“Yes, my daughter has started kindergarten, and NO, I’m not completely happy about it.”

That right there is the basic response I want to give everyone who says, “Oh, your 5-year-old is in school now? That must be great!”

Excuse me, but why is it so great?

We don’t get as many of these opportunities as we should.

Of course, I’m proud of her being excited about school and I’m happy she’s enjoying it as much as she is. But more often than not, the insinuation in comments such as this post’s title is that parents are glad to get the kids out of the house. This is particularly evident when summer vacation comes to an end and people everywhere start talking about how they can’t wait for their children to be back in school.

Why is everyone in such a rush to not be around their kids?

You spend countless years, dollars, and headaches raising these little humans (some folks spend years just trying to conceive)…and now you’re counting down the hours until they’re out of the house?

When I left full-time employment in radio back in July 2012, my son was only 2 1/2 and my daughter hadn’t even been conceived. So right away, the kids and I have spent all kinds of time together: running errands around town, going to library story time, playing at the park, etc.

Unlike my son, my daughter never experienced a daycare whatsoever; the closest she came was when she began preschool last year, and that was only 3 hours a day, two days per week. From the moment she woke up until the moment she went to sleep, she was a part of my everyday existence. Except for the rare occasion – a weekend conference here or there or a 2-hour book signing now and then – she was by my side, constantly.

This is why being alone in the house was not something I was eagerly anticipating. Disclaimer: I would be lying if I said there were not any aspects of the new arrangement that were enticing. I could write, research publishers, market myself, and get more voiceover work done all in the same day – and not have to wait until the kids were in bed before I started. Yes, this promise of a new work schedule was captivating, to say the least.

I could go for one more day of this.

And so far, things have been working out well, even though I still haven’t quite nailed down a regular routine; I’ve sent out more manuscripts, I have a couple of editors interested in a couple of different manuscripts, I’ve been able to do more marketing, and I’m fleshing out some ideas for new stories. The writer’s life is good, right now!

But still, all this comes with a price: the loss of time with my 5-year-old.

I realize this is life. She’s getting taller, smarter, and more mature every day – and will continue to spend more and more time away from home until she eventually is no longer here at all. The same goes for my 8-year-old son. I figure we only have about 10 years before he’s graduating college and heading off to film school to produce the next Jurassic dinosaur movie. (yes, that’s his plan!)

I see no need to rejoice in the speed of life. As futile as it may be, I’d much rather do what I can to slow it down. Our kids will learn soon enough how hectic, crazy, and unforgiving the world can be.

Let them enjoy the solace of home a little longer.

=========================================================

THREE DAYS LEFT
for the “Flashlight Night”
GIVEAWAY!

I have THREE personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017) I’m giving away! If you’d like to enter to win, check out last week’s post celebrating the book’s FIRST YEAR birthday…with three opportunities to win, why wouldn’t you want to enter??

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Pet camels, poop hats, and the high cost of potatoes: What I learned at the state fair, Vol. VII

hsflogo-lgAnother Labor Day Weekend is behind us, and another enlightening weekend, it was! Each year, I work at the local state fair as the PA announcer – and it’s always a lot of fun. One minute I’m heading to the Durgin Arena to double-check the time of the cattle pull; the next, I’m chowing down on a loaded baked potato.

(Alas, that last tradition might have come to an end…read on!)

As has been tradition here at the ol’ Triple R, I always share some of the things I’ve learned from the fair because it’s as much a learning experience as it is a work experience. At past fairs I’ve learned the most despised candies in the universe; the best time to “smell” the fair; and the benefits of chainmail socks.

This year was as eye-opening as ever…

  1. Farewell, old friend.

    All good things come to an end. And yes, I’m talking about my potato. In the past, I would order a giant baked potato loaded with chili, cheese, bacon, broccoli, sour cream, chives, jalapenos, and salsa. (I tell them to hold the butter, since it’s pretty much superfluous) It usually cost me around $12 for everything, but it was worth it. This year, however, the price of the potatoes went up to $9 for just 2 toppings – so I was looking at a near-$15 price tag, which I just couldn’t rationalize. Good news: The loaded BBQ fries were only $10! Sold.

  2. (click to enlarge. Or eat, to enlarge yourself)

    Speaking of food…my donut can eat your donut. This thing was the size of a small child’s head; and because I couldn’t decide on a glazed or a chocolate-frosted…I opted for both. If you ask, they’ll take a glazed and smear frosting on top.  Oh, yes! You only live once, as they say. (Then again, we only die once, too, and this donut may unfortunately encourage the process.)

  3. You don’t need to spend 2 hours putting on makeup to go to a fair. When it comes to people-watching, it’s hard to beat a fair. There are people from all walks of life here, mingling with each other. I’d pass by locals with their jeans and John Deere caps, followed by dolled-up ladies who look like they had just stepped off the catwalk, followed by young urbanites with their babies. In fact, I saw a group of 3 or 4 fellows who looked like they were straight outta Compton, gangsta-style…and they were talking about where the goat barn was. Just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge, folks.
  4. (click to enlarge)

    No matter how early we are into the weekend, it’s still a joy to be able to scratch events off my list. Don’t get me wrong – I love the fair and love what I do. But it’s not a cake walk – it’s work, and every time I have the opportunity to shave off a little piece of my list, I relish the opportunity.

  5. Poop is now a fashion accessory. How far have we sunk as a society that poop-emoji plush hats have become popular? Or am I just too old to find the amusement in it? I was going to take a photo of the fellow who was wearing said hat – but I just couldn’t bear to be seen doing so.
  6. If a Ferris Wheel seat is turned backwards, it’s a show of respect for a loved one who has passed. Who knew??
  7. You can have a camel as a pet in New Hampshire. I had a chance to talk with a friend of mine who works for Charmingfare Farm in Candia, NH, one of the fair’s biggest supporters, and she told me camels are now a non-regulated species. I didn’t doubt her, but I had to check – and sure enough, camels are a non-controlled species, just like hamsters, canaries, and ostriches. (Yes, that’s true, too!) Think it’s time to surprise the wife with a new pet.
  8. (click to enlarge)

    I want to be a RoboCar when I grow up. This fellow named “John” (of course) and his pal, “Big Red,” meandered through the fairgrounds, greeting folks and mesmerizing children – especially when they knelt down on the ground and actually ROLLED AWAY. Yep, a living, motorized human Transformer; if this children’s writer thing doesn’t work out, you’ll know where to find me.
    .

  9. Riding a motorcycle inside a giant metal sphere can be hazardous to your health. OK, well, I already knew this – but watching the Flying Pages Thrill Show reinforced this little nugget of wisdom.
  10. People can still be kind to one another. Considering the current climate in this over-stimulated and hyper-isolated culture we’re living in, this was a nice revelation. I saw one gentleman watch a credit card fall to the ground, and offered it to its owner, who was unaware; later that day,  a wallet was brought to the lost & found with all the credit cards and money still inside; and as a parent and young child walked past a vendor we all heard a loud sneeze from somewhere inside – and the little boy (who couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4) shouted “Bless You!” I even had a hornet land on my temple – and then fly away, without so much as a light sting. We may be finally turning a corner.
    .
  11. Artists – and all creatives – should get paid what they are worth. #Truth

    (click to enlarge)

=========================================================

Flashlight Night” celebrates its FIRST BIRTHDAY in a little more than one week! Stay tuned for a special celebration post, where you could win a personally-signed copy!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “More Than We Are”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllThis post was originally published 5 years ago, on June 14, 2013. Considering all the graduations taking place this past week, I thought it might be a good idea to re-post it. (You also may also be inclined to check out my message to graduates, which was posted that same week)

=========================================================Where does the time go? One minute your kids are starting kindergarten and the next thing you know, they’re heading off to prom and graduation and the rest of their life.

Whew, that was quick.

My youngest daughter, Katherine, is graduating high school this weekend, so there was no question for me as to what poem I should share today.  Katherine is a very talented young woman, whose photography has graced more than a few blog posts here. She was selected as a New Hampshire Scholar for her above-average course load while in high school, and I’m very proud of her.

I wrote this a little over a year ago – and although it’s not really ‘about’ her, the message was created with her, her two older sisters, and all young people in mind.

(Good grief, I just used the phrase “young people.” That makes me think I might not be one of them anymore.)

“More Than We Are (for Katherine)”

An astronaut’s an astronaut,
but might be someone’s dad
who takes his daughter fishing
when she feels a little sad.
A banker is a banker
but could be a mom, as well,
who shows her son the alphabet
and helps him learn to spell.

A teacher is a teacher
but might be a singer, too.
The janitor at school may wish
he ran the local zoo.
Half of KatieHis son might be a doctor
who is saving someone’s life;
the lady at the store today
might be the doctor’s wife.

Each homeless person on the street,
each writer of a song,
each boy or girl you chance to meet
has somewhere they belong.
There’s always more than what we see,
and as we learn and grow,
we’re all more than we seem to be –

and you’re more than you know.
.

– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, please visit illustrator & wordsmith Michelle Kogan’s blog – where you’ll also find her review of Margaret Simon’s brand-new poetry collection, Bayou Song (University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2018)!

=========================================================

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR”
& “FLASHLIGHT NIGHT”
are available everywhere!

It’s another signing – this time, in New Hampshire’s beautiful Lakes Region! I won’t be able to be there, unfortunately, but Dinosaur‘s co-author, Deb Bruss will be – so I hope you’ll stop by if you’re in the area.

========================================================

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

You can now purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur, and ANY of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH will let me know, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Things to believe in

Earlier this week, as I contemplated what to share for today’s post, I wondered what I should write; something positive, something thoughtful, something funny? Then it occurred to me…I’d already written it!

Last Friday, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, Jama Rattigan was celebrating her last blog post of the year by asking readers to share a few lines about what they believe in. Folks left a variety of comments, paragraphs, and in a few cases what I’d term prose poetry – listing (quite beautifully) everything from dogs, grass, and ocean waves to the power of words and the spirit of Christmas.

As I thought about it, it seemed to me that sometimes the smallest things in the world can be the most important. So as I wrote down my thoughts, I realized they were – unsurprisingly – written in the form of a poem. I shared my thoughts on her blog, but I felt I should share them here, as well.

Keep in mind, this is not polished – it’s a mere 15-20 minutes of thought and words, so it’s not perfect, but I still felt like it was worth posting:

Little Things

I believe in the power and majesty
of little things;
a grain of sand, spiderweb strand,
one solitary snowflake
alighting on my coat.
I believe in the triumph
of good over evil,
love over heartbreak,
time over wounds.
And I believe all the world
owes its existence to a God
who deemed it necessary
that the living place of humankind
should be more beautiful than ugly,
more loving that hate-filled,
and smaller
than we think it is.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

I welcome your thoughts! What do YOU believe in? How does that help you deal with life’s frustrations? And on this “almost-eve” of the world’s most important birthday celebration, how do you find peace in your own little part of the Earth?

My friend, writer/blogger Buffy Silverman, is hosting Poetry Friday today at Buffy’s Blog, with a poem about enjoying Christmas day with eggrolls and movies – stop by her blog and you’ll see why!

=========================================================

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you so much to all who have enjoyed “Flashlight Night” enough to write about it:

========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Amusement rides and chainmail socks: What I learned at the state fair, Vol. VI

(click to enlarge)

Ah, yes…fair season is upon us!

Last weekend, I spent four days at the Hopkinton State Fair – the largest fair in New Hampshire –  wandering the grounds reminding people when the cattle pulls start, what stage the hypnotist was on, and where the bathrooms were.

I’m the announcer for the fair, so when you hear a voice on the PA system echoing through the trees, that’s me. It’s a very unique sort of job, and one that’s a heck of a lot of fun, but it does require a lot work; 55 hours in 4 days can wear one down, and I put in less hours than many of the other employees!

But I’m there every year, and every year I learn something new. Which is why I’ve been putting this annual post together for 7 years now…to shed some light on my lessons learned and observations made.  In the past, I’ve become educated on the problems with skimpy clothing, I’ve discovered the most despised candies in the universe, and, like you, have enjoyed more than my fair share of Australian Battered Savs.

What golden nuggets of wisdom did I discern this year? Read on, faithful reader:

  1. When you smell cotton candy at 8:30 in the morning, you know it’s going to be a great day. #Truth
  2. Some people just do not know how to park. Invariably, every year we get fair goers who don’t want to follow the parking pattern or the fair employees who are showing people where to park. These folks inevitably have to move their vehicles one they’re in the gate and as far away from their vehicle as possible. Once such fellow parked his big SUV in a spot that wasn’t a parking space, and ended up blocking the fire department entrance. I spent at least 2 hours paging him over the PA system to move it, and when he finally did, he parked it right beside an agricultural trailer…which he ended up blocking.
    .
  3. Justin and Ryan from Recycled Percussion should not quit their day jobs.
    30 seconds after it started…it was all over for these two. (click to enlarge)

    The band, which formed in a small town 30 minutes from here and is now a top-selling Las Vegas act, played at our fair for the very first time on Labor Day. They’re good guys, and had cancelled many of their shows in order to spend time in Texas helping with relief efforts, but they made the trek up here to put on this one show, and it was terrific. The night before the show, however, Justin and Ryan were given the opportunity to drive in the annual demolition derby…and were both knocked out within 30 seconds!
    .

  4. Timbersports will probably never show up in the Olympics. Everyone was excited that the Axe Women Loggers of Maine were returning for another year. Individuals in the group hold multiple National & International Lumber Jill and Timbersports titles and their shows include demonstrations of axe throwing, cross-cut sawing, standing block chopping, and log rolling…none of which will probably ever end up as an Olympic event. Their spokesperson explained that, in the Olympics, equipment is standardized so that every athlete has a fair opportunity to showcase his/her abilities. In timbersports, one doesn’t have that luxury; if one person’s log happens to have an internal knot, it could not only dull the blade – or even break it – it completely shuts down that athlete. So “luck,” like it or not, can play a huge role in a competitor’s performance, which is a no-go when it comes to the Olympics.
    .

    The throw…


    …nailed it!

    .

  5. Speaking of the Axe Women…they wear chainmail socks. You know chainmail – those tiny links of metal King Arthur’s knights wore to protect themselves under their suits of armor? Well, professional timbersports athletes wear chainmail socks to protect their feet during competitive chopping events, like the one pictured. These ax blades are made of a special metal that is so sharp, one really can shave one’s arms with it – so if it happens to slip and smash into your boot, you’ll still be able to walk away with your toes intact. You might be screaming in agony, but your toes will thank you.  

    (click to enlarge any photo)
  6. Under-the-counter cheese beats over-the-counter cheese. I didn’t know “under-the-counter” cheese was even a thing, and I’ve been going to fairs my entire life! Sold by a family-run establishment known as the Yankee Cheeseman, this particular cheese is an extra-sharp cheddar that’s even sharper than their sharpest, XXXXX sharp cheddar. Aged TEN YEARS, this cheddar is so sharp, when you bite into it, it bites you back. SO. GOOD. The reason it’s called “under-the-counter cheese” is because it’s so sharp, and the texture is often a bit uneven, that many folks who are unfamiliar with it think there’s something wrong with it – so the vendors don’t even put it out on display or offer free samples. You can only buy it if you ask for it…and at $17/pound, it’s worth every penny.
    .
  7. I love playing the national anthem from the grandstand tower.
    (click to enlarge)

    It’s a tradition here the fair that we play the Star-Spangled Banner everyday at noon. It was only until this year that I realized that when I stand to pay respect, remove my hat, and put my hand over my heart…I’m also saluting fries. And that just makes me happy.
    .
    .

  8. False advertising can show up anywhere.
    I spent a good 3 hours inside this place and couldn’t give away my beads to anyone.
    .
    Ripoff.
    .
    By the way, I also learned that a merry-go-round may feature various types of animals in addition to horses. but a carousel can only have horses. Bet you didn’t know that, didja??
    .

So those are this year’s words of wisdom! I’m already looking forward to 2018 – and also looking forward to enjoying at least one or two fairs with the family. But I’ll make sure I park where I’m supposed to.

=========================================================

By the way, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who showed up for Flashlight Night‘s national book launch at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA last Thursday and the local release party at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH this past Sunday!

In Cambridge with Carol Gordon Ekster, who also released her new book, “You Know What?”
In Warner, NH! Good crowds both days.

=========================================================

Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 19, 2017! 

“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Imaginative…fantastical” – Booklist

“An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“Beautiful words and amazing illustrations” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

Pre-orders are available now through Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Books-a-Million, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 19 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

Thank you for your support!

========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Wall in the Woods”

This post was originally published back in November of 2013…wow, hard to believe it’s been nearly 4 years! Why am I sharing it again? Well, I was looking through some of my past posts and for some reason, this one spoke to me, asking to be given new life. So I was happy to oblige! By the way, Jone MacCulloch has the complete Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, so please be sure to Check It Out!

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“Poetry in Windows”

I just like the way that sounds.  “Poetry in Windows.”  It conjures up all sorts of images, from actual poems in actual windows, to more abstract definitions of “poetry” and perhaps some transcendental interpretations of ‘windows.’

In this case, however, we’re talking about the former.  Specifically, The New Hampshire Writers Project’s annual Poetry in Windows event.

First, a little background:  The New Hampshire Writers’ Project (NHWP) will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.  The 650 member-strong organization hosts several writing workshops throughout the year, two literary festivals, and Writers’ Day, a day of workshops, literary flash competitions, and book sales involving 250 writers from across New England. Their keynoter on April 6, 2013 will be author Andre Dubus III.  Last year, NHWP hosted 13 state poets laureate for a festival.  In addition to a formal program, they had readings across the state with New Hampshire poets.
NHWP offers workshops, publishing advice, a quarterly New Hampshire Writer magazine, and several free events across the state, like Writers’ Night Out, a free social held the first Monday of the month.  (Membership is open to writers of all genres as well as readers and patrons who want to support the local writing community…so please click HERE and find out more!)
.
Now then, getting back to “Poetry in Windows”…
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This is one of the many events NHWP hosts each year.  Writers and non-writers alike were asked to submit poems that somehow reflected the Granite State, and the best were selected to be displayed in the windows of downtown merchants of several NH communities, including the state capital, Concord.
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I was honoured to have one of my poems chosen!
.
I didn’t write this poem with NH necessarily in mind; however, I did write it based on my life here, growing up in a rural town (my folks’ house is still on a dirt road!), being close to nature, and raising my kids in the country as well.  Hmmm…sounds like I wrote it with NH in mind, after all!  I based it on something I used to tell my daughters when we’d see stone walls meandering across our property or even through the woods:  that we’ll never really know why they were put there.
.
Other poets selected for the downtown Concord event included my good friend Sylvia Beaupre, Brandon Amico, Dianalee Velie, Midge Goldberg, Nancy Stewart, Barbara Hobbie, Linda Dyer, Marjorie Matthews, Jacqueline Garnett, Janet Barry, Becky Sakellariou, and Jennifer Militello.
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So if you happen to be in Concord, stop by Centrix Bank at 11 South Main St. and you’ll see this on display, along with all these other fine folks’ works throughout downtown.  I hope you enjoy it!
.
Wall in the Woods

There’s a wall in the woods, hidden under the trees,
Made of mossy old stones piled high;
Where the soft fiddleheads grow and slowly unfurl,
And a thin little brook bubbles by.

There’s a wall in the woods neither level nor straight,
Sinking into the dirt and the clay.
It is strong but unsteady; deep cracks show its age,
For its builders have long passed away.

There’s a wall in the woods.  Years ago, in its youth,
This was farmland, a pasture, a field –
Now, meandering through the damp ruins of time
With its history gently concealed.

There’s a wall in the woods – yet there’s no way to tell
If it suffered through flood, fire or drought,
And we never will know what was being kept in…
Or, perhaps…what was being kept out.
.

– © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

===================================================

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews

“Imaginative…fantastical” – ALA Booklist

“Balladic verse” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Beautiful words and amazing illustrations” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 19, 2017! Pre-orders are available now through Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Books-a-Million, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 19 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

Thank you for your support – and stay tuned for details about the big September Blog Tour and book signings that are coming up!

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Thanksgiving Day: The one blessing we overlook

This post was originally published on Nov. 20, 2013, but between food prep, writing, voiceover work, and chasing after a 3-year-old, my time is extremely limited this week! So I thought it might be appropriate to dust this off and re-post it for any of my followers who hadn’t caught it the first time around. I hope you enjoy your week, whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and be grateful…that you have the capacity to be thankful!

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Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. will be here in two days, and everywhere you turn, people are talking, writing, and blogging about all the things they’re thankful for.  I, for one, am growing weary of it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong; it’s good to be grateful.  Indeed, we should be thankful – and display that thankfulness – every day of our lives.  We should reflect upon our blessings on a regular basis and never hesitate to show our appreciation for what we have.

My problem is not so much with the thankfulness; it’s that we’re missing an important reason to be thankful.

The Usual Suspects

Again, please don’t misunderstand me; I’m glad people are thankful for their blessings.  But there are certain blessings that show up on nearly everyone’s lists – our faith(s), our families and friends, our lives, our pets, our homes, our talents.

Some people may be thankful their loved ones made it home safely from being abroad; others may be grateful that they received a year-end bonus, or even have a job at all.

Even the poor and destitute among us may be thankful for things like the warmth of the sun or the kindness of a stranger.

I can say honestly that I am truly, truly, TRULY thankful for all these things…but you probably could have guessed that, even if you had never met me or had never even heard of me or this blog.

These are the blessings that most of humanity celebrates – and the acknowledgement that we should be grateful for these things is rooted in the love, compassion, and empathy that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We recognize the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness.

A quick vocabulary lesson

Gratitude and thankfulness are not necessarily interchangeable.

I’m no lexicographer or linguist, but it has always been my understanding that these words had different meanings.  To be thankful means you’re appreciative that something that you wanted came about; to be grateful indicates you are appreciative towards someone or something.

(Any English professors in the house?  Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

The reason it’s important to know the difference is because gratitude is directional; thankfulness is not.  Feed a hungry animal and it may be thankful it received food, but it might not be grateful toward you for feeding it.  I know pet owners will disagree with that – having two dogs and two cats of my own, I’ll admit that some animals probably are grateful to the person taking care of them – but how many of these animals understand what it means to be grateful or thankful?

And therein lies the rationale for my previous statement that our recognition of the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness is one of the important qualities that elevates us above the rest of the animal kingdom.

Little blessings, and the BIG one

As I ponder this, I come to the conclusion that the human condition of feeling gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation is itself a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful for all those things we talked about earlier.  I’m thankful for my family, our friends, and our pets.  I’m thankful I live in a country that promotes freedom of speech, religion, and personal excellence.  I’m grateful to God and Jesus for their love and sacrifices; I’m grateful to my wife and family for supporting me as a self-employed stay-at-home dad; I’m grateful to Al Gore for creating the internet.

(I’m also thankful – or grateful – to whomever or whatever was responsible for getting my 2-year-old to finally stop waking up at 5am…daylight savings time really screwed up the poor little dude’s internal clock for a couple of weeks!)

But I don’t want to overlook this very important aspect of our humanity; that is, the recognition of the importance of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thankful…for being thankful?

Yes, that is basically what I’m saying.  Chuckle if you’d like.  However, when you actually think about what it means to be thankful for having the comprehension of what gratitude, appreciation, or even indebtedness mean…I hope you will understand why I believe it is so important.

We humans are not simply grateful, or thankful.  We comprehend – and celebrate – the importance of being grateful or thankful.

So this Thanksgiving Day, while we’re giving thanks for all we have, think about why you are thankful.

Think about why you are grateful.

And give thanks that you are.

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

In a season of expectations, find peace in reality

My expectations have been too high.

For what?

A lot of things, actually…but I’m trying to change that.

This time of year is filled with expectations: the arrival of Jesus, the arrival of winter, the hope of a new year, and myriad other things.

In fact, our church has been using the concept of “Great Expectations” as a theme for Advent this year. Because of that, I’ve been making an effort to adjust my own expectations…in many ways.

from Charles Dicken's "Great Expectations"

The problem with expectations

It’s fine to look forward to certain things and get excited about what’s in store for the future – whether it’s preparing for parties, unwrapping gifts, or simply getting to work on time. But the problem is, very often, our expectations are far different from reality.

Religiously speaking, as our pastor explained, the Israelites of Jesus’ day were expecting a king in the manner of King David: a warrior, fighter, take-charge kind of guy who would march right in and restore their kingdom. So when they began thinking Jesus may be the one, they got their hopes up based on their expectations of what their king would be like.

However, when Jesus instead preached peace and love, refused to take any role in the government, and allowed Himself to be persecuted and tortured, they were so aghast they rose up against Him. He did not live up to their expectations.

Likewise, in our personal and secular lives, our expectations often get in the way of us enjoying life when reality sets in. A few examples…

Long lines at the mall…who’d have known??

People always complain about waiting in lines at stores this time of year. Everyone is shopping and everyone is in a hurry – so when everyone gets in line to check out, everyone gets annoyed.

Not me. In this particular case, I understand expectation vs. reality.

I assume that I’m going to be in line for at least half an hour. No, I probably won’t be in line for that long, but that’s what I tell myself to expect. Then, when I end up only being in line for 20 minutes, I feel like I’m 10 minutes ahead of the game!

And you know what? My day is not ruined and I leave the store with a smile.

Assuming, of course, my 2-year-old daughter isn’t screaming.

Speaking of high expectations…

Expecting my daughter to not scream about something is unrealistic. Remember what I said at the beginning of this post about my expectations being too high lately? This is what I was talking about.

You see, she stopped taking regular naps a few weeks ago, which is killing me – I have no more time to work, other than the evening. This means I cannot market my voiceover business, write children’s books and poetry, or even update a blog until after the kids are in bed.

That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time; 2-3 hours is about all I have, if I want to spend any quality time with my wife. Consequently, my paychecks have plummeted while my anxiety has skyrocketed. And my expectations have been so far off from reality it’s driving my nuts!

I keep hoping my daughter will take a nap, but of course she doesn’t. I keep expecting her to not draw on the floor with Sharpies while I’m cleaning the cat pan, but she does. I keep expecting her to not play in the cat pan while I’m wiping off Sharpie from the floor, but she does that, too.

I keep anticipating that today is the day she won’t fight and flail and scream because I want her to wear long pants instead of a summer skirt.

But it never is.

Today was different!

No, she didn’t change. What changed were my expectations.

I woke up this morning assuming I’d get absolutely nothing done.

Call me defeatest, but I was simply trying to be realistic! Anyone with kids knows how hard it is to clean a house with a 2-year-old around: as soon as you fold the clothes, the kid is climbing into the kitchen sink; as soon as you pull her out of the sink and wipe the counter, she’s throwing the folded laundry on the floor.

And somewhere in the midst of it all, she’s finding another Sharpie that we thought we had hid and is drawing on a wall.

Or her face.

Speaking of Christmas and my daughter…hard to believe she was just 4 months old on her first Christmas!

So today, I tried something different. I planned to accomplish nothing – and it worked! I didn’t expect to get the dishes put away and reload the dishwasher, but I did. I didn’t expect to be able to get some yard work done, but I did! I didn’t expect to be able to get any voice work done, but —

Oh, wait. I still wasn’t able to do that.

Dang.

But by setting my expectations lower, I found I didn’t get upset or frustrated like I have been, and my daughter and I are both the better for that.

Revising expectations: not always lower…just different

I’m not saying you should always lower your expectations. I’m just suggesting that altering them to be more realistic is probably not a bad idea.

Should you expect a holiday bonus this year? Should you expect one as big or as little as last year? Should you expect to get a great parking spot at the mall two days before Christmas? Should you expect every driver on the road to always use their turn signals and never cut people off?

Should I expect to sell two more picture books next year??

Well…probably not. It’s not going to keep me from trying, certainly; setting a goal of selling two picture book manuscripts is absolutely worthwhile. But I’m not expecting that to happen. I sold one this past year, so the expectation of selling two the following year may be a bit too ambitious.

Oh, and by the way…now that I no longer expect to be able to decorate for the holidays due to the massive construction work at our house, I’m much more at ease. I am, however, still coming to terms with my office/studio being crammed full and covered in plastic:

house 1 house 2 house 3

YOUR “Great Expectations”

Is there some area in your life where you find that reality is not in line with your expectations? Do you know of any ways that you or other readers can alter our expectations about things, so we feel less disappointment and be more at peace with our lives and the world?

Myself, I’m still a relatively new player to the publishing game and have two poems coming out in two separate anthologies in 2016, so I’ll be happy if I sell at least a couple more poems.

I also expect to gain at least one new voiceover client within the first half of the year – far less than I should, but considering my parenting situation, I really cannot expect much more!

I also expect that the new Star Wars movie is going to rock our planet with awesomeness far beyond all expectations!

That’s not too much to expect, is it?

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The playground of LIFE: We’re doing it wrong

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the playground lately. Actually, I’ve been spending a lot of time at a LOT of playgrounds lately.

If my 5-year-old son is a ball of energy, then his 2-year-old sister is a quasar. Kids their age know no bounds when it comes to the amount of fun and exercise they can cram into one day.

So as a stay-at-home dad, I try to do as much as I can with them, going to parks and playgrounds at least twice a week, and sometimes more. Not only is it obviously good for them -but the long, sustained nap that follows (for my daughter, at least) means I’ll be able to get a solid 2-3 hours of work done in the afternoon!

Ever the observer, though, I have discovered that playgrounds, for all their enticing equipment and happy colours, are fooling our children. They may be fun to swing and slide and play and run, but they are not doing our children any favours when it comes to learning about the reality of life that awaits them when they get older. Consider the following…

  1. Slides. Go up the steps and coast all the way down. Sure, it’s fun – but isn’t climbing up a slippery incline while others are speeding downward, ready to take you out, a better analogy for adulthood?
    slide 2
  2. Swings. You go forward and back, forward and back, each time rising a little bit higher and higher! Yet no matter how hard you pump, no matter how high you get…inertia and gravity keep trying to slow you down.
    .
  3. Jungle Gym. Climb and hang and crawl through spaces while maneuvering through obstacles, perilous heights, and other climbers as you attempt to make it from point A to point B. Anyone who’s worked in Corporate America can see this analogy a mile away.
  4. Photo courtesy of Bluegrass Playgrounds, Inc.

    Merry-Go-Round. My two older daughters used to love this at one of the parks we frequented; grab hold of the bars, run fast to get the merry-go-round spinning, and then jump on and enjoy the ride! Which is all well and good until you try to get off – sorry, son, you’re stuck on this ride until it lets you get off.
    .

  5. See-Saw (Teeter-Totter). Another perfect adult-life analogy: The person you’re playing with goes up, up, up – the lower you go! Which means the only way you can go up…is when the other person is all the way down.

See what I mean? What are our playgrounds teaching our children???

Then again…I suppose it’s all in the way one looks at it. Slides teach our kids that if they are willing to climb all the way to the top, that there will be an enjoyable – if fleeting – reward for them.

Swings show them that the harder they work, the faster and higher they’ll go (even if they never really make it into orbit, as many probably wish). Jungle gyms teach them how to navigate life’s journey, merry-go-rounds encourage them to take those intimidating leaps off the spinning wheel and try something else – or even get the wheel to go faster.

And see-saws are all about teamwork. I’ll help you go up, then you’ll help me go up, and by working together we can accomplish our goal.  Even if that goal is to simply kill time goofing off for an afternoon.

So I guess it IS all a matter of mindset and attitude, isn’t it? Yes, I do see now that playgrounds are actively teaching our youngsters all sorts of wonderful life lessons! Perspective is, indeed, important.

Childlike perspective, at that.

And one of these days, I swear I’m going to launch myself into orbit.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Fata Cumulonimbus”

 

(click to enlarge)

Robyn Hood Black has today’s Poetry Friday roundup, so be sure to head on over and see what the poets are doing for today and specifically for 9/11!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!