Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Designing Your Future #lifegoals #motivation

As with all my posts, I'm speaking from experience when I discuss depression, fear or starting over. A month ago I wrote about letting go of what no longer serves you. Today I'm talking about getting honest with yourself about what you want your life to be going forward. Too often, we get stuck in past patterns and desires that no longer fit our present let alone our future.

Digging deep requires a lot of pain--so prepare yourself to do some work. The first step is to be brutally honest about where you've been and how you feel about those choices. This is not about regret. This is about looking at your life from the perspective of a student. You are the student--your life is the subject of your study. If you are restless right now--if you look around at your life and feel disconnected--then take all the time you need with this first step. It's important to dive deep and be honest with how you reached this point. Do NOT take this as justification to beat yourself up. Be the student--look at your choices with a critical and honest eye.

The second step is to think about where you want to go from this point. What do you want your next chapter to be? Are you on the right path to be the person you have always wanted to be? It's okay if what you want today is not what you wanted five years ago--or even what you wanted six months ago. It is perfectly fine to change your mind if those goals no longer resonate with your soul. If you think about who you want to be as a human being and your current situation is not aligning with that image, what can you do today to move toward that vision?

The third step is taking action. Maybe the people around you are holding you back because they expect you to be the same as you 'used to be' or perhaps they are jealous of your success. If they are not in alignment with your future goals, move on. If they are masters of the little digs, never give them the opportunity to mess with your head again. If the career you've had no longer stirs your passion, take steps to change. Yes, the economy is crazy right now so I'm not telling you to up and quit--but I am suggesting you take steps toward those goals so you're ready to take the leap when opportunity opens. Want to study a new skill? Do it.

We all have 24 hours in a day and some people accomplish more than others with that time. How are you spending your time. What are you willing to do to create a future that brings you joy?

Never lose sight of your power. You control your destiny, no matter what your circumstances are in this moment. It is only when we surrender our power to someone else--or something else--that we become lost and confused.

Success and happiness are not bestowed upon the lazy. You will need to take action. You will need to be decisive. You will need to accept that not everyone you know is meant to move forward into the next phase of your life.

I've done these steps myself. I've ripped open the wounds and taken a hard look at where I've been and the choices I have made. I sacrificed everything for a career I'm not sure I want anymore. I am actively taking steps to create a future I hope to live. If I can do it, so can you.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Is Unconditional Love a Myth? #life

Over the weekend, the neighbor who lives behind me was lamenting loudly into his phone, "All I want is to be loved unconditionally. Is that too much to ask?"

Is it?

For most of my life I believed one hundred percent in unconditional love. I know I love my children unconditionally--there is literally nothing they could do that would stop me from loving or helping them. I also know that is not a universal trait because my own mother does not love me--she is all about conditions and strings and grudges and blame. She has literally told me, "I wish you had died at birth" and "I have no compassion for you and would not shed a tear at your funeral." So...definitely not an unconditional love.

My father, on the other hand, was the epitome of unconditional love. He instilled in me the belief that family mattered above all else. Because of him, I spent most of my life trusting this idea that family would have my back no matter what--no matter my bank account balance, my relationship status, or anything. It wasn't until his death that I realized how fragile that belief truly was.

So, is there such a thing as unconditional love? The man who lives behind me--who was very upset and speaking loudly into his cellphone while pacing in his yard--believes in it and yearns for it. I once had friends who had been in my life for decades but who are now strangers to me. At one time, I had thought our friendships had stood the test of time and formed an unconditional love...I was wrong. Then again, I have a dear friend I've known since kindergarten and our friendship proves me right in believing. But, is the idea of unconditional love causing heartbreak? By trusting in this concept, are we doomed to be betrayed? Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment by believing in this idea that someone else will love us no matter what?

Look at the volatile political landscape and the divides it has created in the USA. How many of those broken relationships once thought they were unbreakable? That the bonds of family would withstand differing views only to be shattered?

As a romance author, the idea of unconditional love is actually an idea that I explore a lot while writing. What is realistic? What is too much? Sometimes I feel cynical about it, but then I follow my heart that is forever a hopeless romantic. I do believe in it, but I also believe it is rarer than I once realized.

I loved my late husband--I still do. Unconditionally, yes, perhaps even to a fault. I fought to save him from himself, which I now realize was an impossible battle. Only we can save ourselves. Only he could have saved himself. I was young, however, and thought love could conquer all. It didn't. And maybe that was an unreasonable expectation.

Despite my belief in unconditional love from family--which is now fractured--it took me a long time to turn that focus onto myself. Why was loving myself so hard when I freely gave that love to my children, husband, father, and friends? After the heartbreak, that became the true test. Why is it sometimes hard for us to love ourselves unconditionally? Do you love yourself that way? Can you look in the mirror without picking apart your alleged flaws? Can you review your past without making yourself the one to blame in all scenarios? Or, can you honestly look at your mistakes through the lens of compassion for who you were then and learn from the experience from a place of love rather than shame? If you're yearning for unconditional love, I believe you need to begin with yourself.

I have witnessed unconditional love, not only within my own little family, but in the world at large. I see it with people acting with selfless compassion to strangers and animals. (Oh, don't get me started about how much I love my dogs--even when they have eaten all of my shoes!) I see it in couples who have remained married despite outrageous obstacles thrown their way. It is easy to witness love when you are open to seeing it.

Is it love or a choice then? Is it simply individual to our level of commitment and responsibility? Or is unconditional love truly a soul-level energy that cannot be defined or rationalized? An ethereal feeling that simply 'happens'? As I said, I feel it toward my children (who are now in their 20s), but I also know that some parents don't. Why do some marriages flourish through trouble while others break? Love brought them together, but can it also tear them apart? These questions fascinate me.

As for the neighbor who lives behind me with his wife...I wish them well. They are a young couple and it's obvious from their loud disagreements that they are facing challenges unknown to me. I'm sure the pandemic has added to their stress levels, as it has with many of us. As he lamented into the phone about being loved unconditionally being the only thing he wanted, I thought to myself, 'that's a big ask, but not an unreasonable desire.'

I will keep writing about couples fighting their way through challenges toward that same goal of a happily ever after. Why not? The stories bring me joy and allow me to explore my own questions regarding relationships. Yes, love makes the world go 'round,-- it also makes life deliciously complicated.


Monday, July 20, 2020

Walking Away from What You Outgrow #selflove

As I look back upon my life, I see clearly that most of my problems have stemmed from having certain expectations that imprisoned me in a moment in time--a moment that I outgrew, but could not release. Those illusions of what I thought was meant to be trapped me in a cycle of challenges. Over and over again, one crisis after another because I was not walking on my true path. 

I made mistakes. I lost sight of what was true as I fought to live a lie. 

The lie looked pretty to onlookers--handsome husband, mountain home, two cute little children, PTA board member, community volunteer, church goer, fancy vacations. Smiles all around. Eventually, though, those lies caused fractures in the facade. 

Handsome husband was like a Jekyl and Hyde because of his alcoholism, but I plastered on the smile and fought for the happily ever after. I refused to let people know how I walked on eggshells and fled with the kids in the middle of the night--frequently. Until he killed himself, that is, and suddenly the world started to question the pretty picture. The truth started cracking through the surface. 

Determined to prove that I still had it together, I fought even harder to maintain the facade of strength--I took over coaching the soccer team despite grief ripping my heart apart, smiled at all the people watching me for a sign of breakage, kept the kids busy, denied my struggle. 

Fight, fight, fight to keep the lifestyle that I never really wanted---but  lived because it was expected. I checked off the boxes that I thought I needed to check in life. Oh, how I fought to hang on. 

The mountain home was isolating as a widowed single mom, but I would be damned if I'd let go of that happily ever after--the one I never wanted as a twenty-something career woman. I had this idea in my head that leaving it would be a failure, an admission of not being good enough to make it all work after my husband's death. I saw the eyes on me from family and friends, all of whom had made it clear that they didn't expect me to survive at the mountain home on my own. So I fought to stay. 

I lost sight of what I really wanted as an individual and became caught up in sustaining the illusion of a life that no longer suited my needs. And the longer I stayed immersed in the illusion, the deeper I buried my authentic self. 

I hung onto friends who were not true when I needed them to be because they were familiar and I needed them to remain in my life because without them I would be unrooted. Or so I thought. 

The idea of outgrowing a dream or a way of life felt like a failure to me at the time. I had become so accustomed to fighting to hold on to it all--clinging to a dead dream in a place that never truly embraced me. I had convinced myself along the way that I needed to prove my worthiness or strength to others--which meant holding on long after I should have let go. The Universe gave me signals with one crisis after another, round and round it went, repeatedly beating me up until I finally surrendered. 

I see my daughter doing the same with her past as she moves into uncharted waters. She keeps looking toward the past, clinging to toxic relationships that are only holding her back, and longing for a place that does not fit her future. Despite seeing me move on now and come to these realizations, she fights to cling to the illusion of "what should be." 

Many people do this. It often takes big life shake-ups to jolt us free. Waking up can be frightening when we look around and realize that we're not living the life we are meant to be. It's sad, too. We mourn for abandoned dreams of "what should have been" or "what should be." For me, the process of ripping away from that old life caused a lot of pain. I had nightmares. I would curl up on the bed and sob. It was almost as if I was finally able to mourn my husband's death as well as the life we had once lived once I didn't have to plaster on the smiles anymore or stay in perpetual motion. I second-guessed everything from the choices I made in the past to the choices I made in the present. Hell, I'm not going to lie--it was torture. 

But, once I freed myself from the false illusions that had guided my life for so long, I reclaimed my power. Creativity flowed. Joy bubbled to the surface. I rediscovered the person I was before I got lost in the shuffle. I no longer compare myself or my life to others--in fact, I actively refuse to do so. I have embraced living in the moment and abandoning all expectations, especially those put on me by someone else. It is not easy to shed that skin, but is worth the struggle to finally be free. 

Here are a few signs that you have outgrown someone or something: 
  • There is a hollowness where once there was interest. 
  • Whether it is a place or a person or a situation, you will find yourself irritated for no apparent reason. 
  • Everything starts going wrong--this is the Universe trying to steer you in an alternate path. 
  • What you once enjoyed, you no longer do. If you still go through the motions because of habit only, then you need to recognize this and shake up your routine. 
  • There is an inner knowing that you are not in the right place or with the right person. Trust your intuition. This is the Universe trying to guide you. You may feel a strong sense of "go, go, go"--so go. Even if it scares you, trust that inner voice. 


Friday, July 17, 2020

Love Found on the Backroads #newrelease #Romanticsuspense

New release time! Someone in her inner circle wants her dead. She retreats to the Colorado Rocky Mountains to heal and hide. Who knew she would find love on the Backroads? Read an excerpt and the back cover copy below.

Available at:

From the back cover...

Movie star Marlowe Madison needs a break from fame after surviving a near-death experience. She knows fame comes at a cost, but now she is reevaluating if she's willing to pay such an exorbitant fee. Wanting anonymity and sanctuary, she retreats to a small town in central Colorado to hide while the authorities track down the person who wants her dead. 

Sean Westbrook is intrigued by the mysterious neighbor who has disrupted the peaceful existence on his horse rescue ranch in the sleepy town of Jefferson, Colorado. Never one to mind his own business, his curiosity brings him face-to-face with his new neighbor. He has no idea that every interaction with her puts him directly in the crosshairs of the person hunting her. 

Danger has followed Marlowe to this paradise in the middle of nowhere. As far as the assassin is concerned, she has moved to the perfect place to die. 

Desire and curiosity override caution. Despite the danger, Sean and Marlowe embark on a relationship full of twists and turns and temptation. When danger finds them, will it unite them or rip them apart? Will the price of Marlowe’s fame end up costing her everything after all? 

An excerpt...

She pushed open the gate and walked aimlessly toward the forest. Pine needles crunched beneath her feet with every slow step she took. Birds chirped in the trees and squirrels darted in the shadows. The further she walked, the easier it became to breathe. Marlowe came to the edge of the property and leaned against a fence post. A lone white horse strolled up the hill toward her. She watched it approach, noticing its pink scars that slashed across its neck and across its chest. Its pure white mane tossed in the high-altitude wind as it approached, head held high. When it stopped in front of her, Marlowe laughed out loud. 
“Hey, beautiful, where’d you come from? Are you all alone?” She scanned the hillside looking for other horses but only saw rolling hills leading down to a ranch house at least a few miles away. 
The horse turned its head slightly to get a better look at Marlowe yet remained out of reach. From the scars, it was obvious to Marlowe that this beauty had seen more than its share of pain. 
“I’m not supposed to be here,” she whispered to the horse as she hugged her arms across her body to ward off the high-altitude chill. “I don’t know if I should have died two weeks ago or if I should still be in my home by the ocean, but I do know I am scared and uncertain.”
The horse lifted its snout at her words as if acknowledging the conversation. 
“Have you ever felt like you had no control over your own life?” She looked at a particularly jagged scar that marred the white fur and sighed. “Looks like you have. Sorry about that. People can be cruel. I don’t have any pets because I am usually traveling a lot, but I always wanted a dog.” She met the horse’s gaze and smiled. “Maybe we can be friends while I’m visiting? This was my grandpa’s house,” she motioned to the land behind her and winced at the stinging pain that pierced her shoulder at the sudden move. “I used to visit him in the summers until I was a teenager.” 
A glint of light off of a lens tucked against a tree trunk reminded her that cameras lined the perimeter and she was not as alone as she felt. Considering the circumstances, that should have reassured her, but at the moment, it annoyed her. 
“Know what I realized when I woke up in the hospital?” She asked the horse. “I may have fame, and I may love my career, and I may have millions of dollars, but I don’t have one person who loves me in this world. Or that I love, for that matter. I have plenty of people who need me, but that’s it. And someone is trying to kill me, and I have no idea why. I have made some poor life choices, White Horse, and I didn’t realize it until someone shot me.” 
The horse snorted and stepped closer. 
“Poor movie star,” she laughed at herself, “talking to a white horse on a beautiful day in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Life could be worse…I could be dead.” She smiled at the animal who still stood out of arm’s reach. “Why are you all alone?” Again, she looked down the hill toward the ranch in the distance. She noticed a few other horses closer to the stables and what looked like quite a few cars driving down their long driveway. “I guess you want some peace, huh? Nothing wrong with being a loner.” 
The horse turned its head as if following her gaze. Its white ears twitched. 
“I’m kind of scared of horses,” she admitted. “I don’t know why; you seem perfectly nice to me.” 
Realizing that either Xavier or Holden probably watched a security screen and could see her talking to a horse, she cleared her throat and stepped back from the fence. Suddenly the shadows dancing along the forest floor behind her felt dangerous. 
No one is chasing me here, she reminded herself. I’m safe. The agents have the investigation under control. Relax. 
As if sensing the change in her demeanor, the horse broke into a trot and jogged away. Its mane and long tail billowed behind it like a dance as it pranced down the hill, backed by rugged peaks and wildflowers.
“A cinematographer’s perfect shot,” she whispered to the wind. Alone, Marlowe watched it depart with an odd sense of melancholy. “I think that’s the most meaningful conversation I’ve had in years.” 
Grinning, she turned and walked back to the house. Her energy was far from normal levels. The day had been stressful. It had started with a secret meeting with Abernathy and Allen in her hospital room where they had said they were looking into the finances of those closest to her, searching for any unusual large cash withdrawals that could have been used to hire a hitman. Doctor Fin had given her some pain pills and a long list of instructions on how to take care of her injuries in the coming weeks. Emily, who had been left out of the plan, had arranged a press conference for the fans gathered outside the hospital---but Marlowe had slipped out a side door to a waiting car that the FBI had arranged to take her to the private airfield. As instructed, she had left her cellphone and other electronics in the hospital to make it appear as if she had simply vanished. Unable to relax in the private jet, she had second-guessed her decision about looping Rich into the plot. By the time she had landed, she had heard the headlines on E! about “Marlowe Madison Missing from the Hospital.” The helicopter ride from Denver to Jefferson had been choppy, which had only aggravated her wounds. Now, all she wanted to do was curl up in the small bedroom in her grandfather’s old house and sleep undisturbed for days to come. 
She stopped at the edge of the clearing when she noticed Rich talking to a tall man wearing a big cowboy hat. The man wore a short-sleeved blue t-shirt and tight faded jeans that hugged his body like a glove. Based on Rich’s brief description, she knew this must be the infamous Sean Westbrook. For once, Rich hadn’t exaggerated the pure sexiness that exuded from the cowboy. She walked slowly from the protection of the trees, intrigued by how exasperated Rich appeared to be. 
“For the last time, we did not order three pounds of fudge,” Rich said, motioning to his own physique. “Do I look like someone who eats fudge? And who has ever heard of a fudge delivery service?”
“Lois is never wrong. We have fudge with nuts, some without, and some mixed with strawberry. One pound of each.” Sean held the bags out in front of him, his smile full of mischief. 
“You can’t bluff a bullshitter,” she said, shocking both men who turned abruptly to watch her approach. “You must be Sean Westbrook. Rich went on and on about how handsome and nosy you were.”
Rich looked like a guppy as he struggled to find words. 
Sean appraised her with an arched eyebrow, his smile turning from wicked to appreciative. “You are a step ahead of me then. You are?”
She squinted, unsure if pretending not to know her was part of his game. “Marlowe.”
Rich shoved a hand through his hair. “We are not accepting visitors.”
“Accepting visitors? Are you royalty or something?” Sean looked amused by how flustered Rich had become. 
“Or something.” Her gaze fell to the bags. She could smell the chocolatey sweetness even from several feet away. “I’ll take the fudge. I’ve always had a sweet tooth.”
“I’m your neighbor to the west. I saw the helicopter and all the commotion. I thought it would be best to introduce myself.” Sean handed the bags to her, his gaze roaming over her face as if trying to place where he had seen her. 
“I was just having a conversation with one of your horses,” she admitted with a smile. “She proved to be a good listener.”
“Which one?” He removed his hat before running a hand through his hair to smooth it into place. 
“White one.”
“Really?” Genuine surprise lit his blue eyes. “She’s a loner. I’m surprised she let you get close.”
“She came to me.” 
Curiosity changed to appreciation in his eyes. “Then you must be pretty special. She doesn’t come to anyone, not yet. I picked her up a few weeks ago from ranch in Oklahoma where she’d been abused and grossly neglected. I’ve managed to get some weight back on her, but she keeps her distance from the rest of the herd and me.”
She held the bags of fudge to her chest while she digested his words. “You rescue horses? Are all of your horses rescues?”
“Yes. I rescue them, rehab them, and then rehome them when they are ready—if they ever are. Some prefer to graze the land and that’s fine with me.” He shrugged his broad shoulders, drawing her attention to the lean muscles of his arms and the sweaty hair that stuck to his neck. 
“We didn’t order fudge,” Rich said to her as if warning her from the man. 
“I know we didn’t, and he knows we know. It’s a joke. Lighten up, Rich.” She opened a bag and grabbed out a bar loaded with walnuts. “Rich is my assistant. He takes his job very seriously.”
Rich gaped at her as if she had gone mad. From the way he stared at her, she knew he was trying to silently remind her that she is not to be seen by anyone. 
“Bill Tribedoe was my grandfather,” she said to Sean as she stepped between him and Rich. “I thought it was the perfect time to breathe some life back into the place.”
“And the security?” Sean moved his gaze from her face to the security shed to the trees towering behind them. 
“A single woman can never be too cautious these days,” she said, enjoying the fact that he hadn’t immediately recognized her. “I saw a line of cars headed to your house.”
“Not my house. My sister runs a camp on the opposite side of the property that backs up to the mountain. Those are families dropping off their kids—but don’t worry, all of the facilities and their activities remain far from you.” 
“What kind of camp? A summer camp kind of thing?”
“Grief camp for kids who have lost a parent.” 
“So, you and your sister are a pair of saints?”
“I am far from saint-like, Marlowe.” Desire darkened his blue eyes to indigo as his gaze locked onto hers. “Come over tomorrow, help me with Starlight if you want.”
Caution. Hit the brakes. You cannot get to know this man. Her gaze dipped to his lips. She shifted her weight from foot-to-foot. But, damn, I bet he tastes good and I am sure his body feels even better. Hard. Hot. She cleared her throat. 
“I’m not really a horse person,” she managed to say. 
“My horse must think otherwise.” His eyes held a challenge. “Think about it. You know where to find me—but when the driveway forks, take the right turn or else you’ll end up at the camp. My sister Zoe will be all over you to volunteer, she scoops people up when they least expect it. Stay safe and head my way.”
“Marlowe isn’t here to socialize. She needs to stay here,” Rich dropped a protective hand on her forearm before quickly releasing her. “She’s resting.”
“Resting?” Sean looked her up and down as if assessing her wellbeing.
“I was in an accident recently.” She automatically touched her chest where the bullet had pierced her lung. “I have been told to take it easy.”
“This is a good place for that.” Sean’s expression softened before he looked over her head toward the house. “I’m glad you’re here. This house has always looked so lonely sitting here abandoned.”
“She doesn’t want everyone knowing she’s here,” Rich said, looking more distressed by the minute. “Seriously, you can’t go back to the Moose Shack or wherever and tell anyone you met Marlowe.”
She jabbed her thumb against his ribs and shook her head no when he looked at her. His nervous behavior made him appear more suspicious than anything else he could do or say. 
“I’m sorry, Sean, Rich is just looking after my best interests.”
“I can keep a secret,” Sean said, putting his cowboy hat on his head and adjusting it low on his forehead. 
They made eye contact. She held her breath. 
Okay, so Rich’s description had been dead on. Sean Westbrook had box-office sex appeal and appeared not to realize it. 
“Enjoy the fudge. Lois is the best.” His gaze again sliding over her face before snapping up to her eyes. “If you ever need anything, let me know.”
 “I’ve had a long day with the traveling and other things. I need to take to soak in the tub and then get to bed. I don’t suppose you can help me with that?”
“I…uh…I should probably let you take care of that on your own.” His lips twitched and she got the distinct impression that he wanted to add the words, for now, to the end of that sentence. 
She flicked the cowboy hat with her finger as she walked past him and winked for the fun of flirting. It had been awhile... “What’s the horse’s name, by the way? The white one?”
“Starlight,” she repeated softly, “Good name.” She turned her back on both men and walked inside the gated yard to leave them be. 
“Nice to meet you, Marlowe Tribedoe,” Sean shouted, mistakenly assuming her last name was that of her grandfather. She liked the sound of it, though. 
Without turning around, she lifted her hand in acknowledgement before entering the house. Thankful for the quiet, she moved to the second bedroom where she had slept as a child, set the bags of fudge down on the dresser, and sat on the edge of the bed with a sigh. A curled up old fashioned window shade stuck out from behind the dresser. She smiled as she reached behind to pull it out. Carefully, she unfurled it across the bed and laughed at the words, ‘Marlie’s Show’, and recalled how she had carefully created the words with markers one summer so she could put on a show for her grandfather and his friends. She had draped the shade across the back porch and played all the characters herself to a round of applause from the locals. She had been eight at the time. 
“You were born to be a star,” her grandfather had used to say with that sparkle in her eye. “Give ‘em hell, Marlie May.” 
“I gave ‘em hell, Wild Bill,” she whispered with a smile as she traced the words on the dusty shade with a fingertip. “I won’t quit. I promise you.” 
With a sigh, she curled the plastic window shade up and tucked it behind the dresser. She had been blessed with knowing great men in her life—her grandfather and her father. They had loved her and believed in her and, because of them, she had always believed in herself enough to gamble everything for a dream. 
Lying on bed, she hugged a pillow to her chest, and she smiled at the memory of the sexy cowboy who had delivered fudge in a weak attempt at snooping. Perhaps hiding out and recuperating wouldn’t be such a sacrifice. 

Get your copy now

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Embracing My Weird #selflove #inspiration

I hate to admit it, but most of my life was spent trying to please others. I suppressed my creativity when I was young because my mother thought it was weird--so I hid in my room writing stories in notebooks and stuffing them under my bed. I chose a college major based on what was acceptable to my parents--and still they acted ashamed of my choice. When I started training to be a triathlete, my dad laughed and said, "you?" So I stopped. When my husband died and I got job writing a weekly article on single mothers, my mom said, "I don't believe it. You?" When I published my first novel with an actual publisher, they said again, "I don't believe it. They chose you?"  

I lived with the "who do you think you are" question thrown at me for as long as I can remember. When I would be upset, I was labeled dramatic and dismissed. Who do you think you are...that's such a horrible phrase when you think about it. It makes the recipient of those words start questioning their true nature. You just want to think you're special...that's another phrase I've heard that made me feel the need to disappear into the wall or play small. 

Because I had these beliefs stuffed into my subconscious, I tended to attract friends who also treated me like a joke--as if my work was frivolous and my dreams 'far out.' I still do, at times, find people around me who try to make me doubt my right to deserve success and happiness. I know I'm around that type when I start defending myself--defending my life story, defending my over forty published novels, defending my happiness. It wasn't until I started respecting myself and standing my ground that the blinders disintegrated--and I found myself recognizing toxicity. 

I am not sure how I persisted in my creative endeavors, but I did. I kept writing. I kept trying, but still there was this gnawing doubt in my mind of "who do you think you are". How did I continue with the faith to embrace my weirdness when my circle of immediate family and friends wanted me to conform? Something inside me refused to surrender. 

When I moved to Santa Fe, I noticed women walking in town with cool hats and a confident stride. I thought, I want to be like them. They were/are artists, scientists, teachers, and explorers. I took a class that first two months of my move about embracing female creativity--and it all came out. All my pain. All the wounds I had tried to hide. When asked why we were in the class, I told the instructor then that I wanted to be like the powerful women I noticed walking on the streets here--because I had come here damaged and uncertain with the phrases, 'who do you think you are' and 'you're so stupid' and 'you just want to think you're special' thumping around in my exhausted brain. 

The instructor became my friend and, recently, she said out of the blue, "you did it, you've become." She did not need to elaborate further because I immediately understood. I walk different. I laugh all the time. I wear cool hats. (I wear what I want.) I introduce myself as a creative professional with my chin high and my focus clear. I don't tolerate anyone who treats me like a joke or asks me to defend my way of being. I don't think twice about anyone who has ever treated me as disposable. My adult kids have noticed and sometimes look at me with narrowed eyes saying, "you're different." I like being different. I like not caring what anyone thinks. I am attracted to people who are interesting and diverse. 

We are all special. Our quirks make us whole. We all deserve to be treated as such--and, more importantly, to treat ourselves as such and accept nothing less. 

Who do you think you are? Hopefully, if anyone asks you that question, you can look them in the eye and tell them to fuck off. You are born knowing who you are! Your soul knows. Your heart knows. Somewhere along the line we can lose touch with that if we are not surrounded by those who embrace our uniqueness. 

I may not have a lot of years left on this planet. None of us knows when our time will be up. But I am grateful for the journey that led me to this point--and I am blessed to have finally embraced my weirdness. It's so much more freeing to live authentically me than to pretend to fit into a mold that never fit. 

You are you in all your spectacular strangeness. Good for you. Keep it up. Never let someone make you question yourself or your right to deserve your dreams. 



Monday, May 4, 2020

Navigating the In-Between Time of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Whether you have been an essential worker or in lockdown mode, there is no denying that Covid-19 has impacted our world in drastic ways. For many of us, it feels like life has been put on “pause”, leaving us with extra time to fill, questions about an uncertain future, and new challenges to meet for day-to-day living. 
This in-between time is an opportunity to listen to our hearts and refresh our over-cluttered and busy lives. We get to choose how to use this time and what to bring forward out of it. But this doesn't mean "looking at the bright side" only--it's also a time to be gentle with ourselves and not judge any feelings as good or bad. 
I encourage you to listen to your heart and follow it’s lead. Let this be a time of re-centering and remembering what you value most. Let it be the foundation on which you build the next phase of your life. 
We can create a better normal for the future. One that is aligned with our values and dreams. 
As the lockdown restrictions ease and we take steps to return to the external world, it is important to make conscious choices for what we want to create next and bring into the future. 
Be Kind: We have all experienced a trauma in varying degrees. We may have different experiences or opinions, but we are all human beings navigating uncertain times. Kindness can be as simple as exerting silent patience or uttering a supportive word. Kindness and compassion for another eases tension and creates a safe space for us all. 
Nurture Your Connections: Most of us have a new appreciation for the time with family and friends that we used to take for granted. Reach out to them and let them know how valuable they are. 
Honor Your Money: Covid-19 has proven that life can surprise us and put our money at risk. Most of us have had a break from shopping and realize how much less we need to buy then we thought. Keep living below your means and saving. When you honor your money, it will be there for you when you need it.  
Appreciate What You Have: When we look around our homes with fresh eyes, we realize j how blessed we are. Food, shelter, Netflix and the many luxuries we enjoy take on new meaning at times like these. Be grateful for all the gifts in your life. Don’t lose that sense of appreciation when life returns to the "new normal". Appreciation for our blessings is the cornerstone for happiness and contentment.
Live Simply: Many are reconnecting with the joys of a simple life. People are gardening and completing home projects. Being on lockdown--being forced to slow down--has given us time to focus on these positive things that ground us and make our home life better. Choose carefully what you allow in your schedule when the world opens up again. 
Live Fully: Each day you have on this earth is a gift. Use it well. This doesn’t mean you have to be doing big or great things. It is more about doing small things with great love. Stop judging yourself for not being a super achiever and make every day one you are glad you lived.
Be Compassionate with Yourself: No, you don't have to be positive all the time. It's okay to be afraid, to be sad, to not be motivated every single day of the week. If nothing else, COVID-19 has shown us exactly how human we all are--so don't shy away from your feelings. Practice self-care. Take the nap if you're tired. Cry if you want to. Don't judge yourself all the time. Put your health first--both mental and physical. 
These ideas are only a starting point. I encourage you to listen to your heart and journal or list what you want to bring forward in your life. It will allow you to consciously create a better normal and life that you will love. 
Peace to you!

Friday, April 10, 2020

He's been searching for his daughter for three years... #newrelease #romanticsuspense EXCERPT!

I know it's been awhile since I've posted. The end of 2019 nearly killed me---literally. I was attacked by a dog and nearly died. (Like I keep saying, my life is stranger than fiction.) The recovery has been long and exhausting. Just when I am feeling capable of going out--BOOM--lockdown for the virus! But, it's the perfect time for new release! Yay! Take a look at Hourglass, a romantic suspense novel about a man searching for his missing daughter and the private investigator who gives him hope. Now available worldwide in all ebook formats and paperback! Enjoy! 

From the back cover...

Mason James is searching for his missing daughter who disappeared off the street three years ago. His search has cost him his career, his home, and now he's living off his savings--but there is no price too high to get his daughter back. His journey has taken him across the country to Portland, Oregon. He knows he is close because dangerous things begin happening--car tires slashed, a gunshot grazes his arm, and menacing shapes within shadows begin appearing everywhere. Is he paranoid or has he finally stumbled on the right clues to saving his little girl?

Palmer Novah is a private detective who specializes in finding missing people. She normally doesn't work pro-bono, but there is something about Mason's plight that stirs her jaded heart into helping his cause. As she digs into the details, she discovers a deadly cult may be holding his daughter. Danger intensifies as she peels back the layers of the mystery surrounding the disappearance--and so does the desire to know Mason on a deeper level.

Together, they dodge unseen dangers that lurk in shadows while knowing that their time is running out. The closer they get to discovering the truth, the higher the odds that Mason's daughter will be moved and perhaps lost forever. Is the intensity of their attraction simply a result of adrenaline or is there a chance it could be real? Can their fragile love survive if their search is unsuccessful or, worse yet, tragic?

An excerpt...

“Their only loyalty is to the Order of the Risen Sun, Mason. They lost themselves long ago.” She used her cellphone to send off emails to her team, including Olivia, that included the phone number and the photos from his computer. She did not need to elaborate on the possibility that his daughter might feel the same. 
“If she really did tell them that she likes being called Ellie, isn’t that a sign that she remembers who she really is? That she wants me to find her?” He waited until she was finished with her texts and emails before asking the questions, but she felt the expectation for validation hanging in the air. 
“I should go. It’s been a long day.” She touched her fingers to his shoulder. “How’s the wound holding up? I should change the bandages, so it doesn’t get infected. They’re in my room, do you want me to bring them back over or will you come with me?” 
Whether she mentioned it or not, Mason James had become a target by going after one of Starchild’s prized wives. Most likely she had had a child already. The Order would do whatever it took to protect her for their leader—unless she became too much of a liability. She stood and walked to the door without waiting for his response. Perhaps coming here had been a mistake, a premature reaction based on the fact that there was a ship on its way to take them all to South America. Maybe they should have played it cool by involving Dennison back at the office and going back to her place tonight where they could be warm and safely away from any prying eyes. 
Palmer rubbed her closed eyes and wished she could think straight around him. She was making mistakes that they couldn’t afford to make. 
“I’ll come with you.” He handed her the wig before reaching past her to open the door to the hallway. “It’ll be easier that way. You look tired.”
“I am.” She unlocked her door and walked inside, thankful that they were able to get rooms directly across from one another. Without speaking, she retrieved the bandages and ointment she’d packed. When she turned, she gasped at the sight of his naked chest. Last night she’d admired it, but after spending the day with him, the intimacy felt more powerful. For a guy who hung out in a van and ate fast food, he was sculpted and lean with just right amount of dark hair on the upper part of his chest. A brief flash of the eloquent man in Dallas in a dark suit came to mind—although she still glimpsed that man in him, the toll of his journey had transformed him in ways that he would probably never shake. 
I definitely need a weekend on Canon Beach to get my head together once this is done. I can’t fall for a guy who lives across the country and who may never forgive me for what we find in the coming days. It’s a recipe for disaster, she thought as she approached him. Fall for a guy? I don’t even know him.
Yet it felt like she knew him, as if she had been waiting for him all this time. Her face flushed at the idea of brushing her lips against his neck and sliding her hands down the chest to the V of his abdomen. Her thighs quivered at the thought of straddling him and pushing him onto the mattress. No more words. No more questions. Just sex—touching, tasting, moving, sweating, biting, kissing, squeezing, feeling. 
He didn’t notice her reaction because he was busy twisting his neck to try to study the wound himself. Blood had soaked through the gauze and it smelled funky. He grimaced as his fingers toyed with the medical tape. 
“Let me do that. Sit.” She pushed him down and carefully revealed the wound. It still looked nasty and would definitely leave a scar. Scooting her butt behind him, she cleaned it with a warm washcloth before drying it and applying the ointment. “This must have been bothering you all day, but you didn’t say a word.” 
“A person learns to live with pain, I guess. My tolerance is high.” He shrugged. “It’s hard for me to feel like I don’t have a handle on this situation. I’ve felt completely useless for three years. When I finally get close, someone tries to shoot me. It’s frustrating as hell.” 
She finished bandaging him up while deciding how much to tell him about the girl who could be Elena. With a sigh, she sat slightly behind him on the bed. 
He looked at her over his shoulder, his hair falling across his forehead as he twisted to see her better. His gaze fell to her lips before he leaned forward and kissed her. His mouth moved over hers tentatively at first, eyes wide open, the kiss more curious than passionate. His hand dropped to her thigh while the other slid up her arm before caressing the back of her neck. His lips moved against her cheek, lightly—and that light touch sent shivers through her nerves, shivers that trembled through her entire body. 
“If you want me to stop, tell me now,” he whispered against her skin. When she said nothing, he brushed his mouth against her temple. “Or now.” He traced the line of her cheekbone with his thumb. “Or now.” 
As an answer, she reached up and pulled him against her, and the rest of his words were lost against her lips. He kissed her gently as if still unsure this was a good idea—and it wasn’t but she didn’t care. She didn’t want gentle—she wanted hard and hot. 
He pressed her down onto the mattress, his hand moving beneath her sweater. His tongue slid against hers and she moaned with the need for more. Her hands moved over his back, down to his ass, over his shoulders, into his hair. His hand caressed her abdomen before squeezing her breast over the fabric of her bra. It wasn’t enough. Nothing short of full rocking the bed apart would be enough. She pulled his hair until it hurt and crushed her mouth against him with the force of the passion rolling through her like the thunderstorm cracking outside the window. 

Keep reading HOURGLASS by getting your copy now!