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Amie’s Commencement Address May 24, 2011

Speech Text:

President Haynes, Deans, beloved faculty, and distinguished guests, welcome. And to my fellow Cougar graduates, Congratulations! I would like to thank our families, who have worked almost as hard as we have to realize this day. I honor my husband Michael, my children Lauren and Alex, my friends and family who have helped me earn this degree. Thank you.

Five minutes after my last final, I updated my facebook status. It read: after 15 years of classes, 4 colleges in 4 states,12 proud years as a Marine Corp wife, 6 deployments, 2 children, 5 papers and 7 finals… just this week… today… I have finally graduated.

My story is not unique at Cal State San Marcos. Most graduating today have juggled jobs, families, fought for our country, commuted countless miles or even taken one class at a time. For some, today is a beginning; for others of us, this is a victory years in the making. I am proud to be graduating from a university that values both journeys. So, whether you came to San Marcos as a true freshman or started college alongside your own freshman, I congratulate you. Well done!

What do you say to people who collectively know almost everything? It was a bit daunting, but here is some wisdom I have learned.

Life is not all about me. Money, education and esteem are worth little unless you employ them to help others. Put your neighbor’s needs above your own.

Ethical and virtuous behavior should not be what we profess but what we practice. No amount of fortune or fame is worth losing your integrity.

Now is the time to take chances. Trust your instincts, but listen to wise counsel.

Explore the world so you can learn about who you are. And travel now, while youth hostels are still fun.

Dreams are achieved through hard work and time, so have more patience than pride. Stay teachable so you don’t miss new discoveries that lie ahead. Embrace adversity and failure, they fuel creativity.

Attitude is everything. Decide to wake each morning purposeful and positive. Negativity will break a company, a community, a country.

Remember, life is short; don’t just seek a job; seek a purpose, seek your passion, seek to make a difference.

Life is short; don’t waste energy and time envying someone else’s life. Seek to make yours worthy. Surround yourself with people who do the same.

Life is short; don’t wait for a future event to make you happy. Enjoy the journey now. Embrace each day, finish them well.

You have a purpose in this life, don’t settle for anything less. Congratulations Graduating Class of 2011.

To God be all the honor and praise.

Copyright Amie Charney 2011

San Marcos, CA – May 21, 2011 – Amie Charney was selected from the California State University San Marcos Graduating Class of 2011 to give the commencement address at the Saturday afternoon commencement ceremony (May 21, 2011, 2 PM). Charney graduated Magna Cum Laude with her degree in Literature and Writing.

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Laundry Day Blues September 3, 2009

A song for the Fly Lady’s

Jake sings the Laundry Blues

What is it about underwear that five year old boys find fascinating? My two children are on spring break here in our fair city. After a few days of running wild, it is now clean up the house day. We live in a two story home, and getting laundry from the top to the bottom can be a real chore…especially if you only do laundry once a week…or so. I know fly-lady says, “a load a day will keep laundry blues away.” Such organization, is lost to my creative mindset. When someone invents a fun way to do laundry everyday, maybe I will.

Perhaps, a slot machine washer…that rewards the beleaguered housewife with spa tokens every load completed.

For me, it’s not over-stuffing the washer or transfer to the dryer that I despise. I can even handle the folding (if I have a great movie on). No, the bain of laundry, is stuffing the drawers….

Conversation with my nine year old daughter…..

“Go upstairs and get dressed….we are already late!”

“I don’t know what to wear ….will you pick it out for me?”

“You never like anything I pick out, so no.”

“But mommmm….I promise, this time I will wear whatever you pick.”

“Whatever?”

“uh-uhhhh…” (add whimpering puppy dog sound effects, complete with blinking and pouted lips)

…… 3 cute shirts and several jeans later…

“But I don’t like any of those.”

“Then pick it out yourself, we are beyond late now.”

“Fine….”

Danger, Danger!!! This is the moment that all my hard work is about to be overturned, crumpled, thrown on the floor and generally smashed onto the top sedimentary layer of Barbie shoes and Polly pockets. It is why I despise laundry. I mean, truly you are just rewashing clothes never worn. The ones they do wear, they are willing to wear dirty because they are the “Only cool things I have!”

Which gets us back to the five year old. In order to make laundry day more exciting, I have reinvented the laundry chute. One sibling stands on the top landing, and the other at the bottom of the stairs. The one at the top upends their laundry baskets over the head of the sibling squealing with delight below. It keeps them occupied for at least an hour. After they dump all the laundry down, they rake up the fallen clothes into a big pile and jump into them… (palm trees don’t allow for fall leaf piles…so this is novel to them. )

After a while, you are supposed to switch positions (equal opportunity tormentor)…my daughter however, refuses to give up the power position. My son, wanting to dump out his clothes on her head, starts demanding surrender. After unsuccessful threats and pleas, he decides to take action. As the cascade of clothing falls on his head, he picks out his underwear from the stream and starts taunting his sister above with them.

“Underwear, Underwear, Unnndder-ware” gleefully, he takes steps two at a time.

“Noooooo,” she squawks, and starts to run into the castle keep.

He sings, “Dirty underwear….dirty unnndderware” and cuts her off at the pass

gagging sounds…. as it is dangled in front of her nose

“My dirty underwear…it touched my privates.” he laughs, flicking it at her… he has invented a weapon more powerful than the super soaker. A little brother’s equivalent of a plague victim being catapulted over castle walls.

“OOOO, it touched me!…..MOM, he threw his underwear on me.

I laugh. I am an evil mom, I find the whole thing hilarious, and can’t hold even close to a poker face. I remember similar exchanges between me and my little brother. I wish that I would have thought of a weapon that powerful.

“MOOOOMMM, stop laughing.”

“Why? It was funny, now give your brother a turn upstairs.”

Hmmppfff….said in the way only an 7 3/4 year old can… complete with upturned nose, eye roll and back turn. She plops down on the floor and waits for the clothes to cascade down.

My son has a highly developed sense of the dramatic. Instead of a fabric waterfall, he sends a constant drip of shirts, pants, socks (ewww)…

and of course scooby doo underoos…piece by piece.

….MOOOOMMMM

 

Help…Do I Mac or PC? April 28, 2008

Ok, I know that I am igniting a feud… on a Hatfield vs McCoy proportion… but I honestly need help. So, for all you Mac Genius’s and PC Savants… here is the question. I am looking at purchasing a new laptop…and am not sure if I should leave my old PC behind for a Mac, or stick with what I know. So, in order to guide your advice…I have listed what I actually use my computer for currently…

1. Writing – I am only willing to use Microsoft Word…I am to old to learn a new word processing program. I write books, and other such rambles and rants. What is the benefit of having a Mac to all you writer gra-uppies (uhh…granola-yuppies)  out there?

2. Graphic Design – I like to dabble. I co-produce a country music show and design all the marketing materials for it. I also do side projects for friends…ect… generally in Corel.

3. Photographs – I probably have close to 40,000 digital photographs with no sign of stopping. I love photo shop, and love to edit… we call them butt-be-gone photos…guaranteed that our children will always remember us skinny 🙂 I would like to have a better way of cataloging them.

4. Blog, obviously…although I plan to expand this. I do most of my news, friends, browsing online… mp3’s, dvd sometimes

5. I do use spreadsheets, writing software, some power point, some access DB’s… but not on a daily basis.

6. Games – I like to play, however I am not a Warcraft or other huge graphics gamer…. Diner Dash does me fine

7. I like to multi-task, have multiple windows and programs open at the same time….I often research online while I write, listen to music or podcast, have photos open…

8. Regardless of what I purchase, we will still have a PC Desktop. It will need to be on speaking terms with it on our home network.

What I would like to start doing….

1. Video editing

2. Sound Files/ “Podcast” some of my self made audio files, lectures I have given, travel sound files

So, with that said… what do you think? Is it worth the BIG investment to switch to a Mac. I have, literally, 10-15 years worth of time, software, “corporate knowledge”, files wrapped up into a PC. It is a HUGE Paradigm shift…and I need to know how a Mac will be better for me than a PC…or, is it even worth it. Anyone out there have experience with taking the plunge? Love it? Hate it? Regrets? … Help!

My fellow bloggers… why Mac? why PC?

…Here is a funny little video I found that will make you chuckle… BE WARNED…it is South Park. So the language is a little raunchy in places…if that offends you, don’t even click.

 

Another Sandbox Tour April 26, 2008

 

 The Marines have called again.

 My husband has answered, again.

He is off to serve our country in Iraq, again (Tour #4).

We affectionately call this tour, “The Sandbox”. Out of our 9 years of marriage, this will be our 6th deployment… 5th combat tour.

This one will be the longest he has ever gone. He will miss: my son’s preschool graduation, end of school parties, his brother’s ordination, our summer vacation, my daughters birthday, his birthday, the first day of third grade and kindergarten, my son’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. When my husband leaves, my daughter will be 7 and son 5. When he returns my daughter will be 8 and son 6. Those are just the big events. He will miss field trips, loose teeth, new teeth, skinned knees, 2 wheel bike victories…..  The downside of deployment.

But you see…attitude is everything. After my little pity party here, we will pick up and keep going.

In fact, let’s try to find a silver lining now…

Top 10 upsides to deployment: (Amie’s guide to Delightful Deployments)

1. We have a rule, no TV’s in bedrooms… I however, love to watch tv and fall asleep… so, the day he leaves, the extra TV packed away in the garage comes out and onto the dresser. My kids and I look forward to movie night, snuggled together under the blankets.

2. get to change your hairstyle (I cut it off the day after he leaves), change colors… whatever…it’s hair… dye washes and hair grows a lot in 8 months.

3. Retail Therapy… the just opened a new pottery barn outlet! Spend that tax free money.  (but I do recommend taking it easy… it’s a lot harder to pay it off in the back-end.)

4. Paint, wallpaper… re-tile, re-carpet, redecorate… re-whatever, the lamps are all yours….

5. ….so is the remote control. Also, ther is more room on the DVR for Men In Trees and chick shows, without having Battlestar Galactic, Future Weapons… well,  generally any sci-fi, military or history channel shows taking up your valuable DVR space.

6. Travel… to wherever, go and see YOUR parents… Seattle, here I come… who cares if it rains on July 4th!

7. Shopping List… paper plates, paper towels, paper cups, plastic silverware… 8 months of no dishes, priceless!… oh, and I highly recommend Take-out chef’s.

8. stay up until 2 am writing, blogging, scrap-booking, painting…. any ing’s you want. Just crash in one of your kids beds when you run out of steam… because they are inevitably in yours.

9. Less laundry

and #10… put out as many candles, throw pillows, plants… chick movies, romance novels, flannel pj’s and bon-bons as you like 🙂

 of course, I would gladly give them up for my husband to share the next 8 months with us.

I love you honey, and will miss you.

So, if you think of it, drop a prayer for us….and check back on this blog often to follow the adventure our next 8 months will be.

 

 

 

Calling all Writers… Up for an Adventure? April 21, 2008

Global Domination...One polish at a time

Anyone up for an adventure in writing “green”? Any aspiring or published writers out their looking for a fun, collaborative blog novel?  Are you an artist, photographer, cinematographer looking for a fun way to work with writers? Ok… so I am sure this is not a terribly new concept… but it is definitely experimental for me. I have a great idea for a novel and thought it would be fun to open up the process from conception to completion with my blogging family. We would have a weekly, guided forum with goals. Gather ideas form our adoring readership on characters, plot points, twists…  Not a huge time commitment, just a fun, collaborative process with other writers…and a good way to learn if you are new to the writing game…and mentor if you aren’t. On Meebo we will have real time chat writer’s meetings once a week to discuss all our options and close out the section. At the end of the planning process, we can split research if needed…and then decide if we will all write the chapters together or split them up…

We will use simple formula structure like Book in a Month… it has easily digestible “assignments”.  The goal is to story plan for 30 days, and then write the chapters in 30 days. You can be an author, a collaborator, or a lurker. If you are chosen as an author you would be taking the suggestions and storyboards we come up with and using it to write the actual chapter. If you want to collaborate you can leave suggestions, vote on characters… suggest plot points…participate in online planning meetings if you would like…and yes, you can be both. If you just want to lurk, and track our process…let us know you are a fan and comment once in a while. An over all “Bible” will be developed for plot and character… something that, the author will follow. Then, the draft chapter would be open to the other authors (maybe on a private blog) for editorial review and acceptance.

…. Once the chapters are complete (and edited 🙂 we can publish on Kindle and/or other forms of electric press…. or just release the chapters as they come to all our blogging friends…

If you are interested, leave a comment… I have already reserved the blog under the title of the book, and will be getting it up and running with the story concept next week. If you are interested in authoring the book…meaning writing chapters and participating on a regular basis, let me know so I can tag you as an author. You can leave on comment on this site, on the books blog site or at the book’s email listed below.

So, you are not a writer… perhaps you are an artist and would like to illustrate with drawings, animation or photographs? You make movies or cartoons and care to follow along… we would love it! Let’s see what what the collective can do with a simple plot idea.

Ok, ready? Want to try?

The book is called Manicure Mafia, and you can start writing now! http://manicuremafia.wordpress.com.

You can also contact us at: manicuremafia@gmail.com

Can’t wait to see you, click over now if you are interested!

 

Write Tool of the Week #2 April 17, 2008

Butt Glue.

The secret to successful writing…the secret to actually finishing the book…the key to getting published.

Butt Glue.

I am a collector of books about…well…writing books. I have quite a little library put together, most end up saying…Thanks for putting my kid through college buying this book, now quit reading a book about how to write, and just…well, write!

Write Away,  (see below for link) one of the more recent (and in my opinion, best) books on writing Elizabeth George extols the virtue of gluing one’s bum to the chair in which one sits. Pull up in front of your writing instrument of choice…and go to it straight away. She goes on to quote another author saying, “He who possesses the best bum glue wins.”

Amie’s tips to help you STICKETH:

1. Write what you want to, not what you think will sell. Write your passion and about what interests you. If you do that, you will always have something to say.

2. Write characters that you would actually like to spend a good portion of your life with. George says that “writing requires forced introspection.” Don’t avoid your life. It will help you create believable characters, who have to feel something themselves in order to become real.

3. Commit yourself to the process…for the value of the process alone. Of course we all want to be published. We are writers, why write if no one will ever read it. Don’t put the pressure of “having to publish” on yourself. Write it, because you love the characters…because the plot intrigues you. John Dalton once said, “Don’t waste your time feeling ashamed for being an unpublished author. Each time you sit alone in a room and give your most honest and complete effort, you’ve earned the title of writer.” The pressure to publish is often the number one cause of writer’s block…with that said… When you run into a block in the process Frances Itani says “Write your way through all your problems, don’t sit around thinking about them.

4. You actually have to write the darn book if you do want to get published… Authors write every day…how they account for their productivity varies…some authors work on an hours system, some on page count, some on word count… pick a way of tracking your goals so you can see how far you have come. Remember to reward yourself…and schedule in a “day off” in order to recharge. American Artist Chuck Close put it this way: “Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

5. 15 mins a day of writing will get you closer to completion than 0 mins. When people find out that I am a writer … the conversation seems to wind to them having a book they have always wanted to write…but don’t have the time. WRONG… repeat after me… I choose to have time…I choose to have time… turn off the tv (or put headphones on), screw the laundry for one day, as much as you love to read someone else’s novel (or latest book on writing) WRITE instead. We choose to be…too busy.

6.  Write for someone. Even if it is your husband, best friend, neighbor, writing group… ME…I’ll take you on. You need someone to hold you accountable to your goals. Pin their photo up next to your desk, so you can see them staring down at you 🙂

7. Last one, for every hour you sit…glued to your chair writing… balance it with adventure, fun, new experiences, people, exercise…. go into nature, or the city…or wherever inspires you. Spend time with people who inspire you. LIVE… then go write about it

I know there are more ideas and tools out there… you may have a list of your own… why don’t you comment and leave some here…let other writer’s and aspiring writer’s out there know what works for you!

To Find My Favorite Books on Writing… Guaranteed to help or at least inspire you…click on the link below. 

http://astore.amazon.com/thewritoo02-20

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of WritingOne Novelist's Approach to Fiction and the Writing LifeLessons from a Writing LifeWriters Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything In Between

 

 

A Marriage Turns Nine April 14, 2008

The Second Wedding

Nine years has flown by. I joke that we are still newlyweds – If you take out the four years worth of deployments we have weathered.

Michael holds the distinct honor of being the only man in his family to have been married twice…to the same women…within three weeks of each other. I had been planning what we dubbed “the big wedding” for about four months when the Commanding Officer (CO) of Michael’s squadron told us they were depolying to Kosovo…at the end of the week…and it was Wednesday.

We are a part of the F-18 jet community, my husband is like “goose” on Top Gun (His opening line at Pat Obrien’s in New Orleans where we met…a whole other story). That community is pretty accepting of fiancee as a status, but to the Marine Corps… unless you are married… you are persona non grata. If he had died or was injured, you would get no notification, benefits…anything.

Which takes us to the “Oh my word… we better get married quick..your going to Kosovo wedding”

Which makes me a war bride… I get a kick out of that.

I, like most girls, dream of their wedding…and this was not it. We were only three weeks away from “Martha Stewart Perfection”, and I wasn’t about to blow it on a judge. We got word Wednesday morning that they were ramping up for a Friday departure. I whirled into action, by noon I had our pastor and photographer set for five, the jeweler racing from Hilton Head with the rings, the florist putting together a quick bouquet and boutonniere, a hair appointment and a decorating force (the squadron wives) ready to transform the tower where Mike proposed to me. The hardest sell was dry cleaning. In Seattle, where I am from, you can have your clothes in an hour… it’ll cost you….but you can get them. In South Carolina, they have 7 day martinizing. So trying to convince them to clean Mike’s suit in less then 7 hours was a miracle almost of Genesis proportion. I arranged the restaurant down the street for a little reception, got a cake, brought my boom box with the sampler wedding music CD, and we were set.

The only challenge…Michael had no idea. And the groom was up in a really fast jet, only God knows where, with no way of telling him he was getting married at five. The Corporals and Sergeants were on the lookout for him the minute he landed….which was about 4:15. In which they informed him to get home, put the suit on and show up for his wedding. Fortunatly he is a man of action and takes orders well 🙂

It was a great wedding. The photograph still hangs over our fireplace. We were surrounded by surrogate family, and even managed a first dance and cake smash. We decided not to tell anyone except our heartbroken parents, thinking perhaps we would still be able to pull of the “Big One” later. The next morning we went to turn in paperwork, and got the news…

…the squadron is NOT going anymore…

shock… what do you do now?

…which leads us to the second marriage of my husband. We made it to our wedding day, May 8th. It was everything a Southern Girl at heart could ask for… Big and Glorious.

He did deploy to Kosovo, two weeks later.

And yes, I make him celebrate both dates.

I thought it would mean double the gifts, but he got wise to me. On our first anniversary he gave me diamond earrings. On April 14, 2000 I opened the beautifully wrapped box, and saw one blinking at me. The card read, you get the other on May 8th. Outsmarted again 🙂

I have been blessed. My husband is the most considerate, kind, loving and supportive husband anyone could ask for (and he looks crazy sexy in those flight suits). I know there is a God and that He loves me every time I look into Michael’s face. God blesses us, even if we feel unworthy of it sometimes. You are irreplaceable honey, and truly I am at a loss to imagine my life without you… we are epic.

There is a famous movie line that says “You complete me.” It is WRONG. Part of the reason our marriage works is that we came into it two complete individuals, and we enhance each other. I am the delightful color that livens Michael’s black and white life, and he grounds me. Together we have grown, and God willing, will continue for many decades to come. Nine years feels like we are still just beginning our journey together. I can truly say that I love him more today, nine years later, than I did on that South Carolina tower…

Honey, here is one to add to the soundtrack of our lives. After nine years, this is what marriage means to me…

Across a crowded room
I know you know what I’m thinking
By the way I look at you
And when we’re lying in the quiet
And no words have to be said
I think to myself, I think to myself
This love is a beautiful gift
I have been blessed
And I feel like I’ve found my way
I thank God for all I’ve been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed. from Blessed by Martina McBride

Blessed by Martina McBride

Michael, I love you.

 

 

 

 

 
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