Category Archives: Uncategorized

Time or Inspiration?

propiska-a-notes-cernobilaI always knew that one day I wanted to be a writer. Even in my youth when I dreamt of doing everything under the sun, I could always see the day when my name was on the cover of a novel. Today, that dream is a reality.

For many years, though, I struggled with writing. I had tons of ideas, some good, quite a few bad, and even a handful that were downright horrible. Yet, I was never able to actually put pen to paper long enough to complete anything worth reading. I’d fiddle around with a beginning to a story. Maybe I’d jot down a few passages from the middle of another. Very rarely, I’d sit down and write the ending to anything.

I didn’t have the time to write.

Like so many other would-be writers, I didn’t have the time to devote to my craft. I owned a business, was a wife, a mother, and managed the day-to-day affairs of a household. I took the kids to the dentist. I took the cats to the vet. I shopped for groceries. In short, I did what countless of other novelists do on a daily basis yet they still found time to pursue their dreams of writing.

I couldn’t because I was too busy.

And then things changed. The economy tanked. My business closed. I got divorced. We lost everything and had to start completely over. Our family went through a financial and emotional upheaval. It was an abysmal time to say the least.

But something happened during that process. At rock bottom, at my very lowest point, when those who I thought were friends were nowhere to be found and I was alone, I began to hear that still, small voice in my mind. Stories began to form in a way I’d never experienced before. There had always been a dull drone in the back of my mind where ideas and characters went to die a slow and forgotten death. Yet now, it was as though I could finally hear, in crystal clear detail, what they’d been trying to say all those years.

I began to jot down some ideas. Slowly at first. It had been so long since I’d actually written anything that I wasn’t even sure how to begin. Initially I would describe something or someone. A simple, short paragraph. Nothing overly impressive. Certainly nothing worthy of publication. Then I saw two characters, two ladies, as clear as the noon day sky. I saw everything they were doing. I could hear they conversation. It was like watching a feature length movie.

I had no choice but to write.

In less than four months, I’d written their story completely. My first novel. I had given birth to my first full length manuscript! That single accomplishment meant more to me than any of the business accolades I’d ever received. It meant more to me than owning a business. It felt as though I’d successfully climbed Mount Everest!

And in a way I had. I’d overcome my biggest obstacle in life. By every definition, I was the single biggest failure you could imagine but through it all, I had survived and found my voice.

Today, I can’t imagine NOT writing. It’s almost a compulsion. I have to do it. Even though I’m still a mother, I still have to work, I still have to run a household, I still have to go to appointments and cook dinner. I haven’t gained any extra time in the day. I have 24 hours just like everyone else.

Looking back at the differences in my life now versus where I was a few years ago, I realize how much happier I am today than I was back then. I had let everyone else’s expectations and desires drown out my own inner voice. I had followed other people’s dreams down a path I didn’t want to be on. I had stayed in a marriage that should have ended far sooner than it did. I was miserable.

I didn’t abandon my writing because I had no time. I abandoned my writing because I let my misery drown out my voice. I wasn’t inspired to write. I wasn’t inspired to do anything. I was merely muddling through life on a predetermined trajectory. Once I was finally out from under that weight, my writer’s voice came back with a vengeance.

I can’t say that there’s an easy answer to the ‘time’ issue of writing. I certainly wish I had more time to write than I do. I still struggle with making deadlines and meeting my expectations of when a project should be finished. I am far from the perfect example of time management skills.

But now I find myself squeezing in time to write wherever I can find it. I’ll jot down ideas or story sections while waiting at my son’s orthodontist appointment. I’ll scribble frantically on those little paper place mats in a restaurant. I actively look for interesting ideas that might make a good story in the future.

Finding time is easy once you find your inspiration. Once you find your voice.

I sincerely hope that no one goes through the pain and turmoil that my family and I went through. In the end, it turned out for the best. I’ve been able to follow my dreams. I’m building a new life that I love. I’m happy. I’ve found my inspiration and my voice. But it was fraught with agony. I’m sure there should have been a less dramatic way for me to learn some of those lessons although I know that I was probably too hard-headed to listen.

I do, however, hope that all those who eventually hope to write take a few minutes to truly examine what is really holding them back. Is it actually a lack of time or have you created a life that denies your writer’s voice to shine through? Are you truly inspired to get up every morning and write? Are you willing to slog through the difficult times of novel writing because you know the story you’re telling must be told?

There’s no right or wrong answer to that question. We each have our own lives to lead and must find our own path to happiness. I encourage you to make sure that path you’re traveling on is actually one of your own choosing.

Best Wishes and Happy Writing!

15 Years Ago

13445249_1135924726449918_5186079892555005673_nLike so many Americans, today I find myself looking back to the day my world stood still. I remember exactly where I was at the time. I was serving with the 48th Infantry Brigade in Macon, Georgia. It was a rare morning when I arrived at work before my coworker. She came through the door and asked if I’d heard anything on the radio. There was a brief report about some plane hitting the World Trade Center.

What? Planes don’t crash into buildings. It had to be some sort of freak accident.

We quickly tried to look things up online but the traffic to all the news sites that day was unprecedented. When we finally connected and watched the video, it was clear, this was no accidental crash. Moments later, the second plane hit. Our country was under attack. I stepped into the Colonel’s office and told him the news.

As you can imagine, things escalated fairly quickly from there. I called my husband, who was a police officer working the evening shift. He normally wouldn’t wake for several more hours, but on 9/11 normal schedules were abandoned. Then I called my parents. They wouldn’t turn on the television until the late afternoon or evening so they hadn’t heard the news either. I made arrangements for them to watch my daughter.

On that day, I was a pregnant service member with a young daughter. My husband was a veteran and a police officer. We were your typical, public service family with too many bills to pay and not nearly enough money to pay them. And in the blink of an eye, everything we’d been trained for and thought would never happen was coming true.

I was terrified. Not for me, per se. But for my kids, my daughter and my unborn son. For my husband who would be thrust into harms way within a few hours. And for the rest of my family who were honest, hard working individuals just out trying to make a good life for their families.

And I was furious! I wanted vengeance against the bastards who attacked our country and those who celebrated the attack. I wanted them to suffer. I wanted them destroyed.

I don’t remember the exact chain of events that unfolded over the next few days and weeks. Things were a bit of a whirlwind. I do remember the eerie silence in the skies. I lived south of Atlanta in one of the major approach patterns for Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Not seeing daily planes overhead was surreal. I also remember attending a prayer vigil in downtown Macon. All the churches participated, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Greek Orthodox. and Jewish. There was a brief memorial service in each of the churches followed by a prayer vigil in the downtown area. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians — it didn’t matter what ethnicity you were. On that day we were all Americans. And we all held each other and cried for the attack on our nation.

My son was born about four months later. He’s a freshman in high school now and he’s learning about 9/11 as a historical event. His sister who is six years older remembers the day very well. She lived through it as a young child. It’s certainly a day she’ll never forget. As we remember the 15th anniversary of that tragic day, she is serving as an active duty Marine.

A lot has changed in our country since that day. A lot of people have forgotten the pain caused on that morning. In some ways, that’s a part of the healing process. We have to let go of some of the pain in order to move forward.

In other ways, that’s a bad thing. Many have forgotten that we are all, in fact, Americans. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, when tragedy strikes, we all bleed red. We all feel pain, sorrow, anger, pride, and happiness. These emotions aren’t limited to the color of our skin. These are universal characteristics that everyone experiences.

America has problems. We always have. That’s as true today as it was two hundred years ago. We’re not a perfect country. We probably never will be. That doesn’t mean we can’t strive for perfection.

But that does mean we shouldn’t ignore all the wonderful things that make our country great. Ours is a free country. We have rights and privileges that millions of other people throughout the world only dream about. We have a plethora of natural resources and the ability to sustain ourselves.

And we have chutzpah in the face of adversity. We may fight among ourselves from time to time, as all families will, but let someone else try to attack us. We’ll unite and face that challenge with a mighty force.

I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud of our flag. I will never sit down as long as the Anthem is played unless I’m no longer physically able to stand. And I will NEVER apologize for that pride. I love my country. I love my fellow Americans. Some of them make me mad sometimes. Some of them make me want to say bad words sometimes. But I still love them. They’re my family. They’re my countrymen.

So, today, as we look back, let’s not forget that we’re also united. We’re Americans. We live in the greatest country in the world.

God Bless all those individuals who lost their lives 15 years ago. God Bless all the men and women in uniform who strive daily to protect our freedoms. And God Bless this wonderful country of ours!

 

 

Goodbye St. Christopher

prayer-to-st-christopher-prayer-card-2015448

Almost every day for the past 20+ years, I’ve worn a simple gold pendant around my neck. I could probably count the number of times I’ve gone without it. It was a petite, oval (though not elongated) St Christopher that I bought from a small independent jeweler who had studied at the Goldschmidtehaus in Hanau Germany. I don’t remember how much I paid for it at the time, maybe $100 or so but I bought it shortly after my daughter was born and I had them engrave it with the words Carpe Diem on the back. I bit unconventional I know but I always wanted to be reminded of God’s presence and that each day was an opportunity. It wasn’t like the pendants you can buy here in the states. Honestly, I’ve never seen another one like it. It didn’t have the saint’s name emblazoned on the front. Only the image of Christoper holding the baby Christ. Like I said, it was simple.

Those who know me, know I’m not a big jewelry person. The necklace is the only thing I wear on a daily basis. I’d much rather have a few pieces that mean a tremendous amount to me personally than a collection of pieces for the sake of having them. This one little pendant to me was priceless even though it probably wasn’t worth much to anyone else. I had always promised to give it to my daughter when my time comes to pass. I had hoped that one day she could pass it on to her daughter.

This morning the chain broke and the pendant is gone. I’ve lost it forever. The chain can be replaced. The pendant, that’s another story. I’ve searched through Ebay and several online stores, but all of those pendants seem to be cookie cutter images of each other. Quite simply, they aren’t my St Christopher. They’re not even close.

I’m not usually one to get attached to material things. I don’t have to have the latest gadget that comes out or buy the fanciest car but this little pendant had seen me through my entire adult life. It was with me when my son was born and when we traveled to Alaska. It saw me through various career changes and through trails and tribulations I hope to never encounter again. It was a constant soothing reminder that I could keep close to my heart through good days and bad.

And now it’s gone.

Realistically, I know there are many worse things to go through in life. The loss of a simple pendant won’t alter the course I’m on nor will it detract from my successes. It can ultimately be replaced by another pendant that is similar though not quite the same.

I know all these things in my mind yet my heart is saddened at the loss of something so dear. And today, my shoulders feel far heavier without the simple little St Christopher around to shield them.

Procrastination Kills The Best Intentions

Stop!  Don’t rush me! I’m waiting for the last-minute!!

That should really be my motto in life. Not my intentional motto of course. That would be something more like, “Happiness is a choice we must make everyday.” (A statement I believe emphatically, by the way.)  That’s the motto I would choose.

Unfortunately, procrastination seems, for me at least, to be a permanent way of life. It has been since I was a child. Why worry about that complex science project due next week? I’ve got an entire week to work on that. Well, maybe now I only have three days.  Oh my God, is it due tomorrow?? How did that happen? I’m sure I can create an entire solar system in a few hours.  Or maybe something that looks roughly like it might be a solar system. Such was the state of my academic career.  I can’t actually remember tackling a project with more than three days left until it was due. Maybe I did that once of twice, but the habit never stuck.

Even this blog is the result of extreme procrastination.  I signed up for this service many moons ago.  I was going to start posting on a regular basis to help showcase my writing as well as discuss some of the more pressing issues in the world today.  Nothing like politics or religion.  There are far too many people out there arguing about that stuff.  No, I wanted to cover topics like motherhood, children, and one of my favorite things to discuss at length — college football.  I had the best of intentions.  Unfortunately, my old procrastination habit died a hard death and as a result very few things have been posted.

So, as part of my New Year’s resolution, I decided blogging would be on the list.  As you can see by today’s date, it wasn’t that big of a priority.  But, hey, I’m making progress!  It only took me seven months to get things rolling as opposed the full year and a half between previous posts. It may not be much, but I take my accomplishments where I can find them.

At any rate, welcome, finally, to my little corner of the world and my thoughts on the all around me. I hope that you will come back to visit from time to time. I promise to post a little more often than once a year.  It’s a resolution, after all, and we all know, those are never broken!

Happy Memorial Day!

Nothing says bring on the summer like Memorial Day weekend! It’s a great time to spend outdoors with family and friends. The kids are out of school. The days are long. The sun is shining brightly overhead. The smell of charcoal fills the air throughout neighborhoods across the country. It’s a great day to be alive.

But, let’s stop and take a moment to remember the actual reason for the holiday. It’s not a National BBQ day. (Although, I wouldn’t turn down an invitation for a nice juicy steak off the grill.) It’s a day to remember those who have given their lives to our great nation. A day to remember the men and women who will never come home from the horrors of war to spend time with their families and loved ones.

There are those who would argue that this is not an important day to remember, that we shouldn’t spend time thinking about the past atrocities of war, that wars are merely travesties created by politicians, and veterans are the puppets who serve their greedy causes. They have a right to their opinions, however misguided those opinions may be. Ironically, that right to voice opposing opinions is ensured by the very people they reject and ridicule, the veterans who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy here in this great country.

We are not a perfect country. We have many problems here. I’m not naive enough to dismiss our shortcomings. However, for all the problems we have and all the discontent we have within our borders at the moment, I am humbled by the fact that so many brave men and women made a conscious choice to give their lives if need be to protect my freedom. No one today is drafted into military service. That ended long ago. Today, you willingly and consciously walk into a MEPS station and take the oath of enlistment. You volunteer to lay down your life for your fellow man, a country full of fellow men you will never know or meet. It was an oath I took years ago and one that my daughter recently raised her right hand to recite.

I’m proud to have served. I’m proud that my daughter chose to serve. I’m proud to be in the elite class known as U.S. Veteran. And yet, I know I will never be able to repay the debt of freedom I owe to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for your sacrifice. May God grant you everlasting peace throughout eternity. And may God bless your families who miss you so very deeply. God Bless the U.S.A!!