Ever notice how angry people seem nowadays? Like big mad. Triggered by the smallest provocation, raging on the road, even cursing out service workers for making a mistake on an order. I could go on and on. It’s all hit a tipping point. But in addition to some serious therapy, I think what the world needs is a piñata.
Yes, a piñata.
I know it’s a bit strange, but hear me out.
Over the past few months, I’ve attended parties that included piñatas. And these weren’t all kids’ birthday parties either. But these gatherings all had one thing in common: a big, colorful piñata. A colorful piñata we were not just gonna hit, but absolutely destroy.
Me when I get in front of any pinata--get that blindfold ready!
And I must say, the act of taking a swing at one is immensely satisfying.
Then I thought about a podcast I recently heard about this festival in Italy called The Battle of the Oranges. The citizens of Ivrea gather oranges, and each winter for three days, they throw the oranges at each other. Like a water balloon fight, but more bruise-inducing. And why do they do this? The villagers seek catharsis, which means “the process of releasing.”
This is a way for everyone to let out all pent up negative emotions, angst, and resentments. The local leaders plan around this event, including clean ups after the fact, making this well-organized chaos. And people can decide not to partake if they choose.
As author Jon Mooallem describes, the residents “would throw the oranges very hard, very viciously, often while screaming profanities at their targets or yowling like Braveheart, and they would throw the oranges for hours, until their eyebrows were matted with pulp and their shirts soaked through.”
At the same time, this battle was healing, as “they would also keep smiling as they threw the oranges, embracing and joking and cheering one another on, exhibiting with their total beings a deranged-seeming but euphoric sense of abandon and belonging — a freedom that was easy to envy but difficult to understand.”
I think this tradition is brilliant. We all need our version of The Battle of the Oranges. While throwing citrus fruit can get a bit sticky or even cause real damage, hitting a piñata is way, way more manageable. But it still gives us that much-needed release.
Feeling in a funk? Frustrated with someone in your life? Fed up with the indignities of adulthood? Take a bat or a stick, hang that piñata, and as it swings in the wind, give it a good, hard whack!
I also think piñata companies need to get on this and market to adults. There’s a whole bunch of us ready to let out a lot of repressed energy, especially after these past few years.
So next time you hit up a piñata shop (there are a bunch near me in Santa Ana), get yourself a “just because” piñata. Get yourself a “just in case” piñata for the tougher weeks. It’s calming. It’s cheaper than therapy.
And the best part? There’s no birthday party required.
We’ve officially reached our stretch goal! Yay!
That means everyone who has ordered a book (Worker Bee Package or higher) will get a free bookmark set with their shipment when the book comes out.
Barney Smith from Story Comic interviewed Jon and me about our campaign. You can click here to listen to us talk about how we made it happen and the process of developing Three Bee Honey.
Also, our stickers came in. You can check out our unboxing video here. They are super cute!
If you want a sticker set and a print, be sure to put in your order before August 19th, the day our campaign ends!
Top: Finn likes to lay down right in the middle of my younger son’s army guy set up.
Middle and Bottom: In this heat, the pets like to sleep under or near the fan to stay cool.
The Brooklyn Public Library, in partnership with the Seattle Public Library, is combatting the recent wave of book censorship with a program called Books Unbanned. This program will grant access to audiobooks and eBooks to teens and young adults living anywhere in the U.S.
Sadly, books are being banned all over the country, even in California.
But we have the tools to push back on this rampant censorship and protect everyone’s right to read. If you know a teen or young adult who would like a Books Unbanned card, please share this resource with them.
That’s all for now, but I will get in touch again as the campaign winds down with last minute updates. We greatly appreciate your support!
Feel free to share or forward this newsletter (or the campaign link) to anyone you think would enjoy it. :)
Hey friends! Our Crowdfundr campaign launches in just ONE day, and Jon and I are working hard behind the scenes to get everything as ready as possible. We just posted this video to kick off the launch.
To commemorate this event, I thought I’d try a different angle in summarizing our experience preparing for a Crowdfundr. We are so excited to get Three Bee Honey out into the world, but it’s definitely been a LOT of work. But we’re making progress, and that alone is worth celebrating.
The ABCs of Crowdfunding
Anticipation building as you countdown the days
Believing in yourself when the doubts get loud
Cross the Rubicon and announce your campaign
Don’t forget to take a shower!
Endless edits on the story and the website
Fall, but then get back up
Go get some sleep, kiddo
Have to complete way too much math to figure out a budget
Infinite to-do lists
Just keep swimming, even when life gets in the way
Know that you’ll be okay, regardless
Learning how to make TikToks, Reels, and Stories
Manifest your daily goals #bossbabes
Noticing that one mistake after it’s posted-gah!
Optimize your network and make the ask
Parent the kids and be generous with screens
Quality videos take time--learn how to edit
Remember to draft a few newsletters along the way
Scrambling the week before launch
Take breaks and laugh or watch a show
Update your fans--even if it’s just your best friend
Visit other campaigns to learn and offer support
Whenever you can, update your subscribers
Xtra rewards are always a good idea for your big spenders
You can do it ALL--sike! Just kidding!
Zen feeling that hits after it’s all done.
The campaign hasn’t even launched yet, but I’m stoked at the level of encouragement and support we’ve gotten. Here are some cool things we have in store for you:
In addition, we have:
Subscribe to our campaign for updates. Thank you so much for joining us on this journey!
It’s Thursday, so I thought I’d throw in a few throwback pictures of our four-legged friends. Aren’t they the cutest?? *Squeeee!*
Since the kids are on summer break, we have a chance to spend more time together, which has its pluses and minuses, for sure. To break up the long summer days, we have family game nights. One of our favorite games is Catan. It is a game of strategy, and the object is to use your resources to build as many settlements and cities as possible.
That’s all for today, but I will get in touch again soon when the campaign goes live. We truly appreciate your support through this process! :)
When in a stressful situation, I’ve always bristled when someone says “Think of your happy place.” I tried to imagine this ideal place, but it just didn’t feel real, causing this vision to slip between my fingers after mere moments. Plus, it was hard to find a quiet moment to meditate at all when I am constantly surrounded by kids at work and at home.
However, I learned to create my happy place--one that I could go back to whenever I wanted even if I lacked peace and quiet. Because we know my life will NOT involve anything quiet.
Allow me to go back in time a bit. When we visited Kauai last year, my husband told me that we should choose an album to play on repeat during our days there. That way, the memories of that trip and the emotions we felt would be embedded in that music. Full disclosure, Jon learned this trick from a longtime friend.
The album we chose? Bloom, by Beach House.
So after spending the day at the beach snorkeling and swimming with the fish and sea turtles, we played that album as we sat in the lanai behind the house. Bloom played in the background as we sipped our cold drinks and listened to the birds calling out from the tops of the palm trees behind our house. When the album finished, we played it again as the not-so-distant ocean waves crashed and the cool wind streamed through the balcony, making the ti leaves and hibiscus flowers dance on their branches.
Bloom played as Jon drew on his iPad and I brainstormed ideas in my notebook. It played while the kids threw a baseball back and forth on the nearby grass.
That was it: a core sensory memory locked.
And a few days later, we arrived back home. Back to reality.
Back to feeling spread thin and overwhelmed by our long list of to-dos, grading, appointments, etc. I immediately longed to return to that porch in Kauai.
I faced grading deadlines and a huge pile of tasks. Getting caught up seemed impossible, but I slogged through the stress for a few weeks. Then, after a super taxing day at work, I slumped into the driver’s seat of my car, completely wiped out. Then I remembered a Thomas Fuller quote: “Memory is the treasure house of the mind wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved.” Our memories serve as monuments for us to revisit whenever we need to (and sometimes when we don’t want to, admittedly). We all have our painful monuments, but what about the joyful ones?
The day we spent listening to Beach House came to mind, and I realized I hadn’t played that album since our vacation. I lumbered into the house with my shoulders knotted from the built up tension, and I played Bloom on our record player.
Almost immediately, my tightly wound nerves came loose. My defensive posture dissolved from my shoulders. My mind ceased its racing. I just sat and took in that moment, devouring the calm it provided.
I melted into the couch, letting my weight surrender to its cushions. For a few fleeting moments, I was back on that lanai. My mind had been transported to that magical island where the cool breezes made the palm trees dance.
I found my happy place.
Speaking of happy places: my pets have no problem finding theirs. Here’s Lilo staying warm on cold and rainy days. Amelie and Finn always snuggle together (and usually prevent us from making our bed)
Current Read: Atomic Habits by James Clear
I just started reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, which several people (including my husband) recommended. So far, it has lived up to the hype. Already, I’ve learned about the importance of small, incremental changes. Like compound interest in banking, these minute changes add up over time to lead to significant transformations.
Some of my newest habits:
-staying in touch with more friends by checking in frequently (even if just through text)
-networking more and introducing myself to people I don’t know
-walk outside every day
Some habits I want to get back into:
-write creatively every single day
-wake up earlier (4am)
In order to gain some experience in copywriting, I’ve been busy side hustling as a freelancer. It’s been an interesting learning experience, for sure. I’ve created social media posts, email blasts, marketing campaigns, and other deliverables. You can check out my portfolio here. It’s pretty scrappy, but I’ll be adding to it as I create more portfolio pieces.
I didn’t get a chance to re-work my GN memoir synopsis, but my husband and I are going to re-focus on THREE BEE HONEY, starting with a redesign (based on feedback we’ve received). I’ll keep you updated in the coming months!
All this rain has made our yard pop off with countless weeds, which I have been picking like crazy. But I have to say, pulling them out and seeing the garden cleaned out does feel empowering, cathartic even. Maybe pulling weeds is feeding my need for control and therefore a form of therapy? Hmmm…..maybe I’m onto a new business model there.
That’s it for March. I look forward to updating you in April! If you have any friends who’d like this newsletter, feel free to share! :)
Getting to the final draft of any project--whether it is a book, a poem, a resume, or even a monthly newsletter (ha!)--can be a frustrating and maddening process.
It’s no wonder why people avoid writing as much as possible. And it’s why resources like ChatGPT have exploded. People want proficiency from the get go. They expect their thoughts to flow like a stream coursing peacefully over smooth river stones, pushed along by the power of inspiration from the heavens.
[This would be nice, BUUUUT it’s just not realistic.]
Anything less than perfect is not worth struggling through. Right?
I see this with my students as well--some almost feel paralyzed at the sight of a blank page. “I have to put pen to paper and do what?” they ask with a helpless look in their eyes, losing all trust in their abilities.
Sure, we can opt to wait for inspiration.
[Okay, inspiration….any day now]
But what if it doesn’t come? It can be elusive and distant. And when it doesn’t hit us, that’s a scary moment, for sure. The blank page. The insidious cursor floating on the document, mocking you with each beat.
Henri Matisse once said, “Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working." And he’s right. We just need to start, embracing the messiness, and take it from there. Every finish needs a starting point.
One way I get them past this hurdle is to follow Matisse’s advice: just write whatever comes to mind about that subject. Some call it freewriting. I set a timer for three or five minutes, and we “sprint” on paper. Grammar, spelling, punctuation--none of that matters (gasp!...I know). We just want to unlock the ideas and get as many of them on paper as possible.
We see the masterful works by the creatives we admire, and wonder how we can ever be as good as them. But the truth is, they also struggle with this process. All creatives do. We just see the final, polished draft, yet they, too, experience a messy process to get there. Unbeknownst to us mortals, they also have to sift through the “junk” of their initial ideas--the good and the bad--and find what’s worth keeping and developing.
We can’t edit a blank page. We just need to let the trash flow, give it time to air out, and then go through rounds of revisions and edits. We have to dispose of what’s not working, and hone in on what is working: that’s how we’ll discover the gem within.
So embrace the messiness of the first draft: the key to getting to that polished piece.
Now, excuse me as I roll up my sleeves, get back to my garbage drafts, and crank out some long-overdue revisions to create something worth treasuring.
Every once in a while, my phone chooses violence and reminds me of a “memory”--in the form of an old photo--from long ago. Rather than share current pet pictures, this is a throwback to our sweet border collie, Ross. He was five when we adopted him, and he was a wonderful dog. This is us at the Bodie State Historic Park (a real life ghost town). At the time this picture was taken, I was expecting our first son, but Ross was our first fur baby, and a wonderful companion and running buddy. He lived 16.5 years, and we miss him so much. I’m thankful for the wonderful years we had together.
Current Read: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
One of my friends gave me Black Cake, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t heard of this book before. It is a beautifully written story about betrayal and the secrets that tie us together. The novel spans multiple generations, starting with two estranged siblings coming together to learn about their deceased mother’s past. It switches POV, which threw me off at first. However, once you get into it, the various perspectives flow and play off each other seamlessly, revealing the rich depth of Wilkerson’s cast. Though I have been chipping away at it slowly due to my schedule, I find myself haunted by their relationships and conflicts, and I look forward to reading more as I progress through each chapter.
The only writing I’ve been able to do is commenting on student essays (yikes, but also lol). With finals and so many other obligations, this past month was a DOOZY. I really hope to get back on the horse in the next few months and re-work a synopsis for a graphic memoir I started working on this past summer. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Our lime tree is popping off, so much so that we can’t keep up. So I’ve been giving away limes (and blood oranges) to neighbors who want them. I hate to see great fruit rotting on the ground; I’d prefer sharing the wealth than letting these fruits go to waste.
That's it for January. Stay tuned for some updates next month! :)
Some updates, musings, and sharing of inspirations.