Saturday, July 15, 2017

If You Could Choose...

I've started binge-watching this show on Netflix. It's an Australian show about this family who has their share of problems. In one episode, the family was asked to bring one object that was an example of who they were to stick in a baby's time capsule. This got me to thinking...what would be the one object that is an example of who I am?

I hate it when these things get stuck in my head. I've been thinking on it for days now. In my Women's Studies classes, we have discussed intersectionality and what it means. I am a woman, but I'm so much more. (I'm white with a Native bloodline. I'm a daughter. I'm a student. I'm a canine mom. I'm an author. I am divorced. I am a friend. I am a lover. And the list goes on.) In a day's time, I wear many hats, so how on earth would I choose one object to define me?

That's when it hit me... a patchwork heart!

Let me explain (Thank you, Dr. A and Audre Lorde!): A patchwork heart is my object because while I am so many things to so many different people, I wouldn't be who I am without the experiences and people who have shaped me. My heart has loved and been loved. It's broke others' hearts and been broken. It's been stitched back together. I've talked about my patchwork heart before. How the beings in my life take a piece of my heart and leave me with a piece of theirs in return. There is no other heart like mine. My heart is unique because of the hearts and lessons that have been part of my life. These are the things that have molded and shaped me into the woman I am, good and bad. Love and loss, happiness and sorrow, suffering and thriving...all these things have left an imprint. With my very unique patchwork heart, the design is ever-changing because I am ever-changing. From the moment I came into this world, ass-backwards and determined to do things my own way, my heart has been evolving. I'm excited to see what changes will be made to it as my life goes on.

Each heart is unique. You may have been loved by the same people, but not in the same way. Your experience may be similar to mine, but nobody's journey is the same. Even within the same family. I look at families and the children within them. There could be five children in the same room at the same time being told the exact same thing. However, there are 5 sets of ears, hearing 5 different things. It amazes me how the heart translates words and shapes us.

I have found my object and why it defines me. Tell me, readers, what would be the one object you would choose to put into a time capsule to let the world know who you were?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Saying Goodbye...

I'm a sappy sort so I needed to write this out. Yesterday was a difficult day for me. Way more emotion than I am used to, but I knew this day was coming. I knew this day was coming since I met this young man 2 years ago. I've known it was a definite thing for a year now.

See, yesterday I said "goodbye" to a soldier. It was the first goodbye I've ever said. Usually, I distance myself from friends who are joining the military so I don't get my heart broke or I become friends with them once they return. I've never stayed for the long haul. Unfortunately, this one is the one that is breaking me into a million little pieces.

I met this young man right around his 16th birthday. We've only gotten to be friends in the last year and a half. He has an easy way about him and the woman with social anxiety appreciates that. His quick smile lights up a room and his laughter brightens my day. He is so easy to joke with, yet isn't so silly that serious conversations aren't a possibility. We have had some great times.

I don't let people get too close, but somehow, he burrowed into my cold black heart and settled in to stay. When he joined the Army, he stated he wanted a party. He, then, asked that I stick around to do shots with him before he left. I honored his wish yesterday. It was hard for me to pour that shot of Jack for each of us because this meant it was real. And trust me, at some point, I was hoping this was all a dream.

In a very short period of time, this young man will be leaving and heading in the direction of his dream. A dream he's held since he was small. So, I ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he journeys on in this direction.

You'll never see this, Matthew, but know that you are loved and missed with every breath that is taken. Dammit, Kid, you've left big old cowboy boot prints on my heart! Take care and come home! I love you as if you're one of my own! 10 weeks, you said! It's only 10 weeks! I'm crossing off the weeks on a calendar until you come back to us, Kid :)

So for today, (and those who know me understand) I will be:

Love ya, Kid!

Friday, June 23, 2017

I'm Sorry

I had a blogpost written about love, but something happened in my day and I needed to deal with it.

Lately, I feel like I've spent most of my life apologizing. I wasn't the perfect child. Back in the day, words like "introverted", "depression", and "anxiety" weren't used as easily as they are today. It's taken me all my life to find words to explain why I am the way I am.

I wasn't the daughter my parents necessarily wanted. I was mouthy. I had an attitude. I didn't date. I preferred to lock myself in my bedroom. I wasn't the most beautiful girl in my class. I didn't have the most amazing social life. I didn't want to be involved in sports. I was simply me. It was as if I was never satisfied.

I wasn't the most popular girl. I had a few close friends, but that was it. I kept my nose in a book. I wasn't thin by anyone's standards. I was plain in so many ways. I didn't want to be noticed.

I married someone I liked well enough, but that's all that can be said. I tried my best to be a good wife, but, if I listen to him, my best wasn't good enough. There was always something to find fault with.

I am not the best student. I work hard for my grades and they often fall short. It's not because I don't try. I try so hard, but I have professors who tell me I need to try harder. I work 40 hours a week plus go to classes plus have to clean my house, etc. plus a ton of homework to do. When I tell you I'm doing my best, I promise you it is the truth.

I'm a shitty dog mom! I buy Diesel the best food I can afford. He has toys and treats, though the treats are no longer homemade like they used to be. I have time to walk him around the yard and snuggle with him at bedtime, but that's it. We live in a fucked up house with a landlord who refuses to fix things, yet constantly brings up when I fall short of his mark.

Which brings me to: I'm not the best tenant. When I ask you to work with me so I don't have to live in my truck and you say, "Sure, not a problem," I take you at your word. When I have a lawn service all set to mow the grass to keep my end of the month to month lease that was signed (with my former roommate) three years ago and you proceed to mow of your own accord, I think you are doing it to be kind. My yard service cancelled my account because I had to cancel them too many times and now you complain?

I'm not a size 2 or supermodel pretty! I take up space and maybe it is more than I deserve, I don't know. I try to be more than pretty. I try to be kind, supportive, friendly (as I can stand), generous, loving, and happy. I try to make the world a better place every day. You'll never understand what it takes for me to get out of  bed some days.

I'm not writing. Believe me when I say, I try. My characters want their stories told. I've hit a rough patch with the next Cedar River book and I don't want to write what I know must be written. My dragons aren't "dragony" enough. My goal was to write about special people not have them embody their animals. I'm so unsure of myself, my writing, and my life that I have no idea when I'll put cursor to Word again.

In a world gone mad, I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea. That's fine by me! I don't fit into the mold most people have for me. I'm just trying to be the most honest version of me I can be. I'm not one who pretends to be someone I'm not. My house is a mess. I have a laundry basket of dirty clothes. There is a stack of bills that need to be paid. I have boxes that need to be gone through and stuff to get rid of. I need to plug up the mouse holes with steel wool to keep them out of my closet, kitchen, etc. My hair is a mess. My dog needs a bath. My truck needs an oil change and a bath. I'm running on fumes. And I'm tired of apologizing for that! I'm doing my best and that is truthfully all I can do.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Kings and Daddies

There's a meme out there that tell us that you can tell when a man was raised in the arms of a Queen. I was a daughter, raised at the knee of a King.

I've been having a lot of conversations lately about why I am the way I am. I've always been blessed by the men in my life. They are the standard by which I measure the men I date. And trust me when I say that to date me, you've got some pretty high standards to achieve.

To me, my grandpa was Superman! He could do anything! Leap tall buildings in a single bound, save a neighbor girl from certain danger, melt a Tupperware bowl with butter in it on a hot toaster. *G* He and I had such a special bond. I was his only granddaughter.

He was determined that I would grow up to be a lady. He taught me the proper way to hold my silverware and how to wear my hats so I didn't get "cauliflower" ears. If it had an engine, he could fix it. His grease-stained t-shirts and green pants stick in my memory. Every time I had a chance, I'd make him cherry pie and take it to him. It was his favorite. What I wouldn't give to make him one more cherry pie and sit for a Sunday afternoon visit...

Some girls are lucky enough to be raised by their heroes. I know I was. This happy boy in this picture had more demons to deal with than he ever imagined. However, he taught his daughter what it means to be strong and to play the hand that Life deals you.

His teasing ways taught her to take a joke and enjoy the little things in life. He worked hard. I don't remember a time when Dad wasn't busting his ass for something. He, like Grandpa, could fix anything with an engine. He might have to cobble it every now and again, but he'd make it work. I can't begin to count the times when he'd call me and say, "I'm changing oil in the cars today. I may as well do yours while I'm at it." His knuckles were often scraped and bloody, his hands calloused. It couldn't be said he took the easy way out of anything.

And his sense of humor knew no end. One year, he made a "sponge" cake for the minister's wife. He frosted it with Cool Whip and made it quite pretty. We were having a dinner at the church that day and Dad carried it in with pride, telling her how he made it himself. The poor woman felt so bad as she tried cutting it with a butter knife. I remember Dad sitting there laughing so hard with tears streaming down his face. The minister's wife was so relieved to find the sponge under the whipped cream! She didn't want to hurt his feelings. Then, there was the year of the balloon cake. He blew up balloons, coated them with Cool Whip, and refrigerated it for his girlfriend's daughter. He was damn proud of himself! The girl cut into the cake and whipped cream flew everywhere! When it was all over, Dad was on the kitchen floor, laughing so hard he couldn't stand. (Yes, he did clean up the mess!) He loved to make people smile. 

I've been told that I'm a Queen because I was raised at the knee of a King. Actually, I was raised at the knee of a couple of Kings. They were my heroes. They were the center of my world, even when they didn't know it. They were the first men I ever loved. They have both left this earthly realm and I miss them so much! They taught me what it means to be loved and to not accept anything less than I deserve. They were men among men and I am so blessed to be able to call them mine! Happy Father's Day!!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Step into the Mind of an Overthinker...

I had a blogpost all set to go entitled "It's Not Easy Being Me...", then I put it aside and thought about it. Okay, I overthought about it and pressed the delete button.

This is my problem: I tend to overthink. Every. Single. Thing. I'm talking about things that happened back in high school. Things that happened 10 years, 10 months, 10 weeks, 10 days, 10 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds ago. I replay every little detail and pick it apart, telling myself that I am an idiot for the things that I've done or said.

Truthfully, very few people from high school remember me and those who do only remember the quiet girl who always had her nose in a book. If I knew you 10 years ago, then I am a much different person than I was then. I behaved much differently and was more unhappy than I have ever been. I know people rarely think of the things I've said or done, but the introvert in me believes she is the most awkward person out there.

Let me give you a shining example of my awkwardness: Mr. Charismatic Smile (from my math class?) sat beside me one day and said "I'm not getting this." It was a pretty basic algebra problem so I attempted to explain it. Now, I could have said simply "What you do to one side, you have to do to the other", then showed him the way to do it. Instead, what came out of my mouth haunts me to this day. I said, "Think of the problem as a menage a trois. What you do to one, you have to do to the other." Yup, that's me! Don't ya just love it?

This is what led to this blogpost. I'm an overthinker. I tend to second guess every move I make until the moment has passed. (Now, I can tell you that the above explanation led to a very interesting conversation that went WAY off the algebra trail and probably told Mr. Charismatic Smile more about me than he needed to know, however, I keep thinking that he had to have thought I was an idiot. He didn't, for the record, but still...) 

I have received the rights back to both of the books in the Cedar River series. I've been re-designing the covers myself. (Are they good enough? You aren't talented enough! You're an idiot!) I've been re-reading the books, deciding what needs to be fixed/added/removed. (You're a hack! You'll never make it as an author! Give up the dream!) With the books being removed from the various online book sellers, the reviews have come down. (No one will ever want to review those pieces of trash again. You're lucky they reviewed them the first time! HACK!) I had some very lovely reviews written about these books. I've had one horrible one. Care to guess which one I dwell on? Bingo! The horrible one!

My ability to overthink everything has me second-guessing every move I make, every word I say, and every path I take. I'm beginning to think of this particular "gift" as a talent. I know people who overthink, but to this degree? This has to be a special talent in and of itself.

I try my usual tricks when I can't shut my brain down. I meditate. I burn candles. I light incense. I walk barefoot in the yard (which is dangerous with an English Mastiff). I attempt to write, then delete every word because it isn't good enough. I cry. I rage. I decide to never write again. I open my journal and write it all down, then I cry some more.

Commiserate with me! Are you an overthinker? How do you cope? Any secrets? Better yet...wanna share your awkward moments with me? Let me know that I'm not alone? You can even email them to me. I won't tell a soul, I promise!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Woman of a Certain Age...

This posting was going to be funny and silly, but I've had something on my mind lately. It has to do with age and I'm tired of holding back.

I'm celebrating a birthday this week and it's a milestone. I've fussed over it. I've cried over it, but no matter what, it is going to happen. Honestly, I'd rather have that than the other option! However, someone said something to me the other day and it pissed me off. They hurt my feelings! They said, "Remember how old you are. You aren't 20 anymore!"

You know what? I know that! I look in the mirror every single day and I know I'm not 20! I feel the aches and pains in my joints. I know I'm not 20! I don't need your reminder that I'm older than I want to be!

I was talking to my darling sister the other day and actually said the words, "I thought I'd have more time!" When I was younger, I wasted time. I gave time to people who didn't deserve it. I allowed people to take from me without giving back. I let people take my spirit, steal my thunder, and break me until I was less than I wanted or deserved to be! I made mistakes that cost me more than I should've allowed! And, trust me, I'm paying the price now.

I'm not a woman who regrets the decisions she's made. There's no point because I can't change the past. Every decision has led me to the spot I am now. I was beat down and degraded. I lost my voice. I still have a few issues to work on, but I'm trying. And I love the woman I've found under years of breakage and hurt. People buried my fire until it was almost out. Unfortunately for them, the ember still smoldered. I've been digging through the wreckage of my soul for a while and the fire is back to roaring.

I know I'm not 20! I wouldn't want to be. Being 20 would put me back in a place I wouldn't want to be with people I don't like all that much. I don't have to "act my age" or be reminded that I'm not a teenager. I color my hair whatever fucking color I feel like. I wear whatever fucking clothes I want. I wear as much or as little make-up as I want. Most days, I'm mistaken for 28-35. I'm okay with that! Hell, I'm ecstatic over that! When someone asks me how old I am, I love watching their mouths fall open because they think I'm so much younger. And that's on a college campus! After a lifetime of being the geek who has her nose in a book, I've had some students actually tell me I'm the "coolest chick" they know. I've been told I inspire them.

So here's a piece of advice: The next time you get the urge to remind a woman of their age or say "Well, a woman of a certain age would...", shut your damn mouth and blow your opinion out your ass! Why? Because women of ANY age can do whatever the hell they want and they don't need  your permission to do so!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"All That is Gold Does Not Glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

If you know me at all, then you know this is one of my favorite quotes. It comes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I've had a rough week. Something fell into my lap at the most opportune time, but for what ever reason the universe has, it didn't work out. It would have been a dream come true, but alas, it wasn't mine to have. I fell apart. I posted on my personal wall and got the normal "Keep positive," "When one door closes...," and "It will be alright," from people. The words help because they came from people who care about me and want me to be happy. But the ache in my chest was of sheer disappointment. Truly, I was disappointed in myself. Maybe I said the wrong thing. Maybe I didn't look right. Maybe there is merely something wrong with me. My overthinking was destroying me. So, I paused for some reflection.

I found this quote on the internet one day and it struck me to the very bone.

Then, I remembered Tolkien's words. This fulfillment of my dream glittered like a lake on a sunny day, but it wasn't golden. It wasn't perfect. It merely was. And as lost as I felt, I'm not lost. I'm wandering on my journey. (I'm going to mix my stories here, bear with me.) The yellow brick road is still beneath my feet. Toto is still faithfully by my side. Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow are walking with me, even if it is only in spirit. After all, they have their own journeys to take. The flying monkeys are trying to get to me, but they will only succeed if I allow them.  

This dream is mine and mine alone. The fulfillment will happen when it is supposed to and not a moment before. I need to improve myself and be the best me that I can be so that when the perfect opportunity arrives, I'll be ready. I've got some plans in place and I'm working on what I need to. Unfortunately, it will mean saying my goodbyes to places and people who are a major part of my life. It is time for ME to be the major player for a change. I've let others take over the spotlight so I didn't have to worry about it. I hate being the center of attention, but in my own life? How sad! This is my life and I need to live it for me! Not for my friends and family, a job, or anyone else. I've been so focused on others that I've lost track of myself. I've let others dictate how things are going to work and while I've been so busy helping others with their journeys, I've gotten lost in the shuffle. 

I'm taking time to get things adjusted and to focus on what matters. My passion has been pushed aside to make room for other people and that just isn't right. The smoldering ember is there, I've just got to find it under all of this rubble. Bear with me, please! The phoenix isn't reborn from the ashes into the vision of glorious beauty we envision overnight. It takes time. And time...well, that is the one thing I still have.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Some Days I Open My Mouth and My Mother Comes Out

Have you ever walked past a mirror and catch your reflection out of the corner of your eye? I did that today and I caught a glimpse of my mother. At an earlier point in history, that would have terrified me. But's a badge of honor.

In my last post, I posted some pictures of my mom. One of the comments was how much I look like her. I used to hear that a lot as a teenager. It drove me crazy! Not that I didn't think my mother was beautiful...I just wanted to be seen as my own person and everyone was so busy comparing me to her. "You look just like your mother," I'd hear more often than not. Not "You're so beautiful" or "I love your outfit." Just "You look just like your mother" or even worse "You're just like your mother was at this age."

Not too long ago, I sent my mom a picture of my hand. Never mind why, just that I did. She sent me a picture of hers back with the question "Whose hands do you have?" I had to laugh because aside from some cosmetic things, our hands are identical! But I know those hands of hers. They've held babies, comforted people, worked hard, been cracked open from cold, calloused from carrying buckets and hay bales, kneaded countless batches of bread, made so many cookies, and loved. Mine haven't experienced that much wear and tear, yet I look at our hands side by side and there they are...almost identical.

As I age, I notice more and more of my mom coming out. I opened my mouth to say something to someone just the other day and my mother came shooting out! It happens more and more. It's not always positive. Especially when it comes to my body. I hear her words emerge from my mouth when I tell people how I feel about my curves. I watched my mom struggle with her body issues all of my life. There was no size small enough to make her happy. I remember looking at her stretch marks and thinking they were beautiful because I was one of the reasons she had them. Yet, I look at my own and there hasn't been a person born from these marks. She hated her stretch marks and I, in turn, hate mine. As she's aged, she's become more positive about her body. I've still got a ways to go.

We've had our ups and downs through the years, but when it comes to my mom and all that she's done in her life, I look up to her. She taught me a lot and I'm sure I'll keep learning from her as I go. Hopefully, she can forgive the child I was and see past that to the woman I'm attempting to become.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers! Fur kids, feathered kids, fin kids, scaly kids, or skin kids, you are a mom and you are loved!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

To My Mom...

I've been a bit quiet lately. I had a blogpost all set to go, but it was simply me, standing on my soapbox, wondering where the fuck respect had gone. So, I left it to sit because I don't think anyone else gives a shit like I do. And I can only write so many posts about respect.

So, I'm back and this is more than a bit premature, but after the past few days, I need to make this blogpost. I realize not everyone is as lucky as I am, but I don't feel like it is up to someone else to teach our children how to be good human beings.

Here it goes: 

To my mom:
I don't often take the time to say "thank you" for the small stuff. You know, the stuff like leading by example, teaching me to cook, bake, sew, file taxes, balance a budget, live on a budget, respect (like how I slipped that in there?), compassion, understanding, and love. I realized the other day (after watching a video on FB about how the schools should be teaching our children this stuff) that I learned how to be a woman from you. From putting on my make up and picking an outfit suitable for "going to town" to showing people respect even when they don't deserve it, I learned it all from you. Now, if you saw me today you may doubt you taught me anything (I arrived at work set to clean. I am sporting pigtails, sweats, an old ratty hoodie, and no make up. Then, I was informed I had to make a run to the in go inside and interact with people...sigh).

I was 11 days old here. Those boys would grow up to be the only big brothers I ever knew, even though we were cousins.

You gave me a love of books. Maybe it was by accident because you wanted to have 30 minutes to get ready without a baby crawling up your leg. Maybe it was intentional. However, it was meant, I appreciate it. My love of books led me down the rabbit hole with Alice and stumbling into Wonderland, into the Swiss Alps with Heidi, into Yorkshire with Dr. Herriott, and down the banks of Plum Creek with Laura Ingalls. That love led me to create my own worlds and share them with people around the world! It gave me a dream! While I've stepped back so I don't overwhelm myself, I get to live that dream every time I sit down to my computer.

Your love of cooking and baking has led me down some different culinary paths. I've become quite proficient at Asian cooking. I'm not afraid to try different things because you gave me the basics. I've become more daring in my flavor combinations and am not afraid to combine my savory with my sweets (on occasion you may get a taste of heat from chiles in my chocolate cake or cocoa in my pot of chili, salt in my caramel, black pepper in my pumpkin recipes...). I can make a meal for one or 40. I can make it as fancy or rustic as is proper. You taught me fractions! Oh gods, I thought those things would be the death of me! Now, I do it in my head!

As we've discussed recently, I wasn't an easy child. I had a will of my own and seldom wanted to heed the advice of others. I am impatient and frustrate easily. There are times when I don't follow through on something because I simply get so overwhelmed. I always have more irons in the fire than I can deal with. Finishing one task before starting another is something I never learned. It would be nice to focus on one thing at a time. Unfortunately, my mind doesn't allow it. My teen years were fraught with arguments, but we always worked it out in the end. Mistakes were made on both sides, but by your example, I learned to say the words "I'm sorry!"

You taught me to keep a clean house, though my anal retentivness goes beyond most. You taught me to sew a button at such a young age. I even take the extra buttons and tuck them in a button box for my "just in case" days. You taught me to mend holes in clothing instead of simply tossing the clothes in a rag pile. I remember my first job at the truck stop and having to file taxes. I sat at the dining room table and filled out that 1040EZ asking you about every single line. I was so proud of myself. I now let a company do them, but I fill in the blanks :) You taught me how to grocery shop. There are very few name brand products I purchase. You taught me how to live on a budget and how to save for the important things. Some people in my life (you know who you are) think I'm cheap. I prefer the word "frugal". And on that same topic, you taught me the difference between "I want" and "I need". I will overthink a purchase for months before deciding on making a purchase. (How bad do I need this? If I wait for a bit, will it go on sale? How often will I use it? Will I use this more than once a year? Is it absolutely necessary? Can I use it for more than the one thing it is intended for? Will I be able to find it cheaper somewhere else? Is this something I can find at a discount store/Goodwill/St. Vinny's/Salvation Army/Re-store/ garage sale/ flea market?) In turn, you taught me how to let go of things. You made sure I didn't become a hoarder who holds on to things that she has no use for. I hang onto the things that matter. You taught me how to make a home on the simplest of budgets.

You can't tell where I get my sense of humor, can ya?

For all of these things (plus my goofy sense of humor) and more, Mom, I say "Thank you from the bottom of my heart!" My experiences may have molded me into who I am, but you, YOU, showed me how to handle the shit Life throws at me with grace, faith, and a smile.

Your card is on its way to you. Your gift, I'll save for your visit! However, this is the best gift I can give you for now! HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOM! I love you so very much!

My silly, goofy mom!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Spring...

It appears as if Spring has finally arrived to stay here in my corner of the world. The grass is growing. Birds are singing. The trees have buds on them. Green shoots are pushing through the dirt. The chipmunks have invaded with a vengeance. Rabbits have overrun my yard.

Yes, you read those last two things right. Let me explain. I love these fuzzy little critters, I really do. But here's my problem: They seem to think that they should be in the house pets. Two times now, a chipmunk has had to be relocated (no, they're not allowed to be killed!) to a pine tree across the street. *hangs head* I may have named him Alvin (Honestly, Simon and Theodore would NEVER get into this kind of trouble!) I have two that live in my garage. My neighbors have got to think I'm insane because I stand in the garage and tell them, "Simon, Theodore, you can stay in the garage and hide from Oreo (my neighbor's cat), but I swear to all that I hold holy, if you get under the hood of my truck and chew on the damn wiring, you're cat food!"

The rabbits have built a den within the walls of my second bedroom. The way that room is laid out, a couple of them have made their way inside. The adult was shooed out fairly easy. The baby, on the other hand, was more difficult. Never mind, that as this is happening, I have 175 lb. dog thinking he needs to get in on the fun which only aggravates the bunnies more! The fact that neither of them had a heart attack impresses me! Now, they've taken to lounging on my front steps. How do I know this? Because there is rabbit shit all over my steps! This is a place where they have to go up three steps to lie down! Nothing like stepping out there in bare feet in the morning and having those little surprises. (I'm usually on autopilot and forget until it's too late. This is pre-caffeination.)

However, I have finally found the way they're getting in the house. Before this is, it was a mystery. Now, to get some wood to board up the hole. Getting the landlord to do it is not an option since he's not reliable on anything except complaining if the lawn isn't mowed on his schedule.

Did I also mention that the damn chipmunks have taken to climbing onto my bedroom window screen to chitter at me at 4 am? And no, they're not singing. If only... Uh huh...I'm thinking these little beasts don't understand the human way of living. Just because the sun is rising doesn't mean this human is getting up...I just need another hour.

Yeah, Spring has arrived and this author's world seems to only get nuttier every time the season changes. Maybe this is what city living does to a country girl! It makes her crazy :) Oh wait, I was already there.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Today, class, we're going to talk about respect. There are people who just don't understand what respect means.

Respect is defined as: "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."

If you've read my blog posts before, you know I am a big believer in respect. I don't care if you are a doctor or the cashier at my gas station, you deserve my respect. Why? Because you are a human being, who is doing their job, which is in some way or other in service to me.

I've been talked down to, made to feel like I was stupid, and treated like a second (in some cases, third) class citizen. For too many years, I was a housewife. I kept our home. I was called "a gold digger", "lazy", "drain on society", etc. I divorced and work in a not so different field these days...I'm a caregiver. I go into people's homes and cook their meals, clean their homes, do their laundry, etc. No matter their difficulties, I always treat my clients with respect. I don't know all of their back stories and how they came to need someone like me, but if they are calling on me for help, their lives took a much different turn than they imagined it would. However...the first time, you talk down to me as if you are more knowledgeable of things or are smarter than me, I will shut you down. I may not have a college degree, but I'm working on it. I may not have a nice house, but I'm working on it. What makes you so much better than me? I'm curious. Because you made all the right decisions and lived life the way you were "supposed to"?

My grandma always told me "People in glass houses shouldn't walk around nude or throw stones." I find that to be true. I have clients who have opened up to me after being very haughty with me. What have I discovered? You, too, hath fucked up! You may not have made the same mistakes I've made, but you have made mistakes that led you to places you never wanted to be.

Do you think I WANTED to be divorced and a college student at my age? Hardly, but I can tell you that I'm happy with my choices. Being in college at my age isn't easy, by any means, but I love it! The introvert in me loves watching the people interact with each other on campus. The student in me feels starved for the education. And the woman in me, well, she loves it when she catches a certain man's eye and he tells her that he thinks she's 10-15 years younger than she is. (What? I'm a bit vain, I'll admit it!) And standing on my own? It's an incredible feeling! I feel empowered for the first time in my life! I don't mind my job, but I don't want to stay in it forever. There's so much more to explore and do!

While respect is something that can be earned, it is also something that should be given. That cashier at the gas station? He may be working on his degree at night while being a single dad. That doctor? She may have worked her butt off to get a 2.0 in her pre-med which barely eked her into the medical program at her college. You don't know the whole story behind why someone is doing the job they're doing. That janitor you made fun of in high school may have owned his own company, but lost it when times got tough. He/She took the only job they could get to put food on their family's table. Let that sink in for a moment. We are all simply one decision away from being at the low end of the totem pole.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: An easy concept to understand; a difficult one to incorporate.

And because this seems to be the appropriate song for this post:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Making the Grade

The other day, I was surfing the net and found a blog post from a mom who was frustrated with her son. There's not much news there, right? What mother doesn't get frustrated with their children? However, this post took me back to a place that I would rather not past. See, this mother and father are upset because they think their teenage son, a senior in high school, is not taking his future seriously. Instead of studying for an upcoming exam, he was more focused on playing video games. They believed their son lacked ambition. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't...the point is that this kid was getting good grades...without studying.

I was that son...okay, I was a daughter, but get my point. I was constantly being reminded that I needed to apply myself and how my grades were more important than having fun with my friends. Now, like the son in the blog post, I made decent grades. I wasn't a straight-A student, but I probably could've been. I worked part-time all through high school and school came easy. I made B's without making an effort. Blowing off homework to have fun with my friends on the weekend was part of my life. My homework always made it in the teachers' hands (and no, I didn't copy off someone else). I can still hear my mom and grandma saying, "If you'd just apply yourself..."

Apply myself to what? The one dream I had was dashed on the rocks before I ever made it to high school. I had no idea what the hell I wanted to be when I grew up. Some days, I still wonder if I'll ever get it all figured out. Anyway, how do you apply yourself to something when you have no clue where you're headed? And what is funny is that no one asked me what I wanted to be. But I wasn't being pushed to go to college. I wasn't being steered in any direction. I don't think anyone ever thought I'd be more than someone's wife and mother.

I've made it to college and I'm working on my degree. I work hard for my grades, but let me share something with you. I've applied myself to the science and math classes because I was working toward my BS. I've failed miserably. I've studied until I cannot see anything except fx(g) or metamorphic vs. sedimentary rocks. What do those things have to do with an English degree? Nothing. Where will I use these things? I won't. However, they are part of the "core requirements" for a BS, so I'm forced to take them. Two semesters I took and retook math and geology in the hopes of getting better grades than the previous semester. Because of my BS, I needed those classes. I grew frustrated and I kept hearing the words, "If only you'd apply're just being lazy." My depression was at an all-time high. I've finally remedied the situation and am working on a BA instead. Still need the math, but I've got the science requirement covered.

I sat in my math class that second semester with Mr. Charismatic Smile from the previous semester and almost lost it when he walked in. He had this huge smile on his face and he sat down with me. Tears filled my eyes when I told him that I felt stupid. (I hate it when people tell me I'm stupid/not smart/unintelligent/lazy/etc.) He squeezed my hand and said, "No, you're not. You're in the same boat as me. This just doesn't make sense to us. But you are NOT stupid. I'm not stupid. We're just not able to comprehend this stuff." In fact not too long ago, he shared this and I cried:

So, here's a little bit of advice: Don't tell your kids that their grades define them, they don't. It doesn't matter if  your kid gets an A or a C on a test. Hell, it doesn't matter if they fail it. You need to ask your kid where they see their life going, who they want to be, where they want to go. Maybe your kid doesn't want to go to college right now. Yes, it would be easier, but in all seriousness, your kid getting a job at a gas station or factory isn't the end of the world. They may just find out who they are. And going to college? It may not be in the cards for your child, at least, not now. But the decision needs to be THEIRS. They're not stupid or lazy because they don't follow the goals YOU laid out for THEM. And teaching your children to stress over getting a B instead of an A, well, that just turns them into people who think they have to please you. Teach them to set goals for themselves and live up to THEIR expectations. And just a little FYI: relaxing in front of a video game or a computer screen or even with a book isn't going to kill your kid. You might be surprised at how much they actually learn...about how to manage stress. Take it from someone is just now learning how to deal with biology, algebra, and English, teaching a child to deal with stress is just as important.

 I've changed my major three times since I started college. I'm finally content on my choice, but that college debt is all mine. I've made mistakes and I own each of them, but you know what? At the end of the day, I took my own path, not the one carved out for me, and I'm so much happier now.

Sure you want Junior to be successful, but what is success really? My definition is this: Success is being happy with your life. It's not about a big house, a fancy car, or a big paycheck. It's about paying your bills, having a roof over your head and food on your table. Success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and liking the person you see there. Happiness=success and no one can convince me otherwise.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How Can I Say Thanks?

This isn't one of those mushy posts where I tell everyone how much I love them and thank them for making me, well, me.

You don't have to know me personally to know my struggles. Financially, emotionally, mentally...we all have them. Mine aren't any different from anyone else's. I'm not special or pretending to be. But today, I took a step in the right direction. I put a payment down to insure my future will be better than my today. That my dreams will come true. That I will be able to have it all!

I've fought this war within myself for the better part of a year. An independent woman who asks no one for anything. Who will go without simply out of pride. I've cried and rallied at the universe for the issues I've faced. For the people I've lost. Today, I learned a very valuable lesson. I'm strong. I'm determined. I can stand on my own (despite being told I would never be able to do it). I learned that sometimes I amaze myself and in the best ways.

I'm not a confident woman. If you've read some of my blog posts, you know that. But today, I'm standing a little bit taller. I've done something that makes me proud of who I am and where I am.

I didn't get to this point by taking the easy way. My mom has told me on occasion that I don't have to try and climb over the mountain. I could have just walked around it instead. She's right! The problem is that I don't always see two paths, so I take the one I see instead of blazing my own. People have left me when I thought they'd always stay. Friends have stabbed me in the back. It is to these people that I say my thank yous! Because they left or hurt me, I found my own strength. Their words were often hurtful and unfair, but you know what? They taught me the lessons I needed to learn. For that I'm eternally grateful. Had they not left my life and not looked back, I may not be sitting here today, writing about how I found my truth and strength.

I cannot depend on someone else to make my dreams come true. That is all on me! Today, I took one step closer to seeing this dream through. It may not seem like much to you, but it is a big deal in my world. I kicked off the covers, took a deep breath, and flipped off all the people who said I'd never make it without them. I've cried and fought against the changing tides, but it has gotten me nowhere. So, I went out to sea with the tides and let the waters swallow me, change me, wash me of all my doubts.

I'm taking control of my dreams and I'll be damned if anyone takes the control away from me. This is MY life and I will live it MY way. I deserve happiness. I am worthy. I'm on my way!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Throwback Girl

Have you ever felt as if you were born in the wrong era? As if you fell into a time where you didn't belong? *raises hand* Yep, that's me. I'm a throwback to a time when life was simpler.

You've read my previous posts. You know I am a woman who is more than a little old-fashioned. I cook and bake from scratch. I garden and freeze my own veggies. I make my own jams. Hell, I make my own soaps and lotions, too. Technology is great, but I miss the simpler times.

Mr. Charismatic Smile shared this the other day and it brought this post to the forefront of my mind.

Now, don't get me wrong! I'm all for people wearing what they want to wear, but I'm such a sucker for a man who can pull off a suit and tie. Yeah, I know...I like the jeans and hoodie/t-shirt look, too. However, there is such a classic look when a man puts on a three piece suit and dress shoes.

I'm not a fashion-minded person. I don't know designers. Hell, I had to ask my former roommate who the hell Kate Spade was and what made her special. Did the same thing with Coach. (He laughed at me and said, "You're a girl. Shouldn't you know these things?) I buy what I like because I like it. I don't care about a name. I'm not a fan of skinny jeans on men or the hipster look, in general. I prefer it if my guy wears jeans more often than a suit, but putting on a suit for an evening out or church on Sunday...mmmm...that works.

I'm so much of a throwback that I just ordered this dress:

I wear a garter belt and seamed stockings under all of my skirts. I wear heels as often as is possible. I love the femininity of it all. (Yeah, I'm the same woman who lives in jeans and t-shirts/hoodies and hiking boots.) I love the 40s feel to it. While it all is making a comeback in certain areas, I'm finding it easier to embrace my curves with some of the retro looks. 
There is so much changing in my life that I can hear my grandmother's voice playing in my head about how she's finally got her girly-girl granddaughter! I hated wearing dresses when I was younger. The first skirt I bought as an adult was one that hung to my ankles. (I have a gypsy skirt on my Amazon wish list, too.) I could get away with it, my bathing suit would include swim pants that go to my ankles. But I'm learning to embrace my feminine side the more I grow to accept my body. My curves aren't necessarily meant to be hidden. I'm trying to embrace them. 

In my hometown, there was a classic car event every July. My best friend and I loved that particular weekend. The old cars would roll into town and 50s music would play. We were two girls who loved the cars as much as the events that took place. The cruise was the best part. Especially at night when everyone brought the cars out to cruise Main Street. So many classic beauties would arrive and show off. It was almost as if we stepped back in time.

I'm very much a June Cleaver in a Kim Kardashian world. I love technology and all if affords me, but simplicity has a lot going for it as well. And classical! Being a classic never goes out of style! Think of the sexiest men and women out there...Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe. They had classical looks and a style that truly hasn't gone out of style.

So, tell what era do you think you belong?

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Reason We're Really Here

It has been a long time since I made a post about the actual books themselves and, let's face it, that's why we're really here. I haven't been doing much promotion for a few reasons: A) I was not happy with my publisher. B) I didn't believe anyone wanted to read my stories. C) My depression made me believe I'd never write another story. Here's the good news: I have the rights back for Keeper and Enemies will follow in June. I know people want to read my stories. I've opened the fourth and fifth books up and remembered why I love this series...the characters are incredible! I've read some of the dialogue I wrote so long ago and laughed out loud.

So...I thought I'd tell you a little bit about books that you may not have known.

Did I ever tell you that Adam and Luna weren't even on my radar? I mean, c'mon, Adam had maybe 3 lines in Keeper. The second book was actually supposed to be Fire and Ice. It was going to be about Lance and Pearl. Then, Adam pushed his way through to the forefront and let his demands be known. Then, the rest of the cast followed his example. Fire and Ice is...well...on ice at the moment while I work on those damn Black boys and Gideon...sigh...Gideon.

Mr. Fischer was a character who appeared from out of nowhere. As a writer, I know that every character has a purpose, but my original thought was "What on earth could Mr. Fischer be here for?" After all, he was ornery and just an unpleasant person...unless you were Luna. He actually reminds me of an old family friend (who has passed away). He acted like he was ornery when it actuality, he had a heart of pure gold and was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet. Mr. Fischer taught me a lot.

Samson...oh, sweet Samson! Do you know I put the book aside for three days after I wrote his scene? Three days and I wasn't sure I wanted to write again. Samson is the one character I love as much as the main characters. He's the bear shifter version of my dad. And my father passed away before Enemies was released. I had the contract which he knew about and was proud of, but the book hadn't been released yet. He never knew about the third book. I had been able to keep him alive with my dear Samson.

There is actually a thought in the back of my mind to make a cookbook based on Lorelai's recipes. It's just a dream at this point because I'm not sure it's a feasible idea at the moment. A) I'm not sure if people would be interested. B) I'm not sure people actually do a lot of cooking anymore. C) I'd have to do a lot of cooking and making things look pretty for pictures. LOL

Here's a funny little fact: Adam was loosely based on someone who used to walk through the theater where I used to write. How funny is it that the real-life version (looks, personality, attitude, everything) of Adam entered my life over a year and a half ago? 5 years AFTER the books were released? I will admit that my heart skipped a few beats when he walked in the door. I mean, after all this time, Adam is still the main character who has my heart. Gideon makes me sigh and I love the Black boys, but Adam is...damn near perfect!

As you can see, if you have crossed my path at some point, you will end up in my stories. If you know me personally, I wonder if  you've found yourself in the stories yet. If you have, let me know! It would be funny if you could figure it all out.

Some more book news for you: The covers for Keeper and Enemies are finished! Keeper is going to go back to the original title that I had: The Sheriff and the Hellraiser. Enemies will remain Natural Born Enemies. The first round of edits for the former Keeper are almost finished. I don't foresee any drastic changes being made. I love the story, but there are just some horrible errors that were overlooked when they were originally published. The website will be ready when the first book is re-released.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fighting the Urge to Rage

I was outside with Diesel tonight and I saw a woman drive past, wiping her eyes. I thought, "I wonder what she's upset about. A family member's illness or death? Did she get some bad news of her own?" It caused me to take pause and think about my own life.

See, I've been thinking about hellos and goodbyes a lot recently. This led me to think about the nights I would be driving to and from work on the highway. Some nights, the traffic was light. Others not so much. As a writer, my mind drifts to the people I'm sharing the road with. The couple who are arguing while driving somewhere with their kids. The gorgeous man who races past me on his motorcycle. The single woman with insane colors in her hair, dancing and singing in her truck. (Okay, that one is me, but I'm sure people think I'm nuts.)What are these people's stories?

We've all raged at the drivers who fly past us as if they're the only ones on the road. However, have you ever thought about why they're in a hurry? Maybe they are on the way to the hospital because a loved one was in an accident. Maybe there's been a death. Maybe they're on their way to the airport to greet a loved one who has been away. Even the slow drivers have a story. I'm not saying these are excuses for reckless driving, but how would you feel if your spouse or child was returning after being at war? Would you drive calmly with no hint of excitement? Or would you unconsciously lower the gas pedal to the floor in your haste to get them in your arms again? I know my answer.

I find myself doing the same thing in the store. Doesn't mean I don't get frustrated, just means I wonder about people's stories. What is in the text message that made that woman smile so brightly? What did that woman whisper to her man that has him walking off with a smirk on his face? What is so wrong with their relationship that a man is calling his wife names? I'm an odd duck that way.

My grandma used to take a drive into town (when she still drove) and she would park on Main Street to watch the people. I used to think she was nosy, but that wasn't it at all. She simply wondered about their stories.

So, the next time you get cut off in traffic or you see a frazzled person who is barely keeping it together, think for a moment: I wonder what is happening in their life. I'm not saying there aren't assholes everywhere, but not everyone is covered under that umbrella. That woman who is crying at the stoplight may have just kissed her husband/boyfriend/partner goodbye and she's not sure when/if she'll see them again...or she may have heard a sad song on the radio that triggered her emotions. And if you see that she has crazy colors in her hair AND you're in Wisconsin...roll your window down and say "Hi!" I'm not crazy, I mama had me tested!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What Do You See?

The other day I found a video on Facebook. They took Polaroids of women and asked the women what they saw. There were 63 women used on this project. I watched the video with tears in my eyes. So much beauty and strength was there, yet they sometimes missed it.

I'm on a college campus most days. While I realize that I'm not 18, I compare myself to the girls on campus. I'm not as skinny as that one. I'm not as pretty as another. My skin is flawed and not as fresh as a younger woman's. I'm heavier than most. I dress for comfort instead of style.

But I'm working on my self-image. I'm trying to be more positive about my appearance. For example: I love my hair! I work hard to make sure the color in my hair looks good. And my eyes...I love the color and shape of my eyes. Even in glasses, my eyes are my best feature.

So...I decided that maybe it was time I took a selfie and posted it for the world to see. I'm going to tell you what I see when I look at these pictures. I'm going to try to remain positive, but no promises there.

Ready? Okay, here we go:

Oh gods, this is harder than I thought it would be! *tears*

I see my dad's bone structure in my cheeks. I see my mom's complexion and her eyes. I see my grandmother's mouth. I see pain. I see strength. I see doubt. I see a woman who needs to learn to believe in herself and her abilities. I love her hair! I see someone who knows how to love everyone except herself. I see the introvert, the bookworm, the one who wants to blend in, the one who hopes everyone overlooks her. I see someone who has lost so much and is scared to death. I see the little girl who is scared of screwing up and is petrified to take a chance. I see the woman who has known what it is to be hurt at the hands of someone she trusted...enough so that she is scared to let people touch her...someone who flinches without realizing she's doing it. I see someone who thinks she is more overweight than she really is. I see a daughter. I see a friend. I see a small-town girl. I see someone with a very big heart that has been broken more times than she cares to admit. I see a farmer's daughter with a rebel streak a half mile wide.

I've been told that I have a beautiful smile. I just don't smile in photos because I'm very self-conscious of my teeth. For years, I've been told to "hide your smile" or "smile with your mouth closed". By not smiling, it doesn't mean that I'm not happy. I'm Mr. Charismatic Smile walked into class one day after having missed a class and said, "There's that beautiful smile. I missed it." He just about brought me to my knees with that comment. That one comment made my day so much brighter and I still smile when I remember that first day. However, old habits die hard.

So, there you go: Gemma finally shows you who she is physically. You all know me on a different level, but now, you see what I see.

I just want us to be more aware of ourselves, our bodies, and our view of those things. We shape our own views. Don't let anyone make you feel like you are less than you are! Because you are the best version of one can tell you different!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Some News to Share...

Hello! I hope your New Year is going well so far. I have a few pieces of news:

1) My contract with Leap of Faith Publishing is coming to an end. What does this mean? Well, it means that I am getting the rights back to my books. Keeper of the Golden Dragon's Heart and Natural Born Enemies will be pulled from the sites they are currently on. I am going to re-edit them and fix the mistakes that were previously overlooked as well as create new covers for them. I'm not sure when they'll be available again, but I will be working hard to make them available to you as soon as possible!

2) To go with the new self-published versions of these books, I am also creating a new website. I want to be able to use pictures I've taken of the areas that inspired the Cedar River series and this affords me the option to bring that piece of the world to you in a more stream-lined fashion. What does this mean for this particular blog? I'm not sure at this point. I adore Blogger and may just keep the blog here.

3) As for the Gemma K. Murray name...I did consider a change to my author name, however, I chose this name for a reason. I have so many things that would have to change to accommodate a different name and I just don't think it is a reasonable thing to do. So, whenever the books are re-released, you will find them under the same author name. 

If I am not willing to do the work to make my dream come true, how can I trust someone else to do so? I can't. This is why I'm doing everything I can to put books out that I am proud of. From the covers to the words inside, they will be my creations. This means that I am stepping into different territories to make the products I give you the best they can be. I'm learning to edit photos and create covers. I'm building a website. I'm working very hard and I want you to be happy with the changes that are being made.

I'll still be blogging here and keeping you apprised of the situation as well as how I'm progressing on things. I only ask that you be patient with me.