AFTER EVER AFTER – Now Available!

My latest collection of short stories – AFTER EVER AFTER – is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, as well as through the publisher’s website! You’ll love this darkly humorous take on fairy tales from around the world (very UN-Disneyfied) and will have fun guessing which tale I’ve chosen to twist…or sneak […]

The Literary Citizen

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I am thrilled to announce the arrival of a new magazine BY writers and FOR writers! THE LITERARY CITIZEN is a digital magazine published tri-annually to connect members of the writing community, offer tips on genre and craft, showcase local authors, and share what it means to be a member of the literary world.

The idea for THE LITERARY CITIZEN was born after an inspiring talk by Mike Czyniewieski at the Ozarks Writers League conference in November, 2016. He spoke about supporting fellow authors, upcoming writers, and the reading public in a variety of simple steps anyone can take. This concept of being a citizen of the arts community coincided perfectly with an idea I had been developing to offer some kind of newsletter or resource for a largely rural area. And let’s face it…writing is a solitary business. It’s nice to look out and see some fellow workers once in a while!

And so, I developed this magazine to meet a need in my literary community. My writing friends were incredibly gracious in coming up with stellar articles to contribute, and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Be a good citizen… read the current issue for FREE….subscribe to receive future issues in your inbox (also FREE!)…and start doing your bit to support the arts and reading!

Pieces of Heart

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I think about a heart breaking. Where do the pieces go? Are they absorbed into the bloodstream? Fall to the soles of my feet? Turn to dust and get carried away on the wind?

I think a broken heart – really broken and crushed – shatters and is flung into the world. That is why we feel so lost, abandoned, displaced from the earth. We carry a star in our chests, and when it goes supernova there is no way to recapture it all.

But then time passes. Some things change. We cobble together the remnants that we can find and press them together so we can go on. Yet, pieces are missing. They are too far away to reach, to even be seen. And we think they are lost.

My gift recently was rediscovering a friend – a significant piece of my heart that I thought was gone forever. Turns out, it had just gone to California. She’s been around the world, changed her name, dyed her hair, pierced her face, gone back to school, had a kid, and lived 20 years away from me. And she is just the same. Just as dear and intelligent and thoughtful and kind. Actually, no. She is more so.

I had gotten used to the vacancy in my heart, the missing piece. It’s certainly not the only one. But it felt so good to have it back again. It blended seamlessly with the heart I have now, even spreading to some of the more brittle parts and strengthening them. We had one day to catch up on 20 years. But balm is like that. You put it on once and it keeps working long after.

A phoenix rising from the ashes of its old life is beautiful and inspiring. But I am no phoenix. I am old and new, cracked and mended, gathering the pieces of heart that I have missed. I am not the phoenix. I am the one who watches the phoenix rise, and I smile from my place on the ground. The phoenix flies for me.

Letting Go of 2016

I’ve been casting my mind back over the last 12 months, like pretty much everyone else, and reflecting on the lessons learned, the tasks completed, and what was left undone. I noticed a post on social media deriding those who ponder a new year. “If your life sucked on the last day of 2016, it’s still going to suck on the 1st day of 2017.” This is entirely possible. And it entirely misses the point of reflection and marking time.

(This is the same individual who once demanded to know why people who built tiny houses on wheels didn’t just buy a travel trailer. To that I say, campers are ugly, not intended for year-round use, not built to international building codes, not designed to last more than 10 years, not set up for sustainability,…  but I digress.)

Humans mark time, and have done so since, well, time started to be marked. We’re designed to measure success (or failure), progress (or lack thereof), whether goals have been met, and whether the inexorable aging process is compensating us with experience and wisdom. We’re still operating on time systems left to us by the Romans and Babylonians, so now is the designated pause in our revolution around the sun for us to consider the past and the future.

My year was packed – almost frantic with activity. I’ve run 3 businesses and part of a 4th. I’ve been active in 3 organizations, taken multiple trips, published a book, started a magazine, and shared hundreds of blog and social media posts. I’ve sold 2 vehicles and a camper. Painted the house. Replaced furniture. Remodeled 2 buildings. I’ve lost some I thought of as dear friends and reconnected with others who reminded me of the true meaning of friendship. I’ve rethought my life, made some tough choices, and tested my limits.

Looking back, there is a theme – a pattern – to this year that stands out above other years. And it is this… Letting Go.

I let go of an unprofitable business. I released the bitterness and resentment surrounding my husband’s death. I removed the man-made fences surrounding my faith. I relinquished any illusion of control over the unhappiness of family or friends. I walked away from our once beloved co-op and surrendered management of my children’s every educational moment. I relinquished the responsibility of doing yard work, and the guilt of paying someone else to do it. I said good-bye to the fantasy of eternally young parents and the idea that they will always be here. I dismissed employees and clients that were not healthy for my financial future. I gave up the illusion that there are generally accepted societal norms, common sense, and basic humanity. I jettisoned emotional baggage and physical leftovers of my old life. And I stopped looking for the place that I belong.

I know there is more letting go to come. I need to let more possessions go. I need to eventually release the hold on my house (and let it release its hold on me). My daughter will probably learn to drive, a forced letting go. My mother may slip away. My favorite yoga pants have stretched their last.

But I want the next year to be one of Reaching Out. I want to move toward the next chapter of life to refashion my days to reflect my values. I want to grab hold of more travel, to relish the time I have with true friends and family. I want to work into a deeper healing and a greater joy and more forward movement.

This year, I invested in myself. Not all of the money multiplied (or even broke even). Much of the time was spent in learning, instead of escapism or worry or grief. My energy resources are definitely depleted. I might do some things differently, but I would still do them all.

Was 2016 good or bad? I do not know. It passed. That is all. It was a learning year. A year of stabilizing and accepting, while simultaneously letting go and upsetting the balance.

So I could be in a better balance.

Letting go means you have to open your hands, which means they are ready to accept something new. And my hands are open.