Friday, August 24, 2012

Giving Up

It's incredibly hard for me to give up once I have a notion in my head. I've always been that way. Although I like to joke that persistence should be my middle name, the truth is that I can be downright obsessive. There are good points to this characteristic and horrible points to this characteristic. The honest truth is that there have been so many times when I ignored all the clues that I should give up on something or someone, and I ignored those clues only to end up very very hurt in the end.

This has happened more times than I really care to admit. Whether it was a business idea, a story plot, even relationships...there have been times I pressed on when I should have given up before I got my hopes up too much. I'm just thick...hard-headed...stubborn.

Well, I have GOT to learn when to cut bait.

Today I feel very much like giving up. I don't feel like finishing a drawing, a story, or anything else. Life is probably harder now than it has ever been...not that it's ever been easy or kind to begin with.

I may feel completely different tomorrow...or even later this evening. After all, the old saying that hope floats is just plum true. But at this moment, I feel tired and sad. I know I am probably just having a bad day. It happens. But at this point, I'm kind of sick of trying.

Doesn't anyone else ever feel like you've tried too hard and it's time to stop trying?

Maybe I just need to find another path. I'll pray that God will give me a better vision. Just not sure if writing is for me after all.

Friday, July 6, 2012

How Working with Raw Jalapenos Will Jack Your Stuff Up and Other Lessons Learned in My Kitchen!

So, sometimes I like to cook. Or rather I like to try stuff out and experiment and generally goof off. Sometimes I get bored with the same old stuff I normally make and wonder what would happen if I just threw some junk together. I've also been known to scour sites like for some good ideas or Pinterest. I like to try new things. I just hate to clean up afterward.

Well, this week I have a couple of recipes to talk about. One recipe I made up myself. It's a variation of my Mom's goulash...okay, it's a whole different thing altogether, but the idea came from my mom's goulash. The other two are what happened last night when I tried out two recipes from All of the food turned out awesome. I will include my Mexican Goulash recipe here and the link to the other two well as photos of my endeavors.

First off, the other night I wanted something quick and easy, so I asked my mom about her goulash. It sounded pretty good to me. I had the stuff to make it. So, I gave it a shot. Well, I tweaked it here and there, and this is my finished product. I hope you will try it and like it as much as we did. It will be included in our normal menu rotation from now on.

Lisa's Mexican Goulash
1-2 lbs of Ground Beef (depends on how much meat you like)
Pasta (whatever you want. We used whole wheat Rotini)
2 cans of tomato sauce
1 can of green beans
1 can of corn
oregano, cumin, salt and pepper, season salt, garlic powder, onion powder (or you could use a real onion cooked in with the beef. I used the powder b/c my husband doesn't like onions), chili powder, lemon pepper,  Ranch dip mix
Shredded Cheese
Tortilla chips.

Brown the beef and drain. You can season the meat with salt and pepper if you wish, but don't be heavy handed. While you brown up the beef, place the pasta in boiling water and cook until tender. The time depends on what kind of pasta you choose. After the pasta is cooked (I would make it just a little under cooked as it will continue to cook in the skillet) and the beef is browned, combine the beef, pasta, corn, green beans and tomato sauce into a big, deep skillet. Also, put about half a can of water in each can of tomato sauce to not only add liquid to the food but also to get out the excess sauce from each can. Also, remember to drain the veggies before adding them. Take all of the above seasonings and season to your tastes. Be careful. That's a lot of spices, and if you get too heavy handed it may be too salty or just too spicy. Use your discretion. Simmer all together for about 10 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips and cheese. I prefer shredded cheddar cheese, but the night I made this, I was out. So, we substituted slices of American cheese. We just broke up a slice and put it on top. It melted up beautifully and tasted GREAT!

We loved this dish. My kids really loved it. They love what they call "Mexican Night." My husband added crushed red pepper flakes to his, and you could also add on some jalapenos if you wanted to give it a bit more kick.

Speaking of jalapenos. I found a couple of recipes online that I could not wait to try out. Well, the thing is, I was trying to think of something good to take to a get together next week.  I will be meeting a few new people, and I am honest enough to admit that I want to make a good impression. I just need to bring a snack of some sort or finger food. But I want to take something that I think people will enjoy. I am still not sure what to take, but in my search for ideas I came across two recipes I made for my family last night. One of which, had me working with raw jalapenos. Let me say, before last night I don't think I've ever even touched a raw jalapeno in my life! I won't again with bare hands and will be sure to have lots of ventilation.

The first thing I made were Jalapeno Snacks (find recipe right HERE). Just the photo on had my mouth watering. I told my son, "Everything is better wrapped in bacon." He replied, "I know, right!?!" He's almost 7, and he already knows a good thing when he sees it. I couldn't wait to make these. I got out my ingredients. I washed the peppers and started halving and seeding them. Suddenly, my mouth, throat, and chest started to burn and tickle. I started wheezing and coughing. I was having a scary time trying to breathe. I had NO IDEA those things would do that to me. I actually had to take a couple of hits off my inhaler and switch off with my husband for awhile and let him seed the rest. I took an allergy pill (I had NO clue why this was happening to me), and when my finger touched my lips and tongue, they started to burn. In fact, the little pill also burned my tongue from its contact with my fingers. I had already washed my hands two or three times at this point. That's when I remembered I should have worn gloves. I thanked God in Heaven that I didn't accidentally touch my eyes!

Well, I mixed up the cream cheese filling and cut the bacon slices in half, but when it came time to stuff those peppers, I remembered to put on some gloves. Also, the recipe calls for a broiling pan. I don't own one. So, I improvised the best I could. The tops turned out toasty and good, but the underside was a bit under cooked and greasy. I think next time I will find a better way. These peppers were a huge hit. My family loved them. Well, Ben ate the bacon off of them and left the rest of it, and Shelby scraped out the cheese filling and just ate the bacon and peppers...but everyone ELSE loved them. ;-)

I also made what they call "Farmhouse Barbecue Muffins" (find recipe right HERE). I will make these often!!! Although I do like the BBQ sauce the recipe lays out, I think I'm just lazy enough to use store bought bottled sauce next time I make these. The recipe turned out just a tad sweet for me. It was good though. These are like sloppy joes in a biscuit. With cheese. Everything is better with cheese...or bacon...or both!

The photo above are the BBQ muffins fresh out of the oven. These will become a staple. The Jalapeno Snacks from above will be saved for special occasions as I am too lazy to do those often. Not to mention, they kind of freaked me out with the wheezing and coughing and having to leave the room over and over to get away from them. But, I've been told that either roasting the peppers or soaking them in ice water for a couple of hours will take the heat away and make them easier to work with.

Here's the finished plate! I hope you are inspired to try some new stuff this week. Maybe even one of these recipes!

My plate. Very filling by the way.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Random Crap I Wish

I'm a dreamer. I confess. I've always been the kind to daydream throughout the day or to just have goofy random thoughts. Admit it. You do it too. I believe we all do. So! Here is a list of random crap I find myself wishing. Enjoy...or tolerate...or just move on to a different blog. Whatever.

1.) I wish I was half the rock star I am in my own head.  Come on. You do it, don't ya? Listen to a song on the radio and imagine being the one singing your heart out in front of millions of people. I do. If I could just get over the nerves and let go...I could totally rock out a stadium. Well...I wish.

Riley and her cute little ears.
2.) I wish I had cute little ears like my daughter, Riley. I have a heck of a time getting comfy at night because I swear it feels like my ears are folding when I lay on my pillow. So uncomfortable. Big ears are worse than ugly...they're annoying.

3.) I wish I didn't have to shave my legs or...well, anything else. Guys have it so easy. They just have to shave their faces, and a lot don't even bother with that much maintenance. A woman will shave everything from the neck down (well, depending on what needs it. lol). Or she would if she had my genes. My father could pass for part grizzly bear...or polar now that he's old. And with summer here, you can't hide that stubble under jeans. Shaving sucks, but the alternative is much worse. This girl likes to be smooth and I'll keep the razors. I don't like wax...won't even go there.

4.) I wish I could have J-Lo's body without all the work that J-Lo puts into it. How awesome would it be to have the cut abs, the awesome booty, etc...and still drink soda and eat lots of ice cream? That would be so freaking sweet! However, not gonna happen. So, I will keep trying to get there the hard way...the only way. I probably won't ever get quite there...after all, chocolate donuts are my kryptonite.

5.) Along that same vein, I wish I were darker complected. I would love to be naturally tan. But noooo...I am so English/Irish that I'm also German. Yep. I'm one of the whitest white people you will ever meet. That translates to lots of burns and freckles when I spend time in the sun. I might eventually tan, but the sun damage will be extensive, freckly, and ugly...and dangerous. I prefer to stay away from skin cancer, thank you very much. Guess I'll either stay white or deal with the fake tan...creams, not sprays. Whole different catastrophe there.

Fearless Shelby and not-so-fearless Ben
6.) I wish I was as fearless as my daughter, Shelby Belle. She amazes me. She sings at the top of her lungs. She dances to the tunes in her head. She says what she thinks, and she follows her convictions without regard to what anyone else thinks about them. She's awesome! I wish I were half as awesome as Shelby.

Ben and his beautiful eyes.
7.)I wish I had my son's eyes. Ben has the most beautiful eyes on the planet. Just saying.

8.)  I wish I could star in an action movie but one with lots of emotion, drama, and butt kicking. Yes. I wish I was a super hero, Meryl Streep, and Helen Mirren all rolled into one. Does that mean that I wish I was Hugh Jackman?

9.) I wish I had a condo in the tropics where I could take my family and friends on vacation three or four times a year. Nothing humorous to add. That's just a straight up wish.

10.) I wish I had the metabolism I had at 18, the self-confidence I had at 8, and the wisdom I have now...or rather the wisdom I will have 20 years from now. Yeah, buddy. I would be freaking awesome.

11.) I wish I was a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, friend...woman. Still working on so much. I still have so far to go. But, I am trying to improve and be a person I would be proud to know and love. Trying.

12.) I wish I hadn't gotten so sick on Bryan wienies and cherry Kool-Aid when I was a little kid. I wouldn't eat hot dogs for years after that, and even today I am not a fan of those red hot least not paired with red Kool-Aid. Aren't you glad I shared?

13.) I wish I had pursued that acting career I wanted in my 20's...or at least that I had a few novels written by now. It's all well and good to wish and dream, but at some point you gotta make that crap happen or move on. You know. Fish or cut bait.

14.) I wish a lot of stuff...I wish I didn't wish so stinking much.

I could probably come up with a dozen more silly wishes, but I think this is enough for one day. Now, I'm going to see what other wishes or dreams I can actually make happen. Why don't you think of a few random wishes and share them with your friends or family...make a Facebook note or write your own blog. Just a thought.

Catch ya later!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Within Ourselves

I recently came across this short little poem (I guess it's a poem) I wrote as a teenager. It was just this little thing that I remember jotting down because I was having a moment. One of those woe begone moments people in general (but especially women in their late teens or early 20's) tend to find themselves experiencing.  It got me thinking. Not that that's hard to do. I tend to go off on tangents.

Anyhow, it got me thinking about the subjects of loneliness and isolation. Tennessee Williams spoke of loneliness as an affliction that followed him his entire life. I think that if we are honest we could all admit to that. It's easy to feel lonely. You can feel lonely in a large city or a rural community. There's loneliness in our single life and sometimes (often times) even in marriage. I think it's just the nature of being human that we have seasons of loneliness. I think it can also become a way of life if we are not careful. It can become the very nature of our existence if we close ourselves up and do not allow others to share our journeys.

And isn't that the real problem? Don't we all have that within us? That tendency to stay within ourselves and to shut others out? We don't have time. We are busy. Perhaps we are with other people all the time but feel our voices are silent. Maybe others just wouldn't understand us if we revealed who we really are. Perhaps no one else cares to be a part of our journey. Can't that become a fear also? Whatever the reason, there comes a day or a dark night when our loneliness closes in on us. Even if we are not alone. Even if we have family and friends and a spouse who loves us. We still might open our eyes and realize that we've not really let others in. And time has passed us and we wonder how many missed opportunities lie on the road of our journey where we could have had something sweet or special, but we didn't recognize that moment. We were too focused on our day. We even shut our spouses out at times. Why?

Life goes by fast. We don't have to be lonely. I think opening up and letting others in takes practice and it takes forethought. I think it is a DELIBERATE process of scaling back the "busy" flurry of activity our days can become and making time to know and appreciate others.

I've been guilty. But I am trying to do better.

There's a song by Kathy Mattea (ms?) that states that we are "standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst." She's talking about how we let relationships lapse or we abort them before they are fully developed. And then we suffer with our own isolation.

Just a thought.

Anyway, here's that small little poem. A glimpse into my teen mind...and even to this day I can see where I am yet in this poem. Hmm...


Feeling the weight of my own loneliness.
Crying tears that no one else can see.
Staring through a window at a party
To which I wasn't invited.
Wondering what in the world is wrong with me.
Why do I feel this isolation?
Why does my heart beat out of sync?
Why am I different from those around me?
Like a book that no one cares to read.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Time Travel?

My grandparents, Thelma and George Seigrist
Have you ever wished you could travel through time? I'm sure everyone has. I know I have. There are many, many things I would do. There are MANY things I would love to go back in time and tell the younger me. Advice I would give...maybe a swift kick in the booty over a few things. But, then I start thinking of how my past has shaped who I am and how the steps I've taken on this path have led me to where I am. There are things in my life I want to change, but I would not want to have missed out on my family. I can't imagine taking another breath in this life without my babies. So, even my mistakes have worked for my good because even ONE different decision could have put me on a different that might not have included them. I can't even stand that thought.

So, maybe I wouldn't want to travel in time. Although, I sure would like to spend another day with my precious grandma. I miss her more than I can verbalize. I still can't believe she is gone. I miss her. I miss my sweet Daddy. I miss other precious members of my family who have gone on. So, the chance to spend time with those I love who are gone would make time travel a know...if it were possible.

But beyond traveling in your own lifetime, aren't there places and times you would like to visit? The old west? The Roman empire? What about traveling back to walk with Jesus while He was still on earth? That would be way cool. At least I think so.

Beyond the subject of time travel, I think about time in other ways. Sometimes I wish I had been born in another era. I think I would have made a great contemporary of my Grahm. She was born in 1926, so she was a young woman in the 40's and 50's. I think I would have loved living then. I would have fit in, I think. If I could  have been alive at that time, I think I would have taken a chance and moved to Hollywood. I would have definitely pursued a career in movies back then. How awesome would that have been? I just love the era of big bands and G.I. Joe's. Yes. I have an affinity for the 40's. I love the movies, the music, the romance of the time.

I am also a huge fan of the 50's. Talk about awesome music. Rock and Roll in its infancy. How wonderful! To see Elvis swinging those hips at a live show. To see his movies in a drive-in theater. Dude! That would rock! Who doesn't LOVE the 50's? I submit that those people might be a bit broken inside. Of course, I'm kidding. To each their own. I personally feel a deep and abiding connection to the 1940's and 1950's.

I think about earlier times also. I would have HATED living in any earlier than the 1920's. I would have hated that time era also truthfully. I like certain conveniences. Like pants. Women have really come a very long way over the last century. Even the skirts and dresses of the 30's, 40's, and 50's would have been more comfortable than those heavy suckers people wore before.
My Great-Grandfather, George Seigrist,
and his wife, Nellie (? I think. She wasn't my
ancestor, but I heard she was a lovely woman.)

Well, it doesn't really matter what time era I wish I lived in. I'm stuck here. And, some may argue (with much truth) that this is the most exciting time in human history to be alive. I am grateful for all of the blessings I sometimes take for granted as a member of my generation.

I was born in 1973, so I've got to experience bell bottoms (twice. They came back in the 90's) and 8 tracks. I got to grow up at skating rinks and ride bikes with banana seats. I never had to worry about Polio or many other diseases because I was fortunate enough to be vaccinated.

I grew up with cable and computers and air conditioning! Fast food! The internet!!!!! We have better options when it comes to medicine and health.

I've never had to work in a field picking cotton while my fingers bled like my Grandma did. I've been blessed with education about health care, so that I am better able to take care of myself. There really is so much to be grateful for. We are a spoiled lot really...those of us who are alive now or those who have yet to be born. The technologies we take for granted would be jaw dropping to our ancestors.

Anyway, I'm just rambling a bit. I do think it would have been cool to be able to visit the 40's and 50's and experience so many cultural and historical changes and shifts in society. But there are things I would have hated also. Things that I would not have wanted to live with. Like segregation. I like to think I would have had the courage to stand up and let my voice scream out at the injustice that the minority races in the country experienced. The limited and sometimes seemingly nonexistent rights and privileges of minority people, including women.  But truthfully, I just don't know if I would have or not. I struggle at times even in this day and age with feeling like a coward sometimes. But I like to think I would have done the right thing. I sure hope so.

As a woman, there are a lot of rights I take for granted, and there are certain things I would never put up with from other people. But there was a time when women were marginalized...that still happens today, but not to the extent it used to. Of course, I am talking about what it's like to be an American woman. I fully...and painfully...realize that there are still parts of the world where women and other minorities are still treated as property or subhuman. It happens. It's horrific.

Well, I am a product of my generation. And I guess that's okay.

What about you? Is there another time that you wish you could visit or even live?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Getting Friendly

I've been thinking recently about the subject of friends. How to make them. How to keep them. How to grow and nurture relationships. This is a hard subject for me. I don't make friends easily. I am a pro at making acquaintances. I am fairly outgoing and can chat up anyone. When I was a kid I was told that I'd never met a stranger. I have no fear of public speaking. I can speak to ten or a thousand (not that I've ever had to speak to a thousand people, but I have performed for several hundred at once), and I barely get nervous. That's just how I'm made. Put me in a group of people, and I will talk. Usually too much.

But friends? No. I am not good at the friend thing. I have a handful of people that I consider genuine friends, and yet I am not social with any of them. Not really. I have one especially close friend who is more like a mom to me than a girlfriend. And I rarely do anything social with her either. I guess I just really don't know what I'm doing.

Lately, this has started to irk me. I appreciate that I have a couple of people that I can turn to when I have heavy stuff on my mind, and they will listen, advise, and love on me. But I also know that I'm not a very good friend if the only time we really talk is when I have a problem. That's awful. It's selfish and one-sided. I think we need the social part. We need the gab on the phone ever once in a great while bit or to get together for a movie or lunch and just be girls. We need the laughs and the social interaction to balance out the crying on shoulders stuff. I haven't always done well in this area.

I am not antisocial...exactly...but I'm dang close. Part of it is just the stress and chaos of being married with kids. Not only am I not always available, but most other women I know are just as busy...(if not busier) I am. Part of my problem is that I am a loner at heart. I prefer my own company...until I don't. I like being alone most of the time, but I still need to get out and have some laughs with a good friend sometimes. The balance has been hard...okay, impossible for me to strike.

There's a dang good chance that this tracks back to childhood. As a kid I was self-confident, outgoing, and loved to goof off and play. I made friends super easily. Let's face it. It's just easier for kids to put themselves out there. We see people at school everyday and we have our groups. But as I got older it became harder and harder to connect with others.

First off, it's hard to make friends when you never know how long you are going to live anywhere. In 7th grade I went to Northside Jr. high; moved to Northwood Jr. High; moved back to Northside and then ended up at Cabot Jr. high. Yes, we moved 4 times in one school year! To top it off, I had started that year almost a month into the school year. I missed the school physical for athletics, and my parents didn't have the money to take me to see a doctor on our own to clear me for sports. We also could not afford the high top Nikes that were required for me to play sports at that school. So I was kicked out of athletics and put in P.E. That was a huge blow to me because I had been looking forward to playing basketball for my school.

See, that brings me to my other HUGE issue growing up. I don't just come from a poor family. I come from an impoverished family. As in, we weren't always sure we were going to be able to eat at night and a lot of times we had to stay with family members because my parents couldn't afford to keep us in a home of our own.

The first move we made that year of 7th grade (from Northside to Northwood) was because my folks had been evicted from our home and we had to stay with an Aunt and Uncle in another school district. They weren't just evicted. My Dad had made arrangements with the landlord there for more time, but the guy went back on his word and my parents got arrested for not vacating in the specified time. My sisters and brother and I sat in the police station waiting for my Aunt to pick us up. She took us back to her house, and I fell asleep on her big chair in the living room. That afternoon I woke up with my very first migraine. It was a nightmare.

Needless to say that I NEVER invited people to my home. I tried to keep all the turmoil of my home life away from kids at school. I was embarrassed. It was bad enough that we couldn't afford to dress like other kids, but I sure didn't want them to know that sometimes we didn't get to eat.

I can remember coming back to school after the holiday breaks with dread. People always wanted to know what you got for Christmas. I had a blanket reply of "Oh, this and that." I didn't want anyone to know that there were times we didn't get anything but a $5 sweatshirt. If that. Or that sometimes generous Aunts and Uncles would try to get us something. That kind of stuff is mortifying to kids. It was like that throughout my childhood and teens.

I couldn't go to the mall and hang out like other girls. I didn't have the money to go get a burger or chill at the skating rink. I couldn't go to a movie or the fair. We just never had any money.

So, I got good at keeping people at arms length.

And, 7th grade was not the only year we moved like that. It was commonplace in my world to move several times a year. The worst time for me was 8th grade. It started out awesome. We had moved back to the Sylvan Hills area where I had attended 3 whole years of elementary. I already knew most of the kids there and already had some friends. I loved it there. However, right after the first nine weeks of school we moved to Vilonia (a town about half an hour away). I had to make new friends. As much as I missed Sylvan Hills, Vilonia turned out to be a great move for me. I immediately found a group of girls I fit right in with. There were about 5 of us in all, and we were inseparable. We laughed all the time!!! I even got to go to parties for the first time in my young life.

But my family never stayed in one place for long. Toward the end of the year we moved again. There was only a few weeks of school left, and we moved to a town in North Little Rock. It was a new school. I was a stranger. And I was angry.

I gave up. I decided it wasn't worth the effort to try to make real friends, so I didn't even try. In fact, it would be years before I ever really tried again. By the time I decided I really wanted to have some REAL friends and not just people I was friendly to in the halls at school or was too late. I just wasn't any good at it anymore.

Lately, I've really started to feel this void in my life. I think it would be nice to have one or two female friends that I could hang out with ever once in awhile. Someone to see chick flicks with...or any movie for that matter. Someone to hit the gym with or go to a museum. At the same time, I really want to find a friend or two who I have things in common with. Things like art, theater, and books. It would be kind of neat to have a friend who was actually into the same things as me. At least some of the same things.

So, I've been thinking about the subject of friends. How to make a friend. How to keep a friend. I would like to meet new people or just get to know some people better than I currently do.

It's a scary thing. No one can really know what it costs me to even try to strike up a friendship. It takes courage for me to ask someone if they want to hang out sometime. There's fear of being rejected. There's fear that someone doesn't really like me much and I'm putting them on the spot. I would hate to make anyone uncomfortable.

So, this is new territory for me. I'm trying to find activities outside of my home where I might meet someone that could be a potential friend. At the same time, I don't want to appear desperate or pathetic. Like I said, I'm a loner by nature, so I am a bit socially awkward. And I know that I would not expect anyone to just be available any ole time. I'm not. I'm busy and tied down sometimes also. But I also recognize that if I want to make a friend, I am going to have to put myself out there, make myself available, and be willing to even inconvenience myself sometimes.

I think in the end it will be well worth it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back To The Drawing Board

I used to love to draw. I drew portraits, caricatures, and I can't hold a pen or pencil without doodling. I used to love to draw family members or sketch a muscular guy. I was really into it once upon a time. Over the last few years I gotten away from it. Just busy. And my eyes are not very good. But lately I've been determined to get back into it. I am not good enough to ever be professional. It's just for fun. But it's a great way to relieve stress and express creativity. I don't think I will ever let it go again. I feel like I was missing a part of myself for a long time.

So, what do you do that lets you express your creative side? Of course, I also write, and I act when I get the chance. I want writing to be my career. Drawing is a hobby. A fun one. If you don't currently do anything creative, I encourage to find something that calls to you...poetry, song lyrics, art...whatever. Just find your voice and let the world hear you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I wrote this poem about 12 years ago. It is included at the end of my short story, Shattering Inside (in the Kindle edition...not a part of the actual story, just bonus material). It's actually a song. So when I read it, I always hear the melody in my mind. I call it a poem, but I don't really know much about poetry. I don't know much about structure or meter. Anyway, this is a snapshot of my heart. That is how I see it. I hope you like.

by Lisa Seigrist Ahne

Sometimes I feel a void deep within me.
I search to find this thing
Missing in my heart.
Still you walk
You walk beside me.
You never seem to mind
That I'm wishing on a star.

Take my hand
Whisper softer
Can't you see
The restlessness in me?

I'm beautiful
So you tell me.
I have a right to go on singing if I want.
I'm a handful
When you hold me.
But I never fly away when you don't.

I know you fight
To understand me.
You never know
Just what to expect.
There are fears
Locked inside me.
Will I ever be
A woman I respect?

Take my hand.
Hold me tighter.
You can soothe
The restlessness in me.

I'm beautiful
So you tell me.
I have a right to go on dancing if I want.
I'm a handful
When you hold me.
But I never fly away when you don't.

Peace and joy
Love and laughter
At night I thirst for more.
I still believe in happy ever after.
It's all I'm thirsting for.

I'm beautiful
So you tell me.
I have a right to go on living if I want.
I'm a handful
When you hold me.
But I never fly away when you don't.

I won't fly away if you won't.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Can You See Me?

Can you see me? I feel invisible. Wandering in this world of people, a few meet my eyes. Their gazes glance off me like stones skipping across a still pond. Maybe I’m not really here. Then someone speaks to me as I collide with their day. It feels forced. Awkward. What do they see? What’s wrong with me? I tell myself, “Don’t talk too much.” I tell myself, “Hang back.” So, I just breathe in. Breathe out. Touching no one. And no one touches back.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting Real

Today I recalled a poem I wrote several years ago. I wondered what I had done with this poem. I searched for it. I can't find it. I have a mild memory of throwing it out. Yes. I think I trashed the poem. I wrote it during a hard and dark time in my life. I think that I came across this poem sometime later and was embarrassed by my own vulnerability. The part of myself that I poured onto that page.

The poem was very raw. Very Real. I should not have thrown it away. I think we all could stand to be more real. Stark. True. I would not share all of me with everyone. However, I should be able to see myself with my own eyes without feeling ugly.

Watching You

I was the wide-eyed kid in the corner
Hanging on your every word.
Thinking of how much I wanted to be just like you
When I grew up.
You inspired me
To see what I could be
And I doubt you ever even knew my name.
And I bet you never knew that I was watching you.

I listened to every word you had to say.
I watched the way you lived from day to day.
I tried to get it right,
To live just as you might.
Cause deep inside there was a planted seed.
And I never knew who one day
Might be watching me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yet Another Reason NOT To Inbreed

I came across this news story on Yahoo. Kind of...well...interesting. I wouldn't have thought people would need another example of why inbreeding is wrong, but just in case you do, here ya go! Yet another reason NOT to if we really need one. You might make BLUE babies!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Bit of Rambling

So! I had the thought that I would write a series of blog posts about all the awesome things that Arkansas has given the world. I have lived in Arkansas my entire life. I am not a well-traveled person. I wish I was, but I am not. I've never even seen the ocean. Pitiful, I know. The truth is there are a lot of areas where Arkansas disappoints me. Mostly in the area of fun things to do. I don't think my state takes enough advantage of the tourist potential here. It seems to me that we focus a lot on state parks (which I love) and a little bit on Little Rock...which is at least a start.

Arkansas is on the way to several big tourist destinations. We have Branson just north of us, Nashville and Memphis to our east, Oklahoma is to our West. Texas and all the awesome things offered there is just south of us, and New Orleans is only a few hours drive from Little Rock. It just seems to me that with about 25 million people living within a days drive of Little Rock, we would do more for tourism. I'm finished with my mini-rant.

One thing that has absolutely annoyed me for YEARS is the snobbery I've encountered from others when I mention that I live in Arkansas and have my whole life. I've heard "Oh, I'm so sorry." Usually stated in a mocking, smirky way. I've heard the hillbilly jokes (by the way, my family is Scots Irish and we are a long line of hillfolk...I resent being treated as if that is something to be ashamed of. It's NOT). I've also heard a lot of barefoot and backward jokes. After awhile it gets under a person's skin. Whether these things are said in jest or with's not only insensitive, it's also outright ignorant.

Arkansas has many, many people to be proud of. We've produced a president and more than a couple of presidential hopefuls. We are the home of such awesome nonprofits as Heifer International and Family Life. We've turned out some of the most noted entertainers and writers in history...does Maya Angelou ring a bell? And of course, we can't ignore the impact and influence that Walmart has had on the world. It is the largest business on the globe!

So, I intend to devote blogs to educate myself and others about the history of the people of Arkansas and our contribution to the globe. Maybe I will be inspired to make my own mark.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest...My Journey So Far

Recently I began reading the blog of a local writer named Brinda Berry and through her blog, I learned of the Origins Blogfest. Lots (and lots) of authors have signed up, and since I tend to sit around biting my lip trying to come up with interesting blog posts, I signed up also. It seems like a fun thing. On days when I struggle to write a sentence, it's a good and cathartic thing to go back in my life and remember what made me want to write in the first place. Why is it that I have obsessed with writing since I was a small child? I am nearing 40 (will be 39 in July), and I haven't exactly written the best sellers I thought I would when I was a teenager. In fact, I haven't done most of the things I always said I would. Yet, this is one dream I CAN NOT let go of. Why? Even on days I want to give up and find a new dream, I can't. I can't. Why?

The answer must be in my origins.

Me and my Mom June 1975, the day referred to
I am one of those rare folk who has memories back to toddler years. My first memories take place when I am  not quite 2 yrs old. I can recall running through my aunt's house in my panties with her son's coat on...well, not really on. I put the hood of the coat on my head and let the coat hang off of me. I was pretending I was a super hero and the coat was my cape. I remember my Mom carrying me into the mall in North Little Rock on that same day to have my picture taken. She stood me on the floor just inside the entrance of the mall. I was barefoot, and it was June of 1975. I couldn't walk on the asphalt outside because my bare feet would have been charred flesh. However, the floor of the mall was cool and dry. My Mom took me down the escalator to the lower level. Today that level is the food court, but back then there was a fountain at the base of the stairs. It had many colored lights that the water flowed over. I wanted to get in that fountain badly, but my Mom said, "No, no, baby. Hot burn. Hot burn."

Me, almost 2, after my cousin took his coat back 
Well, she didn't have to worry about me touching it then. I had touched a hot stove not long before, so I sure as heck knew what "hot burn" meant. Any time my family wanted me to stay away from something, they said it was "hot burn." Whether it was or not. One day my cousins were eating strawberries under a tree in their backyard (it was around this same time and I was close to this same age). I asked my cousin John for a strawberry. He said, "Oh, no, baby. You can't have these. These are hot burn." He just didn't want to share with me. I wouldn't eat strawberries for years after that....but I digress.

I think having such a stark and clear memory plays into my writing obsession. I remember smells, textures, colors, facial expressions, clothing, songs, what people were wearing at certain times...I remember a lot. My memory was great to have in school because I could ace tests with little effort. If I read something, heard something, or saw something...I remembered it. I honestly think this helps me in writing. I enjoy visiting those memories the way I visit my characters in their worlds.

From my very first memories, I can recall how my Mom and Dad loved to listen to music. Whenever Meat Loaf would sing "Two out of Three Ain't Bad" I would stare out of the car window and play scenes in my head. I would imagine lovers dancing and saying sweet things to each other or (in the case of the above song) tears as one loved more than the other did. Even at 4yrs old, I knew that was messed up. I would hear Sheena Easton singing "My baby takes the morning train" and I would visualize the song and make up stories in my head. My Dad loved Three Dog Night and Credence Clearwater Revival. For some reason those edgier rock groups gave me the creeps...just a little bit. When their songs would play, I would imagine danger and night time. I would think about bad guys being hunted by the good guys. I would dream up adventures.

I'm not saying I didn't like their music. It just had a different feel and effect on my imagination.

When I was in 2nd grade and we got our report card for the FIRST nine weeks of school, I noticed that it said I was at 1st grade reading level. Well, that just wouldn't do. I was in 2nd grade! It didn't matter to me that it was still the beginning of 2nd grade. This girl doesn't like to be behind anyone. I took it on myself to rectify that little situation. By the end of that school year, I won an award for reading 53 books. And my reading level shot up. By the time I was 11, I was at a 12th grade reading level. I LOVED to read. That report card galvanized me to read, and I am thankful for it. I read The Prince and The Pauper by Mark Twain that year. It lit my imagination on fire!!

I still hadn't settled on being a writer when I grew up. It was a couple of years later that the bug finally bit. I was 10 years old. when the movie The Outsiders came out. Wow. I loved that movie. It had drama and adventure. It had a huge heart! I loved Ponyboy and I was in love with Darry! That was still a few years before Patrick Swayze become Johnny Castle and told the world that no one "puts Baby in a corner." He was gorgeous. I come from a poor family just like Ponyboy. My family was every bit as poor as the Curtis family, but I remember being so glad I had my Mom and Dad and all my aunts, uncles and cousins...and my Grandma. My whole family were roofers. Just like Ponyboy and his family.

Teen Me, no that's NOT a mullet. I had on barrettes.
When I discovered that the movie was based on a book...a book written by a teen-aged S.E. Hinton...I was ecstatic. I had read that book over and over long before I was required to read it in junior high. S.E. Hinton is the reason I wanted to become a writer. That same year (when I was 10) I had to read some sentences in my English class at school. I made my teacher and the other kids laugh, and I got a lot of compliments on those sentences...that pretty much sealed the deal. I OFFICIALLY wanted to be a writer.

I studied everything I could get my hands on after that. I read magazines on writing. I read the articles in The Writer's Market and I studied all the guidelines. I read any interviews with "real writers" that I could find. I joined a writer's group as a teenager and met a great writer for Harlequin named Gina Wilkins when she came to speak to our group. She was encouraging and gave a little bit of advice. I am grateful to her for taking the time. I was naive and had no idea how many people wanted her to pause in her own writing to help them. She was kind to a kid, and I never forgot.

While I was in high school, I entered a short story contest at my school. I got third place for that year's anthology. It was so funny. The two stories that beat me were both poignant drama...serious literature type stuff. My story was about a girl who dreamed every night about a pirate that she fell in love with...then after the dreams stopped she ran into her "pirate" in real life and discovered he had been having the exact same dreams. I remember one day as I walked into one of my classrooms a very popular basketball player called out my name. When I looked at him, he said, "I read your story." Then he smiled at me and winked. One of those, I wish I knew you thought like that before type winks. I got a lot of good feedback on that silly little story. I think it was because it was fun.

I've had plenty of missteps along the way. I basically wasted my 20's. I probably shouldn't tell this story, but I will anyway. I tend to be pretty open about my own stupidity. When I was in my early 20's I had the idea of a teen time travel book. A girl goes back to the 1930's with her best friend. While there, she saves the life of the brother of her best friend's grandfather, and in turn clears their family's reputation. It was actually a great premise. I was so incredibly stupid that I queried Simon Schuster with it. I wrote my very first query letter before I had ever written a word of the book. In my idiotic reasoning, I thought that since Writer's Market said they reply in 3 months that I had time to write the book and get it ready.

They replied in just under 3 weeks and wanted to see my outline and three sample chapters. I still had nothing written. I basically threw something together and sent it off...and of course promptly got my first rejection letter. I took my first chance at getting published and blew it like a trumpet.

Over the years, I've found the whole process of the writing business to be daunting. It takes a lot of time and effort to produce a polished and worthy manuscript. Then (in the old days) you would have to shop that ms around. Some publishers would accept unsolicited manuscripts, so you could send off your query, proposal, and/or whole manuscript to be tossed into a slush pile in some overworked editor's office. At which point you would wait months to receive a reply...usually a polite rejection form letter. Or you could do the same process as above, only instead of publishers you would send your baby out to agents and hope they would like you and want to jump on board your bandwagon with you.

IF you got accepted and were one of the lucky ones who sold a book, you then had to wait for the book to be released. The whole process can take months or even years. Sounds fun, right?

I used to sit down to write, and I would find myself distracted by this. It didn't make me lose my passion for my story, but it just bothered me and I thought about what a pain in the butt the whole process was. It put me off. Not off writing...I can't change who I fundamentally am...but it put me off the business of writing.

Then along came Amazon. I no longer needed to beg for the golden key to the golden gate. If I like my stuff, I can put it up. Period. If I decide later I don't like it, I can take it down and either revise or trash it. But the point is that the whole process is up to me now. I get to pick the cover I want. I get to decide for myself if my writing is good enough. I get to keep up to 70% of my royalties! Maybe my stuff will sell and maybe it won't. The point is that my whole life as a writer is up to ME for the first time EVER!!!

I have a couple of short stories up right now. The Prisoner is not doing well. In fact, I've only sold a few copies since it was release last April. I think only friends and family bought any. I keep thinking I will take it down and see what changes I can come up with to make it better. I'm sure I can improve the story. I think the main things that keep it from selling is that the title is pretty generic. MUST CHANGE THE TITLE! And the cover is a bit bland. It was only my 2nd attempt to ever design a cover. It is the story of an agoraphobic woman who is about to commit suicide when an escaped convict breaks into her home.

The other is a story called Shattering Inside. The cover of that one probably needs to be changed also. It is a drama I wrote in college many years ago for a creative writing class. It is the story of a girl who was sexually abused as a child and has struggled to get past the abuse. When she finally thinks she has healed, she learns that her attacker has passed away and it causes all of the old feelings to come back up.

I put it up because I wanted to make sure I could teach myself the process. I can't afford to pay anyone to design my covers or format my stuff. I wanted to be sure I could do it on my own. I put the cover together and uploaded the story. I didn't even tell my friends or family that I did it. It was my very first title to ever be published on Kindle.

The story (with NO promotion from me at all) immediately began to sell. Not much. Just a couple here and there. So, last summer I tried an experiment. I made the book free on Smashwords (where nothing seems to sell). Amazon would not allow me to set it to free there, so I waited for the internet spiders to realize it was free somewhere else and finally make it free on Amazon. When it did, the change was amazing. The story started being downloaded left and right. Thousands. Within a few days it was in the top ten on Kindle's free fiction list (I think #7 was as high as it climbed) and in the top 100 of Kindles overall free fiction. I was in shock. I left it free until about November and it got strong downloads but it never reached the ranks it did in the summer. I set the price high at $2.99 (I consider that a bit high because it is a short story and not a novel, but it was an experiment...just to see what would happen), and it continued to sell. After the first of the year, I put it back to .99. It continues to sell here and there...just a few copies so far this month. It's even gotten decent reviews, though I think the book is a bit polarizing. People seem to either like it or hate it. My rank on Goodreads is right at 3 stars. Not great.

I'm hoping to do much, much better with my next release. But I am still learning and I'm nowhere near where I want to be as a writer. I just want to finish stuff and write MORE WORDS! That's the hardest part...for sure.

Anyway, that is my journey so far. I am working on a thriller right now called Swagger and a drama called Coffee. Hope to have them both up soon.

Good luck to all of you out there with dreams you can't let go of. Hang on tight and never give up.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What It Takes To Be A Man

I just read a post on Facebook that at once made me angry and...well, freaking annoyed. I wanted to respond to the post, but I held back. I just unfriended the creep. It usually takes a lot to make me unfriend someone. This particular status update not only rubbed me the wrong way, it just got my Irish up and hit a sore spot with me. It was posted by a minister! A minister for crying out loud! What was this awful post? Well, be forewarned, not everyone will agree with me. Some people may see things my way...the right way...and get angry. While others...the pathetic result of an overly PC society...might agree with the guy who made the post. Personally, I found it repulsive. I guess I'm a bit old fashioned.

He stated that any Dads of daughters who thought it was cute to try to intimidate his sons before a date better be prepared for him to come over to their house. He said that if they could intimidate his sons, they better be prepared for him to do the same to their daughters.

What a jerk!

First off, is that the kind of men this minister is raising? The kind who think it's fine for a man to intimidate a woman? Tit for Tat? Look at the big man scaring a girl. Are we so backward in this world that we no longer see the differences between men and women?

Look, my husband and I are raising our son to be a gentleman. We are teaching him that chivalry still matters. We are teaching him that as a man he should be willing to stand up to scrutiny and have his honor tested. I have no problem with any Dad of any daughter he dates giving him the third degree or laying a little intimidation down. My son will be man enough to take it, and he will be honorable enough that the Dad in question will know my son will treat his daughter with respect, kindness, and integrity.

It made me think of that fiasco last month with that Italian cruise ship. How the captain abandoned the ship. One of our local news outlets asked if the old "women and children first" rule was outdated. I was shocked at how many men and women alike said it was. There were women who stated that their son's life is as valuable as a woman's and a lot of men stating how they would make sure they got saved. How disgusting that we live in an "every man for himself" world where no one is willing to put others ahead of themselves. How gross.

I thought the whole point of that rule was that children be gotten to safety, and usually they would need their mothers with them. Someone would need to take care of the children. That being said, I do believe that if a woman is healthy, she should be willing to put herself aside for those who are smaller, weaker, or disabled. I don't believe that a woman's life is more valuable than a man's. But what kind of strong and healthy man would put himself ahead of others...especially children? That's not the kind of man I want to know.

It just seems to me that there is a distinct lack of honor and strength these days.

Oh, I know the REAL men are still around. There are still heroes.They are out there everyday, putting themselves in harms way on the battlefields and in the patrol and women alike who know the definition of honor and sacrifice. I am not trying to state that all men are wimps who use feminism as an excuse to be a coward. I do believe there are good men and woman who are strong and full of great character.

We are teaching our son that the true measure of a man is found in his heart and his character. He doesn't have to be tall, strong, wealthy, or successful by world standards to be a great man. He must have integrity, honor, and courtesy. My son will NEVER be the sort who would intimidate a woman, nor will he be the sort to wither under the scrutiny and stare of a protective daddy. He won't need to wither, because he will stand the test.

My husband is a REAL man. He is kindhearted. He has never tried to intimidate me or any other woman. He walks in strength and doesn't feel the need to lord that over his family or anyone else.

 He has no qualms about questioning the intentions of a boy who dates his daughters. He is polite, but he is also direct. It's not about intimidation. It's about laying down the rules of what behavior he will and will not accept from a young man. I am not condoning a parent acting like a bully. However, if a Dad wants to clean his rifle when my son picks up his daughter, my son better have the smarts to respect the man and his child.

Do I really, really care if you disagree with me? Nope. The weak and pathetic have become the norm today. I know there are still some out there with a shred of intelligence and decency still in them who are raising their sons the same way I am raising mine. What kind of military would we have if every man raised his sons the way that joker is talking? A bunch of wussies who might cry if someone looks at them wrong. Please!

Yes, I know I am overreacting a bit...well, maybe a lot. This kind of stuff just gets my Irish up. I am still old fashioned enough to believe that a man should stand tall and do the right thing. I don't think threatening to "intimidate" girls is right or honorable. Period.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I May Be Just Who I am, But HE is I Am That I Am!

Me and my family in Eureka Springs 

I am who I am. I'm a bit on the nerdy side, and I'm all right with that. I'm quite a bit overweight. I'm not so okay with that. I love books.  I have since I was very young. I love the sound of fingers typing on a keyboard. I find it exciting. Yes. I am really that nerdy. I love music, and my tastes are all over the board eclectic. I like everything from rap to country to old time rock...but I prefer worship over all of the above.

I adore my family, and I try to be what they need.

I have a temper. I don't know if it's my Irish blood, my hill folk heritage, or my trailer park upbringing, but if something sets me off, the explosion can be pretty loud. I'm not saying that's a right way to behave. It's not. It's a work of the flesh and ungodly. It's an area where the Holy Spirit is still growing and changing me.

I am SUPER proud of my family. My children are a gift from God, and I don't know how I ever lived before them. Of course I had to live before...anyway. Sometimes I think I expect too much from my kids. That's yet another area that I take to the Lord. That and the nagging fear that I could be failing them or holding them back...or just not measuring up as a mom and wife.

The truth is that I could sit here and list a lot of areas where I need to improve. The fact is that I am who I am.  At least for the moment. See, the areas where I can't change on my own  or the places where I might fail and even the parts of myself I'm happy with (the spots where I think I have it together)...I give to Jesus. I give all of me to Jesus.

I am WHO I am, and I will never be anymore than that without His help. I am fully dependent on the Lord. I can do nothing on my own. In Him I live, and move, and have my being (Acts 17:28).

It's so reassuring to know that where I am WHO  (or what) I am, He  Is "I Am THAT I Am (Ex. 3:14)". HE is the self-sufficient one. There is none like Him!! He NEVER changes, but He is the only one who can change me. He needs no one to sustain Him, yet He is my portion. No one can stand next to Him. He has no equal. Yet, He's my shield.

He is I AM! I  am so very grateful and glad that I call Him LORD!