Random Thoughts From An Avid Author, Uncategorized

NOWHERE is somewhere

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That moment in time when a book changes your life…

It’s kind of liberating to step forth and proclaim the realization that literature can truly leave a mark on your being in a way you never thought possible. Before I step too far into this puzzling pool of wonder, let me elaborate a bit on how this came to be.

Books of all shapes and sizes have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Even as a young child, they meant a great deal to me.

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I never read because I had to, I read because I needed to. My strength is bound in the power of words.

For as long as I can remember, novels were always my bounty, my hiding place, because I live inside my mind more than I could ever explain. When I read books, I see them vividly in torrents of color without boundaries. I read to “see”. When I write, it is the exact same way. I’m not one to map out or diagram a novel before diving into it headfirst. Instead, I take a simple idea and work forward as I watch each scene, from the curve of a character’s face, to the color, type and wonder of each bounty that surrounds them from all sides, unfolds. As they step forward, so do I. I’ve found over the years that most authors don’t write like this.

Many of us live internally in our own world of wonder. And that eclectic world of magnificence is embedded deep within our visual thoughts.

Recently a wonderful friend of mine sent me a book. One she said her son had recommended to her, and after she read it, her perspective on life changed. She wanted to share the same sense of power with me to see what I thought, and how I felt after reading it. I devoured it in a day, curled up in my home office, away from family for a few hours as I let it seep into me. I walked away with new eyes, and the ever growing urge and prompting to learn to find NOWHERE and visit it often.

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Finding the corridor of peace in the state of NOWHERE is hard for me. I am a busy, highly devoted wife and mother, and my days begin with a rushed feeling, and end with that same feeling as well. Raising three boys is demanding…raising kids in general is a 24 hour responsibility, yet my kids reside here at home with me all day, every day. We homeschool. Homeschooling is a calling. I felt called 5 years ago. I still feel that calling, and so do my husband and kids. But it doesn’t go without saying, that I do neglect things. And the biggest thing I neglect is myself. Not out of purpose, but out of performance.

Social media is my life. It’s what I do for a living, literally. I own my own social media company. My phone is glued to my hand, my tablet is sitting on my lap, or my computer resides in front of me all day, every day. It’s how I’ve learned to exist, to make a living, but all the while, I’ve forgotten what it meant to simply live, to just be, to find the comfort of NOWHERE.

In the past year, my life has changed dramatically in a number of ways. From health issues to relationship woes, to a finished novel and several new clients, yet somehow instead of meditating on how to cope and change with the ebb and flow of life, I’ve fled to filling up my schedule instead of filling up my often neglected spirit. I fled from NOWHERE to somewhere.

When I speak of NOWHERE, it means something much greater than the seven letters it’s composed of. It doesn’t mean staying put, it means putting down. And by putting down, I mean stepping away from the highway of life that moves at lightening speed every now and then. To exist. To be still. TO BE.

My middle child, who is 14, lives within his mind too. Just like his mom. I handed him the book when I was finished and gently said, “Read this. Today. Not tomorrow, not next week, today.” He took the book from my hands and instantly knew what I was saying. I found him a half an hour later, laid up in the corner of our living room with our dog in his lap, fully engulfed in the very same journey I had just taken a few hours before.

I’ve got a very in-tune connection with all of my kids, but my middle and I share a deep level of understanding that is often hard to explain to others. When he was three, he was diagnosed with high spectrum autism, often labeled as Asperger’s. He is wise beyond his years, and always has been. He still struggles in some areas, particularly with social skills, but I honestly think the culprit is the expansive mind he encumbers. There are times he trumps me in how he peels back the layers of a book, a song, or a simple sentence. He sees the core of things much deeper then most of us. I knew this book would speak to him in even bigger ways then how it spoke to me. I was right.

He finished. We talked. He uncovered the meat of the book in a few simple sentences, yet in a profoundly unbelievable way far beyond that of most teenagers, and I quote, “Speed is addictive. I’m not talking about drugs in this context, I’m talking about the need to embrace the empowerment it lends us in today’s society. When we slow down, we suffer from withdrawal and a sense of pain. When we are not a part of the structural highway of fast paced life, we find ourselves lost, and many of us, unaccepted. I think the real problem here is, we’ve learned to only accept ourselves when we are headed somewhere; a pinpoint. To say you’re going NOWHERE sounds superficial. Like you’re a loser. When, after reading this book, NOWHERE is where each of us should strive to be.”

I think my son summed things up better then I ever could. And more importantly, we’ve both walked away with a sense of searching for NOWHERE instead of somewhere. In the deepest crevices of NOWHERE, you find yourself, and the art of simply living.

Changes are being made over here. I’ve yearned for NOWHERE for way too long, and just never knew it. Or better yet, maybe I didn’t want to know it until now. I’m no longer pushing it aside, but embracing it instead. You should too.

~ VSK

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

When You Know You’re Too Old For Theme Parks

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We’ve been in Florida since last Thursday the 1st. The first half of our vacation involved the beach. The second half involves Universal Studios.

We have three more days at the park.

I may die.

My feet hurt, and my back is tweaked on the right side from riding “The Mummy” roller coaster at least half a dozen times in two days because my children love it. To the point that it has gotten annoying. But they don’t want to ride alone, so my husband and I continue riding like two handicapped parents with a hitch in their get-along. I’ve also memorized the entire script of the ride, word for word. This is the only thing that keeps me entertained.

We have been the only Americans in the theme park. I’m quite certain I know how to speak Portuguese, French and Italian fluently now, thanks to long wait times in line. Take that, Rosetta Stone!

I will NEVER get tired of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the park. NEVER. I could just sit and listen to the music while drinking Butterbeer. It’s easy to get lost here. Not just in the magic of being a part of Potterland, but actually LOST. There have been so many people in this part of the park it’s redonk. This is also the part of the park where you realize you are some of the few Americans present. This is due to the hairy armpit women, and men without deodorant. Pleasant. Pleasant, I tell you.

Yesterday we were waiting in line for “Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey”. This is an incredible ride that takes place inside Hogwarts. AWESOME. Anyhow, since there are 5 of us, we are always one short or one too many for a ride, which means we have to split up. Hubby and the older two went together, and I went with Little A.

I am a moron magnet. Convinced. There were two older gentlemen in front of Little A and I. One was guzzling…not sipping…a very LARGE beer. His five steps forward and then stopping for a selfie photo in front of various sights as we walked to the ride entrance grew very annoying. Very quickly. We reached the front of the line finally. He decided to stop and answer a text message. Yes, a text. I bit my tongue in front of my child…momentarily.

“Let’s move along!” I said aloud.

He started walking and replied very loudly, “God, I’m texting!” AG&SJ#*S) <—–That’s the words going through my mind. The filtered version.

This will be a fun ride. Little A and I end up in the same car with the two guys. The intoxicated moron pulls out his phone as soon as he is out of the sight of the employees to tape the ride. Or update his Facebook. Or take another ugly selfie. Or call the President. Or throw it at Harry Potter…

The ride stops. I hear the lady say they are experiencing technical difficulties. Moron #1 & #2 didn’t hear her. So I decided to play my cards.

“Uh, you need to put your phone away. You can’t have it out on the ride. That’s why they stopped it.”

He looks at me, wide eyed and dumbfounded as he fumbles with his phone, trying to stuff it back into his pocket, his big meaty claw hands trying to hide the iPhone I called him out on.

The ride starts. I laugh on the inside. I’m not a mean person. But I don’t care for individuals who think the world revolves around them. I don’t think he enjoyed the rest of his ride much. I’m sure he took a selfie and texted his buddy Bob afterwards to let him know all about it. I feel sorry for Bob.

My youngest has had diarrhea and a runny nose since yesterday morning. He feels fine otherwise. I’m convinced he has what’s called, “Too much vacation”. This disease is a result of getting up at the crack of dawn to get to the theme park before everyone else, eating cr@p in the park, such as $21 buckets of stale popcorn in Jurassic Park because the popcorn comes in a plastic dinosaur head that we NEED to take home, and touching cr@p in the park that has been touched by thousands of people. <—- The thought of this kind of makes me nauseous. I may become a germaphobe before we leave here…

Riding a scooter while drinking a coke the size of a small child, Laffy Taffy and cigarettes in your front basket along with park brochures, and a full size bag of Lay’s potato chips in your hands does make me question your motives as to why you are riding in a scooter in the first place…I don’t believe “handicapped” plays into the reasoning…Just a guess…This includes the 3 other individuals riding along side you doing the same thing. Except the guy with the nachos who is steering with one hand, might prove me otherwise…

Overall, we’ve had a blast. So many memories. SO MANY. We’ve re-discovered each other as a family this past week. It has been amazing.

Only a few more days until we head home. I miss my bed. I miss my dog. I miss my coffee maker. But I have to admit, I hate the thought of leaving. Honestly.

Signing off. It’s time to head to the pool for a while. I also enjoy the strawberry daiquiris here at the hotel. They are $11.95 each, but, you know…It’s vacation. And I’m exhausted. But I’m grateful beyond belief for this little life of mine.

Stopping to to take snapshots of your life is so important. My camera lens is overflowing this week…

I love daiquiris and pool towels ~

VSK

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

The World Through A Little One’s Eyes ~ An Interview With A 10 Year Old

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Me: So, thanks for letting me interview you today, Little A. Are you ready to answer these tough questions?

Little A: {Rolling eyes} Yes, Mommy. You said I could have a bowl of jellybeans after this though. You promised. Don’t…forget. {Leaning in REALLY close} Sometimes you forgettttt. (Touche’ Little A, Touche’)

Me: So, tell me, what has been the greatest disappointment in your life? Please elaborate.

Little A: {Laughing} Something fake, like a fake disappointment? No wait…I’m a little disappointed the Easter Bunny didn’t bring me Pokemon cards. But, that’s okay. I forgave him already.

Me: A monkey, a ghost and a horse with tap shoes on walks into a movie theatre…who sits down first, and why?

Little A: Whattttt, are you saying?! Well, the monkey because the ghost and horse are too slow, but the monkey is fast. Like, REALLY fast.

Me: What’s your take on the rising gas prices in the US?

Little A: Seriously?! Well, I guess it’s because the world makes dumb rules sometimes. That’s why.

Me: Please spell LACHRYMOSE, and provide me with the definition as well.

Little A: L-a-c-a-m-o-s-e. A wizard’s spell that makes you feel stupid when you shouldn’t feel stupid. You should feel smart, but I don’t, because I can’t spell this word right…

Me: Why do you think Chick-Fil-A misspells the word “chicken” in their TV commercials?

Little A: Because the cows didn’t go to college…

Me: Do you know what it means when someone says, “Don’t toot your own horn, Billy!”

Little A: Does it have to do with passing gas? If so, it means walk away before you pass gas to be polite to others in your realm.

Me: Do you know WHY the dish ran away with spoon after the cow jumped over the moon?

Little A: They ran away together because they loved each other. Silverware has a tendency to do that, or in this case, I think they do…That’s my take. {shrugs shoulders}

Me: So, I know how much you love Imagine Dragons. If you could have dinner with Dan Reynolds, what would you wear, where would you go to eat, and would you hug him or offer him a handshake? I don’t think he believes in cooties…

Little A: I would wear normal clothes, of course. Like shorts, and stuff. We would go to Chick-Fil-A, and I’d give him a handshake. I’d hug him after dessert. I think the time would be right then.

Me: Who’s your favorite? Mom or Dad? Wait…don’t answer that. Your Dad might read this, and it would make him sad…

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Me: Tell me, what is the meaning of life?

Little A: Can I ask Siri this question? No? Well then, life is just life. Live it, and live it good because we only get one.

Me: If Hogwarts was real…and I’m not necessarily saying it isn’t, but it might not be, but we like to believe that it is…what house do you think the Sorting Hat would choose for you and why?

Little A: Ravenclaw because it’s EPIC.

Me: How old do you think you’ll be when you get married? What do you think her name will be?

Little A: I’ll be 92 when I get married. Her name will be…{hanging upside down in the chair out of boredom}…

Me: If you could be invisible for one day, what would you do? It has to be legal, by the way.

Little A: It has to be legal?! Darn it…I would go knock on people’s doors and scare them. Maybe give them chocolate…melted chocolate…

Me: Luggage is to vacation, like tools are to…?

Little A: What? Say it again? Work, I guess. Tools are to work, because I don’t know of anyone who uses tools to play with. You shouldn’t play with tools. Especially if they are Dad’s tools…

 

Mom Love Times A Million ~

VSK

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

Every Stranger Has A Story – Post #1

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Every single one of us has a story to tell.

To begin 2014, I’ve vowed to bring the invisible stories of strangers among us to life through their own words, with tough questions to make you think.

My first perfect stranger is Susan Van Volkenburgh. A woman of great faith, a talented author, a kind spirit…with the eternal will to survive unthinkable heartbreak.

She is a child of 9/11.

A wounded bird who lost a piece of herself as terror tried to take hold of our nation. Yet through the bitter tears, the unanswered questions of WHY, and the travesty of learning how to move forward, she reflects the sincere grace of extreme humility.

Allow her to fill your world for a moment. She is a stranger to you now. Yet once you read her words, you’ll connect with her on a level that will leave you with a dear friend. One that you’ll feel like you’ve known for a lifetime and then some.

NAME & AGE (29 AND HOLDING IS PERMISSIBLE): Susan Van Volkenburgh 49

QUESTION 1: WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING? Homeschool mom, musical evangelists, and author

QUESTION 2: WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CLIMB OUT OF BED EVERY MORNING AND FACE THE DAY?

My family; I want to be there for them, to be an example to my children. Even at my worst, it was my love for them that kept me going, fighting through terrible circumstances to reach a place where I could stand.

QUESTION 3: A SECRET PASSION…EVERYBODY HAS ONE. WHAT IS YOURS?

Well, I don’t know how much of a secret it is, but what really drives me is the will to touch the lives of others with my words, my talents, my life. I owe so much to others who have reached out to me through difficult times:  by simple statements or words to a song, by a musical score that caused my heart to soar. I want to build on what they have started, to make my existence count for something.

QUESTION 4: TRAGEDY IS A PART OF LIFE THAT EACH OF US ARE FACED WITH AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER. SHARE A TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED IN LIFE. HOW DID IT CHANGE YOU?

September 11, 2001. That day marks a change in my life. Everything I am pivots around that terrible day.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun shone brightly. A faint breeze brushed through leaves painted with gold and red, whispering of autumn.

As always, I began the day in Bible study with my children. The morning’s subject was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Daniel 3) In discussing the three who were placed into the fiery furnace for their unwavering faith in God, I made the cryptic statement that no matter what happens in our life, even when we go through the fiery furnace, still we must follow the Lord. I did not know at that very moment that my own life would be put through the furnace and my words tested. For it was at that very moment, as I spoke to my children, that my own dear father was ripped from this world as American Airlines Flight 77 plummeted into the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

In the stillness that followed September 11, the silent emptiness filled us with the stunned awe of disbelief. How could anyone do such a thing, such a terrible thing? How can we live in a world so full of hate?

I had always felt God’s presence around me, keenly aware that He was with me. But now, when I needed Him most, I felt an empty silence that followed me everywhere I went. I was in the desert and God was silent.

How do you look into the eyes of a God who let you down? How do you speak the thoughts that are in your mind? Wasn’t He supposed to protect us? Didn’t He promise to look out for us, to keep us safe under His wing? How then did we get caught up in this event?

Living with grief is hard. Just the breath we take in can become a burden. There were days when all I could do was focus on the next moment, for to look beyond that next moment was overwhelming. It was all I could do to get out of bed. As I struggled under the burden of loss and trauma, words my father had spoken came to me.

When I was in high school, my father and sister were in a terrible car accident. Thankfully, they sustained only minor injuries, but my sister was traumatized. She told my father that she was never getting behind the wheel of a car again. What he said next has stuck with me, has helped me carry on.

He said, “I will give you three days to heal, then you are back behind the wheel of the car. For you will not let anything or anyone have dominion over you but God.”

I was determined to live up to this statement, to demonstrate this courage for my children. Yet still I struggled.

December of 2001, my husband took me to see Peter Jackson’s cinematic rendition of Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Seeing this movie was supposed to take my mind off the thought that the following week we would be laying my father’s remains to rest, three months after September 11, God spoke to me through the movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings. He spoke to me across time through the words of J. R. R. Tolkien.

As I sat in the theater, I assumed I was about to watch an adventure drama geared more to men than to me. I sat there amazed. As the Fellowship entered into the Mines of Moria, Frodo, the main protagonist of the story, who being an unlikely candidate to hold the future of Middle Earth in his hands, confronted Gandalf, the wise old leader of the group, with tough questions, the questions I had avoided bringing before God. It was surreal. As he spoke, the audience in the theater melted away. It was only Gandalf looking at me as a beam of light leapt off the screen, alighting me in its illumination, a tunnel between the screen and myself, as though no one else was in the room. Frodo stated to Gandalf, “I wish this had never happened, I wish the ring had never come to me.”

Gandalf looked full upon me, his eyes boring into my very soul as though the words written by Tolkien fifty years earlier were written for me. “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I was jarred to the core. It seemed so simple. Yes, that is all I have to do. God had spoken to me through Tolkien, reaching out to me to address the issue at hand. When I would run from the dispute, He sought me out, taking me by the hand in His overwhelming Love. It all began to make sense. God had not really let me down. A great weight lifted from my shoulders and I began to look up. My ears began to hear the voice of God. I do not have the power to change what had happened … all I can do is go forward. I did not have control over what occurred on September 11. However, I do have control of how I respond to it. This is all I must decide.

Suddenly, I could see how God had been speaking to me all along. The floodgates now opened, and I drew in water that filled my soul with wonder. But there was still work to be done. I started asking God those tough questions. I sought out the answers. I devoured all the works I could find of Tolkien to see if there was more in the pages of his books to help me understand this God of mine. And most importantly, I began to read God’s word with new eyes, eyes that looked Him directly in the face, unencumbered by the shadow of fear.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the story does not end with the furnace. But I think the key is in the word through, for we do go through, we do not stay in the furnace. There is an end to our trouble if we stand firm. The fire had no power. For even as the three young men stood within the flames of the furnace, they were not alone, but a fourth stood beside them. They were delivered from the fire, their clothes were not singed, and there was not even the smell of smoke upon them. We are not alone. The Lord is not a God who hovers on the outside. He steps into the furnace with us.

I am not the same person I was, but I will not allow anything or anyone have dominion over me but God. I have taken what the enemy has given me and use it as an arsenal for the cause of Christ. In the integrity of my father before me, I stand firm in my resolve.

QUESTION 5: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VERSE, QUOTE OR SAYING?

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandlaf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

~Tolkien

QUESTION 6: SHARE SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY. WHAT MAKES YOU, YOU?

Probably not something that makes me, me, but this is what comes to my mind. Every Christmas, we gather together and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but we do this with a twist. Each of us dig into our supply of second-hand clothes and dress outlandishly, modeling our ensemble after the attic scene where Chevy Chase’s character wears old clothes to stay warm after being trapped in the cold attic.

QUESTION 7: FINISH THIS SENTENCE – ”WHEN MY TIME ON EARTH IS THROUGH, I WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ME AS…”

A woman after God’s own heart –

QUESTION 8: THE SECRET TO LIVING A FULL LIFE IS… to be in the will of God in all things. Be true and walk in uprightness, and remember to not take yourself too seriously. Capture the small, quiet moments and carry them in your heart. Stay grounded; do not forget what really matters, what lasts for eternity.

QUESTION 9: WE INTERACT WITH, LOVE, HONOR AND CHERISH MANY PEOPLE IN OUR DAILY LIVES. NAME ONE PERSON WHOM YOU RESPECT, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, FEEL LIKE YOU OWE THE WORLD TO, AND WHY.

Wow, that is a hard question. There have been so many people that have influenced me in my life. To choose one is like saying he are more important than any of the others. Yet, I suppose my father has influenced my life the most. He taught me so much: a love for God, research, learning…He demonstrated an honorable and noble life, a life that was honest and firm in his beliefs. He was definitely the strong stoic type. My father exhibited to me the quality of never giving up, to keep going when the fight is right, no matter the cost. I have tried to live up to his example.

QUESTION 10: STRENGTH & WEAKNESS. BOTH LIVE IN EACH OF US. NAME ONE OF YOUR STRENGTHS, AND ONE OF YOUR WEAKNESSES.

My weakness is that I am impatient. I do not like to wait.

My strength is my creativity: in writing, music, and art.

QUESTION 11: IF YOU COULD TRAVEL TO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WITH A SINGLE SUITCASE AND ONE COMPANION, WHERE WOULD YOU GO, WHAT WOULD YOU TAKE, AND WHO WOULD ACCOMPANY YOU?

I would go to New Zealand and travel through “Middle Earth” – I would take a sketch book, a journal, a pair of hiking boots, and, of course, a copy of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I would bring my husband for he has been my companion through many adventures, and even though this may not be his favorite place on earth, I know he would go there, because it is important to me.

QUESTION 12: WHAT IS YOUR BEST QUALITY?

My tenacity. I can stick to things like glue. If I cannot see a way to complete a task, I will create a way. I believe if you think about a problem long and hard enough, you can find a path through to the other side.

QUESTION 13: MEMORIES MOLD US. SHARE ONE MEMORY IN LIFE THAT YOU REFLECT UPON OFTEN.

When I was very young, we lived in the woods in Maryland. My father would rake up a mountain of leaves. It was a huge job. Yet he always mounded the leaves in front of our swing set, just in the right place for us to jump off the swings and into the pile of leaves. How fun it was to fly through the air and land, not always so gracefully, into the soft tor of leaves. Of course, this caused the leaves to disperse. He would then have to rake the leaves again. The fact that this busy man would take the time to allow his children this simple pleasure amazes me. He had to be exhausted after raking the entire yard, yet he did this for us. What great love.

QUESTION 14: THIS BROKEN WORLD COULD USE A LITTLE HEALING. HOW CAN WE BEGIN MENDING FENCES AND NURTURING THE WOUNDS WE’VE INFLICTED ON ONE ANOTHER AS A SOCIETY?

Christ said it all. The greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-38

Only with the love of Christ in us can we bind the broken. With empathy, or looking at circumstances through the eyes of another, can we fully understand what others are experiencing.

If our true motive in this life is to do the will of God, then everything else falls into place, for to love God is to love others. If we love, we are not selfish, and the needs of others weigh on us.

We cannot control what others are doing, but we can start by doing what we know to be right, and kind, and good. We may not be able to fix everything, but we can mend our part of the wall.

QUESTION 15: “I BELIEVE IN __________ BECAUSE…”

…a loving and benevolent God. For when I was lost, He found me; when I was in the dark, He gave me Light; when I was without hope, He lifted me.

** Visit Susan’s website here.

** Purchase a copy of Susan’s book, “Silent Resolve and the God Who Let Me Down” on Amazon.

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

The Space In Between Carmex and Angry Cats

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I am obsessed with Carmex. Like so much so, it’s kind of ridiculous. But the only kind I will use is the one that comes in the little round container with the 1972 looking label. Why? Perhaps it’s because I enjoy grabbing that little mini barrell out of my purse to dab just enough on my pointer finger to put on my lips after touching a public door handle that is covered in e-coli germs. Now that I think about it, perhaps I should switch to the squeezable tube…

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I think the Carmex tube makes a stellar mustache, by the way.

People are mean. Meaner than a cat who has been scratched on the belly too long and decides to bite the “heck of a crack nut” out of your arm because they are just plain “done” with your scratching nonsense. This is why I don’t own a cat. I don’t need anymore attitude in my life. No offense to the cat lovers. Just don’t expect me to scratch your cat’s belly when I come over for lamb stew…

I have three boys. Two of which are experiencing raging teenage hormones that make them more emotional than a rooster on a roller coaster. One minute they are cracking a joke, the next minute they are slumped over at their desk picking their pimples while they pout about dinner being 17 minutes away. Seriously peeps, mama is the only one who gets to ride the emotional roller coaster. My body was bred that way. Thank you and amen…

I had a run in with a rather unpleasant man at the grocery store yesterday. I dislike the grocery store about as much as I dislike getting my eyes poked out by hot skewers. That’s a good visual, isn’t it?

I posted this “mishap” on Facebook ( <—- My therapist), and had an awakening after reading some of the comments my friends left. I was publicly humiliated by a complete stranger in a public place. I have a problem with that. Those that know me realize I am NOT a confrontational person. But, if you push my buttons repeatedly, I do eventually turn into a screaming, crying, mumbling ninja in an instant. It isn’t pretty. Rather scary, actually. My husband has only witnessed this behavior a handful of times in our 14 years of marriage. It’s safe to say, he’s scared of me when I become a scene out of The Exorcist movie.

Rather than revisiting the words exchanged between the grocery store stranger and I, I’d rather focus on the mind-blowing realization that set in hours later while eating Greek yogurt and watching a re-run of “Full House”. I have the most incredible, jaw-dropping realizations at the most inopportune times. So as I sat, staring mindlessly at Michelle and Stephanie Tanner arguing about borrowing lunch money from Uncle Jesse, I let the emotions and actions of the world settle in.

We can blame the President, the government, the neighbor down the street for our problems. Not just as individuals, but as a nation. Finger pointing has become a sickness in our era. Yet the finger is never pointed at oneself. It’s always pointed at someone else. I’m not saying that our nation hasn’t been misguided by individuals that have no business being in politics, because no matter if you are Republican, Democrat, or don’t care about either party, you have to admit that there is corruption in the way this country is being run. On both sides, on all levels, there are very deep issues.

My saying has always been, “Be the change.” Yesterday I could have summoned up my courage and put up my fists to the man who violated me with his selfish, uncalled for words. But I let the moment pass, and moved on with my life. There is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in. But the time must be appropriate. How do you know if it’s an appropriate time? Your spirit will let you know. But even when you let the spirit loose, let it loose lightly. Kill with kindness; an open heart. Kindness almost always wounds deeper than foul words. If you remain civil with just a touch of feelings/views, the other party’s satisfaction won’t be saturated. It will be stunned.

Don’t be a coward, but don’t be a  conspirator either.

Raising three boys is exceptionally hard these days. Raising children in general, is hard. This world is “in your face”, meaning there are very few boundaries anymore. What you want when you want it can be found by the click of the enter button on your computer keyboard or on your mobile phone. Access to the planet is found through Google.

My husband and I have taught our boys to defend themselves, but don’t conspire to ruin someone’s image or life for their satisfaction. That’s happening everywhere. Stop. Think. I guarantee you’ll be able to think of at least one person who feeds off the lives of others for their own demons. The demons that tell you you’re not good enough, wise enough, or rich enough to mean anything to anyone.

The latest novel that I recently finished is mirrored loosely off of this very insight. We all have demons, but how do we “feed” them? Do we nudge them away with a kind gesture towards another, or do we allow them to gorge themselves by lying to a spouse, laughing at a disabled person, or spewing off harsh words to instill the upper hand that you’re a bada$$? Just being honest, because honesty rides low with most individuals these days.

A snippet from the first chapter of my next novel, The Power of Suggestion:

My mother never believed in redemption, even in her devout Catholic faith, she refused to lean upon it in her life. Because of her beliefs, I mirrored her behavior, her way of following faith. I in turn learned to never put my trust in redemption either.

I have dark demons: many of them. So do you. How often do you let them dictate how you choose to live your life? I allowed mine to rise, willfully and woefully when life channeled my course in another direction more than a year ago. And it changed me from the inside out, for better and for worse. Yet it makes me, me. It validates who I am as being affluently real in an often unrealistic cosmos. My world mirrors each and every one of you in some fashion. I have lived the life that many of you struggle with today. Some of you realize it, yet most of you don’t. I have to help you see what I didn’t at first before it’s too late: before your hourglass empties.

So I must write my life on paper. I have to spill my story; breathe it out so that you may breathe it in. I’m alive today, atoned and free because of what I’ve lived through. I’m alive today, because redemption exists even in the darkest shadows of your mortality. I’m living proof.

~ A. Moretti

How do you “feed” your demons? Stop pointing fingers, and turn your finger towards yourself. Change from the inside out. For when you change, your image just might change someone else’s. Now where’s my Carmex….

 

In love with Carmex, Imagine Dragons, and the realization that change starts from within ~

VSK

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

Las Vegas, Where For Art Thou? Seriously…Where Are You?!

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Las Vegas with my better half is in 11 days. Thank you, sweet, beloved, amazingly awesome JESUS!

I know you’re wondering what the heck the picture is above, and what it has to do with Vegas. Nothing, actually. But it was today’s science project with Little A. He’s learning about ecosystems in science, so we decided to make our very own ecosystem. It’s kinda cool, actually. It’s like a separate little world within a mason jar. Tiny people live in there. I’m kidding…It’s not Avatar, folks….

My son is smitten with his “planet”. My dog on the other hand, hates it. She has been staring at it for an hour. I have no idea why. I guess she wishes she could live inside the jar. Dogs are weird. Especially mine. Sometimes she watches the dust float around in the air when the sun filters through our living room windows just right. I have a feeling her head isn’t screwed on tight enough. Or maybe she just wishes she was a scientist. Like Phineas and Ferb. Now those two dudes are COOL.

Then there’s  me. I’m a mess. Not in terms of “causing trouble”, at least not today…

But in terms of my body is a complete disaster area. So I tried to be this crafty mom last Thursday. I took the boys and met a friend of mine and her son at a nature preserve across town to take pictures. I’m too cheap to pay for a real photographer, so I thought I’d do my own work. I have to say, I think I did pretty good, but I’m being paid back for being crafty. Dang it. Never again.

By Saturday morning I had large red welts that itched like holy heaven along my torso and back. Even my armpits. Joy.

Mosquito bites? Nah, too easy. Try chigger bites. I haven’t had chigger bites in like, 30 years. I forgot how freakin’ awful they are too. I mean, re-donk.

Then my kids start complaining they itch, and they are covered as well. NOTHING CURES CHIGGER BITES.

I have tried everything except cutting them off with a steak knife. That’s next…

My husband has been working like a fool for the past week. That’s a whole other story I won’t get into. But his schedule has been brutal. So Saturday afternoon, with my chigger bites in tow, I mowed the lawn. No biggie. I’ve done it before. Sometimes mowing with my headphones on is therapy. I needed a distraction from the awful itchiness…you feel me?

Saturday night, my lower back feels like someone kicked me repeatedly with a pair of old cowboy boots. It hurts. Aleve does nothing. Not even Aleve taken with a glass of wine. Maybe two glasses.

I go to bed. I can’t turn over. If I try, my breath leaves my lungs when my muscles tense. I NEVER have back problems. Word up?!

I sleep terrible. My husband snores. I think about things in the dark. Like, if someone breaks in tonight and tries to kill me, they will. My back hurts too much to move.

I need to pee. I refuse to get out of bed. I finally give in after half an hour of trying to talk myself out of it. It takes me ten minutes to scoot off the side of the bed. By the time I get back from the bathroom half an hour later, I’m wide awake. Getting back into bed takes another ten minutes. This is what old must feel like. I hate it. I think about ordering a Hoveround and Life Alert. Maybe these things really ARE awesome…

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(Do you like the spotted background? I did it as an honor to my chigger bites that make me want to chew my skin off.)

Today things aren’t much better. At 2pm this afternoon, I announce to my kids that I’m going to take a bath. They look at me weird.

Big A – “It’s the middle of the day.”

I nod.

Big A – “So, like, when was the last time you actually USED that bathtub, Mom?”

Me – “Probably 3 or 4 years ago.”

Middle A – “Does the whirlpool tub still ACTUALLY work?” I shrug. Guess we’ll find out whether or not I get electrocuted when I push the power button.

I hobble off, bent over like an old woman, scratching her chigger bites.

I fill the tub. I grab a book, a glass of tea, some chocolate covered raisins and some old bubble bath I found stuffed in the back of my bathroom cabinet. Does bubble bath go bad? I sniff it. Smells fine. A little “cabinet” like, but it’ll do. I figure, if I’m going to take a bath in the middle of the day on a Monday, I might as well make it count.  We’re going all out, folks.

Fifteen minutes in, I break out in a sweat. This is why I hate taking baths. They make you sweat. What’s the point of even bathing if you’re going to sweat through the whole darn thing?

I wipe my brow and continue reading while I eat my snack. The jets feel heavenly on my back. Thirty minutes later I have to get out, or risk suffering a heat stroke.

So where is Vegas?! Seriously…Where.Is.It? I can’t wait to leave. To get out of here and pretend to be someone else for a while. You know you do the same when you go to Vegas, don’t lie.

You leave work behind, family, friends, kids, chores, dirty toilets…and it’s epic.

You lay by the pool and read uninterrupted, and drink something vodka infused and fruity at 9am without ever blinking an eye.

You sleep in. You wave at strangers and eat Subway sandwiches at three in the morning just because you can. And that sandwich costs you $900 dollars (that’s Vegas pricing), but it tastes better than any Subway sandwich back home. Ever.

You go to see a show at 10pm at The Mirage, and drink Red Bull to stay awake because you’re old and you can’t stay up past ten anymore without nodding off during a re-run of ‘Cheers’.

You laugh, eat, reminisce and fall in love all over again with your better half. I do, each and every time. We are so alike. We enjoy being together, making fun of people in the shops of Caesar’s Palace, ordering room service while getting dressed to GO OUT and eat again, playing $.01 slot machines and winning nothing, but it doesn’t matter because you’re together.

And this is why I love Las Vegas. Because it’s just the two of us. That’s it. It’s that simple. We love our yearly trip to this crazy city just to reignite the “crazy” in both of us. Because life is short. And it’s worth living, savoring…all of it. So that’s what we do. Together.

Hopefully by the time we leave, the dog will have stopped staring at the terrarium, and my back and bites will have dissipated. One can only hope. I have eleven days. Eleven days to buy that Hoveround….

Itchin’ and Hurtin’ For Vegas ~

VSK

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

Don’t Live In The “Ugly”

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Find grace and use it.

There is alot of “ugly” in the world. “Ugly” you can’t run from, and honestly…why would you want to?

If you only live for the calm of the storm, you will find yourself incredibly unhappy in life. For when you place yourself in the eye of the storm, you are creating opportunities to erase the “ugly”.

“Ugly” can be defined on a religious, political, opinionated platform on what you view as being right or wrong in life. Yet more often than not, “ugly” is used to hurt others to prove a point without giving thought of how it may affect their world or yours, for that matter.

I am human. I have my beliefs, my opinions…the gift of thinking, living and achieving what I believe in. Just like you.

Yet so many of us forget that we are one in the same. Sometimes I am guilty as charged. This is not a post to point fingers. It’s a post to help alleviate the “ugliness” I find seeping into the filters of my life and those that I love, and it hurts.

Humans. We are built to love, to honor, and to respect others despite our differences. What you say isn’t always right. What I say isn’t always right. Let’s all remind ourselves of this.

This is why I am a keeper of my own mind. One who respectively desires to stay out of heated arguments or hollywood news reporting. My thoughts remain mine, shared only when eyes are closed and my Father guides me within prayer.

You can love even when you don’t agree. For judgement should never seep from your mouth. When it does, the web is spun, trapping you within temptation to cast affliction on another because what you see, others should see too. Believe what you believe, agree with you, understand you…We are all guilty of this at one time or another. Sometimes we just KNOW we are right. Perhaps we are. But at times, perhaps we are NOT.

In a world so full of hate, misguidance, selfishness, it is easy to push back with extreme force to prove a point. To litigate a matter.

But have you forgotten what else this world has to offer as well? There is still goodness here if you’ll look for it. And, there is reason to do good.

Together. Hope, gratefulness, thankfulness…LIFE. You have been given life to enlighten another. Even when you don’t see eye to eye with someone, instead of challenging it, cherish it. It makes you, YOU.

There is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in, but one must remember to do it with a humble heart, or it will bleed with excruciating hate.

For who are we to judge?

Matthew 7:1

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Food for thought ~

VSK