Friday, October 28, 2016

Embracing My Darkness

Hemingway once said:

Now, I know I'm no Hemingway, but I love his work. I understand the demons that are said to have tormented him. You see, I know a lot of authors who sit down, write, and walk away. Sure they get ideas at the most inconvenient times, like while they're taking a shower, driving kids to practices, or while they are attempting to go to sleep. Many of these same authors can set the mood with very little effort. They simply put their ass in a seat and write. Oh, if only it were that simple for me.

My writing process is quite different. I have playlist upon playlist of music to listen to in order to get my mind in the right space. Candles are usually lit and incense wafting through the air. And silence with no disturbances or interruptions. Then, I step into the darkness of my mind.

My mind is a scary place most days. Most of my story ideas come from my dreams. I dream in full color with my feet on the ground. Yes, vivid colors. And they stick with me for days...even years. Until I take the time to write them down. And once I step into the darkness, it can take days for me to step out of it. Especially if I dive into the realm of my nightmares...where the monsters reside. I had a nightmare for about 5 years. The same one every time. I got tired of it and sat down to write it out. I listened to very dark metal as I wrote and sank into a depression so deep that I thought I'd never emerge. And it scared me.

What scared me is that I went to a place that I never dreamed was possible! I mean, for a long time, all I wrote was light, romantic stories. No heavy back story. No darkness. Just the pretty stuff, ya know? Then, Cedar River came into being. I wrote and wrote what I saw in my dreams. I watched Ana and Bowie become "real". I watched the community come to life and with it more stories. I remember my ex read the dark scenes and merely looked at me with an astounded look, asking, "Where in hell did that come from?" He had no idea what lived in my mind. The fact of the matter is that I could've gone darker, but didn't. After all, my dream was to be a romance author. Not paranormal. Not urban fantasy. Not horror. Romance, sweet and simple.

I never thought I had what it took to write about the darkness that resides in me. Most people who know me wouldn't believe I knew of the bogeyman or demons that hide in the darkness. So, I push it all aside until it builds to a place where I either let it swallow me whole OR I write it all down for the world to see. I choose to write it down and let my demons out to play. The problem now is that I've kept them locked up for a while and they're scratching at the gates of my soul, begging to be released. If I don't let them out soon, they may just consume me. And I prefer to avoid that, if at all possible.

So, while I'm still working 7 days a week and catching up on my housecleaning, I'm also opening up the Word documents I've kept locked up, lighting the incense and candles, and turning on my music. I'm trying to embrace my darkness. Attempting to draw on it to fuel my muse, but not allowing it to consume me...that's the trick. Feed the muse, write the stories/scenes, walk back into the light and survive...seems like a good plan.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Always Be Humble and Kind

This song has been resonating through my life lately. I liked it alright when it was first released, but it wasn't one of my favorites. However...the words are so important.

These aren't things we should have to think about every day. It should be a simple part of human nature. However, so many people aren't taught these lessons as they grow up. And if they are taught those things, they forget them as they age.

Humility is simple. You don't need to brag about the good things you do or how good you are at something. You just do it. There was a very crude comedian who spoke about how people are so quick to talk about their good deeds. He said that just because someone doesn't step forward and demand a pat on the back, that doesn't mean they aren't doing good things. They just do it and don't expect to be applauded for it. It makes me think of all the volunteers and people who work behind the scenes of organizations, but the CEOs are the ones who get the rounds of applause.

And kindness...well, that is just something not many people practice. People are so concerned about themselves and where they are going.They look at a mother with 5 kids, who are dirty and unkempt, and think she must be a horrible mom. They don't see the woman who just got off work, picked her kids up from their grandmother's where they made mudpies, then remembered that she needed to pick up food for dinner and didn't have time to take the kids home to change. They see a woman using food stamps to pay for her groceries, but has her nails done, is wearing designer clothes, and has the latest iPhone.  They aren't seeing that she is a single mom because her sister is in prison and she has custody of 3 kids she wasn't planning on raising. Her designer clothes came from the closet at the local woman's shelter so she could go on an interview for a better job. Her manicure is done at home and the iPhone is a gift from a friend who knows she needs to be able to be contacted in case of an emergency. People miss these things.

What should be simple things to offer others are the hardest because we judge people so harshly. You don't know everyone's story, their history, or their reasoning. I was always told that people in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks or walk around naked. Unless your record is spotless and you have never done wrong, then you definitely shouldn't be judging someone else. 

I find myself making snap judgments on people, then saying, "Gemma, humble and kind." If you look at people and situations through a different lens, you may just find that the world isn't quite as bad as media, politicians, or others would have you believe.

Words to the wise: Always take a breath before judging another. After all, unless you have walked in their shoes on the exact same journey, you have no idea of how a person became the person they are or why they make the decisions they do.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Oh, Grow Up!


Something happened the other day that sort of got this author wound up. Someone very near and dear to me made a post, a very mild mannered post, about how this political crap people are posting on social media had her unfollowing certain friends until after this election is over. She used two, count them two, expletives. A "friend" thought is was suitable to tattle to my near and dear's mother. Seriously? Are we in grade school?

As adults, we are supposed to be setting examples for our children, right? If we get all butthurt over the fact that someone doesn't use language we approve of or doesn't believe the same way we do, how do we expect our kids to grow up to be healthy adults? Yeah, I'm that woman. I don't believe in "participation" ribbons/trophies for sporting events. I believe that teachers SHOULD use red pens to correct papers. I believe that children should be allowed to stand up for themselves.

I am so over this generation of kids who have entered the world believing they are entitled to something. They are raised thinking the world owes them something for their existence. They don't have to study or train to prove themselves, Simply drawing breath means they are entitled. They don't understand the words "menial labor." Things like daily chores are a thing of the past in most households because little Jack wants to play video games or has football practice and little Jill NEEDS to be on her social media pages with her friends. Guess what, parents! You are not here to be your child's friend. You are here to raise children into adults who understand the world will say no more often than it says yes. That hard work and perseverance will get your kid further in life than buying them everything they want will. Discipline! Holy crap! Lack of discipline is why the world is falling apart. No one understands that there are consequences for their actions anymore.

There are kids on the college campus who are delusional enough to think that because they are paying for their education that they are entitled to the grades of their choosing. They don't believe they should study hard and have to work like the rest of the students.I actually had a boy (and I do mean boy) in a math class last semester who got upset when the professor told him she couldn't read his homework assignment. And I don't mean just got upset. I mean, He slammed his chair into the table, stormed to the front of the classroom, threw the remote controls for the projector, etc. at the professor, then slammed the door shut on his way out. Half of us were so busy taking notes that we didn't realize there was a problem until the remotes spit batteries all over the front of the room. And his punishment? He wasn't allowed to return to the class. Having heard this boy's conversations with other students I can tell you that he didn't know the meaning of criticism or hard work. He didn't understand that illegible work means the person grading your papers will simply give up no matter how well you're doing. He would often walk into class worrying about studying for other classes and ask other people for their homework. Poor over privileged punk!

This boy isn't the first I've heard of or born witness to either. You have student athletes who perform well on the field for their team, but can't pull their weight in classrooms. However, they get away with it because they win for the school. This leads to professional sports players who think they can get away with things like hitting their wives, raping women, dogfighting because "Hey, I'm a winner, right?"

We have generations of these kids growing up and getting away with things simply because they have talent or a name. And as parents and a society we are tolerating it. Why? Why are we raising these kids to be this way? What ever happened to having to work your way to the top? What ever happened to struggling to get that music contract? To playing in dive bars until you make it? What ever happened to paying the dues needed in any job to get to the top? Whatever happened to "starting in the mailroom" of a company? Can anyone answer this for me?

I have to work 40 hours a week plus go to classes plus write plus work out time for a personal life. I'm not complaining, I'm stating a fact. But, I can tell you why I am in school. To get an education which will lead me to a job where I can support myself in a better lifestyle than I have now.

Do you know I have actually heard girls on campus who are there looking for a man? They will only date guys with certain majors because "mom wants me to marry well." See, this is where being an introvert isn't such bad thing. I hear things like this. Not in just one class either. This is in the hallways, at the cafes on campus, all over. We are raising our girls to worry more about finding someone to take care of them than how to take care of themselves. Which just makes them prey for the boys who don't feel like they have to earn respect. Nice combination on a college campus, huh?

I know I've strayed a bit from the opening paragraph, however, these things go hand in hand. I swear like a sailor most days. I don't care. If people don't like it, they can walk away or unfriend me. I'm not going to be someone I'm not simply because you can't handle it. I don't say things on this page or my social media pages that I won't say to your face. If you get butthurt, well, that's on you, not me. I'm entitled to my opinion. There's this little thing called the Bill of Rights that my dad and my friends have fought to defend. You want to tattle to my mommy for things I say? Go ahead, who do you think raised me? My beliefs run deep because they've been ingrained in the very heart of who I am. Remember Mr. Charming Smile from my math classes? Yeah, we talked about this a lot. Being raised in a blue collar family, we learned hard work and discipline. We weren't handed things, we had to earn them. Our families taught us the meaning of what it means to be an adult even though it frustrated the fuck out of us at the time, but...we have a great respect for our families, our community, and ourselves. And that counts for something!

Teaching your children about discipline, respect, and responsibility isn't a foreign concept. But we are so worried about giving our children their own voices that we forget that theirs aren't the only ones. Everyone is allowed their's what makes this world so amazing. No one has the exact same beliefs and that is perfectly okay. What we forget is that if we shut up long enough and listen to the other person, maybe, just maybe we might learn something from the other humans on this planet.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

He Saw Her

To get back into the rhythm of writing, I've been writing short pieces based on writing prompts that get my muse up and running. This particular prompt was "Write about someone that most people wouldn't notice."

It made me think about myself and how I have tried so hard to blend into the background. I never wanted to be the center of attention. Then, one day, this man with a charming smile walked in with this energy that coaxed me out of my shell. I've been told by boys throughout my life that I'm beautiful. Gorgeous boys who are almost half my age (some even more so). And they get me to halfway believe that they are telling the truth. But there was something different about this guy with the amazing smile. He isn't your standard issue college guy. He's special. There is nothing boy about him. He's the first man I've actually spent time getting to know. And he actually made me believe that I was beautiful.'s a little writing piece for you:

She was nondescript in so many ways. She blended into the scenery and crowd. She was seldom noticed by anyone. She carried herself in a way that drew no attention. There was no wiggle in her walk. She walked with her shoulders back and her eyes on the crowd in front of her. She stared blindly in front of her, not noticing anyone. Her jeans and t-shirt or sweater attire made her look like every other college girls. Her body was hidden by her baggy clothing. She was full-figured with curves, but she didn’t accentuate her curves. She felt better hiding them away in a sea of sexy co-eds. The only thing that stood out immediately was her hair. It was blue-black with rainbows of color showing. Pinks, purples, blues, and greens drew the eye to the fact that she was no ordinary woman.
She sat in the back of the class and kept her nose in her book, earbuds in her ears. She avoided eye contact with anyone. Her eyes held pain and insecurities. She would diligently take notes and paid attention to the professor’s instructions. She never volunteered answers or asked questions; after all she couldn’t risk the chance of sounding stupid.
One day, a man walked into class. He caught the eyes of the quiet woman and smiled at her. Then, the woman who nobody saw did something that made her beautiful. She smiled at him. He decided in that moment to make it his mission to make her smile every chance he got. Because where no one else saw the beauty of this woman who attempted to blend into the background, her smile lit up his day. He made a point of telling her that her smile was something he missed when he wasn’t in class which only made her smile brighter. Her eyes danced with mischief and her laughter came easier each time. For an entire year, he made her smile, laugh, and her impish side came out to play.
He learned more about her than most people knew. She was easy to talk to and her teasing manner was fun to play with. She knew how to take a joke and could hand it right back to him. He opened up to her and let her into his world. He was the first person to initiate physical contact with the woman and, while it scared the hell out of her, she relaxed more and more in his presence until it felt normal for the touching to occur.

He knew someone had been unkind to her and made her feel as if she was less than she was. It raised his ire, but he continued to show the woman kindness. She opened her heart slightly and allowed him a glimpse at the sheer beauty of her. It wasn’t the clothes she wore or the way she styled her hair. It wasn’t her make-up or her shoes. It was the way her brain worked and the way he could make her smile like no one had before. It was the way her hand felt in his. It was the way she trembled when he touched her knee. It was the way her body fit against his when he took the chance to hug her. It was the way she sighed against his cheek as he held on longer than she expected. It was the way her hair tickled his nose and her scent lingered in his memory. It was the way he caught her watching him when he turned his head to look at her. It was the way she challenged him and made him question things. It was the confident way she gave him her phone number and encouraged him to use it. It was the way she was his personal cheerleader and believed he could do anything. It was the way their beliefs coincided. It was the similar ways they had grown up. It was so many things that made her beautiful. It was just the fact that everyone hadn’t seen her for what she really was…beautiful. What everyone else overlooked as a simple stone was actually an iridescent opal filled with color and fire if only it was held up to the sunlight and allowed to shine. 

Tell me what you think! Tell me about the man in your life! Tell me about how you find ways to stand out! Talk to me :)