• I survived January! I guess it’s time for resolutions

    January hates me. The miserable month rolls around and my life, my schedule, my everything dissolves into some sort of chaos. Last year, I was pregnant and coughed so hard I cracked a couple ribs.  This year, I moved across the country, lived with my in-laws for several weeks, took my kids to the doctors six different times (not an exaggeration), and closed on a new house.

    But it’s over. January is vanquished for another 11 months!  *raises fist triumphantly*

    I’m not big on resolutions because they all get broken before January ends — I mean, hello, the month tries to kill me!  Who can blame a girl for an ice cream binge or seven when her world is ending?

    I’ve made an executive decision (I like saying executive. It makes me think I’m like actually in charge of my life. *sigh* If only that were true).  If I’m going to make resolutions, I’m not going to do it until the more survivable month of February.

    Look at that!  It’s February.  The groundhog saw his shadow and everything.  It’s time to resolve to do some stuff.  Here’s what I’ve got:

    My Goals for 2014

    1. Write two new books and edit a third.  It’s not much of a goal since I actually, contractually,  have to write that much this year, but laying it out there gives me a little box I can check off. I’m all about checking off boxes.  It makes me feel so successful, you know?
    2. Write every single day.  Notice there is no required word count there?  Yeah. That’s intentional.  I’d like to say, “I’ll write 1K per day!” But let’s get real, people.  My world falls apart for a few days every single month. I have to be grateful for the 500 word days.  I have to be grateful for the 50 word days. This goal is going to be tough, but if I’m reasonable, it might just be attainable.
    3. Eat less crap. ‘Nuff said.
    4. Blog weekly.  So far I’m rocking this goal. I’m finding that it’s all about organization and scheduling posts in advance.  You’re all saying, “Duh, Becky.”  But sometimes I’m a wee bit slow on the uptake.
    5. Be more awesome.  This goal sort of falls in line with the “Do Better.”  Goals are supposed to be specific and whatnot, but I think that by making a conscious effort to be a little more awesome (thoughtful, patient, motivated, etc.) then I might actually succeed. I’m hoping that when I’m yelling at my kids (what? It totally happens) or trying to cheat my way through a difficult scene I can just say to myself, “Come on, Beck. Be a little more awesome!” and then the mantra will help.  Positive thinking is supposed to work.  And that’s me thinking positive. 😉

    Alright folks, I’m sure you’re thinking, there’s nothing terribly uplifting or motivating about that list.  And that’s okay.  That list is real. It’s achievable. And sometimes we need to make goals we actually have a chance at reaching. 



  • Small Miracles and Kind Strangers

    (This post is long, but I promise it’s a good one!)

    My uncle, Paul Winkelman, is so very, very talented.  If you’ve seen High School Musical or the opening ceremonies of the Utah or Greece Olympics, then you’ve seen some of his choreography.  If you’ve watched Dancing With the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance, then you’ve watched some of his pupils. 

    In other words, Paul is made of awesome and he helps lots of other people/projects become incredible works of art.

    In September, Paul is taking a team of college-aged ballroom dancers to China to perform at an international Folk Dance festival.

    When Paul called to see if I could hand deliver the team’s passports to the Chinese Visa office, I of course said yes. (Maybe some of the awesome will rub off if I help?  Maybe.)

    Now getting Visas to anywhere, especially China, is a complicated process.  You need invitation letters, gads of paperwork, duplicate pictures, itineraries…you get the idea.  I should have known that there were going to be a few issues.  (I mean, hello, I flew to Brazil on an expired Visa, but that’s a story for another day).

    Here’s where the first miracle comes in:  I convinced my friend Stacy to come with me on this adventure.  If it would have been me and my newborn baby, what happened next would have been impossible.

    The line at the Visa office wasn’t awful for a government agency.  We waited thirty minutes, and then it was our turn at the window.  I shoved the package through the little slot, smiled at the girl, and planned to turn around and walk away. 

    Nothing is ever that simple.

    “Go to the copy machine,” the visa-processor said. “Make a copy of every passport and one invitation letter for every eight passports.  Collate the paperwork, sort it into groups of eight, highlight the names each invitation letter refers to and come back to my window.”

    I looked at Stacy, at the pile of paperwork, at my hungry baby and said, “I’m sorry, what?”

    She, quite patiently, explained the process again and added, “And be back at 12:30.  We close for lunch then.”

    It was 12:05.

    Here’s the second miracle:  The copy machine charged a quarter per page.  There were 32 passports and 36 other pages that needed to be copied.  Where in the world was I going to get $16 in cash?  For some inexplicable reason, I had $8 in quarters in my purse.  Eight.  Dollars.  (No wonder my purse weighed so much).  I also had six dollars in cash.  It wasn’t enough, but I didn’t worry.  I figured I could borrow some money from Stacy. 

    During my frantic copying session, Stacy carried my baby a half-mile back to the car to add more change to the meter.  Guess what?  She used the last of her change and her credit card to make sure I didn’t get a ticket.   

    So there I am, panicking, sweaty, and without another penny to feed the machine. The security guard, who was stationed nearby, gave me the last two dollars.  Even just typing that makes me want to cry.  He didn’t know me, but he helped me. 

    And he wasn’t the only one.  At 12:25 a flight attendant (who was also waiting for her visa to be processed), helped me collate my huge stack of paper. 

    “Go get back in line.  I’ll finish this,” she said, shooing me away. And she did.

    I took the first stack of passports and waded back into the fray of wait-ers.  At 12:31, I finally made it to the window. 

    “Can we start with these?  The others are being put in order.”

    The passport processor took the stack and then shut the window in my face.  I can’t blame her.  People kept getting in line behind me.  She wouldn’t have gotten a lunch unless she cut us off somewhere.  I just happened to be the recipient of the window slam.  (She totally redeemed herself later).

    Stacy, my always optimistic friend, smiled and said, “Let’s find some place great to have lunch!” 

    So we did. 

    At this point, you’re probably thinking, “What else could go wrong?”

    Well…it’s visas for a trip to China.  Because of the type of invitation letter, they had to register for an atypical type of visa but no one knew that until we were at the window.  Instead of sending us away again, visa-processing girl helped us white out, fill-in and alter every application. How many government workers actually help you?  Not many in this type of position, I’m sure. 

    Guys, I could have looked at the day as a disaster, but I was too amazed by all the small miracles and wonderful people.  Eight dollars in quarters?  Friends who are willing to calm hungry babies and pay for your parking?  Security guards who spot you change?  Flight attendants who help you collate paperwork? 

    The evening news makes it easy to forget how many good people there are in the world.  But they are out there.  I don’t know the names of these people, but I’m so very, very grateful for their help. 

    These small acts of kindness will have a big effect on the thirty-two people who get to go China and the thousands of people who get to see their show! 

    Simple acts make great things possible.