Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thankful in Every Moment

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all my American friends!  Though some see it as National 'Let's Eat Turkey and Watch Football Day', Thanksgiving truly is about being thankful not just for that day, but everyday.  And not just in the good days either, in the hard days, in the dark times, there are things to be thankful for there as well...but I'll get to that part later.

This weekend has been a whirlwind of family bonding time on multiple levels, across multiple generations, and in multiple locations.  I love the holidays, but sometimes we are rush, rush, rushing to be everywhere that we miss out on where we are!  Luckily, though there were a few hectic times, overall things were good.

Thursday started with baking two pumpkin pies, making an Almond Joy Pudding Pie, and a cheese ball.  Right after I made that cheese ball, I left the room to check on laundry, and when I came back our dog Tigger was nose deep into the bowl!  So that run to the store for the contents was for naught as we got nada of it.  He seemed to enjoy it though!

Later that night, we gathered at my mother's house.  My brother, his wife, and their three daughters came down from Northern Michigan.  My sister, her husband, and four of their seven children were there as well.  This Thanksgiving it was me, my honey, and my kiddo Jake, thought Rich's two girls were definitely missed.  As usual, the men sat around and watched football or played games on their phones.  My five nieces all played together or took photos for their Snapchats and IG pages.  My mom, sister, SIL, and I sat around the kitchen island finishing the food and catching up on life.  For all of us to be together on Thanksgiving is rare, but it was so much fun.

Friday morning rolled around and I stayed far away from any Black Friday mayhem.  In my home, the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas holiday and the day I put up all my decorations.  I got the tree up and got ready to put on the lights, only to discover that half of every strand was burnt out!!  That put a halt to the tree for a day, but, hey, I got some new lights out of it.

We finished the tree yesterday afternoon, with some help from my youngest (hopefully) future step-daughter, and the Dolly and Kenny "Once Upon A Christmas soundtrack.  Our family ornaments always go up first, front and center, then the miscellaneous.  This is our first Christmas since Rich's father passed away unexpectedly this past April.  To honor him, we placed a photo of him among the branches as well as hung his dog tags from the tree (he served in the Army during Vietnam).  He loved the holiday and will be so missed.

After I took a pause on Friday from decorating, my family once again came together, in addition to my aunt, uncle, niece, her fella, and my great nephew. This time it was to visit the zoo.  I live new Toledo, Ohio and every year the #ToledoZoo does a #lightsbeforechristmas event where the entire zoo is decorated in millions of Christmas lights.  It is so beautiful and this year the weather was agreeable to walking around after dark, I think even at it's coldest it was still high 30s/low 40s.  Perfect weather for gloves, scarfs, and a warm cup of hot chocolate as we walked around and saw the animals and the amazing job they do with the lights.  Once we'd walked the entire zoo, roughly 2 hours later, we all went to a great pizza place downtown Toledo called Pizza Papalis. One word - amazing!  And the waitress did a great job taking care of our rambunctious party of 18 people!  It was a fun packed night full of selfies and laughter and just what the holidays should be about!  The only thing missing was Jake and Rich's girls, but next year we will take them too!

Saturday morning started before 7am for us.  Tis' the season - wrestling season!  Yesterday, bright and early, Jake had his first scrimmage of the year.  I had to pick him up from his dad's before 8am by driving 30 minutes east, then we had to go to the school where the scrimmage was, another 35 minutes northwest from there.  Jake did amazing!  He's been out of wrestling for 2 years due to moving to his dad's and then moving back, but you'd never know it by how he performed.  He held his own every match, five total, and never got pinned a single time!  There is nothing more I love in life than to see him out there doing what he loves.  I am a proud #wrestlingmom for sure.  The photo above is just some of the gym where they were scrimmaging.  There were at least 30-40 pairs wrestling at a time.  Sure, it through a wrench in any plans to travel for the holiday, but there was no where else I'd rather be than watching my kiddo do his thing!

Once the scrimmage was over, plans changed several times unexpectedly and we didn't find our way back home until after 3pm.  We had just enough time to watch #OSU beat Michigan!  For us Buckeye fans, we were pretty happy, thought it was a stressful 2 overtimes to get the win!  We all got changed and then went to my aunt's house.  In my mom's family, they all get together for a big family meal.  Usually it is on the actual holiday, but there were issues this year with planning it and it was put on last minute....after my mom already had plans made with out extended brood.  But me being me, I want to please everyone and go...so go I did.

I love my family, I love sharing stories and catching up.  This year was extra special as my cousin Shawna was there.  For the last twenty years, she has not been around much due to her soon-to-be-ex...but that's a different story. Regardless, she was there this time and it felt like we were kids all over again.  Growing up, Shawna wasn't just my older cousin (by less than a year), she was my big sis and best friend.  When we both went to college, we lost some contact.  Thanks to Facebook we've reconnected years ago, but hadn't seen each other in at least 5 years.  I have missed her so much and can't wait to catch up again at Christmas!!  Not to mention, we are already making plans for a girls weekend in May to see our teenage favorites of #NewKidsontheBlock along with #BoyIIMen and #PaulaAbdul!!!

After a few hours of visiting, we left and went back to my mom's where they had gathered to enjoy leftovers and a mega family game night.  We were several hours late (because again I went to the extended family gathering that was schedule after we'd already made plans).  But, we were still in time for a few hours of fun.  The kids played a few rounds of #pieintheface and then the grown-ups took on the kids in several games of #FamilyFeud.  Now, don't go thinking we pulled a fast one on them, because those kids held there own for sure!  It was so much fun that our sides were hurting by time it was over from all the laughter.  I can't even put into words or count so high as to the memories made in those last three days.

And then this morning came...

Remember when I said to be thankful even in the dark times?  Right now my mom's family is going through a dark time.  My grandmother passed away 11 years ago and though we have mostly held the family together, this year in particular, there has been a lot of tension between her kids (my mom, aunts, and uncles).  There are seven kids total.  Though one uncle distanced himself years ago, some of his children still stay involved.  Anyway, this morning a group text went out and some of us 'grandkids' were included, subjecting us to a tension we want no part of.  Feelings were hurt, or hurt more, and things have become even worse.  I go to all the events, mostly because I feel obligated to the family, even if it spreads me super thin with my own blended family.  So though I thought I was doing the right thing last night by going to avoid drama, I still got dragged into it!  AARRGGHH!!!

BUT....even in that ugliness, I still am thankful....because of being agitated by it and all the follow-up texts, I was antsy, so I got outside, into the beautiful 60 degree late November weather, and took the frustration out on my flowerbeds.  So thanks to drama, I found release in making my yard prettier, I enjoyed the sun, I even more enjoyed the soothing shower afterward, and now I am ready to get to writing my for my #nanowrimo!  Had there not been that chain of nasty texts, I would have probably procrastinated and sat in my jammies all day and just thought about working outside, or taking a shower for that matter.

So I repeat, find the good in it all.  I could have ranted about going out of my way to get my son before wrestling, but I saw it as more time with him, I could have gone off on so many plan changes yesterday, but it allowed us to get Lanie for the night and spend more time with her.  Always, always, always, there is something to be thankful for.  Whether it's big or small.

This the season to give thanks, to show appreciation, and to share the joy with others.  So don't get bogged down by the drama and the tension.  There is so much more to enjoy than all that.  Let the drama-makers be unhappy, that is on them.







Sunday, November 20, 2016

Progress - A Little Bit Can Go A Long Way

Hello, Hello!

I guess I took that cutting back on social media to heart for #NaNoWriMo since it's been a few weeks from my last post.  But I have been writing so that is a plus!  Last Sunday alone I read through over 60 pages I'd already written and added another 3500+ words to my goal of 50K.  As of today I am sitting at just over 20K....with 10 days to go, I have a lot of writing left.

The good news is that I have made it to every write-in held by my local NaNoWriMo group, even the 6am event on my day off!  It's been great to talk to other writers who's minds work more similarly to mine, who understand my weird quirks and appreciate where I am at in my journey.

And it truly is a journey, just like life, the writing path has twists and turns and bumps along the way.  I've amazed myself at how I initially thought 1700 words a day would be hard, but when I get in the grove I can easily get it accomplished in an hour!

It's like when you first start running and you get that bust of energy and you feel like you can crush it....but then you get cramps and slow down and think about giving up.  Yeah, that's been me too.  "Oh I'll just skip this day since I did so good yesterday"....multiply that by several days and then I am feeling like I'll never reach my goal.

The thing is, when I stop looking at that ultimate destination and just enjoy the journey I see that I've written 20K words in less than three weeks!  According to the NaNoWriMo stats I've actually done all the writing in 12 days of word counts!  That's a pretty amazing fete.  I own that accomplishment.

I've also began to make time to write.  The local library is open until 8pm on Tuesday and Thursday.  The writing group is meeting on Tuesday nights this month, but I take it upon myself to also go to the library on Thursday to enjoy a few hours of silent writing.  Writing at my home office is fine, but there are so many distractions.  I am loving those few hours to just focus and I may actually start making it a routine, as well as Saturday afternoons.

Don't get me wrong, I love my writing space at home and would much rather work there, but some
times it just doesn't work.  Like this weekend.  We not only have my son and my boyfriend's daughters all weekend, we also have my niece and nephew.  That is a ten year old, two eleven year olds, and two sixteen year olds.  Add in the 3 dogs, 2 cats, and one very loud television and well it's not gone well.  This blog here may be all I get to until all the kiddos (except mine since he lives here) go home.  Love it when we have all of them, and any bonus kids, but also need my quiet time.

Anyway, the book is coming along nicely.  At the very last moment - for real - I decided to shelf the racy book I'm 140 pages into and return to a book I'd neglected for the last two years - it's the second book in the Small Town Series.  Previously it was titled Down For the Count, but I've changed it ...and I actually may change it yet again before the release so I won't say the working title.

I was only 30 pages into that book when I started NaNoWriMo, but I am now well over 100!!!  I've not written it is sequential order, but just started writing the scenes that were most visual in m mind.  Last Sunday, I went back through and started to piece the puzzle together and now I am filling in the gaps...writing the scenes that aren't really spectacular but are necessary to move the story along.  It isn't my favorite part, but, again, it's all part of the process.

I know I have a few major scenes left and I'm excited....like the first time they make love, the way they work through something that could tear them apart, and how their happily-ever-after comes to fruition. It's a story about overcoming the past and finding love is right there in front of you if you just see things differently....at least that's how it works out for Lily and Ty.

I better stop writing this blog post for today and get back to working on the book.  I hope you are all having a wonderful November, it's my favorite month to reflect on all I am thankful for - of which there is a plethora of things to list.  I pray you take time today to remember your blessings, even the ones that were in disguise, and enjoy where you are in your  progression through life.

Thank you for taking time to read my posts, my books, follow me on social media, and enjoy my work that truly is a reflection of my heart.  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

NaNoWriMo or bust!

It's official....I have signed up for this years NaNoWriMo!!  If you haven't heard of it yet, it's National Novel Writing Month and it's been happening for the last few Novembers.  NaNoWriMo is there to help writers focus on their craft.  The goal is to write 50,000 words during November, or roughly just under 1,700 a day.  There are prizes for those who complete the challenge, but really for me it is to help me get back at what I love.

I'm sure you've noticed, but I've been MIA a lot this year.  At the end of last year I decided 2016 was going to be my year to focus on my health, but I never expected it would take so much effort or how the term 'health' wasn't just about the number on the scale.  It's kind of a long story, but if you want to see some videos of me talking about it than check out my YouTube channel HERE.

Anyway, I became almost obsessive about things and with all my focus there, I neglected other things that matter to me.  And truth be told, when I am writing, I am not eating junk or thinking about food.  Had I done things right and focused on the things I truly love, I probably would have had more success with the scale (down only 10lbs this entire year of yo-yoing!!).

Hence the NaNoWriMo participation.  I need to write, I want to write, I yearn to write.  I've registered on their website (nanowrimo.org), I've signed up with a local group to meet at the library a few times during November, I've even notified my family about being less visible on social media until I hit my daily goals.  I am committed!

Also, to help me not only get on track for November, but to carry it through the rest of the year and all of 2017, I found myself a planner....the Happy Planner. I'm setting myself a social media schedule to make sure I am keeping up with posting about my writing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest...and of course writing every Sunday in this blog.  Sundays I will be posting everywhere, but throughout the week I will try to post to at least one or two platforms a day.  Make sure you follow me everywhere as content will not always be identical!

Organization is key and for me I love having tasks that I can highlight as completed when done...in a life where I feel I am not productive at times, it makes me see how much I actually am doing to progress my writing and my goals.  With the 50k word count, I should be right about to the finish line for one of the works in progress I have in the wings right now.  Hopefully this time next month I will be happily reporting that the book has been pushed through to my editor and setting a release date.

Until next Sunday,  enjoy your week, follow your passion, and surround yourself in joy.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Summer Reading Savings!!!

I can't believe it's been a month already since my last post!  For some reason this year is getting away from me!!!

We've officially hit the center of the year and I'm determined to make these last 6 months much more successful than the first 6 months in all areas - my health, my writing, my time with others.

One of the ways I'm getting this writing train back on the tracks is participating in Smashwords JULY SUMMER/WINTER SALE where a lot of writers are discounting 25%, 50%, 75% and some even FREE!!!

Click HERE to view my profile with links to all my books.  Each book will give you the discount code needed to receive a discount!!!



Now through July 31st







I have a few more surprises up my sleeve this month and I will be announcing those as things unfold. In the meantime, enjoy your Independence Day weekend!!!






Friday, May 27, 2016

What I learned from 5 days away from Social Media

In an attempt to focus on other things like my health, fitness, and writing, this week I banned myself from checking into my social media feeds.  This meant no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, and even no Pinterest.  In the process, I learned a few things about me.

1 - I didn't magically have more "free time".  For some reason I thought if I stopped wasting time on Social Media that I would have all this extra time to do stuff like go for a walk, enjoy a book, get some writing in, have a game night with the family.  But the truth is, just because I gave up one thing, it doesn't mean I had extra time.

The truth is .....

2 - There will always be something to take your attention - Even without hours of mindless scrolling and liking and commenting, there were still things that took my attention.  I seemed to pay more attention to the television.  And though I did laugh more genuinely at the shows, it wasn't as if I was trading social media for something, oh I don't know - more productive, maybe.  I filled my time with mindless entertainment and didn't get any further to my goals this week any more than I would with all the social media stuff.

3 - I like knowing what is going on in the lives of people I like, love, admire.  After taking most of the week away, I realized this morning with my first scroll through that I actually do like knowing how my friends are doing, I like being able to post embarrassing photos of my family or harass my son where all his friends can see, I like knowing what things are inspiring others. I realize that social media is the modern day letters from home. It's how we connect with our loved ones in other towns, states, countries, it makes them feel not so far away.

4 - It all comes down to time management. This is it. Today, this moment, this is all we get.  How we spend our time now determines how we spend our life in a month, a year, a decade.... I don't want to waste any more of my time on mindless things.  I want to interact and engage myself with the people that matter to me, I want to motivate and inspire, I want to live the life I dream about.  And none of  that will happen any faster unless I get serious about how I allot my time.  There is a time and place for everything (even guilty pleasure television), but it comes down to putting it in it's correct place.


So, after all this time away, here is what I have decided.

  •  Next week I'm saying goodbye to the television and even Netflix while I am at work or at home.  Especially at home, those hours at night could be used for other things (like the flowerbeds that are strangling and screaming through the weeds to give them air).
  • Social Media is fine - in moderation.  Checking in every hour or every 10 minutes doesn't use my time wisely.  Setting aside an hour a night to browse through can get me just as caught up.
  • I can't bitch and complain about not getting my books out there if I'm not really doing my part to get them out there.  I have to put in the time!
  • Same goes with my health.  I can't despise the scale at weigh-in if I've not done any exercises or made better food choices.  I have to put in the work - I have to put one foot in front of the other and walk, run, jog, bike my way to my goals.
  • Just because I am not doing the same thing as my family, doesn't mean I am being anti-social.  It just means I have a different focus than they do.  My guy loves his television at night, and though I complain, it's okay if that's his thing.  I can sit right beside him with a book or a notepad or my laptop, put my earbuds in to drown out the noise, and do my own thing, even while in the same room.
  • It's okay to not be a slave to the cell phone....put it on vibrate.  Hell, turn it off sometimes and get out and enjoy the damn day!  This time of year I love it because we camp on the weekends and I don't get service at our camper so I can leave my phone and enjoy my family, or a book, or a nap!
If you have felt like there isn't enough time in the day, I advise you to look and see what you are giving your time to.  Is it pursuing those dreams and goals you have for yourself? Is it surrounding yourself with people you love, people that lift you up and motivate you? Or are you allowing your time and energy to be sucked out of you by negative people, bad habits, unhealthy choices, or energy wasting tasks.

Like I said earlier.  THIS. IS. IT.  I am not where  I want to be, but I know I am so much better than where I was a few years ago - mentally, physically, and any other -ally thing you can think of.  IT all comes down to what we give our attention to.

This morning, I woke up with a saying from Rumi going through my mind. Every day I try to be better than yesterday. Every day I try to get closer to the Amy I envision myself to be.  Every day I rise with a hopeful heart, believing good things are coming.

How will you rise today?













P.S.  I'm sorry to have disappeared the first part of this year, my focus has been on being healthier, but I promise I will be making this blog a bigger part of my journey...stay tuned as this place gets remodeled!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

60% Off Sale....just because!


Now through Friday
All my books are only $1.20 each over at Smashwords!!!

Copy the coupon code and click the image for each book!  (sorry, each book does have a separate code)!


Use coupon Code: SU79H

Avery is the quintessential Midwestern girl who relocates to San Diego after a nasty divorce. She’s done with letting fear (or a man) lead her life. But mysterious Damien has other plans for her heart.

Damien's spent the last four years in a downward spiral. But the feisty Avery ignites something in him. Their happiness depends on believing in love more than fears that could destroy everything. 











Use coupon Code: FE26G

PLAYING WITH FIRE follows the intertwining paths of Noelle Dupre and Officer Trent Torres. Noelle is on the run from the abusive ex-boyfriend she left behind in Arkansas. Trent has been a ladies man for the better part of his life. When Noelle meets Trent, it isn't his ability to uphold the law that she doesn't trust, it's the pounding in her heart and the thoughts running through her head. 










Use coupon Code: NL55B              

What happens when the 'one that got away' wants you back? Dane walked away from Myra four years ago, thinking he wasn't the man she needed. But time has only proven one thing - she's the woman he needs.

Myra has moved on with life and healed the hurt Dane's leaving caused, but one look at him and those feelings come back. Can she trust him with her heart again or will he take it and run?