Acceptance, Strength, Belief, and Gray Hair

I was born with strands of gray hair. My mother proclaimed that it was a sign of high intelligence and never failed to remind me of it.

I have never been comfortable with attention, or having the spotlight on things I’ve accomplished or achieved. I much rather be the cheerleader for others, I like the shadows. Yet, there’s a part of me that craves to be seen. A conflicting existence to be sure.

In my mind’s eye, I see myself as a mixture of several different people. Most of them are fictional characters, but they are none the less valid just because they’re not real. I lean on these images, these characters of some pretty badass women. They give me strength, and help me hold onto the woman I want to be. In the meantime, I hide behind baggy clothes, messy hair, and no ‘extra grooming’ (makeup, perfume etc) 

This past weekend, I finally made the decision to allow the inner woman, the one who is confident, brave, speacial, and magickal, to emerge. It’s terrifying because I only let her out when I’m out with my sisters and family. And oh how she shines! It’s going to be a struggle to believe in her, to accept her, and to draw strength from her. But I have a good feeling that she knows this and is willing to go slow.

I guess those gray hairs do represent intelligence.

❤️

Ducks in a Row….

Don’t let the title fool you. I don’t have my ducks in a row….the buggers are running a muck all over the place. 

I’m still having a hard time believing that I am an author. Ya, I have a series out, and people seem to like it. I have several more stories that are finished, and there are some partial ones. My head is full of ideas and I’m always spinning a tale or two. But I still struggle.

Writing, believe it or not, is the easy part. I love closing off my reality and immersing myself in the worlds I create. In them, I am the supreme ruler (okay, the characters are, but I can come up with a few ‘accidents’ should the need arise) 

But, writing is only half of the picture. The other half, the one that tends to get away from me, are the social obligations I now have. I guess people want to know what’s going on, they want a peak into the world of an author. This both thrills me and baffles me. I’m no one important, not really. So, I tend to let things slide and I watch as my little ‘ducklings’ waddle off and I think: gee, aren’t they the cutest things ever? Then, reality hits and I’m scrambling to catch up to them.

I could promise that I’ll get better, but it would be a lie (a big fat one) because it takes a lot of prodding and bugging to get me to come back to reality (LOL) to be honest, chasing after ducklings can be fun 😜

2016

As the day draws closer to its end, and with it, the end of 2016, I find myself thinking back. This past year has been a mixed bag of good, bad, and WTF moments.

 I first want to address my darkness of this year. Actually, for last three years. I’ve lost a lot of people, and in July of this year, my wonderful Wolfound, Fawn, succumbed to bone cancer. My mind snapped and I allowed myself to plummet.

 I got comfortable in the dark places of my mind. I didn’t have to think, feel, do, or be. I just flipped the switch to auto pilot and went through my days–most times not even knowing how I got from point A to B. I’m really good at being ‘okay’, it’s a skill I learned as a child and honed as a teenager. It’s a place very few know how to navigate in order to find me. One who could with absolutely no difficulty was my sister Berta. 

Her death in 2014 gutted me. And I’ve yet to recover. I still look for her, wait for her, listen for her, and call for her. My mind tries to block out the pain, but not having her overwhelms me. 2016 I began to work through that pain. And it hurt like hell. So, when it got too much, I retreated to that place. And yet, I managed to write, and self published five books—told you, I have mad coping through the darkness skills. 

And now, for the light that refused to die. I did publish five books—FIVE and they’re good books (well, I think so!) I met some amazing people through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. I homeschooled my son for the 2015/16 school year, and we had a blast. 2016 saw Middle Girl graduate grade 8, and Eldest Girl become a lifeguard and get her learner’s permit. I reconnected with cousins, and discovered that I’m still pretty good at my job. We also welcomed (well, most of us did) a new member to our family: Albus the Cat. I won’t elaborate….just follow the hashtag: #AlbustheCat 

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there is good in the world, and that we need the bad—and yes, the pain, to appreciate the light that finds us. I am grateful that I made it through this year. There were moments I truly thought I wouldn’t, that the demons would win. Thank you to all of you, you fought for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. Much love to you.

Happy New Year. 

It Took a Village….

This morning the saying: it takes a village to raise a child, came to mind. You see, I learned this morning that my fifth self published book: The Oracle, went live on Amazon. It is the fifth book in my Divided Star Series. A series that I would have never given life to had it not been for my village. 

On September 25th 2015, I decided that enough was enough. No more talking about it, no more wishing for it, and no more procrastination. I’ve gone to conferences, met some amazing people, absorbed all I could about writing, publishing and promotion. Of course, I had only learned a tiny drop of the actual monster of self publishing, but I had enough to jump off that cliff.

And, I had a village. And it, with all its wonderful, fiercely encouraging people, was going to raise an author.

In the months following that scary day, i had my village with me every step of the way. Messages, phone calls, silly stickers, and sharing posts, they did it all. And when those dark days came, the ones where I felt like a fraud, that I sucked as a writer, they became my light. 

I could not have taken that jump. I would not have taken that jump, had it not been for the people in my life that were ready to be my wind. 

To list you all, I would need several posts. So, I must cover you all with this blanket of gratitude:

You’ve held my hand, listened to my rants, and kicked my ass when I spoke nonsense. You’ve dried my tears, worked for free, and told me the truth even when I didn’t want to hear it. But most of all, what humbled me, is your constant belief in me. Thank you. You are truly the best. My village freaking ROCKS! ❤️❤️❤️

Reflection 

2016 has been an interesting year. Actually, every year, when coming to an end, can be categorized this way. For me however, this year has been a difficult balancing act. It was a year of learning how to be okay without my sister. To reach for my dream knowing I couldn’t pick up the phone to tell her. 2016 was my year to ‘thaw out’ from the soul freezing grief that I had been trapped in since 2014. I still have a ways to go. But I’m getting there. 

It’s hard to see how far along your path you’ve traveled. Even when the people around you are cheering for you. Your eyes have to remain on the horizon, on the goal. Perhaps this time of year triggers something in us, telling us: stop, turn around, see what you’ve done.

I’ve made some friends, and I’ve lost some friends. And there were some people who I truly thought were my friends. It was painful to discover that they only wanted something from me. 

When I made the jump to self publish, I had many people giving me their opinion on the matter. And for a moment, I listened to the ones who said: are you sure? You really shouldn’t do it if your book is not the best it could be; waiting another three to five years, can only help you. These weren’t strangers saying this, these were friends. 

I stumbled. I got scared. And I started questioning myself. But my gut burned. I had done my best with what I had. Not just time, but with cost. I am not the best writer. I never claimed to be. But I love my stories. They’re good stories. They make me laugh, and cry, and I hope they do the same for others.

Before I say goodbye to 2016, I want to say: thank you. Thank you for the lesssons, thank you for the joys, thank you for all those I welcomed into my life, and thank you for the strength to let people go. And to 2017: I will work hard to be the best me that I can. I will try to let the memories of Berta come to me, while withstanding the crippling pain that comes with them. I will continue to write, and publish, and learn, and be happy.

Keeping Up

Kids at school, kids at home, work, social engagemts, down time, pet time, life time…..we’re all juggling it. Some are just better at it then others. Some days I make myself sit, and focus on breathing. Now, that may sound ‘yoga-ish’ but, it’s not. I literally find the least hectic part of my house, and just sit. These days, it’s in the bathtub…..dry of course, cause who has time to indulge in a bubble bath? 

Keeping up these days seems to be like an instalment in the Hunger Games franchise, or an episode of Game of Thrones. We beat ourselves up trying to be everything to everyone. Not possible. I don’t care how many Pinterest boards you have saying otherwise.

I find it very difficult to stay still. I have to be doing something. I get it from my inexhaustible Irish mother. But, of I can find time to be still, even in a dry bathtub, I think you can too! 

RWA2015

I ADORE New York! The people, the shows, the vibrancy…all of it. This year, the Romance Writers of America, returned to the Big Apple, and the week was amazing–exhausting, but amazing. Workshops, networking, fabulous food, and endless glasses of wine later, I am super pumped to get this first book out.

True to my nature, and the nature of my entire family, my approach to my self publishing journey is a bit backwards. While I have followed some of the rules 😉 I have challenged others. After all, isn’t that what being an indie author is about? Forging new paths?

It was so thrilling to make so many new connections, reinforcing established ones, and putting my best foot forward…..even while wearing a dress 🙂 Next year, I take on San Diego!

Fear

Fear is such a small word, but it has the power to shake the most strongest of foundations. Fear has kept me from doing a lot of things in my life. But not this. Though it held me down for a long time, I’m learning to beat it. August 23rd, my sister’s birthday, I will face fear head on……and I’m going to win 🙂