There are numerous women in my life that fill numerous roles and I’ve had a carefully crafted organization system in place for years that keeps each in their zone.
They have started to move about the cabin freely without me turning off the seat belt sign, and to be completely honest, I’m not liking it.
I’m a big fan of clear cut lines and rules. This wasn’t always the case, but over the last decade or so it’s become helpful for dealing with my anxieties and insecurities. I like to know what to expect and from whom I can expect it.
In my attempt to “take control” of the direction my life is going in, I somehow overturned all the boxes, lost the labels, and shook up the etch a sketch road map.
I am excited about the future and the possibilities, but at the same time I’m feeling unmoored. My love life is completely up in the air. There is a big “we’ll see” over my relationship status. My “flirtationship” has been on the fritz like a wonky radio signal I lose just about the time I make out the lyrics of my favorite song. My female friends have morphed into my family, and the few I’m leaving behind in Ohio feel like an impending death in that family. Ohio is “only” 1000 miles from Oklahoma, but when you live on a strict budget that may as well be on the moon. My soon-to-be roommate has been my friend for almost 30 years and we couldn’t be more opposite on 99% of our opinions and I fear our new arrangement will cause issues there. (I’m mouthy and opinionated on a good day.) The women that have been friends I flirt with from a safe distance will no longer be at a distance and that worries me a lot because I’m all flirt and no intention with all of them so I have to pull on my big girl panties and draw some clearer lines there. I’m going to be moving closer to certain people I’ve been able to easily put in my rear-view mirror because of the distance. I want to keep them there, but I’m not terribly adept at being the asshole when I should be. For the first time in 11 years I’ll be able to rebuild a relationship with a young woman that, though born to another mother, was my daughter from the moment she took her first breath. After falling out with her biological mother she was kept from me as a child, but now as an adult I’m not sure where I fit into her life and that is an unpaved road that leaves me feeling like I need a GPS and a seeing eye dog.
It’s all so messy. It’s a lot of unknowns. It’s a lot of insecurities. It’s a lot of building, rebuilding, reevaluating, reconstructing, and self-reflection. I say I’m patient, but in truth I’m not when it comes to myself. I want all the answers and I want them now.
The thing they forget to mention to kids who are in a hurry to grow up is at no time in your adult life do you get the key to the library that holds the book that has all the answers. You don’t even get the cliff notes. Adulting is more like a self-guided study on theoretical physics just after having grasped 6th grade science and math.
Also; Packing sucks and if you can pay someone to do it for you I highly recommend it. Unfortunately I’m flying solo on that as well.
The attached link at the bottom says nearly perfectly what makes sense to me. I believe one of the reasons I feel so stuck is needing to break free from the guilt and feeling of “I deserve this shit” that weighs me down. I created this life and now I have to find a way to make it better, but instead of making it better I keep letting it beat me up because I put so much bad out there in the past a part of me feels it’s justified. And the people in the world around me just reinforce that narrative with their negativity towards me. I’m deemed stupid because I’m overweight. I’m deemed untrustworthy because over a decade ago I broke the law. I’m deemed worthless because, due to previously mentioned law breaking, I don’t have a large income. My entire life I’ve found my desire, my energy, my passion in the connections in my life. Whether it was my daughter, my partner, my job, my friends, my grandma, or even people who only knew me from being out in the gay community. Those pieces of energy each person or opportunity gave to me were life fuel to my chaotic emotions and brain. It gave me direction and drive.
It possibly started before my major screw ups actually. I had a partner that struggled with addiction and mental illness and to my detriment and to the detriment of most of my other connections I allowed her to feed off me until I was left pretty broken emotionally and not real well mentally. That’s when the anxiety started. That’s when I started feeling desperate to find something, anything to tie someone to me, no matter the consequences. I needed to be “refueled.” 15 years later it’s only gotten worse, not better. For a short while I found a stable place to land, but the connection was weak, forced even. Staying would have been a disservice to her, but I left in the worst way possible and added another notch to my chain of negative karma.
And here I am. Stuck. I make lists of things needing to be done and say ok we we will make 2 small changes a day. Unpack a box, take curtains I’ll never use again to goodwill, write a scene, call my best friend and actually hear her voice, write a letter, take a walk, etc.
I step out of my bedroom into my cluttered kitchen, look at my disaster of a livingroom, and immediately feel defeated. It’s bigger than me and I just can’t find it in me to face it alone. My heart rate goes up, my hands tremble and forcing myself to take another step in any direction other that back to my room brings me to tears. So I go back to my room and take a nap. Again.
I start to write and I think wow this is such a great idea and then the thought passes through me that sending what I write into the world opens me up for verbal beatings and rejection and I’m not scared, I’m petrified. I’m paralyzed to the point that if it feels good enough to make it into a book it will be weeks or months before I pick it up again.
I keep searching for a connection that will make me feel like I have the strength, but theres a disconnect between my self imposed bubble and the one that holds everyone else. Connection has been missing from my life for so long I have slowly lost all the energy I had gotten from being a part of something, a part of so many lives and peer groups, and now I’ve grown afraid to try to reach out because of the constant rejection. It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never been in my head or heart or body; even harder to explain to someone who has never faced real anxiety, depression, or adversity.
I adore my internet followers and friends and I do feed off there happiness and celebrations. I’ve narrowed my connections on my personal pages to people who bring some light into my life. Dropping probably 2/3 of my “friends.” I don’t allow a sense of obligation keep me in touch with negative people.
All this is just starting to click for me sadly, but it gives me a why or a cause. My job now is to turn it around; work to make progress towards positive personal connections and put some good energy out into the world. Find a way to look for beauty and things that make me happy or passionate about life again. Mostly importantly I have to find a way to make small steps in progress without allowing my anxiety send me into flight mode. Nothing is overnight, but one step at a time. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Being patient with myself is another place I falter and if I’m not going to have a team around me anymore I’ll have to he my own cheerleader. I’ll let you know how that goes.
As a person who deals with pain and depression on the best of days, the dreary and cold days of winter can be a real challenge. The challenges don’t just affect me. They also take a toll on my relationships, the state of my house, and the quality of my work.
When you’re used to pain on a daily basis it’s very annoying when people who know you ask, “How are you?” If I say, “I’m fine,” they assume I’m pain free and should be happy-go-lucky. In reality, “I’m fine,” means I’m no worse than usual and I am muddling through. If I say “I’m having a bad day,” suddenly I’m being treated like an invalid who can’t do anything for herself or like I’m going to be a drag to be around.
The truth is I consider it a good day if pain doesn’t stop me in my tracks, if I can walk down the steps of my front porch without holding on for dear life, if I can bend over to scoop my cat’s box without holding onto the wall so I don’t fall over. It’s a pretty good day when my fingers aren’t so stiff I can’t type or my knee isn’t in so much pain I can’t bend it without making noise. If I can shave my legs or stand in the kitchen to fix a meal without breaking out in a sweat because of the additional pain, that’s a fabulous day.
I also suffer from extreme anxiety which has worsened as I age. This mostly appears when I’m aware I’m about to face a large crowd of people or it comes out in my sleep as nightmares of the great “what if” that many of us constantly run through in our heads.
Pain, depression, and anxiety are just a part of my life and I don’t dwell on it. I take medication to help dull the affects and I go on about my day. What I don’t do is talk about it unless necessary to protect myself from making it worse. If I need to rest I say so. If I need a break from people I’ll say so. BUT, people who ask every time they see me, “How are you?” make me want to pull my hair out.
The responses in my life range from, “How am I to know you’re in pain if you don’t tell me?” to “All I hear is how you don’t feel well and it’s unhealthy for me to be around you.” So you learn to say “I’m fine.” because that’s what people want to hear and you try not to limp, and you help carry things even if it hurts, and you join the group activities because it’s “healthy,” and you find a way to sleep and hope you don’t cry too much in your sleep or be loud when you deal with it all in your nightmares. Because, for some reason, if I share with someone my pain or sadness or anxiety I’m an unhealthy person in their life and they need to not be around me.
Why do we do this? Why do we punish people for sharing feelings, for showing weakness, for being uncomfortable, or having a genetic health issue?
I’ve been dealing with arthritis and pain in my knees since I was 17 and had my first car accident, followed by injuries twice in college that affected my knees two more times. Add 30 years and you get that my knees are not super happy. YET, I walk 5K’s for charity when I can get to them. I carry in my own groceries and laundry. I never ask for help carrying in two 35 lb buckets of kitty litter. And I make love as often as I can.
I started recognizing the affects of depression in my teens also. It’s emotional and chemical. I didn’t want to be depressed. I did crazy things trying to chase happiness. (I do need to put in here that I never did drugs, but I did drink.) I played the flirty, social girl who was all in no matter what was going on. I went to all the parties. I had too much sex. I had too much alcohol. I hang out with all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. And then I’d go home and lie in my bed and imagine everyone in my life leaving or dying until I’d cry myself to sleep. Had I lost someone early in life? Nope. No reason for it that I can pinpoint. That was just where my mind drifted to when I’d close my eyes.
Later in life I had some actual bad things to stress about. Bad relationships, a daughter to worry about, a toxic relationship with my mother, the realization that I was losing my hearing, loss of a job I loved when the market crashed, broken bones, increased pains in new places, moving to a new state, and then a fall that left me with a torn hip. I found out I had two torn rotator cuffs, 2 slipped disks in my back, degenerative arthritis, and yes I was going deaf and needed hearing aids. The day I’d found out I’d torn the labrum in my hip during a fall in the snow I fell again and broke 3 bones in my foot. The day I went to get the MRI before surgery to fix one of the rotator cuffs I got a 3rd degree burn that took almost 6 months of doctor visits to close up enough so I could have the surgery.
You can’t make this shit up.
Put all of those things in cold wet weather and “VOILA!” Increased pain, which leads to increased depression, which leads to decreased sleep, which leads to increased pain, which leads to increased anxiety, etc., etc., etc.
I’ve learned to smile and fake it because no one wants to hear all that. I’ve learned that people who aren’t in my skin will never grasp what a day in my life is life. I’ve learned what is getting through a day for me is lazy and unhealthy to others. I rarely drink anymore and I’ve still never done drugs, but if I were to do so and get a jolt of energy to clean and run around the block, no matter the affects it would take on my body, and lose weight because I’d be too high to eat I’d actually get less crap from the people in my life. What kind of bullshit is that?
Because I don’t push my body into more pain I’m “not trying” or I “like feeling bad.” (That second one makes me want to slap someone.) I’ve been told, “It’s easier to feel sorry for yourself than to do something about it.” That’s always a favorite. Because, of course, who wouldn’t want to live in this body and mind. I need to just “be positive” or meditate or walk more.
Am I overweight? Absolutely. Do I want to be smaller so there’s less pressure on my body? Damn right! Do I want to fight tears for 3 days recovering from a walk around the block? Not particularly, but I would if I thought it would make it hurt less the next time. Unfortunately you can’t “walk off” a torn labrum and you can’t exercise away a torn rotator cuff or slipped vertebrae so one at a time I will have the surgeries I need to correct these pains in me and hope to hell I can find that blissful feeling of no more pain than usual after a nice brisk walk again.
Just thinking of the things I want to do, but knowing the pain I would face afterwards causes another burst of depression. The cycle is nonstop.
People who don’t live with pain, or depression, or anxiety will never understand how much we truly want it to be just about being more positive or more active or more whatever else we are told we should do or be. If it were a case of mind over matter no one would choose to live like this. Absolutely no one.
So don’t tell me you can’t be in my life because I’m “unhealthy” to be around, because if you knew what it felt like everyday to get done a fraction of what others do you’d think I was a damn superhero. You’d have mad respect for the fact that I get out of bed, that I want to cook a meal, that I want to walk my dog, that I sometimes take the stairs instead of the elevator, that I participate in any physical or emotional activities, or that I allow your ass to say things to me like I’m “unhealthy.” You SHOULD see me as a survivor, because that’s what I am.
What’s unhealthy is being around people who have no empathy and expect perfection or standards they themselves don’t measure up to.
It’s winter. It’s cold. I’m still making it through one day at a time, but I’m making it through. I’ll be damned if I keep letting anyone who can’t see past their own crap to blame me for their own failings.
I just finished a movie called To Write Love on Her Arms and I have to tell you it touched me more than almost any movie I can remember.
Let me start by saying I do not struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. I am not bi-polar. I am not a cutter. I am not suicidal.
I am also not religious and for me this was not a story about any god or religion.
What I am is a person who battles depression and anxiety. I am a person who has struggled in life, at times, to find a reason for waking up another day. I am a person who has felt lost within herself. I am a person who believes in hope. I am a person who KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I NEED other people in my life for me to be okay. No matter what anyone believes about themselves, we all do.
To Write Love On Her Arms is the true story of a young lady named Renee Yohe. It all started with a blog post by her friend Jamie who, after meeting her and helping her detox, found her story to be encouraging. He wasn’t encouraged because she had already triumphed, but because she was damaged yet still not broken. She was beyond help in the eyes of most of the world but surrounded by a small group of people who loved her enough to help her put her life back together; even if they had to keep gluing the shards of her hope over and over again.
Sometimes that’s all you need in life; that person or those persons who stick. The ones who see your scars, visible or not, self-inflicted or not, and don’t flinch. The ones who love you when you feel unlovable. The ones who hope for you when you feel hopeless. The ones who see you plain as day when you feel completely lost. Everyone needs those people. EVERYONE.
There have been days when the war being waged in me felt like it could rip me to shreds. I can only thank my own fear of being controlled, by persons or substances, that I didn’t use drugs and alcohol to escape to some place away from myself.
Renee’s story reminded me just how much I depend on my people. My best friend, my internet friends, and my chosen family are all intricate stitches in the fabric of my being. When my edges are frayed I just turn to any one of them and their kindness and love and acceptance weaves the hope back in until I’m whole again. For me; that love and that hope are my religion, my higher power. I turn to these things like a flower turns it’s face to the sun.
Some might look upon this young woman’s face and wonder how could a young life be so bad or so difficult that addiction and pain feel better than merely existing. But I get it. Sometimes just waking up to exist another day is the monster beneath the bed, the unknown thing you fear the most. Perhaps it’s true that “it’s never as bad as you imagine it will be,” but then again maybe that’s the lie we tell ourselves to get out of the bed and step foot in front of the beast waiting to devour us. Until it’s your bed, your feet, your monster, you don’t know for sure.
For many of us the thing that gets us past the monster, the fear, is the person or persons waiting outside the door for us. Our children, our spouses, our families, and our true friends give us the courage to hope that our exposed limb won’t be snatched. Not today at least. Trying to find that courage when there’s no one waiting on the other side of your fear, whose mere existence in your life is the reward for getting there, is damn near impossible.
https://twloha.com was founded by Jamie after the overwhelming response to Renee’s story showed him just how many people were in desperate need of someone in their corner. Because honestly the only thing worse than hating yourself, hurting yourself, being afraid, and suffering from mental illness of any kind is doing it all alone. There’s enough people on this big ball we all live on that no one should have to do it all alone.
My hope is that even just one of you will read or watch Renee’s story, now that I’ve told you about it, and you will think of someone who needs to know they aren’t alone in life, and you will SHOW them you are there for them; you will find time in your busy life to help someone hold their pieces together.
And if you are a person who needs to connect to someone who sees you through your own fog; who needs someone to hand you the hope and love you can’t quite grasp on your own; who needs someone to hold the pieces in place as you glue them back together for maybe the hundredth time; who needs a reason to face the monsters that lurk around the corners and behind your eyes…I beg of you…reach out.
I promise you that someone doesn’t have to have walked in your shoes to be exactly who you need. They only need to be let inside your walls. No one can be your person if you don’t allow them to be. Surround yourself with people who want to be there for you and then let them.
Have hope. Be brave. As Renee said, “The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope.”
When I was about 10 I fell in love with reading. I started out like most kids with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. Seriously, who didn’t love Ramona Quimby or Superfudge? I was going through these books so fast that I was quickly running out of “appropriate” things to read. By age 12 I was reading Sweet Valley High romances and started writing my own version of those when I couldn’t get my hands on new ones in the series. By 13 I’d discovered my mother’s secret stash of historical romances.
Like many latchkey kids, I was bored and nosy. I found a shelf in my mother’s closet that contained rows and rows of these thick books featuring women in amazing gowns and men with lots of muscles and long gorgeous hair. The titles were even exotic. Savage Thunder, Defy Not The Heart, and The Fires of Winter. Certainly not the kinds of titles you’d find on a teen romance. I would occasionally flip through them but was daunted by their length. One day I discovered one of the books not only had a character with my name, but it was about a third smaller than all the others. That was enough for me to give it a chance.
I opened the book, right there in the closet, and began reading. 4 hours later when my mother came home I was still sitting in the closet and was almost finished with the book. That was it. I was hooked. The sex didn’t concern me. It wasn’t actually graphic, just passionate. I’d seen much worse on cable TV. My mother wasn’t mad, except for the fact my chores hadn’t gotten done and I was sitting in her closet (which actually confused her more than anything I think).
I started going through my mother’s collection of romances one by one for the next 3 years. What hooked me was the unlikely pairings, the “I’d die for you” devotion, and the fact that no matter what they faced somehow they came together in the end to be together.
Happily Ever After.
Who doesn’t want that?
I’ve heard parents blame a young girl’s unrealistic expectations of love and romance on Disney and their multiple princes who always save the day for their true love. Disney had nothing to do with creating the hopeless romantic in me. It was Penelope Neri, Johanna Lindsay, and Julie Garwood. Even though these stories were set mostly in other countries and all in another time I came to love escaping into the lives of the heroines who tested the boundaries of society, pushed the limits of ladylike behavior, and always found their happy ending in the arms of true love. From Indian maidens to viking princesses to duchesses of grand estates, they all had one thing in common; a happy ending.
Early on I started imagining how I wanted the book to end before I ever got to the ending. Sometimes I was right in line with the author, sometimes their ending was much more intricate than I could have imagined, and sometimes I really believed my ending would have made the book better. I was feeding my imagination and building stories in my head before I was even fully aware of what love and romance were all about.
I didn’t have a traditional English or Grammar teacher. Mrs. Cook was more concerned with teaching mythology, Shakespeare, and all the manias and phobias. I still don’t know how to diagram a sentence and I couldn’t tell you what a split infinitive is, but I can tell you how the Goddess, Athena, was born and draw you a pretty accurate depiction of an Elizabethan theater. The rules for commas are lost to me, just ask my friend the editor, and my ability to stay in the same tense comes and goes.
Then came my Junior year of high school with American Literature followed by a Senior year with World Literature. From Dante’s Inferno to Pride and Prejudice to The Raven to Canterbury Tales. I LOVED IT ALL. In college I read W.E.B. DuBois, Flannery O’Connor, Sylvia Plath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This list goes on and on and there were so few that didn’t fascinate me.
I took every writing class I could get into and found that after years of reading my imagination was endless. My technique definitely not comparable to the greats, but I was a bottomless well of ideas. I could pick and emotion and write a story that would make my teacher feel it. I could pick a life and convince the reader I’d lived it.
I’d found my passion.
Many people go through life never finding what it is they are passionate about. I KNEW I wanted to be a writer. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was meant to write. I had no idea what I wanted to write but I knew I had to tell stories.
Like most people life went on and I got busy just making a living and my dream was put on the back burner, ignored, and almost forgotten. I was still reading anytime I could, but I’d stopped writing.
The Book That Changed Everything
In 2011 a phenomenon happened when a previously unpublished writer self-published and self-promoted a trilogy of romances set in a fictional world of billionaires and BDSM. It took off like no other adult book I’ve ever seen. The sex scenes made those historical romances seem innocent. The main character of Christian Grey was suddenly creating a frenzy of women who coined the term “Book Boyfriend.” He was sexy, rich, mysterious, a little dangerous, and would do anything to keep his woman. Without the half naked people on the covers moms everywhere were able to put these books in their purse without fear of being caught with their smutty, romantic reads. Finally giving into the trend I read the trilogy, in less than a week, and then craved more. I quickly found authors with similar works featuring alpha men and luxurious lifestyles where possibilities were endless and creative sexuality was encouraged. All that had been “taboo” was no longer. I fell in love with other authors like Julie Kenner, Maya Banks, and Tara Sue Me.
Now a woman in my late 30s and early 40s my imagination was sparked in new ways and I began to write again. Short stories. Snippets of scenes. Nothing extensive. Thanks to social media I was able to follow and actually interact with authors I was reading. One of the best days of my life was when Julie Kenner sent me a friend request on Facebook then just a few months later another author idol of mine, Lauren Blakely, saw a post I’d written mentioning her and she also sent me a friend request. These are women selling millions of books to millions of fans and I can now interact with them directly. I found indie authors of every sub-genre of romance and through social media interaction started actually building friendships and have extensive conversations with these women. Through these authors I’ve discovered other authors who I not only like as people but love as authors. My book collection, both paperback and e-book, is massive. I’ve become engrossed in the world of romance and writers.
The more I read the more I doubt I have any place among these amazing writers. Some offer to read what I’ve written and many encourage me to just write until I get more comfortable with my skill level and improve naturally with time and practice. Fear has a way of making a person immobile. Fear of not being good enough and of being a small fish lost in a giant ocean kept me from even trying. I kept making excuses to keep my dream just that, a dream.
I started this blog to give me an outlet to write whatever I wanted without fear of success or failure. It’s for me. It’s nice that others have read it and enjoyed it when I’ve written, but that wasn’t the point. I would never have guessed that this one thing I did just for me would lead to all the crazy things happening just over the last several months.
First, I received and email from and unknown sender. I actually opened it simply because of the subject. Smut For Charity. Wouldn’t you open it? It was an offer for previously unpublished bloggers of romance to submit their own short story for publication in an anthology. I read that email probably 10 times and kept finding excuses not to reply. I didn’t have time, I didn’t have the energy, I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have any fresh ideas, etc, etc. Then my daughter came to visit me. After listening to all the “practical” reasons she was putting aside her dream of art school and seeing her enthusiasm for art dwindling because she believes that her dreams are always going to be out of reach I was heartbroken for her. A parent never wants to see their child settle for less than their greatest potential no matter how impractical or impossible it might seem. But here I was doing the same thing I didn’t want her to do. I had all kinds of excuses for why I couldn’t be the writer I always dreamed of being.
So I answered the email. I kept putting off writing my story because I didn’t think it would come out as well as the ideas that were forming in my head. Finally I made a promise to one of the ladies putting together the anthology of a day I would submit my story by. Someone was counting on me to follow through. I wrote my story in less than two days and sent it in. There’s things I’d change now if I could since I’ve reread it probably 100 times but it’s my first time and you learn as you go. The people who have read my story have given me a lot of great feedback. So much that I decided that this year I would face another fear and take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, which is November, and meeting a goal of 50,000 words written. I’m not at my goal yet, but I’m well on my way. In the meantime the anthology is being put together as I write this and is due to release on November 29th. My story is not only the first one in the book, but also an excerpt from the book I’m writing for NaNoWriMo will be in the back of the book. We have several prominent authors supporting us and promoting the anthology. Even Ms. Julie Kenner has offered to promote the release, among other super supportive author friends I’ve made.
As an unpublished writer I’m learning the cost of things like editors and formatters and cover art. I have an amazing author friend who offered to edit my first work for me when I’m ready, which is a HUGE chunk of the cost, and so many ready to support and share my solo book when it comes out and my short story isn’t even out yet. I’m facing these fears reluctantly but every step of the way I keep reminding myself that I want to show my daughter that if you want it you have to go for it. You can’t give up before you’ve even tried. You can’t make excuses and expect any results. I’ve already invested in cover art for two books and have the support and push from those who won’t let me turn back.
Every day I write a little. Some days I write a lot. What matters is at the end of the day, before you close your eyes, ask yourself this question; what did I do today to get one step closer to making my dreams a reality? It doesn’t matter how small it is, do something, EVERY SINGLE DAY and don’t settle until you’ve exhausted every possibility. You can’t be the best if you don’t try. You can’t grab the trophy if you don’t show up.
Reading romances taught me if you want it bad enough you make it happen. Never give up hope until you find your Happily Ever After.
Those born on April 19, 1995 are celebrating their 21st birthday today. For many Oklahomans it’s the 21st anniversary of the day their home was attacked and their loved ones were murdered by deranged individuals seeking revenge on a government they disagreed with.
On April 19, 1995 at 9:01 am Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was having a day like any other. People were arriving to work, babies were being held at daycare, phone calls were being made, kids were sitting in classes. It took 1 minute and 1 individual full of anger and hate to end the lives of 168 Americans and change the lives of thousands more forever. By 9:03 am we were a wounded city, state and nation. All over the world people mourned and prayed for Oklahoma. All that pain and devastation because someone hated choices made by individuals in our government trying to protect others.
Our government makes mistakes and sometimes we greatly disagree with their choices and decisions but we, Americans, also take for granted all the things our government has given us and how much better off we are than so many other nations. Can our government be better? Absolutely! But attacking one another and creating more hate and anger towards each other only creates more of these horrible events. Hate fuels the fire within people who don’t understand reason, compassion, or acceptance. We CAN NOT be a nation that stands behind any person or group that supports division instead of unification. Do not give your votes to people who spew hate and disrespect of other individuals, groups or agencies. We can disagree with each other’s choices and still embrace our diversity and accept that we are different and show respect for one another.
Any individual or group who supports hating or creating fear among any part of our population is creating more homeland terrorism. More events like the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Building are inevitable when people become irrational with hate and fear. Our basic rights are not being attacked by our government or any other power because laws are created trying, sometimes fruitlessly, to keep us from continually harming one another. Those who encourage such thinking are inciting anger and fear unnecessarily.
Today and everyday I ask you to remember the Pledge of Allegiance we recited as children all over this country. Let those last five words, “liberty and justice for all.”, mean something to you as you go through your daily life in an amazingly diverse world full of all kinds of people with all kinds of lives. Liberty and justice FOR ALL; not just the white, straight, christian, American born.
Let the lights of the OKC Bombing Memorial be a reminder of what hate and fear can do.
Embrace diversity. Embrace change.
“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” ~Noam Chomsky
All Photo Credits by Chrissy Justice
As an Oklahoman who cried 21 years ago and every time I look back on the devastation caused by one irrationally fearful and hate-filled man (and those who followed him) I worry those with big voices are encouraging this kind of event to happen again. The only thing more powerful than fear and hate is love. Love one another because of our differences, not despite them.
“Dash Wallace is a dirty talking, sexy professional baseball player who falls hard for the girl next door, but beware… your heart will take a beating as you watch him struggle with sticking to all he’s ever known at the risk of losing the best thing that ever happened to him. Hardball is one of those books that will suck you in and won’t let you go until you devour every last, juicy bite.”
– Sawyer Bennett, NY Times Bestselling Author
“Fiery hot and enticingly realistic, CD Reiss’s captivating writing, complex characters and explosive love scenes make Hard Ball an irresistible modern day romance.”
– Katy Evans, NY Times Bestselling Author
“Delightful, sexy, emotional, exciting, exhilarating. I loved every single second of it! A sports romance with a DASH of kink….it doesn’t get any better than that!”
– Shayna Renee’s Spicy Reads
“Unexpectedly emotional, beautifully written, and decadently naughty, CD Reiss once again owned me heart and soul. Hardball was an enthralling romance from start to finish!! And I never wanted it to end.”
– Angie and Jessica’s Dreamy Reads
CD Reiss is a USA Today bestseller. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up she’s at the well hauling buckets.
Born in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, California to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.
She’s frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood.
If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine.
You MUST read this! Seriously…just go to Amazon and use your 1-Click finger right now. Just do it. You’ll thank me later!
I’m so glad I read this and once I started I couldn’t put it down. I had to know how Lola’s story ended and how it impacted Wynn’s story. There’s a line about people only being afraid to die if they are afraid they haven’t lived…not a direct quote ….that was like a punch in the gut. I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought this at 43 years old. What have I used these 4 decades to do? Why do I keep talking myself out of following my dreams? Maybe I’ll fail but I have to try. I have to stop being afraid to try and stop making excuses for not trying. I want to write. I’ve been doing it as a hobby since I was 12. And maybe I’m no good really but maybe 1 of the stories in my head will move someone like this one moved me. Just maybe. And if not, I’ll still be able to say, “I tried. I wrote that book (or that story).” And I’ll have left that piece of me behind to show I was here and I lived.
I cried several times and many more times I had to pause and absorb what I had just read. It felt like Emily Hemmer wrote this just for me and I found it just when I was supposed to. That feeling is a rare treasure. I’m a fan for life!
This book will be read again and again.
Start living! (Right after you read this book!)
“Lily Anderson, you get your ugly ass out here right this minute. Don’t make me come after you,” Daddy screams.
He’s so angry. I knew the moment I heard him come home from work I was in for it. I was in my bedroom, lying on the floor trying to do my math. He slammed the front door so hard the windows in my room shook.
And then I knew, I knew I was in for it.
“Lily Anderson!” he yells again.
As soon as I heard him yell I ran to my hiding spot. I’m inside the closet in the hallway, wedged as far into the corner as I can get. Mom’s old coat hangs in front of me and I can still smell a faint waft of the perfume she used to wear.
“Lily Anderson!” he shouts. I can hear the anger in his voice and I can already feel the pain he’s going to inflict on me when he opens the closet door. I know what’s coming.
I close my eyes tight, scrunching them up so no light can seep through. I put my hands over my ears so I can’t hear him.
“I swear to God; if I have to find you, you will not sit for a month.”
My knees are folded into my chest. I’m trying to make myself small, invisible, so he forgets I’m here. I’m rocking myself, trying to block out what he’s saying.
School is safe. School is safe. School is safe. I keep repeating the mantra because in a few short hours I’ll be back at school. Maybe tomorrow I can go to the library after school, stay there until it closes and then sneak in after Dad’s passed out, because he’s had too much to drink.
It was never like this before. Ever.
I’m twelve years old and I can remember when Mom, Dad, and I were all happy. But that was years ago. It’s been a long time since there’s been any happiness in this house.
Well, before Mom died anyway, and not a day since.
Mom died when I was nine. I don’t remember much about her, except I remember her telling me how ugly I am. How life would be better if I was taken away from them. How I’ll never be anything, because I’m stupid and ugly.
Sometimes I dream happy things. Like me, Mom, Dad and a little blond-haired boy all going for a picnic. The sun beamed down on us as we played outside and laughed. We’d eat yummy sandwiches Mom made for us, and we’d drink homemade lemonade. We’d spend hours outside, laughing and talking and just having fun. Mom would tell me how pretty I am, and how much she loved me. She would play with my hair, braid it, and then we’d go and pick bright flowers to take home and put in a vase. Dad would smile and call us “his girls”, always kissing Mom and hugging me. Dad would put the little boy on his shoulders and run around the park, trying to catch the clouds.
I love those dreams, and I hold onto them; wishing they were real. But I’ve never had a mom like that, and my dad doesn’t talk much unless it’s with his fists, or to tell me how ugly and useless I am.
I feel him walking around the house. The floorboards creak and the vibrations from his footsteps come through the floor to where my bottom is. I close my eyes tighter and try and breathe as quietly as I can.
Please go away, Daddy. Please go away.
My heart is beating so fast. My hands are shaking and I’m trying really hard not to think about what’s going to happen the minute he opens the closet door.
Shhh, it’s so quiet. The only sound is my heart thrumming in my ears. Nothing else. Not a whisper, not a rattle…nothing.
Maybe Daddy’s left. Maybe he’s gone to the pub to have a few drinks. Maybe, just maybe, he’s left…forever.
I take a deep breath and just relax for a moment. My shoulders drop and I finally stop rocking.
Slowly I take my hands down from my ears, and I’m so happy because I can’t hear him yelling at me. I can’t hear him at all.
Gradually, I begin to unscrunch my eyes from the way I’ve tightly closed them. But something’s not right. There’s light coming into the closet.
I don’t even get a chance to open them fully before a rough hand reaches in, latches onto my ponytail and yanks.
“I told you it’d be worse for you if I had to find you,” Dad says, as he drags me out of the closet by my hair.
I’m desperately trying to hold onto my head so he doesn’t rip my hair out. My feet are trying to find traction on the dirty floorboards.
“Please, Daddy. Please. You’re hurting me,” I begin sobbing as I plead with him.
“Then your ugly ass should’ve come when I called you, you stupid bitch. You’re fucking worthless, you ugly idiot,” he says. But now his voice is calm as he continues to drag me toward the family room.
That’s when he’s most scary. When his voice is low and his eyes are filled with hate.
He throws me against the side of the sofa and takes a step back to look at me.
I look up and can see he’s the angriest I’ve ever seen him. “You dumb, ugly piece of shit,” he says, as he paces back and forth in front of me.
“Sorry, Daddy. Whatever I did, I’m so sorry.” I cower into myself, trying to make myself as small as possible.
“You’re just too fucking stupid, aren’t you?” he spits toward me as he brings his hand up to scratch at his chin.
“I’m sorry,” I say again. Tears are falling hot and fast down my cheeks. My head hurts from where he was pulling my hair, but I don’t dare try to rub the spot.
“You ugly fuck.” He kicks a boot into my leg.
The pain is instant and my leg feels like it’s shattered. “Please, Daddy,” I beg again, burying my face into my hands.
But ‘please’ never seems to work.
I’ve just got to take the beatings, because that’s what stupid, ugly girls do.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
There’s something about the written word that is pure magic.
Possibly it’s the fact there are 26 letters in the English alphabet, and they can create something so beautiful or so empowering they’re capable to change our lives.
How important is it that we break suit and stretch our minds?
I like to think of myself as ‘unique’. My stories aren’t for everyone, and sometimes I may push what you believe to be ‘normal’.
Normal is subjective.
I prefer to be known as a person who’s never been ‘bound by custom’ but is ‘unique by choice’.
I’m constantly hearing people say they don’t have time to use a library or it’s easier to just buy a book you want to read.
Here are a few things most people don’t realize about public libraries:
1: It’s free. Yes, you probably knew this part. Did you know that it’s not just books for free? Most libraries have books on C.D., movies (even new releases) magazines, and even Kindles.
2: With my library I have the option of going online and actually borrowing FOR FREE e-books to load directly onto my kindle to read. Many libraries have this available. Your library staff are more than willing to help you set this up. Bonus: you can browse e-books and borrow them FROM HOME.
3: Online catalogs. Gone are the days of perusing giant wooden card catalogs and hoping the item is on the shelf once you track down the call number. This is done on a computer now. You can look items up on the catalog only computers in the library and usually you can look items up on your library’s website from home. There’s several benefits to doing this. You can see right away if it is actually AT your library branch. If your library is one branch of a library system you can actually “order” your item from another library and it will be sent to your branch. Some libraries will even order the item from outside their system. If there’s a book in a series you want to read and it’s not at your library just ask. They can probably get it for you! Another benefit of doing this online is the time saving aspect. If you place a hold on an item at your library a library staff member will find the item on the shelf or order it from another library and then contact you when it’s available to pick up, either by calling, texting or emailing. Go in, give them your library card, check out your item and *poof* you’re done! Easy peasy!
4: Computers! Almost every thing you do these days requires you to have an email contact but sadly not everyone can afford a computer. Filling out job applications, quick filing your taxes, even using a kindle to read on all require you to have Internet access. You can do this for free at your library. I have yet to see a public library not have computers for their patrons to use. Clueless about computers? No problem! Ask a library associate! That’s what they are there for! Some libraries even offer free classes on basic computer use if you wish to be a little more comfortable with them.
4. Entertainment! Don’t have the money to go out and buy your favorite movie or see the latest sequel to your comic book hero movie series? Don’t want to spend $15 on a new CD when you only know for sure you like one song? Go to the library! You may have to wait your turn to borrow it but you can borrow it for free. I put myself on the hold list for brand new releases all the time. When it’s my turn to get the new CD or the new movie my librarian sends me an email and I go pick it up. And unlike the $4 movie rental place that gives you 24 hours I get a full week to watch it. Some libraries give you 3 days, 10 days or 2 weeks. Ask your library staff or check your check out receipt for the due date to be sure.
5: Magazines. How many of us have magazine subscriptions that pile up because we don’t have the time to read them? Why are you paying for something you eventually realize you’re never going to have time to read and will just throw away? Go sit in your quiet library in one if their comfy seats, most have MANY, and peruse the magazine you wanted to read. Read the articles you want and don’t feel guilty about the ones you skip because you paid to read them. Many libraries even let you check out the magazines for a short period. See a recipe you want to make? Take it home and make the item! If it’s good write it down! Save a tree and your guilt for spending money and throwing it away.
6: Starting early getting your kids excited about library visits, reading “marathons,” summer reading programs, etc will begin creating a reader. The more your children read the better off they will be later on, not just in school but also jobs. Reading opens up new worlds, imaginations and, most importantly, encourages thinking. Take kids to the library. Read to them and with them. It can improve your own reading skills as well and creates great memories for your kids.
Libraries are publicly funded. If we don’t use these great resources we will lose them. Go get a library card today if you don’t have one. Check your local library branch for what ID is needed to get one and for what their hours are. Many offer extended and weekend hours for 9-5 workers and busy moms.
If you do use your library then I thank you! Make sure you thank a librarian next time you’re there!
Lots of love and happy reading,
When I got my library card, that’s when my life began. –Rita Mae Brown
on March 10, 2020