Be that face!

I wanted to share some of the faces that have looked back at me when I asked if I could take their picture. They are a  reminder to me to show up and be engaged in the lives of others. I mean, look at these seventh graders I spoke to about writing memoir – don’t they make you smile?

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Here’s a woman who works at Planned Parenthood, providing patient care to those in vulnerable circumstances. Her commitment and love was beautiful.

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Here’s my friend as we enjoyed food and sunshine together recently. And boy, was my savory waffle breakfast delicious!

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I’m so grateful for the faces looking back at me, they make so happy! Which leads me to ask myself, can I be a face that uplifts others? Can I be that right now, not in some distant future when everything is going exactly as I planned? Have I told the faces how much I appreciate them?

I’ll leave you with two of my favorite furry faces. Have a wonderful day and thank you for being you. Love, Molly

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(Desi and Lucy, waiting for a treat)

Getting Better

I’ve been sick with what I suppose is the flu. The kind of sick where I haven’t felt like drinking coffee, even first thing in the morning. The kind of sick where the weight of the knife in my hand to cut my chicken seems too heavy. I’ve lost a couple a couple of days and now that I’m slowly emerging, I’m feeling behind. The list in my planner has gone unchecked and the projects I’m excited about have stalled. I’ve been unable to help my husband in (yet another) kitchen remodel and my daughters’ activities have gone on without my attention.

In a daze of fever, not quite sleeping and yet not awake, this thought drummed through my pounding head – you’ve got to get better before doing what you want.

I need to heal my body. The list can wait, it has to wait, even though I don’t want it to – I want to forge ahead. And so it is with other kinds of healing. Healing from the difficult circumstances of my young life led me to writing my memoir Float On, where I got to tell my own truth about it all. That was healing for me and hopefully helpful in some way to others. Writing about recent difficulties in my family in this blog was healing to me. Being authentic and truthful feels important. Bearing witness to my own life in a public way is healing to me, maybe because of my natural inclination to withdraw or subvert attention. To do the things I want, the things I dream about, I must get better, otherwise my efforts can become self-sabotage.

So I rest. And I do small things to get better. A cup of tea with lemon and honey. I let my husband wait on me. I write a few words before I go lie down. Because there are big things for us all to do, but first we must get better.

Love, Molly

(Here’s a peek of one of my favorite hiking spots in Palm Springs.)

 

My Top Ten Tips For Memoir Writing

I love the teaching I’ve been doing, particularly on the memoir. I’ve gathered my top tips on writing your story and recommend the practice for everyone, even if you aren’t certain you will share it with anyone. Have you ever been tempted to write down parts of your life? If so, these might help you get started –

  • Trust that there is a good reason why you remember something. Even if you don’t know what the reason is when you begin, remembering something is reason enough to write about it.
  • Know the difference between journal writing and memoir writing. Writing in a journal is exclusively for your own eyes and serves to process and record the events and feelings in your life. Memoir and personal essays should be aware there is  an audience and try to communicate a message or analysis of the events that are presented.
  • Don’t worry about who will read your writing while you are writing it. It’s natural to think about the reactions of those who appear in your work, but for the sake of authenticity and honesty, push those thoughts aside. Often, these worries are a crutch for avoiding the hard work of writing it. Who knows if you will share your work with anyone, much less that person. The first order of business is to get it down. For those who say that they could never write about their family while certain people are still alive, I say write it anyway.
  • Don’t worry about publishing it when you are writing your first draft. Publishing is likely miles away in the process of getting to a cohesive draft. First, write it.
  • Make a list of significant moments in your life and try to make them as small and detailed as possible. (Not my diagnosis of cancer but, I was peeling a hard boiled egg when the doctor’s office called and asked me to come in.)
  • Start writing from your list.  Expand these significant moments, create scenes and insert sensory details. A common worry is to fret about what will thread the events together. I say that they don’t need a thread; don’t worry about connecting the events you write about – especially for the first draft.  
  • Consider giving yourself time to process intense events before you cover them in your memoir. Writing about your divorce while you are in the middle of it is perfect for journaling, but most of us need to some distance from an impactful event before we can write about it with a clear eye.
  • Be careful about who you choose as your first readers. Choose people who you know care for you unconditionally and want the best for you. These people may not be the best writers you know, but seek to have your initial readers be supportive of you.
  • Keep going. No one will force you to finish except you. It’s supposed to be hard, that’s why most people don’t do it. But you can, you’ve done hard things before.
  • Remember, you are much more than any book you write. It takes courage to put one’s story on paper. No matter what you end up with, it is only a fraction of the person that you are.

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I hope you start writing! Or keep writing! Or read writing! 🙂

Love, Molly

 

Checking coat pockets

When I was a little girl I thought I would be a ballet dancer for a job. Apparently, you could get money to go to class and perform and that seemed like heaven. When I decided at age fourteen not to move away from my family to Kansas City to study dance full-time there, I left the serious ballerina track behind. Yes, I made an early career decision before I entered high school yet my identity as a dancer remained.

I always assumed I would work but I had no idea what I would do. My mom always worked full-time (sometimes two jobs even) but what she actually did in her job for the state of Kansas always seemed fuzzy to me. What is administering job training programs, anyway? I didn’t think of myself as destined to any career; I would work hard at whatever was put in front of me.

Social welfare was my major at the University of Kansas, but I left the graduate program during what I call my early life crisis (feel free to read all about it in my memoir Float On). Who was I if I wasn’t a ballerina, a student or a social worker?

I found a new arena to explore – the catering and restaurant business. I worked long and hard at that with my husband Robert and to much success. But when I didn’t have to work in the restaurant business anymore, I was grateful. I no longer had to work evenings and weekends and miss out on much of our daughters’ lives. But if I wasn’t in the restaurant business, who was I?

Now I’ve published three books and am both proud and humbled to be called a writer. As a young child I used to think that books were birthed at libraries, like potatoes that are dug from the soil. When I realized that people actually form the words to make books I was amazed. But for most of my life I thought of myself as a reader, not a writer. Or so the story I told myself went…

My first best friend Beth came to my book launch for Float On and gave me copies of a magazine together we created back in 1982. It was called Fishkers, a combination of our last names that heavily favored hers – a fact that I’m still trying to get over. Beth kept these magazines! I am holding copies in my hands! So many things about seeing these:

  • I was a terrible speller.
  • I’m afraid I may have plagiarized.
  • I published recipes prior to my cookbook The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors – Orange Julius (remember those?) and Scrumptious Eggs.
  • Our Bumper Stickers section was an early version of a Pinterest Board.
  • I called myself Writer and Etitor (original spelling).

I was in my late thirties when I first ventured into sharing my writing on this blog. I did not think of my myself as a writer; I thought of myself as a Pastry Chef, as a Wife, as a Mother, as a Reader. But now that I see I actually typed the words Writer, Molly Krider when I was ten years old, I wonder if I tucked that identity somewhere and forgot about it, like an old coat you pull out and find you had stashed a twenty-dollar bill in the pocket.

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We are all more than the jobs we do and the the roles we fill, but how we think of ourselves certainly affects how we feel in the world, doesn’t it? Ten-year old Molly thought of herself as a writer, and despite her spelling and using unattributed sources, I guess she was, and that now makes me smile.

It helps me to remember to give room to the young people I’m around to try out different identities. To encourage people of all ages to be open to explore new ones and try on old coats from the closet. To be forgiving to myself when in my own attempts I misspell easy words and think it’s all for nothing. Because who knows what could be in your hand when you check that pocket?

Love, Molly

 

 

 

Everything

“I want everything,” I found myself saying to the friendly Delta flight attendant. Because I can fly standby for free (thanks to the perk of having my stepdaughter Lauren as a Delta employee), I often find myself sitting up front on the plane. One thing about me is that I am ridiculously motivated by free things, so when the beverages and snacks are complimentary, it’s not uncommon for me to have a Bloody Mary, cup of black coffee, pack of almonds, banana and snack mix all on my tray. I want everything also extends to life experience, and while I mostly share the high points on social media and this blog, to have an everything life also means you get the low points too. The times when you wake up in the middle of the night with your eyes wide open with the reality gripping your heart that your husband could die from a drug overdose.

Everything means telling your daughters that daddy is at drug rehab and that he’s getting help because he can’t quit taking the opioid drugs on his own. Everything is barely being able to stay on the road when you hear on the radio in your car that Prince died from an overdose of these same drugs. Everything is finding a therapist so you can untangle the knotted threads that you thought you took care of years ago but seem to keep snagging at those same spots. Everything is putting your broken heart back together, your fractured feelings into breath, and healing.

I do want everything, the big life, unhindered by fear. To practice not being afraid, I often have to experience that awful thing that I don’t want to happen. When it happens – as it does in life, right? – then I have a foundation to draw from. A well of courage and of surrender. Bracing myself for what I fear actually doesn’t help me at all if hardship decides to visit my life; it only robs me of all that I have in the moment. This daughter in front of me. This smell of coffee. This smiling dog with his chin on my leg wanting to be pet.

Now that my husband has been clean for well over a year, I can say this – I still want everything, including the stuff that doesn’t make the Instagram feed. I am better for it, my family is better for it, and because I share it with you, maybe we can all be better for it.

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Serendipity

We thought we had it all finally worked out – we would rent a car when we arrived in Washington DC and drive to New York City for the show. But that was before we had to get off of the airplane TWICE before it was concluded that new aircraft was needed from our departure city of Minneapolis. Hours had passed. The reality of getting to the show in time to see Trevor Noah do his stand-up routine, the whole reason for this crazy overnight in the city for Robert’s birthday, seemed to fading.

We are very fortunate that because my step-daughter Lauren works for Delta, we can fly standby for free. It often works out brilliantly; it sometimes goes disastrously wrong. It’s all part of the fun, of course, but less so when tickets to an event you are really looking forward to have been purchased. But as an exercise in holding events philosophically loosely, it can’t be beat.

We had planned to leave Saturday morning from Kansas City. A direct flight! Time for a lovely bite to eat before the show at Radio City Music Hall! Instead, when checking the numbers for that flight and seeing they had taken a bad turn, we packed in ten minutes and left on Friday night for Minneapolis (temperature upon arrival minus nine degrees). We stayed at an airport hotel and even had time to eat our complimentary breakfast (hello, make your own waffle) before our morning flight to La Guardia. Just prior to boarding that flight, it was cancelled, hence our scramble to be willing to drive from DC.

When we finally sat in our seats to DC (for the third time) on a new larger plane, I sat down in the middle seat next to man in the window seat. Here’s where the serendipity comes in. Robert was in the aisle seat and as a frequent flyer, he makes it a point to address who he’s sitting with, if only to say hello. The man on my right said hi and then didn’t stop talking.

A former Marine for twenty years, he’s now a Delta pilot who was flying standby home after a five-day work trip. He told us about a shuttle flight that we didn’t know about to NYC and even put us on it. He said the drive we had planned could easily take six hours. I  almost cried with joy when I realized we would make it. He also told us about being a Marine, his sense of duty and service and as he was talking, I realized that he took it as his mission to get us to where we wanted to go. He spends his free time with his non-profit that identifies sunken aircraft in the Pacific with MIA soldiers from World War II. I don’t have much interaction with the military and this man, whose name I don’t know, really impressed me. Here he is checking to make sure we found the gate for the shuttle flight…

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Here’s the delicious food we ate while standing in line in the freezing cold to get in to the theater…

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Here’s Trevor Noah – squint really hard! He was awesome!

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But there was more! I recognized this actor (Peter Gerety – he’s been in so much, but The Wire is my favorite) in the La Guardia airport and we were on the same flight to Atlanta. He was charming and talkative and Robert even had the next flight with him to Albuquerque after I went to Kansas City. A copy of my memoir Float On is now in his possession and he talked to Robert about the first few chapters that he read on the plane!

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Merriam Webster defines serendipity as the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. But, as I am reminded from this adventure, to find it you need to both be in motion and be looking for the unexpected. May you find a moment of unintended pleasure and may all of our eyes be open to it.

Love, Molly

 

 

Something I can do and a recipe.

At the risk of bragging, something I can do is make a cookie. As a pastry chef I whisked trays of chocolate chip cookies from the oven to pass to guests while they were still warm; I spread tuile batter paper-thin to shape in to cones for a crisp garnish; I developed a shortbread recipe with a twist for our cookbook. I don’t make cookies often now that I am out of the kitchen but I plan to for an event I’m organizing – Cookie Grab 2018.

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(My favorite cookie cookbook and the Krause cookbook.)

Last year this event raised almost $5,000 for Planned Parenthood. It was held on the inauguration day of our current president in an effort to redirect energy towards how we can be of service to others. In the past year even more attention has been given to what hands have grabbed that they shouldn’t have. If we can’t simply have an open palm to receive, or outstretched fingers to offer, if we must grab something, may it be the cookie.

If you are in the area please stop in – Friday January 19th from 5 – 8pm at Essential Goods, 933 Massachusetts Street. For a suggested donation of $50 (cash or check only), receive a box of delectables from some of Lawrence’s finest eateries – Ladybird Diner, The Levee Cafe, Hank, The Roost, Culinaria, Bon Bon, The Merc, Decade, Alchemy, Eileen’s Colossal Cookies, Southern Accent and more! Complimentary wine and coffee, 20% off in-store goodies –  thank you Essential Goods!

Do you support the Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains Mission Statement? Uphold the standard for providing high quality sexual and reproductive health care. Provide education that promotes informed proud and authentic sexuality. Change the culture through proactive advocacy to ensure equality in reproductive and sexual decision-making.

Regardless if you can or want to attend the Cookie Grab, I hope that you will ask yourself some of the questions I’ve asked myself: What are the values I support? What do I know how to do? What can I actually do to be of service?

I wish I could somehow include a cookie with this post. Instead, here’s the savory shortbread recipe from The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors that I wrote with Robert. I hope you can insert some sweet and service into your day today.

Love, Molly

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