Friday, July 31, 2015

The Summer When I was a Cruise Ship Director

I can’t believe we are approaching the last week of summer.  This summer has been by far the easiest summer, “easy” being a relative terms.

There are still squabbles between the kids that need to be managed.  They still have busy schedules. 

But we’ve really turned a corner with their independence.  Small things like getting their own water bottles ready for the pool and playing on their own with their friends have made a huge difference.

But it wasn’t always like that.  Those summers when they were little made me feel more like a cruise director rather than a mom.

My post that I wrote about a few years ago about the summer when I was a cruise ship director is now up on Huffington Post Parents.

Summer is not carefree when you have kids, that is for sure.

I would love it if you clicked on over to read it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cheryl Strayed on Magic Lessons Podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert

 When I was a high school junior, I had to fill out a form about what I wanted to do with my life.

On the form was a space fill out what job you wanted when you grew up.

I wrote down “writer” without fanfare or trepidation.  I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.

My aptitude test suggested funeral home coordinator.  The closest I got to this was working briefly as a receptionist at a pet crematorium in college, but that’s a story for another time.

I didn’t know how to be a writer or what that would look like, so I did the closest thing to being a writer: a junior high English teacher. 

However, my soul knew that close enough wasn’t good enough, in this case.

Fast forward fifteenish years later, and I am receiving some pretty powerful lessons in living a creative life.

Last week, Elizabeth Gilbert debuted her Magic Lessons podcast where she talks to me about mycreative struggles.  She wanted to bring in a writer who is also a mom, and that person was CherylStrayed .  In case you missed it, I wrote a blog post professing my love for her memoir Wild.

I love Cheryl’s advice, but what I also loved is that she painted a very clear picture of the sacrifices she has had to make in order to create her art.

So often, I think that people guard the way they do business, maybe because they don’t want to be judged for their choices.  So we are led to believe it’s easy and life is seamless.

I also struggle with sharing my truth and honoring the privacy of the people in my life.  In fact, I think that is the main reason I have not started my book sooner.

Her insight gained from writing has reminded me that there is always a bigger purpose, in addition to finding your own clarity:

Cheryl Strayed Magic Lesson Elizabeth Gilbert Erin Janda Rawlings

I am forever grateful to have this opportunity.

Here are the links to the podcast:

You can download the MAGIC LESSONS podcast episodes here:
Soundcloud (
iTunes (
Stitcher (

Monday, July 20, 2015

Big Magic Podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert

Last week, I announced some pretty big news: I was chosen to be a part of Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast called Magic Lessons

Magic Lessons is an extension of her new book that is coming out on September 22 called Big Magic*, which is all about how to live a creative life without fear.

Early one Sunday morning, I saw a Facebook update that said she was looking for people who would share their creative struggles for her podcast.  I wrote about how I have wanted to start writing a book, but had some serious mental blocks about starting.

I clicked the send button and desperately asked the Universe to help me with this.

A few weeks later, my question was answered: out of thousands of applicants, I was chosen.   Me!  Elizabeth Gilbert would be calling to interview me about why I wasn’t writing this book already.

As you may know from previous blog posts, I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert.  Huge.  Eat Pray Love showed me how it is possible to follow your instincts into the unknown for sake of happiness.

Back in 2013, I talked about her quote choosing your thoughts the same way you choose your clothes helped me get through the holidays. 

I talked about how her book, The Signature of All Things, helped reignite my love of reading

I talked about how hearing her speak at Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend was life-changing, especially since it was right around my birthday.

And at the beginning of this year, I was feeling drained and creatively lost.  Inspired by her Facebook post talking about her New Year's Day tradition, I made a feeling board collage from magazine clippings.

The opportunity to talk with Elizabeth, in and of itself, was thrilling. I mean a chance to talk with someone who has continually inspired me – it still takes my breath away. 

But, as it turns out, the interview was just the beginning.  After completing (and continuing to work on) the homework assignments she gave me (one being start the damn book), I feel different.

Everything is still the same – I still run the kids where they need to go, make dinner, and do the laundry.

But everything is different at the same time.  Writing about this idea that has been aching to get out has lit a spark that I haven’t felt in awhile.  I feel inspired, like the world looks more colorful.

You can download the podcast episodes from Soundcloud (, iTunes ( or on Stitcher (

I can’t wait to hear the next installment with another one of my favorite writers!

Big Magic Podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot
One of my assignments was to post this by my computer.
I love it.

*I was given a promotional copy of the book and the chance to speak with Elizabeth Gilbert.  All opinions are my own . . . and consistent before I ever had this incredible opportunity.


Since I am committing more time to writing my book, my blog might not be as active.

You can always find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  I would love to connect with you there, too!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Day Camp

 When the kids were little, the summer days rolled endlessly into one another until I couldn’t tell what day it was.  Marie and Thomas did not like the any of the same things so it seemed that no one was happy at the same time.   Nap schedules and early bedtimes and early rise times had us on lockdown. 

Life was gut-wrenchingly difficult and blissfully easy at the same time.

Our life looks nothing like that anymore.

Last week, the kids were in summer day camp.   They each got to go to one camp that was centered on something that they love.  Marie chose a really cool writing camp, and Thomas went to an animal camp since he wants to be a vet and is obsessed with animal books.

It’s exciting to see them dive into their passion, and it reminds me of how far we have come from those first summers together as a family.  And as much as I like to be there with them when they experience something new, I realize the importance of them have adventures on their own.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer camp
Loved hearing all about their day over some strawberry shortcake.
It seems that they remembered the details of the day when they had some sugar.

I embrace the spirit of summer and want my kids to spread their wings and fly!   Even though I may look calm and serene as they take flight, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.  I mean, how could I not be!? They are my kids, and I take their personal safety very seriously. 

I can say with full confidence that the 21-page welcome letter from Marie’s camp that outlined all of the finest of details made me feel comfortable with her adventures away from home.

But Thomas’s camp sent home nothing.  And it was a travel camp, so when I dropped him off at camp, he was hopping on a bus and going somewhere new every day.  I thought, perhaps, that during the last-days-of-school madness, I misplaced the information.  But when I called the camp nervously asking for the information, the secretary at the camp office said in a very, laid-back kind of way, that they do not post that info on the website since they are not sure where the locations will be until two weeks before.

She joyfully explained that campers, age 6-12, would be going to the county fair and nature parks about 45 minutes away.

I was a little nervous that Thomas would be going so far away, but I was excited that he would be going to places that were no where on my short (or long) list of possible outings with either kid.  Yay! Isn’t that what camp is supposed to be about – new experiences without your mom or dad hovering near by?!

But when the secretary told me that they would be going to a zoo all the way in Lansing, which for non-local peeps is over an hour and a half bus ride away, I freaked the eff out. Thomas, who has just finished Kindergarten, was supposed to go that far away.  In a bus.  With essentially strangers.

I know, I know.  I sound like a helicopter mom.  And I hate that because I do want my kids to be fearless and adventurous.

When I manically questioned the camp director about safety procedures that the camp has to keep track of campers, he essentially told me that my kids would all leave the nest at some point.

But my instincts were telling me no on this part. 

And the thing about instincts - I always question them, especially when someone “in charge” is telling me that I should be cutting the cord already.

Wonder if I deprived him of an experience of a lifetime? 

Wonder if, one day while sitting in a therapist’s chair, he says that I robbed him of his independence and emasculated him at the tender age of six by denying him a field trip to the Lansing zoo?

He came home (safely) from camp each day,and he had a blast!  But then he would also cuddle with me and say that he wanted me to put him down for bed.  The week before that, he said that he misses me  . . . even though we are together all day every day.

Part of being a mom is reading between the lines of what is said and what is not being said.

So I kept him home from camp the day he was supposed to go to Lansing zoo and took him to the Detroit zoo instead.  Just me and him.  

Rare one-on-one time exploring one of his favorite places while his sister was at camp.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer camp
I love this kid!

It felt good that I could give him my undivided attention.  I think he felt good not having to compete for face time with his sister.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer camp

It just felt right.

And in they days to follow, I didn’t feel like he was hanging on to me – his bucket had been filled, and he was OK to go out and explore without me.

Summer is very much about Thomas and Marie having adventures of their own and figuring out who they are.  But it's also about me paying attention to what they say or don’t say, and then listening to that quiet voice inside to decipher the clues so I can figure out how best to guide them.

Then hoping that I did the right thing.