When it Comes to Politics Maybe We Should Leave it To the Poets

The next three weeks will be a welcome distraction for me.  I will not have full access to wifi or even the use of my phone.  I am really looking forward to this change.  I am hoping it will help reset my brain.

I will fully admit I have been consumed with social media since just before the election.  I have found it very difficult to pull myself away.  I have frittered away hours reading articles on Facebook, then double checking articles, then checking those articles and then somehow getting lost in other videos, essays, and any number of other less than worthwhile pursuits.  The minutia of social media has really been getting me down, not to mention making me less than productive.  Far too much of my time has been consumed in front of the light of soul sucking blue screens.

It needs to stop.

I just haven’t been able to do on my own.  Maybe cold turkey is the best possible cure.

So in addition to taking in some much needed vitamin D.  I have big lofty, happy goals of quality time with my favorite people in the whole world- my family.  We’ll take in some sights.  Learn some new things and enjoy each others company.  I also hope this time will keep my kiddos and spouse focused and un-plugged as well.  It will be nice to hang out with my parents as well.

I have set goals to hear more stories of their childhoods.  I feel I know very little, especially about my mom’s childhood.

Maybe my time away from the steady flow of political insanity will help me clear my head.  I must find a way to channel my frustration, anger and ideas in a productive manner.  The rabbit hole ride isn’t changing anything except my blood pressure.

So far the best thing I can say about the political journey we have been on is that I had a chance to revisit some poetry by Langston Hughes.  “Let America Be America Again”  says so much more than I could ever articulate.


Let America Be America Again

                                                                                                           by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Heard an interview about the play Thurgood on npr and it ended with this poem. This hope, this dream. This is what we need.

Play around on Poets.org if you need to find a little more humanity back in your life.

Also if you have suggestions on how you are dealing with the political onslaught on social media, feelings of political hopelessness? apathy?  a desire to change the world?  Let me know.  I want to make myself useful.


Maybe I should call this post Zen and the Art of Improv Part 2

The After Improv crew interviewed Garrett Fuller in their last podcast.
This little blog of mine got a small shout out in that interview.  Garrett talked about my writing about his workshop at the Planet Ant. I thought I would dust off that post and milk that five seconds for all that it’s worth.  Here is a link to that blog post here.  Plus writing this gives me content for this blog which is certainly in need of new content lately.

A few things that Garrett mentioned in the podcast that are worth remembering-

Use physicality to get into the scene.

His physicality is awesome because it is nuanced and so real.  A shake of his head and you believe he has one of those ugly, scruffy ponytails that some guys do.  Garrett is one of those performers that really studies people.   He not only observes how people carry themselves, but he uses those notes.  He does this thing with his hips, when he is playing a woman and you buy into the fact that he is a woman. You stop seeing him and you see the character.  That character is real and it all starts with this little chasse.  There are too many examples to share abut I did so love when he was a nurse taking someone’s pulse.

He said so many things about Tim Robinson and Nancy Hayden that I need to see more of their work.

He also said play characters that are fun to play.  Seems obvious but how often do we end of playing people we don’t even like?  Take control of those characters, improvisors.  Play roles that fill you with joy.  There is a life message buried in that point too, isn’t there?

He spoke of needing to get creative projects out of himself. That his Wayne County Lyfe project couldn’t stay in his head any longer. I like that philosophy.  Focusing on producing not the final product. Just wanting to get creative projects out into the world.  I am reminding myself right here, that I need to follow that practice.  Daily.  For Real.

Oh, and he totally gushes over Margaret, which of course I am in complete agreement. Her characters are effortless and limitless. Jim Harper commented after seeing her Mars show (with Mark Soblewski and her husband John Edwartowski) that Margaret’s “characters are so clear even before she’s said anything.” That Jim Harper got it right, Magical stuff.  It is awesome to hear someone else gush over Margaret as much as I do.

So dear readers, go listen to the Podcast with Garrett Fuller and then go back and read the post he mentioned in the podcast and feel cool that you know me.  And the fact that Garrett said I really “got it.”

Improv, my drug of choice.

So proud of my super cool friends that have created the After Improv Podcast and how it has introduced me to so many people and much of Detroit’s improv history.  It is a marvelous project they have going and I am so glad to be one of their friends– first and foremost, one of their guests and of course, one of their listeners.  And since Tony, you are maybe my only regular reader, yes- I am talking to you.  Much love!

The Dirty on Doing Laundry or the Five Rules that Cured My Laundry Problems

I am always trying to hunt down perfect systems to get my life, my house and my household organized.  One area that I had zero control over was our laundry.  I am a huge fan of the Flylady and she has always insisted that the best way to tackle laundry is to do at least one load a day.  Despite desperately wanting to comply, I failed to get on board with her laundry rules for the last six years that I have avidly followed her.

I know that having a family of five (including a potty training princess), necessitates at least a load a day, but man did I struggle.  We have a first floor laundry that I can’t hide from people.  Our half bath is directly across from the laundry room, so if laundry isn’t put away, people will see the loads and loads stacked up and over flowing.  Despite all of these important reasons, I just couldn’t get my laundry life together.

What would typically happen is that I would remember to wash and dry the clothes but would end up with baskets and baskets of wrinkled clothes waiting to be folded all around the house.  I could only manage to get motivated to fold them like one day a week.  This exhaustive and exhausting marathon folding session would put me off laundry for the next five days and the old inefficient cycle would continue.

We would have that log jam in the morning where I was searching through piles of rumpled clean clothes for this one’s school shirt or that one’s special “comfty” pants.  This usually happened in total panic mode right before the bus was supposed to arrive.  Then my husband would do his own laundry, sick of waiting for me and inevitably in his impatience he would take out a still damp load from the dryer and cause catastrophic upsets to my hack of a system.  (Damp versus warm, who knew this took a level of discernment above his pay grade?)

So like any organizing fanatic, I was sure that the solution must have been on Pinterest.  I started following and pining as many laundry posts as I could find, to figure out a system that would work for us.  I pinned pretty laundry rooms with ten–foot–long folding tables and $80, 000 washing machines that wash, fold, burp, wipe and make lunches.  I found video tutorials on folding clothes complete with tools and gadgets to make my kid’s drawers look like displays at the Gap.

Then I fixed myself a glass of wine, watched some awful TV with my husband and got a grip.  I will never have a laundry room that looks like this:

If this is for real- it can be found on Zillow here: http://photos2.zillowstatic.com/i_g/ISxr7crgxs5b2s1000000000.jpg

If this is for real- it can be found on Zillow here.


Since that is not my reality, let me tell you about the system that I settled on that has worked for us without fail for the last three months.  I should add the disclaimer that my laundry goals and expectations are very modest.  I don’t have the time or inclination to learn, let alone use the konmari method of folding.  If you are looking for the that kind of perfectionism, you’ll need to search elsewhere.   (Why would I spend five minutes folding each shirt in the drawer when I know that my son is going to dump the entire drawer on the floor when he is searching for the perfect costume for his new alter ego Clumsy Ninja?  I seriously don’t have time for the kind of stuff.)

My very modest goals and expectations:

  1. Clothes are washed and put away.
  2. No laundry traffic jams in the laundry room.
  3. Kids take responsibility for their own clothes.
  4. No scrambling for clothes in the morning.

To meet these goals and expectations I follow the following five rules:

 Rule #1

I only have to do laundry on Monday and Thursday.

Since I couldn’t figure out how to consistently do the laundry everyday, I told myself that I only have to do laundry two days a week.  One day was overwhelming but two days doesn’t seem so bad.  I probably am doing a load every day, but telling myself that I only have to do it twice a week seems to make the task less daunting.  Each extra load on an added day is a bonus not a chore.

Scheduling the laundry on these two days also means that all week and all weekend we have clean clothes.  I also don’t mind doing a few loads on these two scheduled days.  Mondays and Thursdays are my catch up days or catch all days.  Without fail on one of those two days I will take care of the miscellaneous annoying loads of things like towels, linens, bath rugs, rags, whatever else used to pile up.  I don’t have that massive mountain of dirty laundry waiting anymore.

Rule #2

I don’t fold the laundry.

Yep, that is right.  Everybody has their own laundry basket and when the clothes are dry, I sort laundry immediately into each person’s basket.  Each person is then responsible for putting their own laundry away.  Honestly folding clothes in my house was a pointless time suck.  The first time someone goes searching through their drawer for that one item, all of that effort was wasted.  I also found my boys would throw their baskets all around on the way up to their room anyway, and I just resented the time I had spent making neat little folded piles.

We are most definitely in a wash and wear phase of our lives.  With the exception of my husband’s dress shirts, our clothes are good to go if they are some how shoved into their drawers.  Besides they were only really getting wrinkled when they sat in laundry baskets for weeks, right?  I don’t fuss at anyone about how they put their clothes away, as long as they put them away.  Everybody has labeled drawers or has memorized which drawer is for which items.  I may be particular about how I want my clothes folded before I put them away, but that is on me.  Nobody else gave a damn, so as long as the clothes are in the drawers and the drawers close properly, I let it go.

 Rule #3

Laundry baskets come back downstairs right away.

Since nothing is folded, I like it to be a fast process.  I want them to bring back those empty laundry baskets right away.  Nothing sits in the laundry room or in the baskets.

 Rule #4

Everyone lays out their clothes the night before.

This simple rule makes mornings so much easier.  I am not panicked and neither are the kids.  This has not stopped my preschooler from changing 800 times in one day but at least I have the first outfit covered.  It also ensures that I am on top of the laundry when I need to be.  No one is missing clean pants in the morning.  What is the magic number of pairs of pants for school–aged boys?  I can’t keep them in clean, non-wholly pants of adequate length.  My boys destroy pants like it is their job.  Hand me downs?  What a joke.  Boy #1’s pants are destroyed before #2 gets them.

Rule #5

Every Saturday morning the kids sort the odd socks.

Before our “system” I had a huge basket full of socks.  It took up space in the laundry room and taunted me.   Once I started sorting right into individual laundry baskets right out of the dryer, it seems the socks find their mates without a long protracted singlehood.  The gigantic and scandalous laundry basket/singles club is now just a small basket that can sit on the shelf behind the dryer.  Each Saturday morning while the kids watch TV, they sort the socks.  It gives the kids a job I loathed, and also a sense of responsibility.

So there it is, I have aired all my unfolded laundry.  But I can testify that it is clean.  It is also getting done consistently every week.  I don’t have mountains in the laundry room and I don’t have over flowing hampers in everyone’s closets.  I have kept my sanity.  Oh, and for fun I let the boys personalize their laundry baskets.  I also added a little message at the bottom of everyone’s basket so even if I nag them to empty it right away, they still know how much I love them.

laundry baskets

basket2I hope this helps.  If you have any awesome rules or schedules to share- please share!

Maybe I should also add the addendum that it still takes quite a bit of effort to get some people to empty their baskets.  One child that will remain anonymous threw his entire basket under the bed and went through great lengths to hid this fact, rather than just put the clothes in his drawer.  So there is that. . . .

The lengths one bright child will go to to avoid putting his clothes in the drawer defies logic.

The lengths one bright child will go to to avoid putting his clothes in the drawer defies logic.

Oh and I also sell planner stickers that help you keep track of your laundry, ironing and dry cleaning.  Check ‘em out at my shop here.



New Business, Ghostwriting, Planner Stickers, Improv, Sick Kids, Potty Training, you know the usual . . .

So I’ve been hiding out for a while.  I know.  I know.  I often disappear.  It is terrible.  I know.  How can I develop that huge readership if I skip out all of the time?

But honestly I think I’ve had a few good excuses.

First I was scrambling to finish the first draft of a book I am ghost writing.  Pretty cool gig huh? Yes but man, was that stressful.  I have learned that I actually really love ghostwriting.  Ghostwriting takes all of the pressure out of the creative process.  All I have to think about is maintaining the author’s voice and organizing the content.  I don’t have to worry about my ego at all.  None of the ideas are mine, so I don’t feel that same self-conscious pressure I do with my own creative writing.  I am still playing with words but they aren’t technically my own, so I’m not so worried about them or precious about the critiques.

It wasn’t and isn’t easy peasy though- the struggle has come in trying to organize the ever changing focus of the client.  The concept for the book was changed several times, mostly because my client didn’t have all the content he needed.  Right now he’s given me a nice little break so I’ve filled my time developing a new business and teaching a little drama on the side.

The drama classes are awesome.  I do absolutely love, love, love teaching.  As much as I tell myself I don’t, I do miss being in the classroom.  I do.  I’ve enjoyed having everyone’s rapt attention.  I’ve enjoyed giving my students the floor to explore their ideas and thoughts.  I love wandering the room watching them so earnestly working on their monologues.  I like building a team–like spirit in my classes.  I like being tired at the end of the night.  It’s that good kind of exhaustion.

Then there is this little business I dreamed up.  As you know I have lots of ideas.  I am full of huge plans and always working on my to do lists.  I got hooked on using a paper planner a few years ago.  For me there is something about opening a book and writing things down.  I couldn’t master staring at the tiny dots on my google calendar and making sense of them.  So I got pretty good at putting things into my planner.

I started carrying it around and adding events as new things popped up.  I grew quite attached to it and making it my own.  Then I found myself investigating cute stickers for putting in repeating events.  The problem was that I didn’t know how to reconcile my millions of to do lists with the events in my planner.  A few weekends ago I had everything in my planner but was still flipping out.  Even with things penciled in, we were still triple booked on tons of occasions.

Then there was that Saturday morning a half an hour before Desi’s birthday party when I was running around like crazy.  There I was trying to roll out fondant and use spray food coloring for the first time only minutes before guest were to arrive.  This beautiful cake that we had planned for weeks was being slapped together.  It broke my heart.

Something had to change.  I needed something more than event stickers.  I needed help with all of the details.  I needed all of my to do lists to be fully integrated into my planner.  I could manage one project but not fifteen.  And since I always have fifteen projects going at once and all at different stages . . .  I need a system that helped me integrate it all.

I kept searching online with no luck.  It was than that I figured out that I could make them myself.  If I needed them, well maybe there were other poor saps that over schedule themselves and have huge intricate plans they desperately want to complete.  Once I decided to do it, a million ideas started to fill my mind.

I find myself totally obsessed with learning new software and making new sticker sheets.  My mind perpetually plotting and planning.  It seems I can spend hours putting together new Stick to It Lists.  I am totally hooked.  Totally, totally hooked.  Jon has patiently waded through the web work.  Now I just need to figure out social media so I can properly reach my target audience.  I planted myself in the soil of a very niche market.  I have faith.  I like the product and believe in it.  I just need to find my planner peeps.

Oh– and in addition to all of this– we’ve had crazy boughts of sickness, a tenuous potty training two months and all of the rigamarole of life with three kids, a demanding improv habit and a husband working on a career shift.  So there you have it.

Oh, and since you spent your time listening to this- I’ll send you to my link for my free St Patrick’s Day Fun Planner Sticker Template.




New Year’s Tradition: Write it Down and Make It Happen

You know I’m a sucker for nostalgia and family time.  You know that I am big on goal setting and organizing.  You can read about how quarterly we make plans for seasonal adventures for the family here.  Today I thought I’d briefly post about a little family tradition we just finished doing for the fourth year in a row.

Every year we fill out a little year in review sheet and a few goals we have for the year.  We have used this awesome one from Modern Parents Messy Kids for the last two years.

For fun we thought we’d shake things up and also include a coloring page option that I found at Skip to my Lou.  All three kids love to color so this seemed like an easy choice.

This year I decided to move the saved sheets to our family binder rather than keep them stashed away.  It may be helpful to have them more out in the open.  That way we can review them and keep ourselves on track.

In case you were wondering some of our highlights from 2015 included:

Desmond is proud of himself.  His best memory was performing in the K Rock show and he likes to spend his time playing video games.

Julian wants to learn how to do laser tag and the new book he got for Christmas, that I have the privilege of reading aloud to him, is both of our favorite books for the year.  He is proud of his football game win on the much contested and uber competitive recess field.

Magdalena counts her teacher Erica as one of her friends.  She stated that she likes to spend her time peeing and pooping on the potty but I’m not totally convinced as potty training has returned as a goal for the year.

I enjoyed reading our goals from last year and discovering how many of them we actually accomplished.  Jon said he wanted to stop working a regular 9-5 and that he wanted to buy a new house.  Check and check.  I said I wanted to get paid for my writing and be in an improv troupe.  Check and check.

Some other goals are still in the works which is exciting. None feel to far afield or completly abandoned, which makes me think we have a decent pulse on our future plans.  For this year’s goal setting sheet I made sure that I threw in a few big and bold goals just to keep all of us on our toes.  If I could check so many past goals off, why not make some big bold choices for 2016, right?

I love that we spend time writing and sharing our goals as a family.  I want my kids to know that we will always champion their dreams.  I want them to feel safe to explore big and little goals around our kitchen table first and then out in the world.  I want them to write it down and make it happen.  I want to help in anyway that I can.

Dream Big.  Make Bold Choices.  Dive into 2016, people.  And Happy New Year.

If you share some of your goals in the comments section I am sure I will feel extra loved today.

An Advent Presentation about Mary’s Gift

As a challenge to myself, I volunteered to present my thoughts for an Advent by Candlelight presentation. It was a delightful experience to put my thoughts together and channel my inner priest.   It has also been a while since I’ve had to speak alone at a microphone for any length of time.  I really enjoyed putting together my thoughts and presenting them to a very warm and receptive audience.

A few of the women present asked if I would share my presentation on my blog. As it was far too long to cut and paste, you are welcome to download it as a pdf.   You’ll find the link below.

I would be honored if you wanted to take a look at it.  I would also love if you would comment below and share what you thought.


Annelyse Miller

Mary’s GIft by Annelyse Miller

Accurate Names for Trailer Parks, Subdivisions and Nursing Homes

Does anyone else think that the owners of trailer parks are completely insensitive to their residents by choosing the park names that they do? Trailer parks always have the most lavish names- Green Meadow Manors, [Posh City] Estates, or Grand Chateau’s of [blank] Mile Road. I think if I lived in a tiny mobile home I’d be pretty pissed. I can just imagine the internal dialog I would have as I pulled my paint peeling Plymouth Sundance into the park, maybe I’d be mumbling to myself as I finished off a cold 20 oz bottle of Coke before I chucked it on to the back seat. I would defiantly be angry.

(Apparently in some alternate universe I do live in a trailer home and drive a beater. No judgement. I just do on that alternate plane. Maybe that is the same universe in which I work at art fairs. Traveling from art fair to art fair, selling something I’ve painstakingly created. I know it isn’t jewelry but I can’t decided if I paint, sculpt things out of found objects or sew funky bags. I just can see myself in my little tent, selling my wares.)

I also hate most of the names for subdivisions because they fall along the same lines. If your sub is right on a busy street you can’t call it hidden anything, dawg. Unless you are completely surrounded by trees- your sub should not be called a forest.

Nursing home names also seem to insult the poor residents as well. Don’t make it sound palatial unless it actually is. I don’t know if incredibly honest names would be less insulting but at least they would be real.

Have you seen any good and completely misleading names for trailer parks, subs or nursing homes?

Do names for other things drive you crazy? Share. I want to know.

Notes to a Precocious Child

1. If you are going to draw all over the bathroom and your little potty with a crayon, can you pick a color that doesn’t so closely resemble poop? I know the story and even I feel a little queasy when I look at those impossible to fully clean groves on the top of your training potty.
2. If you are going to tell your best friend where babies come from, please pick a quiet and inconspicuous place. Shouting it across the room at the family pot lock mass in front of the whole congregation including the priest, is not the place.
3. If you want to share stories about us, pick stories that make your parents look good or at least give people some context! I accidentally drank a centipede. Your Daddy doesn’t go around shirtless all of the time. I was nine months pregnant with you when I peed in my pants. . . .
4. Make sure the teachers continue to love you. I couldn’t bare it if they made public all of the stories you have shared with them.

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