Saturday, September 7, 2013

I ain’t scared

Two days ago I posted the following statement on Facebook:
Seeking Advice: Finn (1-year-old) has been sleeping in our closet his whole life. We were thinking its time to move him out of the closet... And into Wyatt's room with Wyatt (4-years-old). Wyatt will not be moving into the closet just incase that needed to be clarified. This shouldn't be complicated. I know I should just throw Finn in with Wyatt and hope for the best, but SLEEP - its a precious commodity I don't want to lose any more of. Current problems: (1) Wyatt sleeps with the closet light on, Finn sleeps in the pitch black. (2) Wyatt basically jumps around his crib (yes he still sleeps in a crib) making boom banging noises for about an hour before he falls asleep. I'm not sure Finn will stay sleeping during Wyatt's reenactment of Lightning McQueen's beat down of Francesco. (3) It's not unordinary for Finn to wake up at 5:30 whaling (it's such a wonderful moment when Ryan and I lovingly look into each others eyes and peacefully decide who's getting up, NOT). Wyatt sleeps till 6:15. Any advice on making the transition to the boys being in the same room will be GREATLY appreciated.
Although there were multiple hysterical and informative replies, one reply stuck out from the rest, Cyd Franken’s who is the wife of a wonderful man, Tao “Richter” Franken – a true adventurer with a devilish smile who passed away very recently at much too young of an age. Cyd wrote:
Tao and I chucked Trina into Kai’s room early… As Tao would say, I ain’t scared.
Let’s rewind here to four years early when I probably last spoke to Richter by phone. I was pregnant with Wyatt and walking along the wooded and richly green C&O canal just outside Washington DC. For reasons I can’t remember he had a few questions about Potomac Festival, a local whitewater event  – those were quickly answered and small talk ensued. Being as I was waddling along in my oversized state, and honestly, a little scared about what was growing in my belly, I asked Richter if I would survive parenthood. “Parenthood?” Richter balked. “That’s easy.” I laughed. Richter didn’t. He meant it.

I hung up the phone a little confused. Richter for all practical purposes had earned the right to have an opinion on parenthood. He had two kids that were at the time of the conversation a toddler girl and a young son who was already boofing waterfalls. He had earned his stripes. And yet, he was the only one out of all the parents I knew that was telling me that parenthood was easy…

Cyd’s reply to my Facebook post two days ago finally made Richter's answer of four years earlier make sense. “I ain’t scared,” a phrase I heard Richter say countless times from the back of the Proctor High School kayak van where he and my brother – two wild and untamed teenagers – would sit dreaming of their college days ahead when they would run huge waterfalls in between classes.  And I’m sure as the years went by Richter said it on his approach to the world’s tallest peaks and the deepest canyons. It too became a motto of my brother’s and mine. We would often quote Richter with an equally devilish grin before we headed out into the backcountry of Wyoming for a ski adventure, or at the put in of some wild river. But as the years went by I said it less and eventually forgot it completely.

When my brother called me a few months ago and could barely talk in between sobs telling me that his best friend, his roommate for years, and his true brother had died of sleep apnea next to his son in their tent on an innocent camping trip I was shocked. I didn’t move. I didn’t talk. I just let the gushing sobs from my brother bring me into his misery. I thought about his wife, his son, his daughter and I too sobbed at the simple fact that he was gone.

As I sit here now, I realize with no doubt in my mind that Richter greeted death with his wonderful grin and said, “This is much too early, but I ain’t scared.” And thanks to Cyd, I am reminded of how powerful this simple phrase is. Fear is toxic – it prevents love, it prevents humor, it prevents the true joy that can be experienced in life.

Before I posted about moving Finn into Wyatt’s room, I was scared! I was DREADING the pure exhaustion that would ensue from potential sleepless nights of worrying over whether Wyatt would smother Finn with a pillow, or chuck a toy at Finn’s head leaving him with a gushing wound, or simply if the boys would sleep. It’s the same stupid fear that consumes me at the entrance to the grocery store with both boys in tow knowing the all-to-soon melt down from Wyatt will emerge when I tell him we can’t buy six boxes of cookies.

But Richter’s phrase, “I ain’t scared,” snapped me out of this worthless state of fear. Upon seeing Cyd’s post I immediately went into action. I took a few necessary precautions by removing from the boys’ room all pillows and sharp-pointy toys that could suffocate or impale, threw the boys into the same room, and merely chuckled when I left their room and closed the door to their first night of sleeping together. And yes, I didn’t sleep. And yes, the boys barely slept. And yes, both boys and both parents were cranky monster after a night of no sleep, but the boys did have a blast laughing and playing together, and Ryan and I did laugh the next morning despite the fact we had to call the doctor at 5AM because we overdosed Finn on Tylenol. By all means it was a miserable night, but because I wasn’t scared I could embrace humor and the love from my crazy boys and as a result have the time of my life. 

I will never again forget Richter’s phrase because when Wyatt gets his drivers license or worse his motorcycle license – I just shivered and gagged – I will chant, “I ain’t scared” and beat back fear with a whopping bat.

Richter, I still don’t believe you – parenthood is hard, but it is a lot easier, and more importantly, full of a lot more love, fun and meaning when you’re not scared. Thank you Richter for always giving me that devilish smile above huge waterfalls and saying, “I ain’t scared.” At times I thought you were crazy. Now I know you were just smarter than the rest of us. I love you and I miss you.

To dear Cyd, thank you for reminding me of your husband’s most perfect phrase. From here on out, this Mama ain’t scared!

For those of you that have been touched by Richter's life like I was a fund has been set up to help support Richter's two children, Trina and Kai. Please click here for more information.

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live the world they have been given, rather than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It is a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. - John Maxwell, Tao-Richter's favorite quote

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pop Turns 70 - It's All About the Adventure!

My Dad turned 70 last week! My Mom threw a nice party with local family and friends in Huletts Landing, NY. And I just couldn't help myself - I had to toast the Pop we love! Here's the toast I gave my Dad at his 70th:

One of the greatest qualities my father has is his ultimate sense of adventure.

Dad made everything an adventure - everything - even our pit stops at the no-name gas stations on our 12-hour car drives to Lake George, Florida or Roanoke, VA. On any random stops we'd here a "Psst" the sound of Dad's trademark call meaning adventure this way. "Everyone out!" He'd say, "I saw a river and I'm sure there's swimming hole." And sure enough, on the side of the road, somewhere between Michigan and Lake George there was a river with even a cliff to jump off of. It was as if the greatest swimming holes and the best rope swings would just magically appear for Dad.

By far one of my favorite adventures with Dad was when I was in third grade. Grandma and Grandpa Corbett took us to Bermuda. We rented these little scooters that allowed us to pull off the road and explore any beach we saw. And in true Dad fashion at every single roadside beach there was fun to be had. But at one of these little beaches there was a path.... And before we knew it we heard his trademark call, “psst - this way.” And we were off - tiptoeing with excitement. The path turned into a cliff wall. We were scaling huge rocks, passing crabs the size of buses. We could see gigantic turtles, and sharks, and octopuses swim below us while we all clung onto the rock with our tiny fingers. It ended at a point with 50-foot waves crashing against the cliff. Dad told us we couldn't go back the way we came. We had to jump off the cliff and swim in. But we couldn't just jump - we had to time our jumps with the waves. Dad strictly instructed us that we could only jump when he said go and when he said go we had to jump - absolutely no hesitation. And when we hit the water, Dad told us to swim as hard as we could back to the beach. Never in my life had I felt so alive, never in my life had the sky seem so bright, the sun so pure, and life just that great - It was my first truly epic adventure. Now looking back, I am sure we weren't actually scaling cliffs and the jump was probably only 10 feet with maybe 3 foot rolling waves washing in - but in my memory - in my imagination - everything was epic - everything was amazing because we were with Dad.

It didn't matter if we were running around the baggage carousels in the Atlanta airport at the 3AM in the morning, it didn't matter if we were at the Grosse Pointe Park doing the dinky little exercise circuit, it didn't matter if we just in our backyard - my Dad could create the greatest adventures to be had.

I've kayaked all over the world, I've paddled the Grand Canyon, I spent winter after winter living in Coast Rica kayaking a river infested with horrid snakes, I've paddled huge waterfalls, I've hiked deep into some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world. AND I know for a fact that I would have never had the guts to go on any of those adventures if it hadn't been for my Dad - he is the one that created that spirit inside me and in turn created my burning desire to show my own sons that every single day no matter where we are - no matter what we are doing we can create the greatest adventure.

Some people don't understand the adventure spirit and that's fine, but for my Dad I think it was his way of teaching us that we can’t achieve anything by sitting on the sideline. It was only by getting into the game - climbing out to random point in Bermuda, jumping off the high dive at GPYC, and swimming in an unknown river that we would be able to really see what we were made of and what we were capable of achieving.

My father still amazes me - even though he's 70 he still puts on a slick ski-racing suit and joins the ranks of the best US Skiers in the country and races the town downhill in Jackson Hole. For those of you that don't ski, this means he reaches speed on his skis faster than you drive on a regular road. He skis some of the hardest terrain in Jackson Hole and rides the lift back up with the young bucks that star in ski movies. And here at Lake George when Corby and I are back on the dock with him, it only takes him a few minutes before we here, "Psst - adventure this way!"

Happy Birthday Pops and thank you for always including me on all your adventures! We love you.

Me and Wyatt toasting Pop:)

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Plans Suck

Plans suck, but its June and everyone is graduating and everyone needs a plan!

I’ve always thought it was extremely important to have a plan. I don’t know if it was my parents, teachers, or coaches that told me this. Or maybe I heard it in my commencement address… Regardless, I thought plans were important.

When I graduated from high school at 18 – with the sun shinning on me while I sat charged and excited all dressed in white – I came up with the following plan while tuning out my commencement speaker:

Graduate from college with a 4.0 and make U.S. Olympic Team by 23-years-old. Retire from sport. Work fulltime for three-five years. Get MBA at Sterns School of Business before 30th birthday. Then become the best financial analyst the world has ever known. That was my plan, and I was going to stick to my plan. Everyone sticks to their plan, right?

It wasn’t until I was 33 and in labor with my first son that I realized plans are worthless. You see, when you’re pregnant the doctor tells you to write out a labor plan that will detail how you want your labor to go. Perfect I thought – this is what I want: (1) No drugs – I’m super tough, how hard can labor really be? And, (2) I want my husband at my side caressing my head and counting the seconds during each contraction. Easy, right? Contractions are suppose to last about 60-90 seconds and then you rest for about a minute while your husband gazes lovingly upon you before it starts all over again. Labor was going to be like a 10-hour intense and painful mountain climb with my devoted husband at my side. PLEASE – at 7AM contraction number one started, and never stopped, or so I felt. After wanting absolutely NO ONE to touch me, talk to me, or even look at me, I had a baby in my arms at 9AM. I didn’t breathe through my two-hour-long single contraction – I screamed at the top of my lungs. Remember how I said I was tough and didn’t need drugs? Well I screamed for drugs while literally foaming at the mouth! My husband said I sounded like a crack addict begging for anything to just take the edge off, and no one brought me anything, and I was pissed!

My labor plan, just like all my plans, was worthless. Let’s scroll back to my original plan because as you can see having a kid at 33 wasn’t part of that plan. It was 2000, I was 23, and the Olympics were in three months, but first I had to make the U.S. Olympic Team at U.S. Team Trials. In the sport of whitewater slalom (my sport) one female from the U.S. would be able to race in the big games. U.S. Team Trials, day one: I crossed the finish line with the fastest time. I was in first. A good start to a three-day race. Day two: I had another great run going. In the last 30 seconds I crossed a wave, caught my edge, and flipped over – breathing water in the sport of whitewater slalom is not fast. My dreams of making the Olympic Team were over. Literally – in that split second when I flipped the first part of my plan I’d had since I was five-years-old was gone – gone.

At the finish line I was embraced by my brother who said, don’t worry there is always the next Olympics. I nodded. He was right. Maybe I could just extend my plan to include another four years of training. I was only 23. Why was I rushing off to Wall Street? I had about 60 undergrad credits left. I could finish college while training for the next Olympics and then get a job and then get an MBA and then become the best financial analyst in the world. It was settled – that was what I was doing.

Again – plans are worthless. Trying to make the Olympic Team and go to college at the same time was a stupid plan. I half-fasted both. I did graduate with a 3.98, but I missed out on key internships that would have greatly increased my career in lieu of World Cup competitions. And my training suffered greatly too. I showed up at the 2004 Olympic Trials a shadow of what I was in 2000. I still ended up second, but my rival who had beaten me in 2000 ran away with the Olympic spot and went on to win the Silver Medal in Athens (click here for my rival's amazing story).

Less than two weeks after racing at Olympic Team Trials in Athens, Greece, I started working at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington DC. I was 27. I still wanted to get my MBA before I was 30, but I couldn’t get into a top MBA School without at least three solid years of work experience before applying. My plan was pushed out – I would work at the SEC till I was 30 and then head off for my MBA.

I’m laughing out loud right now – that plan was completely worthless. The ultimate plan ruinner happened – love. I fell in love with Ryan, my best friend and started dating him in early 2005. Ryan, having tried to make the Olympic Team as well, wouldn’t be done with his undergrad for another three years. I wasn’t willing to get my MBA in Washington DC. I wanted to get it in NYC where I would eventually walk Wall Street as one of the best, so my MBA got pushed back again. A marriage and pregnancy later, I realized that I was never moving to NYC to get my MBA.

In 2009, at 36 weeks pregnant, I threw out all plans when my husband and I moved to Hood River, Oregon, a tiny town on the Columbia River. I had my last day at the SEC on a Friday, got on a plane to Portland on Saturday, and waddled off the plane with my swollen belly determined to come up with a new plan. Surely I could still become the best financial analyst while living in Hood River with no MBA and a newborn…

Four weeks later when my labor plan completely failed me, I had my glowing revelation that plans are not only worthless, they suck. And I want to tell everyone this because its June and in June everyone graduates from either college, high school, middle school, elementary school, and even pre-school and each kid has to come up with a plan – their next move – their path to success. I have a great buddy that’s 14-years-old. He will be a Freshman in high school next year and he has to decide right now whether to take Algebra II and Geometry together during his Freshman year. If he doesn’t, he will not be able to take Calculus his Senior year, and if he doesn’t take Calculus his Senior year he might not be able to get into his college of choice, and if he doesn’t get into his college of choice, he might not be able to get a top engineering job, and if he doesn’t get a top engineering job, he might not be able to invent disappearing dog poop spray, and if he can’t invent disappearing dog poop spray, he definitely won’t be able to invent disappearing cat poop spray… (Did you ever see that stupid moive?) The later example is supposed to shed light on how quickly plans can get silly. Try this on for size: My 14-year-old buddy doesn’t take Algebra II and Geometry at the same time, and he doesn’t get to take AP Calculus his Senior year, and he doesn’t get into MIT, but he does get into University of Washington, and because he went to University of Washington and not MIT he met his best friend, and together with his best friend on one random night when neither of them had any plans of any sort they figure out how to reverse the acidification of the ocean and save the Great Barrier Reef.

My point is: Dare to imagine your next achievement when your plan doesn’t work.

Now, if you really most know – I still make plans because I do believe plans are important - doesn’t mean they don’t still suck - but they guide us, push us, and inspire us. However, if you are like me, be prepared to ditch them because all plans expire the second you take action. And in the second they expire, keep your mind open so you can see the next opportunity that is dangling in front of you.

PS – when your plans don’t happen the following side affects may happen:

1) Tears – its devastating when plans don’t work out. Many tears were shed when I didn’t make the Olympic Team. However, thanks to my failed Olympic attempt, I am that much more devoted to seeing my plans to become a writer come true.
2) Humble Pie – It doesn’t taste good, but when your plans don’t work out you usually get a slice and often emerge a better person. This year when my son attended Pre-School Graduation, my plan for the night did NOT entail my perfect three-year-old son taking a closed fist to a little girl’s head and making her sob. When I told my friend – who happens to be the mother of the 14-year-old that I mentioned above – she said the sooner you realize parenting is the most humbling and unplanned journey of your life, the better and more understanding parent you will be.
3) Revelations – Failure is a good thing. Every single time you fail, you do emerge with more knowledge and better chance of success in your next plan. Remember: Dare to imagine your next achievement when your plan doesn’t work.
4) Listen to your commencement speaker: I bet if I had listened to my commencement speaker she probably had mentioned something about the perfect plan never working out and how that’s a good thing:) 

Me racing at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Me and Ryan in 2005. And yes, Ryan came with the 90 pound wolf-like dog.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Personal Rambling Review of Lean In - An Equal Myth To Having It All

             I said no to a publishing house. I’m crazy! What was I thinking? I’ve dreamed of the day that my series, The Ancient Realm finds a publishing house it can call home. And, I just let that dream go…

            Let me take you through key factors I thought about when making my decision and how Ms. Sandberg’s book made my blood boil during this process.

Factor #1: My sons: 1-year-old Finnegan and 3-year-old Wyatt.

My husband’s one piece of advice to me was do not base your decision off of the boys. He said, “If you need more hours to write to meet the publishing house’s deadlines, we will make it work.” 
I really appreciated my husband giving me this freedom – really I did – but it was still incredibly hard not to think about the boys when making my decision. Let me give you some background: this past year I became a mother of two boys, and it was the most challenging year I’ve had as a mother. Finn had horrible acid reflux and cried for at least one hour after every single feeding. I was averaging a maximum of five hours of sleep for ten straight months – I was delusional and miserable at best. I won’t even go into all the health issues we had with Wyatt during this year as well.
But now, now the sun is shinning! Finn is so happy and so easy. He’s this snuggle nugget. He’s my little buddy that fits perfectly in my arms and just smiles, smiles, smiles. Wyatt is finally medication free – he’s healthy – he’s growing – he’s firing up the jungle gym like a 3-year-old should! My time with my boys is now awesome, and just now when I’m not getting barfed on every five minutes, I’m going to put them in daycare and leave them… In just one year, both of them will be in preschool and then I will have plenty of time to write, but the publishing house was offering me a deal now, not in a year.
So I was excited to hear about the book Lean In, by Ms. Sheryl Sandberg. Knowing Ms. Sandberg is a working mom, I’d hope her words would glow with advice for me about my mixed feelings of giving up my boys’ young years to a daycare facility.
I will just tell you straight up, Ms. Sandberg completely alienated me. If her goal was to piss me off, she succeeded. I am riled up!
Okay first, Ms. Sandberg is making a fortune at her job – a fortune. She can hire the best help this world has to offer: a cook, a gardener, a nanny, a driver… When she leaves for work – she’s not packing up lunches, herding kids out the door, strapping kids into car seats, and rushing them off to daycare where the germ packed snot running down the kids’ faces is thicker than mayonnaise. When her kids were babies, I bet she was leaving the house solo with her kids still possibly in their pjs while her nanny was washing the dishes leftover from breakfast.
Ms. Sandberg stated when she feels bad about not being home with her kids, she thinks about the times her son got to fence with Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook) and how wonderful of an opportunity that was for him. Please, how is any normal working mom going to relate to that.
My personal favorite of Ms. Sandberg’s attempt to relate to other moms is when she went to a conference with her kids via the CEO of eBay’s private plane and how freaked she was the whole time because her kid had lice. Again – private plane, CEO of eBay… Yes, her kid had lice (mind you, I’ve had it three times and its not the end of the world), but come on! I’ve ridden on a private plane once in my life and let me tell you – it doesn’t matter if your kid has lice – it is out-of-this-world easier than flying commercial. Most moms in this situation would have been dealing with the extreme pain-in-the-ass head-ache of flying commercial: finding parking at the airport, checking in, security, waiting at the gate and waiting and waiting some more, flying packed like a sardine, arriving to wait some more for bags, catching a taxi – all with a kid with lice.
Don’t even get me started about the fact that her husband got to move his company closer to her job so it was easier on their family. Yes, that is very practical for Ryan and I. I will just ask the CEO of Boeing to move 90% of their unmanned aircraft industry to Washington DC so I can continue my first career (one I worked very hard at for five years) at the Security and Exchange Commission as an Investigator.
Ms. Sandberg, in a rambling chapter nine, makes a prophet’s claim that we cannot have it all and we need – no, must – stop attempting this impossible feat. Why thank you so much for this inspiring statement! Perfect, I thought, I couldn’t wait to stop trying to have it all. I desperately read on to see what she expected me to give up, and yes, I was greatly disappointed yet again. My favorite example – organizing the linen closet. Second favorite – volunteering at her kid’s school. First, I don’t have a linen closet. Second, great – lets just continue to leave the volunteering jobs at our kids’ schools to stay-at-home moms because they really have so much time, not.
Ms. Sandberg can pretend that she’s said something so important to us moms by telling us we can’t have it all, but she’s completely missed the point. (A) Let’s be real, Ms. Sandberg is still trying to have it all and she’s lying to herself and her readers when she tells you she’s not. And, (B) most of us just want two things (we gave up organizing linen closets long ago): to create the best family and to create the ultimate career for ourselves – we will happily give up almost everything else to achieve this feat.
Long story short, I stuck my tongue out at Ms. Sandberg’s book – yet another piece of literature that falls into the classic pitfall of having working moms facing off against non-working moms. However, I am slightly impressed – she dug deeper and pitted top female executives against young working women just setting out in their career. Yes, lets just continue to pit girls against girls – love it, not.
None-the-less, with a heavy heart I heeded my husband advice and did not base my decision off of our sons. My husband and I are extremely fortunate. In our small town there are a couple of in-home daycares that would have been great for Finn. Wyatt wasn’t an issue because he’s already in preschool.

Factor #2: My legal rights to my book

In the contract I was presented I signed my rights away completely - I no longer owned ANY rights to my book – a book I created, a book that I’d poured my heart and soul into for years – rights gone, completely gone. A common practice with writers and publishers, but one I’m not ready to accept. Could I be Leaning In by demanding more…? Did I just give Ms. Sandberg some credit?

Factor #3: Publisher’s costs above the line, mine below

I was going to receive 50% of the profits after the publisher’s expenses were deducted, but not after my expenses. I don’t make anything as an author – nothing – but currently my only cost is my time. To meet the publisher’s deadlines I would have had to incur at least $700 in daycare expenses a month. That adds up for our house, especially when I am not contributing to the bottom line.
Maybe this is where Ms. Sandberg would have told me to Lean In and ask for my expenses to also be deducted out of the profits before either the publisher or I get paid. But again, Ms. Sandberg alienated me here. When speaking up for herself, Ms. Sandberg used an example of when she was nine months pregnant she walked into the founder of Google’s office and demanded a parking space up front because she was too pregnant to walk from the back of the parking lot. I cheered with her in this example, but I found no personal relief. When I was nine months pregnant I was working in downtown Washington DC. I had gained 60 pounds on my small frame (picture below) and I could barely walk five feet without having the urge to pee, but I never had the option to walk into a CEO’s office and demand this. And in my current situation, I knew little me - a first time author - would merely burn the bridge with the publishing house for asking for this right. It wasn’t an option for me to Lean In.  

Factor #4: Commitment to the series

The Ancient Realm is a series of three books with the first one already available on Amazon. The publishers wanted to re-edit book 1 and re-publish it six months from now. Book 2 would be published six months later, and book 3 another six months. Ultimately, I told them I would agree to their contract as is if they guaranteed we could write out books 1-3 and publish them all at the same time. Currently young readers like to download all the author’s books in one sitting. They don't like to wait for the next one and often forget about the author if they do have to wait. The publishers said no.

I denied the contract over three weeks ago and I’m still wondering why. Having had a publishing house tell me my book was worth their time felt like a warm blanket had been wrapped around my shoulder and I was now a Star Bellied Sneetch being invited to sit at the campfire – I had been accepted – an industry professional believed in my writing. How did I turn my back on this? Easy, I told myself. You see, I had been there before, just in a different venue. When I was trying to make the U.S. Olympic Team in Whitewater Slalom the best coaches in the world told me every day they believed in me. But when I got into the start gate at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and heard three, two, one, go, I was completely alone with only what I truly believed. I know this because everyone’s cheers and roars during my race runs did not get me on the Olympic Team. It was my self-doubts, and my self-doubts alone that prevented me from making it. The same is true today – the publishing house’s belief in my writing provides zero grantees. With a contract unevenly waited between publisher and author, I do feel confident in my decision to continue writing on my own.
Ultimately staying self-employed is the only avenue I have to create a working schedule that allows me to strive for my two ultimate goals: create the best family and create the ultimate career. Ms. Sandberg clearly implies that the reason why there are so few women at the top is because we don’t have the ambition to get there. F@*# you, Ms. Sandberg. No working mom, unless they are the boss or are self-employed can Lean In and create a working schedule where they will be able to thrive as a mom and a professional. Ms. Sandberg your book merely sells us an additional bullshit myth to the original myth that we can have it all. Until society realizes that when children’s school schedules do not meet working schedules (yes, it could be that simple), moms will not be able to lean in, and will continue to be torn apart – literally torn apart trying to be both moms and professionals and that is NOT healthy for society.
Bottom line: I gave Ms. Sandberg’s book five stars. Don’t get confused, she pissed me off, but she made me think. She made me think about the career I did give up to have children (future post). She presented horrid facts about how truly ripped apart a working mom is – how truly hard it is for any parent (both mom and dad) to climb the corporate ladder. And for the alone fact that Ms. Sandberg’s book truly inspired my 70-year-old mom, an original pioneer of Title IX and a gym teacher, I thank her for taking the time to write Lean In (despite all the help she has, I assure you, she is still stretched to a very unhealthy tension).
I do, however, encourage everyone to read Ms. Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic Journal, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. I personally felt that Ms. Slaughter is the very first professional to talk to me as opposed to down at me. I found incredible wisdom, relief, and courage in her article. Thank you to my dear sister-in-law, Tara Bahn who sent me the article when I was frustrated with Ms. Sandberg’s book. Tara is one of the incredibly talented females in today’s environmental legal field and a mother of two very young children. She’s on the front lines every day fighting for her career and her family. Now that Lean In, the fairy-tale version of a working C.O.O./mom has been published, I hope someone like Tara will write their story about what its like to be a working mom in the trenches. 

One of my best friends, Brent Wiesel perfectly dubbed this bathing suit, the shower curtain:) This is me, weighing in at 180 - about 8 months pregnant.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mother's Day Cleanse

My series, The Ancient Realm has a lot of underwater scenes. Some of the new scenes I'm writing take place on the river bed floor. So this Mother's Day I felt like it was important to do some research by taking a dip in the river and touching the floor of the river bed.

Me Before:

Me after:

It should be noted that I felt great afterwards - perfect Mother's Day Cleanse - but it was so cold. I did not stay in long enough to dive down to the river bed floor. In my next life I will have super powers similar to the River Duchess and be able to comfortably swim in any river. (Safety Note: please do not jump into a river. I have spent my whole life on a river and know when it is safe enough to swim).

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Friday, April 19, 2013

I Am The Colorado River.

I have run these canyon for six million years
I have traveled from the rocky mountains to the deserts
Through scorching heat and freezing cold
From the land of the dinosaurs to fields of food. 
I lend my hand to seven states,
Two countries,
Nine national parks,
And 36 million people across an arid west. 
I am not the strongest,
Or the largest,
But I am the hardest working. 
People love me.
My playfulness,
My beauty,
My power,
My life. 
But I don't think I can offer anymore.
I am tried, tapped, and tied.  
Of the hundreds of major rivers in the world,
I am one of the few who no longer kisses the sea.  
Battles to harness my soul have been won and lost. 
Use me wisely, and I will sustain you.
Use me like you have, and I will break
My name is Red, the Grand Red River, the American Nile, the Canyon Maker. I am the Colorado River. And I am the most endangered river in America. 
Become part of the solution. 
American Rivers created an epic, awe inspiring video that leaves me scared, very scared. I've said this before and I will say it again, we are in a battle to save our fresh water sources. I don't know who will win, but I thank American Rivers for all that you do to protect the rivers that feed me, nourish me, and provide me and my family with life.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Corbett Leith, Corby!

My amazing brother is my hero. He is the reason why I've climbed so many mountains, kayaked so many rivers, jumped off so many cliffs, and surfed endless waves. Everyone and anyone would tell you that Corby is all about adventure. You spend a day with Corby and no matter whether you are in the bowels of a city, the depths of a forest, or the top of a mountain you are in for an adventure. I love him. He is the best.

He is also the illustrator of my cover! He's a professional artist and specializes in large abstract oils. Visit a museum with him sometime - truly one of the best adventures you can go on. His ability to explain a painting and walk you through any gallery in the world is one of the greatest rides. Click here to watch a video that takes you into Corby's world in his own studio. Enjoy!

Here is a picture of my brother - he's the one of the bottom left. And yes, he's the one that just decided on a random day (actually the morning of my wedding) that we should do a water ski pyramid - that's Corby - any and every idea is up for grabs and worth pursuing. More importantly, to Corby every idea is achievable. When you stand next to him you think anything is possible.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

School Visit - Mid-Columbia Seventh Day Adventist School

I had a fabulous visit with the 1st-4th grade class of the Mid-Columbia Seventh Day Adventist School. We jumped up and down on one foot, we talked writing, we talked books, we had a blast. This is a rough outline of what I said - I try hard not to read from the paper, but with two little boys running around my feet these days I don't have as much time to practice my speeches.

I’ll start my personal adventures of when I was in 4th grade. I was living in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. It was a really hard year for me. In the classroom I didn’t feel very good about myself. I was the worst in the class – the worst. In my class we had a chart with all our names on it. Every week we took a spelling test. If we got a hundred on our spelling test my teacher would put a star next to our names. All my classmates had at least four or five stars next to their names for getting a hundred on their spelling test, but not me. I never got a star. My chart stayed blank the whole year. During reading hour, when we finished our assignment we could go up to the teacher and get a candy sucker. I always finished last and by the time I got to pick a candy all the good flavors were gone. In the classroom I felt stupid, really stupid.

In 5th grade we moved to Boston Massachusetts. I started at a new school, with a new teacher where I had to make new friends. On one of my first days in school my teacher asked me to read out loud in front of the whole class. I just sat at my desk and looked at the book because that was all I could do – I couldn’t read – I didn’t know how to read. I felt even more stupid. But, my teacher was wonderful. She took me aside and had me tested by a professional for learning disability. My results said that I was reading and spelling on a first grade level and was dyslexic – a common learning disability that affects people’s ability to LEARN. I was told that being dyslexic did not mean that I couldn’t read and spell – it meant that I had to learn how to read and spell differently. With this new knowledge my teacher and after school tutor taught me how to read and spell. I didn’t learn overnight. It was years of hard hard hard work, but by 8th grade I finally caught up. I was finally reading and spelling on an eighth grade level. In high school I graduated near the top of my class and a member of the National Honor Society. In college I graduated near the top of my class with a near perfect grade point average of 3.98 and was awarded the highest academic honor available to an accounting major.

I am so proud to tell you that I am dyslexic. I believe it is the greatest gift I was given because it forced me to learn how to work really hard. If school had been easy for me I don’t know if I would have ever learned how to work really hard. And it’s through my hard work that I have found success. You see, starting at age of 13, I had the goal of making U.S. Olympic Team in the sport of Whitewater Slalom Kayaking. And through my hard work in sport I ended up on the US National Team, ranked second in the country, a world championship silver medalist, and the first alternate to two US Olympic Teams.

My point is this: our greatest weaknesses – mine being reading and spelling – we can all find something that will help us become better at whatever we set out to achieve.

I would have NEVER in a million years thought I would stand in front of you as an author. Even though I worked so hard to over come my dyslexia I am still really scared of words! Commas, nouns, adjectives – grammar in general SCARE me. But, I had a dream – I wanted to write a book, so I put aside my fears and worked really hard to write this little book. And again, if I hadn’t been dyslexic, if I hadn’t learned how to work really hard in school, I would have never been able to write this book.

So to sum up my personal adventures I truly believe that my greatest weakness in life – being dyslexic - truly became my greatest strength because it taught me how to work really hard. 
A huge thank you to Stacey at Mid-Colubmia SDA School. It is amazing teachers like you that help unlock the wonders in every book. Thank you - Thank you - Thank you!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle