Life is a journey. I'm sure you heard that before. What happens on that journey comes down to three things; doing what we want, reacting to what happens and changing what needs to be changed.
My life's journey, for many years, was about dealing with my children's issues. This included doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, medicine. For years I wrapped myself in this and as a result, my life became one big pity party. I take full responsibility for letting myself get sucked back in, unable to leave the swirl of problems.
I also take responsibility for ending it.
Just saying you're done with the party, doesn't end the party. Things don't seemingly get better because you want it to. There will be ups and downs; you will feel as though you're being sucked back in.
I might take the attitude, out of sight, out of mind, but the calls still come. I still have to deal with my kids and their anxieties, their issues, their meds, their insecurities. But what makes it different this time, this time, I won't allow myself to get sucked back into the pity party, to wallow in their situations.
This time I listen, I give them advice, only when asked and I told them very plainly, it's their lives. Make a decision and move on.
It's hard to give up control. It's hard to become mean or tough in a way I never thought I would have to, but for my sanity, for myself to continue on my journey in a healthy way, I need to pass the torch to my children. It is their lives, their decisions, and I'm only here to support them.
I've done good. Rather than keep myself up at night, worrying about them, I've put that to the side, and accepted without question, that this is who my children are. They will find their way, I do tell them that. I also tell them to take it one step at a time. Have a goal and take one footstep in front of the other. Never feel defeated because there are always choices.
I'm moving on. I'm only a support system, I am no longer making the decisions. While I still worry about my kids, I'm not letting myself swim in a sea of despair or a whirlpool of worry. They're young, they have time to make choices, to live good lives. The best I can do for them is to be strong, to be a good role model, to show them how to make a plan and ride it until they accomplish a goal.
While I try and support their choices and hopes for the future, I also need them to know, life doesn't always work out the way we want, but we surely won't get anywhere close to where we want to go if we don't try. I want a happier, healthier life, I need to control what I let in. This is my journey and I'm in control.Continue reading
When I wrote my first book, I wrote what I liked. I was greatly influence by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed; urban fantasy, female lead, real women saving the world on a weekly basis. At that point in time the thought was, write what you like.
What I discovered over the course of the years, not everyone wants to read what I like, and the new thought is, write to market.
I write what I like, it gives me pleasure. I gain confidence when a story works out well, whether I planned it or not.
This is what I had wanted since I was seven years old, to sit at home and write stories, and earn my living entertaining the masses with my words.
Sometimes it doesn't work out that way.
So I'm spending my time trying to do two things, write what I like and write it to market. I've been researching what the market really is. What do readers enjoy and clamor to read?
The problem is, I'm not enjoying the books I'm reading. I feel like they're, not as original as they could be. Well yeah, they're written for market.
Congrats to the writers who can make it work. As I sit at this crossroad, I have to make a decision. Do I write to please the masses so that I can stay at home and live my life long dream, or do I write for me and get a job elsewhere to make money?
A few weeks ago, I announced that my pity party is over. I came to believe that I was addicted to the pity party, that it was consuming me and I needed to be done. Like any addiction, it doesn't go away just because you say so.
I'm in the middle of a bump in the row. I'm feeling pity for myself again. But I can't stop writing. It's who I am at the core.
So I'm diligently preparing to release book four and get book five ready to publish. I hope that the boxed set of the books will sell better than they do now. It will always be a struggle for me; to write or not to write. To live with passion or not to live with the passion, the thing that makes me uniquely me.
I'm a writer. It's what I do. I'm getting better at it. I don't want to quit. I use these bumps in the road to re-examine where I'm at and where I need to be. I've decided I need a new project. I'm working on my memoirs. My experiences raising three children with very difficult situations. I'm writing short stories, I plan to enter writing contests and submit my work to magazines. I want to freelance.
What I don't want to do is quit the thing that gives me joy, confidence, and passion. Ironically, it's also the thing that makes me angry, jealous and bitter, but I'm trying really hard to focus on the good.
So I'm in a good place. I'm continuing with yoga, I'm cutting back on crackers, cookies and sugar. I'm working out harder than I've been able to in years. It's all about controlling the positive and letting the negative go. It's not easy by any stretch, but I finally switched that thing in my brain that gets me out of the hole and back into the light.
I'm a writer at the core. It's what I know.Continue reading
I made a change about three weeks ago, when I decided I was done with my pity party; I had been having it for almost six years.
Making changes was easier than I expected it to be. I'm basing that on my past experiences of worrying and fretting and not sleeping.
It wasn't just a change of view, it was a change of attitude. I decided, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.'
While I love my kids and want the best for them, I decided that I can't worry about whether or not they're making friends, joining groups or getting good grades. They are adults. The most I can do, at this point in their lives, is to be there to support them.
Surprisingly well. I've been sleeping better without the constant worry. I've been present in my own life. I've written a short story to accompany my urban fantasy book series, I started writing my memoirs.
Change is never easy because it means you need to go from the familiar to the unknown. That is what scares us.
We all know where we want to go. It just that sometimes we're just too scared to do what we need to do to get there. I hate to say it, but it was familiar living in that pity party and I knew while I lived there, it wasn't a good place to be.
In times like that we need to remember that we are responsible for our own happiness, regardless of the ups and downs. My life is still complicated, I still have serious issues concerning my children, but I also have me and my life and if I can't find my happiness away from all of the craziness, than I will always be sad, angry and upset. I decided I don't want that.
In the short few weeks since giving up the pity party, I have made changes in other areas of my life and decided to put myself first. I'm giving up sugar, I'm committed to eating food that will nourish me, not feed my emotions, and I've started going to yoga again.
All this, because I finally decided I'm worth the time and energy.Continue reading
I learned from J.K. Rowling that when you write about your reality, you don't have to do it in an exact way. She wrote about her depression through her dementors, soul sucking creatures that drain you of your life.
What I discovered as I worked my way through my books, that my reality was seeping through the pages, as I placed my doubts, fears and questions squarely on my main character, Anne Elizabeth Pearce.
Annie is smart, hard working, beautiful and as she moves through her cases, some directly involving her and her life, she begins to doubt her abilities, blames herself for the fall of the black market and Princess Amelie's rise to vampire.
While she isn't responsible for these things, she feels she is. It makes her vulnerable and she doubts herself and her abilities.
How does it relate to my reality?
My youngest child went off to college this week for the first time, making me an empty nester. You wonder at that point, did I give my child the best I could, was his life good, does he have good thoughts of home and the experiences I tried to give him?
But that's not all. I also, on a constant basis, wonder if I'm a good writer, wonder if I can hack this life as I strive to move forward to achieve my life long dream.
My writing has become personal. Annie's journey has become my journey. As I work toward the end of The Wizard Hall Chronicles it feels very much like I'm entering a new phase of my life and my writing and I'm looking forward to what happens next.Continue reading
Challenges. We all have them. It’s not so much the challenge itself, it’s how we react to the challenge and overcome it that’s the key.
I’ve struggled to find a job after college; I worked in a bookstore, I worked at a contract employee in my chosen field to get experience, I filed and mailed stuff for money. Even when I found the job, it still wasn’t what I wanted to do. I made the jobs work for me. I learned, I grew, I started writing policies and procedures. At least I was writing.
I created a career as a writer, I also worked on databases, I worked in compliance, I continued to learn. I finally wrote my first book.
Challenges continued as life moved along. There were infertility struggles; my children have extra ordinarily difficult situations in their lives. One is transgender, the other suffers from OCD and severe anxiety. The only answer for these issues is to take one step and then another. I grow and change, I learn to accept. I write more books.
Writing is my respite from the challenges life continues to throw my way. It’s been my dream since I was seven to be a writer, create worlds and entertain others with these stories. While I continue to write, my greatest challenge is to market the books, find readers who enjoy them and hopefully be able to support myself as a writer.
I continue to grow and change. I’m on draft four of book five and I’m winding down my first series. I used my main character, Annie Pearce to mirror the challenges in my life. She struggles, she fails, she takes one step and then another, toward a successful conclusion. I test her, she wins.
If only it were that easy in the real world.
While I still struggle, I keep taking the next steady step. For me there is no stopping, because once I stop writing, or stop parenting, the battle is surely lost. As long as there’s one foot in there, still hanging on then there’s always a chance to succeed.
No one is immune to the downs in life. We all ride the roller coaster. Sometimes, it slows and stops and we get off and move on. Sometimes as we pull in to the end of the ride, the coaster slips and sends you through the twists and turns. When that happens, we simply hold on tightly to absorb the twists and turns.Continue reading
It has been a dream to become a writer since I was seven. I've said that many time here. The reason it's so important now, is I'm putting the finishing touches on book four of the Wizard Hall Chronicles called Prophecy. While it'll be out in November 2019, it is the turning point of the series; the work horse. It links The Day of First Sun, Black Market and Wizard War to the final book in the series. It tells a complex story.
I had to get the story right. When I originally started writing the series, I had planned on stand alone books, that told a different story in the wizarding world all centered around Annie Pearce. I wanted a strong female character, a role model for everyone.
The series shaped up to become something far more than I anticipated.
I wrote The Day of First Sun, a story about the magical death of a high-profile, non-magical princess. I combined my two favorite genres, urban fantasy and the police procedural/detective novel.
For many years I sold the book to readers by stating “It's a little like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and CSI.” It's still a bit true, but the reality of the series changed as I wrote Black Market. A plot point began to develop and I couldn't overlook that both book 1 and book 2 tied back to the death of Annie Pearce's father, Jason Pearce.
I'm not much of a plotter. I tend to write by the seat of my pants, having an idea of what the book will be about and how it will end. I hadn't planned to link the books, but I couldn't deny, there was something there.
Clue emerged in the first three books pointing to the climax, the truth about what happened to Annie's dad. I couldn't stop it from happening and yet, I needed to tell the story in two books.
Many years ago I had written a book called She Wulf, a tale loosely based on the story of Beowulf. The book was released and to make a very long story short, it didn't go well. In the end I decided to take She Wulf off of Amazon and work on the next book in the series. As I've mentioned here before, that too didn't go well and I ended up rewriting The Day of First Sun and re-releasing it.
I followed the natural flow of the series which led to Black Market and Wizard War. In my infinite wisdom I decided it was time to retell She Wulf. It could no longer be a cute stand alone story, it had to do so much more. I renamed it Prophecy, and pulled out of it Annie's journey to the truth. The truth about the past and the truth about her family as she must make difficult choices in her life that could result in Annie loosing everything.
As I struggle with various things in my life, a child with anxiety and OCD, a transgender child and the death of my first child, I channeled all of the confusion, hurt, anger, and love into Annie journey. While she and I are on different journey's we are trying to overcome our problems with class and grace and come out on the other side intact.
Prophecy became an act of love from me to myself as a way for Annie to forgive herself for her past mistakes and for me to forgive myself and learn to accept the realities as they are.
Will Annie accept her destiny and save the future or return to the past to save her family?
We all have difficult choices in our lives that deserve careful consideration. Some of us have more difficult choices to make but we must trust ourselves to make the choices that best fit our lives and our families and we must most importantly love ourselves, care for ourselves as we move through life.
I have a dream that I keep front and center because it is what keeps me sane in the middle of the insanity. I can't let go no matter how much stress I carry in the rest of my life. That includes the impossible task of marketing myself and trying to sell my books so that I can stay at home and concentrate on creating more stories.
As Annie struggles, I struggle and together, I can assure you, Annie Pearce and I will make it to the other side.
Catch up on the Wizard Hall Chronicles on Amazon today.
Fallacy of Normal
Nothing about my life as a parent has been especially easy or completely normal. Even getting pregnant came with fertility issues, morning sickness, cramping, pre term labor, multiple hospital stays and a carbon monoxide detector going off at 1am.
Once the babies came after my first pregnancy, I really believed I was done with the bad stuff, that I could go on my merry way into the normal sunset. But even that, wasn't meant to be. I gave birth to twins and even that couldn't end on the right side of happiness. Kids aren't born that way. While I had one healthy twin my other was born with a neuromuscular disorder. Her life was hard, with hospitals, multiple medical procedures and a feeding tube. I lived with nurses in the house for 8 months. If there was no nurse on duty, I was it.
My daughter Stephanie Paige died at 11 months old. It was a painful life for a small body, it was a stressful time for the family. We knew the outcome, regardless of what we did, and when she died, we thought, foolishly I might add, that we would soon be ushering in something more normal.
While children don't come with instruction manuals, they also done come without issues. My oldest, twin to Stephanie was diagnosed with ADHD, severe anxiety and OCD. Over the course of her young life, she had Theron's Disease in her left eye, Gilbert's disease with her liver, scoliosis, torn ligaments in her right wrist. I took her to therapists, psychiatrists, the pediatrician, an orthopedic.
My youngest was happy, athletic, social, busy. While I dealt with my oldest and her issues, I relished in what appeared to be normal, easy. But at 12 she came out as gay and with it came depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem. This round came with drugs and therapists. And in the end the announcement that my youngest daughter was a trans male.
It brings on sleepless nights, as I worry about an unkind world and how it will affect my children. No parenting book guides me through these issues.
We all buy into normal; we live for it on Facebook where we put our best foot forward, our pride in our families and children, in our bragging, look what I have. But that's not life, it's certainly not normal. It's a fallacy.
Life is messy and hard and sometimes it sucks beyond the telling of it. My life oftentimes feels like I'm a roller coasters as I'm up and down, upside right, and just when I see the end of the tunnel, when the ride will stop, it drags me along and pulls me upwards to the next, newest, problem, more complicated than the last.
I move forward in a fog, still hopeful that I will see the light at the end of the darkest tunnel. Right now, all I see is more dark. To keep sane, I write, and today I start draft 6 of my fourth book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles called Prophecy. It's where I can feel normal because I can write about something “normal.”
When we move past the fact that nothing in life is normal and will never be, we can strive for acceptance, act with compassion, and live as humans without labels. It's far better to live for happiness than normal. Only one is achievable.Continue reading
My writing reflects events in my life; cross roads, decisions, my horrible feelings of coming disasters. I've been incorporating all of these in Annie Pearce's journey. She's on a big journey this time. Full of adventure she didn't ask for, questioning her purpose, and feeling as though she's failing miserably. Much like I feel like right now.
It's the end of the school year, a time when decisions need to be made. I have an 18-year-old embarking on college next year and a 21-year-old who's struggling to finalize her major and what that means for her future. I have a writing career that feels as though it's spinning in one place and am struggling to fix the issue.
I always remembered J.K. Rowling discussing her depression and how she wrote about it through the use of dementors. It stuck with me. While I'm not creating a new demon to characterize a mental health issue, I am using the story and Annie's reaction to the events in the plot to work through my own life's situation.
Has it helped? I'm not so sure.
My life's issues might be a little unusual, but I am certainly not the only one who has events that weigh me down, that make me rethink my life's choices that make me sad and want to throw things. I'm dealing with that now.
It's not what we overcome but how we overcome that's important. Do we hide our heads in the sand or do we stand strong, carry on, make choices that get us to where we want to go.
I'm trying to overcome, I'm just not sure how much more I can do.
So what do you do when all seems lost, or you feel you lack control of the situation, or there's not enough time to do what you need to do?
We all struggle and rather than beat ourselves up about it, or troll others and shame them, we need to lift each other up. Read and author and review, comment on a post or like a picture. Share how you overcome and offer support.
I'm not alone and I know that I'm not. I have a friend who's going through something big too. All I can do is ask how she is and she asks that of me.
We can be compassionate, understanding and help each other. And most importantly, be kind to yourself.
I'm a woman, I write what I know. The struggle between holding down a job and caring for a family. The struggle between living my life and chasing after a lifelong dream.
Honestly I believe we can't have it all, at least not all in a neat little package where everything works. Usually something has to give: friendships, hobbies, travel.
I struggle with the dream. The writing of the book, marketing it, trying to do it without a full-time job. And I'm finding myself at the end of this series, putting everything that I have in me, into the book.
When I read Harry Potter, I remember J.K. Rowling explaining what the dementors meant to her. She said they were a representation of her depression. I never forgot that.
The nearer I got to the end of my fifth book in The Wizard Hall Chronicles, the more upset I was finding myself. I've been living with the characters in my head for 10 years, crafting their lives, creating their journey on the pages of the books. I decided it would be the end of the series and it left me sad. But it also became more than an end of one journey. It was as if Annie was taking on my emotions, my struggles, in a way she never had before.
Annie's struggling with changes in her life, a trip to the past and newly acquired information that smacks her hard with the truth about her life. Essentially, she's experiencing my struggles, my emotional upheaval as I witness my own changes. My kids are nearly grown, I'm debating whether or not I should stop writing and just live my life.
It's my own fears, my own lack of confidence that I'm writing into the pages of Annie's story. While I'm not writing these things in the demons she meets, she essentially is me, and she is essentially experiencing what I'm experiencing.
February has in effect been a difficult month of selling books, of writing the last book of the series, of deciding whether or not this is all worth it. But in reality, I can't give this up. It is so much of what defines me, who I am and what I do. While I get frustrated reading best sellers that are poorly written, or discover what works for some isn't working for me, I'm still finding myself obsessively working to finish Annie's story, to the completion of her journey. It is what I have been working toward my whole life, writing, a book, a story, with meaning, something relatable to others.
I had a fan send me a word of encouragement, telling me not to give up because the story of Annie resonates with people. Maybe not a lot of people now, but someday maybe. She's relatable because she's me, and I'm writing what I know. And what I know is the only way to achieve your dreams or your goals is to keep moving forward, even if forward is only one step at a time, one day at a time.
Here's to the dreamers who can't give up.
It's the time of year for resolutions when we make these pronouncements:
I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore.
Yes, I like to have a date when I will begin a new book, or have a book ready for publishing, but when it comes to these shouldas, couldas, wouldas, about my person, I feel as though I need to make a decision and begin, whether it's the beginning, middle or end of the year.
It's because I know what I need to do. I just have to get off my butt and do it, whatever it is, whenever it is.
See, I know I need to lose a few pounds. I need to eat smaller portions and eat less sugar. I didn't wait for the end of the year to make my New Year's resolution to begin. I just said, “This is what I need to be healthy.”
And I know it's not a diet. This is the way of life. I just have to do it.
For my career I knew I needed to manage the advertising and marketing and writing. I quit my job because at the moment I was able to. Because this is what I had to do if I want to be an author.
We like the idea of new beginnings. The ability to shed the bad stuff from the previous year. I have a lot of baggage I could do that with. What I need to do instead, is remember to live in the moment. Not my resolution, but my real life, all the time.
It's not a resolution, it's simply me remembering that today is a new day and I need to live today with all that entails. No more resolutions, no more attempts. Just one day at a time. If I slip today, I pick up and do it again the next without judging myself or being hard on myself when one day goes badly. I tomorrow, not January 1. There's always tomorrow.
If you must make a resolution, do this: Each and everyday I will:
We mess up. We take corrective actions we move on. I will remember to live in the moment, not starting on January 1, but starting today.
Have yourself a very happy holiday season and be your best self, even if that means you lay around in your jammies watching Doctor Who episodes once and while.
Life is hard. We work full-time. We have children, friends, family, hobbies if we're lucky. We need to eat well, exercise daily. I have an adult child with severe anxiety, ADD and OCD. My youngest is a transgender male.
There's sleepless nights worrying about the extraordinary and sometimes I only have time to worry about the ordinary. You have to pick your battles.
I've always wanted to be a writer. I was seven when I started the Nancy Drew Mysteries. From that moment I not only wanted to read her adventures, I wanted to create and write my own adventures.
As life pulled me in difficult directions, writing became something more for me than just a means to make money doing something I was fairly good at. It became an escape from increasingly difficult and out of the ordinary situations. It was my inspiration.
Mystery novels have always been my first love. Taking a problem and digging one layer at a time to discover the truth. I also love the urban fantasy, epic fantasy realm. Hiding in the make-believe. It's there that I find equality lives, women can be strong leaders, justice most often prevails.
This is why I imagined Annie Pearce. Young, smart, beautiful, seemingly perfect but when you dig deeper, when you get to know her, she's flawed, she's vulnerable, she's real. She works in a highly male field as a Wizard Guard. A magical police officer who fights demons, vampires and evil wizards. She falls in love with her best friend and partner at work, Bobby “Cham” Chamsky and had to deal with the new emotions while investigating the biggest case of their careers.
Annie Pearce makes mistakes, some are small and easy to fix. Other mistakes can risk exposure or cause a wizard war. But she perseveres because that is her make up. She wants justice for the downtrodden, for the victims of crimes. Though she is young, she can be an inspiration.
I wrote Annie to be the woman I wanted to be. A strong survivor who can and will find her way through a difficult and often scary world. Joss Whedon's Buffy Summers was one of my inspirations for putting together a relatable woman.
While I stumble through my life with increasingly difficult situations that make me want to cry or hide in the sand or simply run away, I remember the alter ego that I created. I suck it in and imagine the confidence and take one step in front of the other. This is what I want and for now, Annie is my own fairy godmother and inspiration as I make my way through the world of writing to become the author I want to be.Continue reading
So I have a confession to make — I sort of skew ADHD. No, I haven’t been officially diagnosed anything. But, distraction, when other things need to be done, oftentimes gets in the way. Does this ever happen with you? I have set myself a deadline to write, but the kitchen is slightly messy; I need to clean it before I can string together even a few words. I have calls to make for doctor appointments or for workmen to come fix things in the house, but the beds aren’t made so the calls go unmade. I find group projects can be a bit frustrating because I can see the order of the work flow and my colleagues may want to approach the topic from a different direction. Sometimes, I need to be all caught up on my “to-do” list to move forward in life.
This “affliction” drives my family crazy. My children do not understand why I need their rooms straightened so that I can focus on the writing. Perfection is a heavy burden to put on anyone’s shoulders.
But sometimes, this tendency of mine helps me to be a better writer. The “messiness” of a storyline may send me through a loop back to the very beginning of the writing process. For example, something didn’t click the when I finished the original book for the Wizard Hall Chronicles. While a great deal of time and effort went into the first publication of the series, I began to realize it “wasn’t in its right place.” Part of me knew I couldn’t move forward without going back to start again to put things on the right track. I was correct. Rewriting the story propelled everything forward.
So, as frustrating as it may be to others and myself, I know that my compulsion to have a certain amount of “order” in my personal and professional life is a secret weapon of some sort. Do you have any secret weapons? Are they personality quirks that may seem difficult on the one hand but bring you to a better place in the long run? Do these traits help you move forward or hold you back? Are you even aware that you have these traits? I think that being self-aware is the ticket to using your superpowers for good and not for evil.
A few years ago with a lack of confidence, I joked about dying my hair red and calling myself Lola. My plan was try new things, reinvent myself, pull up and out of the mire, regain my confidence.
I came up with a list of things I wanted to try. It didn't quite work. I still find myself spinning my wheels. Desperate to figure out how to sell my books, to find a better job, to not work so hard for so little reward.
You see, I send out resumes nearly everyday, I join book groups to make contacts, go to book workshops to learn how to handle the business of writing. I plan my social media. And yet every morning, I dread the drive to work, the long hours doing what I don't want to do, and the having the knowledge that book two is so much better than book one and not being able to get it out to the masses.
The therapist told me that maybe I needed to approach the problem in a new way.
So how to you climb out of the funk and change your life when there are so few options because you have responsibilities and little time.
I started looking for ways to change the strategy, the viewpoint, and the outcome.
I stopped forcing myself to write on week nights when I'm so exhausted from a full day of work. Instead, I work on social media, blogs, and other business and if there's time I write. My goal, 500 words. Sometimes I get them in, sometimes, I fall asleep on the couch at 8:30 at night. I always write on the weekend.
But now I stop at 9 pm. I cuddle up in bed and shut out the world with a book, an easy read that allows me to meld into a different world and think of nothing else. It leads me to a more peaceful sleep.
I've been applying to jobs I otherwise might not have. Making a change in hopes that there's a freelance gig that's right for me. Less hours in order to give myself time to do what I really want to do–the thing that actually gives me confidence–Writing.
Most importantly, I decided that I physically feel horrible all the time. Stomach aches, headaches, cramping, bloating, and tight clothes.
Sometimes with all the problems, the kids with issues, law suits, jobs that make me unhappy, the last thing that gets taken care of is myself.
I can do this. I'm re-starting the eating and exercise plan that I've had a lot of success with in the past. It balances the food groups, it balances exercise, and when I've done this in the past, I feel strong and healthy.
I'm looking for new opportunities. Different types of jobs and applying anyway. Just in case. I'm writing because it makes me happy.
I registered for a book workshop and signed up to meet agents. Because maybe in person, I can be heard. It might be good, it might not, but it's interaction with people in the industry.
I'm building a following, a list. Following others. Sharing. A slow sell, encouraging others to read book two. Maybe finding others who like the same things I do.
It's not about reinventing myself, becoming someone I'm not. It's about remembering who I am and where I want to go and never loosing sight on that. To do that, I have to try new things, look at the problem with different eyes and all in all, take care of myself. Give myself a break and live a little.
Day one. I've eaten all the good things I'm supposed to eat. Without hunger, without guilt. I finally crafted a blog and worked on social media. I even took a nap.
We always have it within ourselves to pull ourselves up and out. We just have to let go of the fear and just say go.
I watch quirky, I also watch relatable characters, most recently, strong, real women. I've started a new show. You may have heard of it, Victoria on Masterpiece. While I'm a sucker for the dresses, the jewelry, the crowns, I'm wildly fascinated by the role of women in each century. While I realize that writers take liberties, I'm guessing there's some truth to the portrayal of the Queen, and I'm finding it fascinating to see that a woman's many struggles haven't changed all that much.
Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 at the tender age of 18. Almost immediately, she found herself struggling to be heard, to be thought of as the monarch, of a strong leader. It hadn't helped that she was a petite, delicate flower, considered mildly incapable of doing much more than having children and spending time in the nursery. The life she would most likely have had, had it not been the accident of her birth, to be born as the heir to the throne.
You can hear the frustration in her voice as the young girl fights to be heard, to find her way in a male dominated world, where simply by her sex and stature, she brushed aside as nothing more than a girl.
Victoria stumbles along the way, but remains steadfast in her duty, in her desire to make a difference, to rule her subjects with honesty and do what's right. But she does all this by her own rules, choosing to marry for love, not duty, standing up to those who wish to sway her and push her aside.
Though she's the ruler of England, a vast kingdom in 1837, she's still a woman. She suffers postpartum depression, she struggles being heard, she's jealous, when her husband flirts with a female mathematician. But when Victoria meets the woman face to face, she sees a woman struggling just like her, who is constantly trying to find her footing and prove herself.
Who knew I'd find a role model in a woman who lived 181 years ago, in a time and place so different from my own. And who knew just how much just being a woman, has not changed. How we still want the same things, and our difficulties are universal. And more than anything, the answer is same. We are the solution to our own situation and only we can make it right or better. We are our own strength and we owe it to each of to be supportive of our choices whether we chose to stay at home and raise our kids or we chose to work outside of our homes.
And just like Victoria, I stand firm in my desire to write, to create, to say something and leave behind a legacy. To help others like myself by sharing my story in hopes I can help someone else find their way.
No matter what, we're all strong, or delicate flowers, smart and capable and sometimes we stumble.
And Victoria isn't just the strong female character, it's not just watching and getting angry by thoughts and ideas I'm not used to, it's also the dresses, jewels, and crowns. Because hey, there's still that.
My grandparents immigrated from Glasgow, Scotland in 1948, (The family came from Poland and Russia before that). Eager to become citizens, to become American, they embraced traditions and in that, certain traditions became family traditions.
Early Thanksgivings would consist of the usual: turkey, stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes. And then it happened. The story as I heard it, my grandmother discovered the stuffing recipe in a magazine. It was simple: bread onion, carrots, butter, eggs, and a potato. Yeah. A potato. It is by far, the best stuffing I have ever had.
Growing up, I would come downstairs on Thanksgiving morning to find my parents preparing the stuffing, the same stuffing my mom would help prepare as a kid. The difference between then and now, she'd use hand peelers and a grater; I got a food processor.
Without that stuffing, it just isn't Thanksgiving. With my parents divorced and my Thanksgiving rotated yearly, I make enough to share with whichever parent I'm not celebrating with that year.
Over the years, people have come and gone, sharing the day with us. Everyone brings something to share. And my food loving family, acquired yet another food related tradition. It's called Aunty Rudi cake. My aunt isn't allowed in the house unless she brings the moist and delicious cakes, that she doctored and that none of us can get enough of. It's actually one of those traditions that isn't just for Thanksgiving, It encompasses any family party. It's come down to each of us having our own travel case holder in which to carry any leftovers home with us.
As I write this, I realize that all of our traditions are food based. Beside the stuffing and the cake, our family always had a deep love for turkey skin. Yeah, the way we make our turkey is to ensure the skin is crispy, buttery, and heavenly. So much so, we stand around the turkey as it's being carved. One year, my aunt Shelley stole it out of my hand before I could stick it in my mouth.
The newest tradition started a few years ago. It was the smallest group, only five of us. I stayed in my pajamas as I prepared the stuffing, and wore them as my mom prepared the standing rib roast. Yes. Standing rib roast. Most of us, assembled that day were not big fans of turkey. Rather than making a large turkey, we made a small one and dined on the sumptuous flavor of rib roast. I know turkey wasn't there for the first Thanksgiving, it is one of our most favorite traditions. My mouth waters thinking about it.
And what do you celebrate? Are your traditions food related? Location related?
In the food processor, grind the rolls and leave in a large bowl. You'll need it. Grind the onion, carrots and potatoes. Add to the bread. Add the eggs. Hand mix, adding the water/butter mixture as needed. The stuffing should be wet, and easily form a ball. You don't want it mushy. Add the Lowry's seasoning salt to taste. Place in 350 degree oven until hot.
While we don't add anything else to the stuff, I know others have added cranberries, almond slivers, celery or whatever ingredient that tickles their fancy. As this is our family tradition, we don't mess with it.
Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!