it's one of those things the kids are always thrilled about doing.

And I have to admit -- I enjoyed playing with it, too. Creating things that weren't real out of nothing -- dinosaurs and ice cream cones, play spaghetti and ducks. Mixing colors and cutting out shapes. It was messy. And it was fun!

I remembered how fun it was to be a kid, to make messes, and how easy it was to feel creative in those messes. Sometimes, as an adult, it's easy to lose track of this, so I enjoyed playing like a kid, on Saturday, at least for a little while (until all the kids went home, and I was scraping Play Doh off the back patio with a knife. . . but, we won't talk about that!)

What's a childhood toy (or mess) do you still enjoy playing with or making?

Friday, October 15, 2010

I like This Moment

Last night my husband and I had the rare date out of the house, alone. We went out to dinner, and while we were eating we overheard the couple next to us telling the waitress that they had just gotten engaged ten minutes earlier. We were sitting in this strange booth that had a privacy curtain, that my husband and I agreed felt more creepy than romantic, but anyway, we couldn't see what the couple looked like until we got up to left. We heard them talking, though, relaying the story of how they met and their dating history to the waitress and then after the waitress left, making phone calls to various friends and family members to relay the happy news.

It was kind of sweet to listen to them, and I guess I should mention that one of the occupational hazards for me of being a writer is that I'm fascinated in these situations where I get to eavesdrop on strangers and observe these kinds of things. But my point in all this, is this. Do you ever have a moment where you hear someone else's good news and you wish you could go back to that point in your life again? Engagements, weddings, pregnancy announcements. I've had that feeling before -- a feeling of missing something or longing for something I once had. But last night I didn't have that feeling.

Last night I thought about how happy I was in this moment in my life. Right now. How much I loved being with my husband ten years into our marriage, how much I loved our happy little family of two kids and four cats. I thought about the fact that I was pretty young, still in college, when I got engaged, and how uncertain my life was then. And I felt absolutely and truly happy to be in the moment of my life that I'm in now.

How do you feel about the current moment of your life? Do you ever hear other people's good news and picture yourself in that situation?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Now I Remember

I've been in a little bit of a reading slump lately. I blogged a few weeks back that I was planning on getting back to reading again, and I asked for some book suggestions. I picked up a few books from my night table, started a few, but then got too busy and distracted to actually finish anything.

But since I'm taking a break this week, I picked up my Kindle yesterday and started looking through the bunches of books I've downloaded and never actually followed through with reading or finishing. I had Every Last One by Anna Quindlen on there, and it was a book I downloaded before a trip last spring but never actually got a chance to even start. In fact, I'd forgotten it was there.

Anna Quindlen is one of my all time favorite authors. When I read Black and Blue years ago, it was the kind of book that reaffirmed my desire to be a writer. In my opinion it has one of the best first chapters of any book I've ever read.

I spent most of the day yesterday engrossed in her latest. I stayed up past midnight, reading until my eyes were tired and bleary. Then I was so involved with the main character and her ensemble of friends and family that I woke up this morning mulling them over as if they were actual people in my life. When I hit the point of the book where tragedy struck, I felt it deeply, as if it were real. I am almost finished with the book and I almost don't want it to end.

This is a feeling that I used to feel quite often when I read a book. This is why I love to read. So thank you, Anna Quindlen, for bringing me out of my reading slump!

What books have brought you out of a reading slump or reminded you why you love to read?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Of Family Days and Butterflies

Yesterday, we took a family trip to the butterfly house, a huge greenhouse filled with tropical butterflies. I've always loved butterflies, and this is one of my favorite places to see them up close. There's something about butterflies that always reminds me of serenity, beauty, and new life. Check out these twin butterflies -- the orange ones were younger son's favorite!

This one below was my favorite kind because these were the ones that kept landing on our fingers!

My husband took this shot of the butterfly landing on my finger! She hung out there for awhile, though, promptly flew away when I tried to transfer her to younger son's finger. (Smart butterfly!)

And because, of course, even though I'm taking a break this week, I can't really forget about THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS (out in THREE WEEKS!) Note the similarity to the above picture -- something which my husband pointed out as soon as he snapped the photo.

Where is your favorite serene place to visit?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Age is Just a. . . What?

The winner of last week's contest, the $10 iTunes gift card, is Melissa! Send me an e-mail to jill(at) with your address and I'll get it right out to you. The contest for this week and next week are listed on the right sidebar>>> Just send me an e-mail or leave a comment here if you want to enter.

I hope you all had a nice long weekend. I did! Something happened to me on Saturday that has been happening to me quite frequently lately. First, I finally finished this massive revision I've been working on for a while, so Saturday night I went off to the grocery store to pick up some celebratory wine and crab legs for me and my husband. (Remember, my new positive mantra is to celebrate even the little things!). Anyway, while I was paying, I got carded buying the bottle of wine. Even though I'm in my early thirties, this still happens to me a lot, especially if I'm shopping alone without the kids. Usually, it's not a big deal -- I laugh and hand over my ID, and maybe the cashier will say something about how they card until age 30 and I looked under 30 and I'll say thank you. And that's that.

But. On Saturday, this cashier asked me to see my ID. I handed it to her, and she literally gasped. "No!" She exclaimed. "This can't be right." She turned it over, held it up next to the light, squinted. "You can't possibly be this OLD."

I felt a little uncomfortable standing there as the guy behind me started sizing me up, perhaps wondering how old I really was or what the hold-up with the line was. I'm not sure. I just nodded politely and told her that yes, I am this old.

"No!" she exclaimed again. "You are way too normal looking and cute to be *this* old."

"Is that a compliment?" I asked.

"Totally," she said. "That's totally a compliment."
So, I did the only think I could think to do, I thanked her, wrangled back my ID and paid.

But as I drove home, I wondered was it really compliment? Wasn't what she was really saying was that she expected people "my age" to look weird, abnormal, or not cute, that somehow despite my "advanced age," I'd been able to avoid these things? Phew! And then I decided that I really didn't care. I like my age. I'd actually much rather be in my thirties than be a teenager when life still felt so uncertain and messy.

How do you feel about your age? Do people mistake you for either older or younger than you are? And am I the only one in my thirties who still gets carded???

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Break!

It's Friday!! And I rarely need a reminder to be positive on this day of the week. This week, especially so, because next week oldest child has off school and my husband has off work. Nothing screams positivity to me like a break (and a sorely needed one in my household, as we're all still recovering from that massive cold I mentioned earlier in the week.)

But, here's something even more exciting to me. Usually when my husband has a break from work, this is my time to write while he watches the kids. I love writing, and that my husband has a job with good hours and vacations, and so I'm not complaining about that. But sometimes when I'm up in my office all alone on a Saturday morning, or most of the week between Christmas and New Year's I think about what it would be like to be able to take a break at the same time as the rest of my family.

Next week I've decided to do just that. I've given myself a self-imposed deadline to finish up my revision this weekend and spend seven wonderful days next week spending time with my family. And that thought today makes me feel positively giddy!

Do you have a break for the holiday weekend this weekend? I hope so! What's your favorite thing to do when you're on a break?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What this is really about. . .

Since this blog and my upcoming book have the same name, people have been asking me lately what the book is about and if it relates to this blog. The truth is, not really. Sure my main character Jen has some hard things happen to her and could definitely use a little positivity in her life, but beyond that, my journey and her journey are totally separate. What we do have in common -- this blog and my book -- is that I thought it would be good for me to focus a little positive energy into the universe pre book launch rather than stressing/worrying/fixating on every single little launch detail and dwelling on all the things that could possibly go wrong. Has it worked? So far, yes (but check back in with me a month from now when the book is actually out!). When my last book came out, last February, my husband jokingly referred to me as "launchzilla" (and that was probably being kind on his part). I'm feeling way happier, more relaxed, and positive this time around -- thanks, in large part, to this blog.

But anyway, for those of you who've been asking, I thought I'd share a little about about the book today. Here's what's on the back cover:

What if the reality you thought you knew was nothing but a fantasy?

Jennifer Levenworth has a great, big, pounding headache. It could be because her husband, a judge, is indicted on bribery charges, leaving her unsure about everything in her marriage. Or it could be caused by the media, who are relentlessly covering the story. Or because the friends Jennifer thought she knew and trusted have turned their backs on her in her greatest hour of need.

And then the dreams begin…

And while Jennifer sleeps, she swears she can see—and hear -- her friends' and family’s most private moments. Soon Jennifer realizes she is actually learning the truth about their lives, leading her to also question everything she thought she knew about herself. But when the dreams start to reveal a startling reality, can Jennifer find the strength to ultimately transform her life?

It's a book about understanding what we have, who we are, and who our true friends are, about how we can transform ourself, others, and our relationships. And that is why I thought it seemed only fair that in leading up to its release, I should try, in some way to transform myself.

If you were to transform one thing in/about your life, what would it be? And how would you go about it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To-Do Lists

I'm a chronic list maker. This doesn't necessarily make me organized, because often my lists end up on scraps of paper or old receipts from my purse. Often I make a list and then forget it or can't find it. But one thing that makes me feel particularly positive is a to-do list, and not the kind of official to-do list that I usually put into the calendar program on my computer, but the kind that is hastily scribbled on a post-it on my counter each morning over coffee.

The things is, whether I make this list or not, I will honestly get the same things done. Only, when I make the to-do-list, I get to physically take a pen at the end of the day and cross off the things I've already done. This makes me feel accomplished, and thus positive about my day. If I can see, with my very own eyes, that I've completed a task(s) that I set out to, then that makes it a good day.

I do this for writing, as well as my day-to-day life -- often with one list per day scribbled on post it on my kitchen counter and one scribbled on my desk. (That's two lists that I'm allowed to cross things off of at at the end of the day!)

Do you make to-do lists? Do they make you feel positive or negative about your day?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Signs & Superstitions

I'll admit, I'm a little superstitious. Okay, maybe a lot superstitious. I'm a frequent knocker on wood and a believer in old wives' tales. I look for signs thrown out to me by the universe. Literal signs. The day I found out I was pregnant with youngest child, I nearly tripped over a dead baby rabbit on the sidewalk right in front of my house. Will you think I'm insane if I tell you that I knew, as soon as I saw that rabbit there, that I was pregnant, that that was the reason I went out and bought a pregnancy test? Go ahead, you're allowed. Writing it down, I do see it's a little crazy myself.

But the reason I bring this up is this. I started this blog to make myself be and feel more positive. And I think I've pretty much achieved that goal for myself. I'm not necessarily transforming from a pessimist to an optimist anymore at this point, but now I pretty much feel like an optimist blogging about positive things.

But also, in the beginning of this journey I believe I wrote that maybe if I put some good karma out into the universe good things would happen to me in return. And you know what -- lately good things have been happening to me. Are they related to all my positive blogging karma? Logic tells me probably not, but that that little (loud) superstitious voice inside my head is screaming YES!

So here's what I was thinking, I was only planning on keeping this blog for a few more weeks until THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS comes out (which, by the way, is 4 WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!), but today I wondered, what if. . .? What if I stop blogging, stop putting positive karma into the universe? Have I just created a new superstition? Do I need to blog to keep those positive vibes going? Am I crazy to think I might?

Do you believe in signs or superstitions? What are they?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cold Remedies?

The winner of last week's contest (chosen with the help of is Liz Fenton. Liz send me an e-mail to jill(at) and let me know your address and how you'd like the book signed and I'll drop it in the mail for you. This week, I'm giving away another iTunes giftcard. All you have to do is leave a comment any day this week to enter!

Today I have a horrible head cold, so I'm going to share two things that I'm thankful for right now: green tea and Breath Right Nose Strips. Cold medicine tends to make me jumpy, so I always try to go for non-medicinal remedies when I have a cold. Seriously, whomever invented those nose strips must've been some kind of genius, as I'm not sure how I would've slept last night without it.

What makes you feel better when you have a cold? Please share anything that might make me feel better today :-) (And since I'm thinking positively -- I promise I'll be feeling better tomorrow and back with a longer post!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Are Neatness and Happiness Related?

So today I have another question for you guys. I guess actually this should start with a confession. My house is generally pretty messy. I used to have a fairly clean house, before I had kids. And these days I guess I have somewhat of a good excuse -- at least for all the toys around the house. But, admittedly, it's not just the toys that make my house a mess. I barely ever have time to mop the floors, and papers tend to pile up on kitchen countertops and end tables. It is a rare day when I actually make my bed. These things, of course, get done before company comes over or family comes to visit. But I don't schedule cleaning into my daily life. When I get some spare time during the day when youngest child is napping, I always choose to write rather than pull out the mop.

I bring this up because yesterday, I was having a conversation with some of the other moms at oldest child's school. Actually, a bunch of them were talking about their cleaning rituals, and how their floors must be spotless and their sinks must be cleaned, etc., and I was kind of standing around trying not to get sucked into the conversation. Until suddenly they all looked at me. "My house is kind of a mess," I admitted, which resulted in some looks of horror. "I mean, I don't have too much time to clean." I think that was even worse, so I quickly changed the subject.

Then I wondered, was it really such a big deal? I could probably back up here, and say that my mom was always a big proponent of a "lived-in" house rather than a house that looked like it should be a model, so perhaps this idea was ingrained in me from birth. But I suppose that some people think neatness and happiness correlate in some way, and I suspect some of those moms at oldest child's school probably thought I was a bad person/woman/mother for admitting that my house was messy (and for not doing anything about it on a daily basis). Believe me, if one of their kids came over for a play date, I'd clean up beforehand. But I thought about it -- if I worried about cleaning my house rather than working on my writing in my free time, I'd be miserable. My floors might be spotless. But aren't there more important things to worry about? On my quest for positivity, am I allowed to simply embrace my messy house and focus on more important things?

What do you think? How are neatness and happiness related? Are they? Do you have a neat house or a messy house?