Posts Tagged ‘Families’

What opens your heart?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Holiday cheer? Holiday giving? Holiday spirit? I want those things mean to me the same as they would any other time of the year.  I listed my “heart happy” goals yesterday, for the holiday and beyond, and rereading them now makes me smile. I’m actually thinking I should be reading them every morning. Every new day I don’t feel up for or ready to face or willing to tackle. Because it’s not about me, not entirely. Each day is about living and giving and sharing and belonging.

open heart people

Opening your heart to the world around you…what better goal to have? There’s an entire philosophy behind our need to belong and how it drives the majority of conscience and subconscious behavior. Why do we do the things we do, why do we give up on the things we do, and why do we avoid those very things we know we need to face most? Fear and doubt, I say. We worry, and feel insignificant or powerless, and are too often on a self-fulfilling path of “I can’t make that work so why bother.”

“Don’t do that,” my daily list says. The list at the bottom of yesterday’s post that I’ll shake myself awake with each new morning now, because I want this holiday and this life and this chance I have to write and live well to mean something  more than what I want (and am maybe a little afraid I can’t have) for  myself.

What about other people? How can I be useful and meaningful to them?

shared heart

That’s what I hope my writing’s about– (more…)

What’s a heart made of?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Holidays are for hearts. Whatever we celebrate this time of year, images of families and loved ones and friends and memories surround us. The season lifts us up, makes us homesick, sometimes brings unwanted sadness. Our hearts are in play. Done deal. We’re feeling something more, something deeper, something real.

I often wonder why–you know, besides the obvious manipulation by the media and advertisers, wanting us to spend, Spend, SPEND so we can feel even better (or worse) as we long for more of whatever we want (or have lost) most. What’s behind those heart strings tugging at our thoughts and memories and imaginations?

heart strings music

We’re more open around the holidays, even the jaded among us. We engage with the world and people around us, because it’s all closer, it’s all bigger. How can we not be affected?

Our minds are on the every day of work and kids and obligations and worries. We plod onward with all we think we are. But we’re also conditioned to feel certain ways in November and December and early January. Whether we want to or not, we’re trained from infancy to fit into the holiday mold our families before us have spent generations crafting. But what do we truly want our hearts to feel and believe and desire this time of year?

In matters of the heart, what’s habit and what’s intention? What makes us happy, and what are we doing because we’re told it should make us happy? If only we could tune in and find the magic of our own individual experience (as the world and the holidays experience and evolve and march onward around us), the hustle and bustle that distracts from more than this season would fade a bit…and we’d discover the holiday of oyr dreams.

heart happy shadow

That’s my plan this year, anyway. To be, in this moment, what my heart’s always wanted this time of year to be. To understand my hearts desire and see it come to life around me. To inspire, through my stories and my blogs and the other fun things coming soon that my publicist would smack me for talking about before its time (waving at Nancy Berland and her fabulous team while keeping mum’s the word for just a little longer), everyone I reach to long for the same.

Let’s say them out loud… (more…)

‘Tis The Season… To feel alone?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
“For unloved daughters and sons, the stress of the holidays sweeps in much more than the nuisance of crowded stores, piped-in joys, worries about money or pleasing everyone with the right gift…”
Currently writing about (and studying) grown foster kids who’ve aged out of the system. You know, in the midst of my charming, warm family novels. It might not come as a shock to you that holidays can be difficult for many in our country. But would it surprise you to know that they’re difficult for me? Maybe even for you sometimes, just a little more than you’ve let yourself think about?
If so

“For unloved daughters and sons, the stress of the holidays sweeps in much more than the nuisance of crowded stores, piped-in joys, worries about money or pleasing everyone with the right gift…”

I’m writing into a new story about (and studying) grown foster kids who’ve aged out of the system. You know, in the midst of my charming, warm family novels. I stumbled across this article from Psychology Today, among many others, in my research.

It might not come as a shock to you that holidays can be difficult for many in our country. But would it surprise you to know that they’re difficult for me? And maybe even for you sometimes, just a little more than you’ve let yourself deal with?

baby stress

Yeah, it’s a cute baby. And we fight so hard to keep the holidays full of cheer, despite disappointments or unhappiness from our pasts. And that’s a good thing. We move forward, we heal, we become who’re we’re meant to be. There’s no one I know who thinks it’s a good idea to stagnate in the hurt of the past and let it define all that will ever come. But as cute as all the holiday hype is, and as much as we might want to dive into the celebration along with everyone else, sometimes there’s just too much bubbling up from deep inside to laugh or hug or work or jingle away.

“For many, it [holidays] will conjure up–almost as if fresh and hew–the pain, exclusion, and loss they felt in their families of origin,” the article says.

Yeah. That’s real stuff. Holiday stuff we don’t want to see but too often can’t dismiss. I’m determined to write an inspirational, hopeful, loving and celebratory Christmas novella for next November/December’s readers. But in it (because I’m me and I’m made up of all my experiences of family origin, and because I’m writing about characters with disconnection and abandonment and insecurity and fear as their own earliest memories), I’m also going to be tackling the reality that many of us face each year– that, “the holidays sometimes evoke a renewed sense of self-doubt about the decision made, along with a feeling of isolation. The weight of cultural disapproval may feel heavier at this time of year…” (more…)

The Soul of the Matter: Listening…

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

New beginnings aren’t just about action. In my case, there’s no real action yet. But I’m definitely beginning again. A new story in the works, a new release to plan for, a new PR team, a new season for my family as my son prepares to graduate from high school (whimper, sniffle, YAY!).


Before any challenge, and a new beginning is always a challenge, it’s the start that’s so scary, not the actual work to be done. It’s the watching and wondering and trying to subdue those pesky emotions and fears that sucks our momentum and energy away. I’m living that right now. I’m in-the-flesh proof that living never gets “easier,” no matter how much success you’ve had or how far you’ve come (in my case, raising a family and building a thriving publishing career and learning to write emotional novels that connect with readers and finding a publisher and agent and publicity team who believe in my vision maybe more than I can believe in myself yet).

But living isn’t about easy, I’ve learned.

You have, too, right?


To live, not just endure or survive or bide your time, is the goal. It’s the start of all that’s right in the world. Any world, whoever you are and wherever you call home. It’s never going away, the drive to live today. Just today. To make this moment count.

My mind numbs at the possibilities. The responsibilities. The choices and the weight of making them right. The possibilities and how few care what I want them to be, or how I need them to pan out.

PossibilitiesPostLetting go. As you wait and wonder and listen and try to move ahead but feel the weight of all you don’t know dragging you down, it’s tomorrow that you’re hearing, if you let go and let it in. It’s today that stands in your way. It’s worry that you throw in your own path to “soften” the impact.

Step out of those shadows with me. (more…)

The Soul of the Matter: The trees are raining…

Monday, October 7th, 2013

You wait, a storm’s chaos beyond your night window. The long summer, an overly-warm fall, cling fiercely. A thunderstorm in October.

It feels like forever, as if there will always be more. Steamy humidity. Suffocating.  Like moving through warm water that never cools. You long for the fierceness to break, for the dark storm, this weary season, to pass.

You do not expect such glory.

trees raining sunshine

Morning rises. Trees rain drops of watery sunlight. Leaves chant with each sway of limb and breeze. It’s safe. Come out. Play. You inhale, and you know.

It’s because of the storm, this beauty.

treas raining leaves

Trust the long nights. The chaos.

Morning magic comes in its own time.

Embrace the rain beyond the window, the storm within. When change is ready for you, step into that glorious opening. Live. And begin the wait again.

“Real” Family… Real sacrifice. What’s that about?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

What wouldn’t you sacrifice for the ones you love? What makes family real? Small communities are so beautiful and picturesque…but what’s going on under the surface?


When I create and explore character, current events inspire me and challenge them. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles must be tackled, for the families in my books to be happy and succeed. And isn’t that pretty much a slice of every day life for the rest of us, too? We learn what life and family and love are really about, when we’re faced with the very real possibility of losing everything.

We see who and what we really are, by how we respond to life’s unpredictable curves and twists.

I love flawed families. I write happily-ever-after, but I do it as realistically as possible–which means I hold my characters feet to the fire a bit more than the average writer. My heroine in Three Days on Mimosa Lane, Sam Perry, and her husband Brian have fought their way back from an unimaginable tragedy–Sam witnessed 9/11 first-hand, as a preschool teacher in one of the many schools at the base of the World Trade Center Complex. She’s still wounded by her experience, but she’s still fighting for the life she wants, the way the rest of us must get up each day and struggle to make that day mean more than the last. Her struggles and her determination to overcome them are inspiring. Her marriage seems strong, if strained, and she’d do anything to become the kind of mother her children deserve. Anything?, I find myself asking…

How far is Sam really willing to go? As she and Brian face the truth about what their next step together needs to be, will they step up or back away?

Are any of us really ready to win the freedom we’ve always wanted–when it will mean putting everything we’ve thought we needed on the line? Are we ready to see what loving ourselves and our families with all of our hearts can really look and feel like?

family heart image

Freedom from past loss and mistakes and fear. Freedom from being chained to confusion and protecting ourselves and failing even when we’re “succeeding.” Freedom from what we are, despite ourselves, so we can claim what we were always meant to be. What would that freedom feel and look and be like? (more…)

The Soul of the Matter: Balancing Piles of Tribbles…

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

I’ve just taken a week off. To be honest, I need more time away. Does that sound familiar–the lure of distance and silence and being still? Haven’t we all lost ourselves somewhere like that–nowhere–a time or two?

We need more off-the-grid than our busy lives allow. But how much “down” is enough? When must “doing” become the goal again, even though we’ll never stop needing the opposite?

There’s something eternally good-feeling about the nothing of zero responsibility.

zero responsibility

Yet we want to be productive, too. We build and we push and we create and we dream and bring to life. Whatever our jobs, we do them because we have ambition and drive and discipline. But within us is a deep well of silence, forever wanting. This quietness must be fed, for us to be healthy.

Nosier, bustling objectives reclaim our daily focus faster than any “breaking away” can outrun life.  Yet an inner call for peace lies in wait, continuously biding time, ever demanding. It’s a tricky balance. And when we allow things to go off-kilter–say by taking a much-needed week away from everything–equilibrium can be a bitch to grapple back.

I’ve focused on one goal, an important one, for months now. It’s attained, and I couldn’t be prouder. But… What next? As I survey the overwhelming demand of everything that’s been put off–piles of “I’ll do that tomorrow, or next week, or next month…”–I look at what once seemed easily done later, and now I see daunting obstacles.

I explained this waking up to my husband, as being like watching Tribbles multiply.


You push aside just one or two things, to stay tuned into an important goal, to the exclusion of every distraction. When you next pick up your head, you find ten of the wee furry beasties lurking about. (more…)

The Soul of the Matter: “I am not a teacher but an awakener…”

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

The words of Robert Frost have long been a muse for artists. He is one of my literary heroes. His words, even just a few of them, inspire thought and creativity and memory and vision for the future. His work feels; therefore, so do I, as I read him. I meet new characters. His emotion connects. His themes inspire deeply. He makes me want to write things that invite the same honest connection.

His poetry, his essays, quotes from his interviews and day-to-day life… They are glimpses into what he saw and thought and felt. They challenge me to search for new and uncharted discoveries of my own.


So much of RF’s soul lives on in what he’s shared…

I’ve read him so often, I knew exactly which quotes from his works I wanted to use in my second Seasons of the Heart novel. I was inspired by concepts, first, and then by the characters they helped me bring to life. And even though the quotes couldn’t remain in the published novel, each one still lives within the pages I penned with them in mind.

Three Days on Mimosa Lane, at its heart, is about teachers and learning. It’s about waking up to the world you have now, instead of allowing difficulties from the past, no matter how great, to define who and what you can be. It’s about learning from those we surround ourselves with, and letting our lives become something others draw strength from in return. It’s about sharing. It’s about heart.

awakening sunrise desert feild

No matter our challenges, we can learn and teach and help others do the same. (more…)

What does it mean to be safe? Grab hold of your security, BELIEVE it into reality, and never let go!

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

We all grapple with finding our secure place in this world. Some of us are forced to live the reality that NOTHING is guaranteed to us in this life–security, first and foremost–more in our faces than others. Every time I see a tragedy on TV, I want to hug those whose lives are being disrupted by the chaos swamping them. And when I hear a survivor talk of finding hope again, I want to cheer louder than ever, because THAT’s the reality that feeds me and keeps me dreaming and shows me that, no matter my challenges, there’s absolutely no way I’m going to give up either. We all need something to hold onto. We’re all fighting for the same hope and security and peace that life wouldn’t be the same without.

never let go

The comments on yesterdays’ post mean so much to me. I don’t write easy-to-read stories. At least not from Page One.

I write heroes, through and through. But the true hero for me is one who bottoms out in a way most of us wouldn’t recover from, and then soars to new heights because of their faith and love and willingness to fight until they grapple their heart and soul back into believing.

Three Days on Mimosa Lane is a survivor’s story. Not just our heroine, who was a school teacher at Ground Zero (we meet Sam first in Christmas on Mimosa Lane, where she steals every scene she’s in).  But her husband–who’s stood by her side, at the expense of healing completely himself, all the years that he’s waited for her to come fully back to herself after the PTSD and trauma of everything she saw and felt and experiences on that awful day more than a decade ago. And their Chandlerville community and neighbors on Mimosa Lane. They’re survivors and heroes, too, tested on the first day of our story by a tragedy ripped from contemporary headlines: a school shooting that I swear was part of Three Days’s design, long before Sandy Hook happened.

I could have pulled back. I could have not written the more challenging things I’d intended out of the story. But these characters were already who they are, and they wouldn’t have been the heroes the were destined to become (or had the happily ever afters I wanted for them) if I’d pulled my punches. Happily ever after is essential to me as a creative writer, but it’s the journey to that beautiful place of discover that inspires me, as much as the destination. And this is one of my favorite journeys and endings of all! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

happy ever after

The Romance Reviews calls what I’ve created cathartic. (more…)

Three Days is Live! “He Knew a path that wanted walking…”

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Three Days on Mimosa Lane is FINALLY live today! I can’t wait to share this amazing story with readers, where you get to see the three pivotal days of 2013 for our favorite returning characters on Mimosa Lane, and some very special new ones. It’s a spring story of redemption and renewal, it’s a summer story of freedom and courageously grasping your happily ever after, and it’s a Labor Day story about all that’s best about our country and how we keep fighting for family and our way of life and the love for each other that gets us through even the hardest of times.

It’s a love story about a family’s  journey, and finding their way through some of the rough stuff we all face,  and getting stronger, too, while they help each other get to that better place they find on their own.

It’s, hands down, one of my favorite novels I’ve ever written. And it was all full up with Robert Frost poetry that helped the book’s symbolism hits its mark even better…right up until I had to remove the quotes because of copyright concerns. But, BONUS, that doesn’t mean we can’t share the goodness out here on my blog.

“He knew a path that wanted walking; He knew a spring that wanted drinking;
a thought that wanted further thinking.”

~Robert Frost

Why, YES, now that you mention it, that’s why you see the beautiful, flower be-speckled path on Three Days‘ cover–a scene from Mimosa Lane’s park, where so many of our characters find themselves walking and trying to find their way back to the families and love they need so much.

Amazon TDoML Cover

Our characters have challenging paths to walk, and amazing happily ever afters to claim, and we’re lucky enough to be along for the ride.

Especially Sam and Brian Perry, whom we met in Christmas on Mimosa Lane. They came to the north-east Atlanta suburb they now call home over a decade a go, to start over. Except too much of what they need to deal with is still lurking beneath the surface, while they convince themselves they don’t have to. Of course, life has a way of making sure we deal with what we need to. Even if it has to kick us in the ass to wake us up.

And it’s the challenging journeys we often don’t want to take that bring us the most beautiful moments of our lives(more…)