Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It's Time to Change

First of all, I just want to say that it is never good to have a woman angry.

I am a semi feminist.  I am pro women's rights and pro equality, but I still like men.  Love them even.  The majority of my friends are men, I am madly in love with my husband and I have two sons I adore.  So when I say that I am a feminist, I don't hate or am angry with the male populace of which I share Earth with.  I love them.  Very much.  Why?  Because having a mindset of equality and action is what is going to get us out of this mess with #metoo.

Dear Lord in Heaven, I think I probably just pissed off a whole load of people.  So, please read to the end.

I am a victim of #metoo.  I have had experiences that would make ANY woman angry.  Women have gotten the bad end of life for centuries.  C-E-N-T-U-R-I-E-S.  That's not a short amount of time and I can't say that I feel too bad that men feel on their guard and nervous.  But being angry won't change the current state of male and female relationships.  The men in my life are nervous for a different reason.  Their nerves stem from the possibility of being falsely accused and therefore losing their jobs and reputation for something they did not do.  Forcing men to fear will accomplish nothing.

I believe that if we push men into a corner, they will turn to other sources for comfort.  It'll be all too easy to turn to pornography, prostitution and masturbation because it is a "safe" option that doesn't bite back.  I'm sorry, but this does not solve anything.

The solution is simple.  We need to create a future generation with less fear, anger, and pain for EVERYONE (it's that equality thing, folks).  We need a safer existence for all involved.  I am willing to put an idea out there that will make #metoo go away.  This is NOT a silencing of women, or a lack of equality, however, the change in mindset needs to start early and it needs to start now. 

We need to educate boys.  Young.  Starting in kindergarten and keep the program going for every year they are in school til the day they graduate.  Boys need to be taught that girls need to be protected and respected.  Easy as that.  It does not matter what she wears, what her body type is like or how big her boobs are.  RESPECT AND PROTECT.  A girl's body is not a boy's to touch.  A body is not a playground and control of a man's urges is possible and attainable.  That is... if the education begins at a young age.

Real men are self sufficient, communicate, and can learn to be a pillar of strength.  Being an asshole only makes you an asshole.

Unfortunately, this will not stop every instance of #metoo.  It is my proposition that while boys are being educated, girls should be too.  This is not a modesty lesson, folks.  This is straight up self-defense.  I spent my entire life feeling like if I just let my abusers do whatever they needed to do, they'd go away and leave me alone.  I didn't know how to say no and the most common response I've heard from women when attacked was two of the most hateful words in the English language:

"I froze" 

These women didn't know what to do, how to scream, how to say no or how to get out of the situation.  They FROZE.  I say screw gym class.  Screw team sports, running the mile, and basic fitness.  Give these girls a yearly month-long course in Self Defense.  Teach them how to scream and do it LOUD.  Teach them how to kick nuts, get out of being grabbed, and how to hit like a girl.  I had a conversation with a cop who said rapists look for easy targets and women who "freeze" and don't fight back.  I say, it's time to fight and fight hard, ladies!

I know there will be many who disagree, but this is a start and it needs to start now.

Be the good!  Act!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Soul on Fire

There are days, albeit few, that I wish I possessed a tranquil soul.  I've heard of those ladies that just love life.  The mothering, the staying at home, cooking, cleaning, and popping out babies.  I kind of envy their state of mind.  I thought I could do it when I had my first born son.  I was never able to gaze at his face as he nursed and glow, thinking 'I could stare at him forever'.  No, I thought "good gracious, is he ever going to stop sucking on me??"  After that passed, my mind and eyes roved around my house to find something, a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, to keep me occupied before I went insane.

Don't get me wrong, I love my boys.  It was my brain that needed a little more than the monotonous feed, change, and bathe of infants.  I painted, I read books, and I concocted stories in those long hours of endless nursing (I had all boys and they loved to EAT!).  I kept myself mentally chugging at high speeds.

And yet, I can't help but think that I must have missed the boat a little.  I scroll through my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts reading inspirational quotes about how to be happy.  Happiness is being satisfied with what you do have and not wishing on what you don't.  Happiness is the little things, the simple things, the quite moments, and a tranquil heart.

That last one makes me snort laugh.  Just ask my husband, I've never been tranquil in my life.  I look for direction, action, movement, and activity, which I love.  I am happiest when I have a goal and I am working hard for it whether it be in publishing, fine arts, or sports.  I prefer action.

I was driving home one night when a group of kids decided it was a good idea to egg my car.  I've read the sappy Facebook stories where people take a moment to be patient super heroes and change lives of miscreants.  If only there was a little more understanding in the world and what not.  I get it.  Kindness is good, but in a split second I realized that I could do one of two things: I could go home and act as if nothing had happened.  After all, Jesus Himself said I should turn the other cheek and forgive seventy times seven.  I've also been asked to be meek.  The meek inherit the kingdom.  Meek, doesn't mean weak.  That is not a direct translation of the Bible.  Daniel sure as hell was not weak when he was chucked in with a bunch of lions.  Oh, hell no.  That man was bold and had more courage than an army of men.

Which took me straight to option two:  I could slam on the breaks, flip a U-turn and chase those kids down.

I took option two.  I may have done the indecorous third option which was to jump out of the car and and yell "GET BACK HERE YOU MISERABLE PIECE OF SH%$!!"  Which I am not terribly proud of.  As they ran off, ditching the carton of eggs in the snow, I think they got the message that not everyone was going to be tolerant of crap behavior.  I don't tolerate it from my sons, I wasn't going to tolerate it from strangers.

On the way home, I caught a glimpse of my boys in the back seat through the rear view mirror.  Their eyes were sufficiently bugged out and jaws dropped.  Dead silence.  Then there were whispers.  "Dude, I hope I never piss off mom."  "No kidding.  They picked the wrong car to egg."

There was a valuable lesson to be learned that day.  First of all, being meek does not mean you get walked on like a doormat.  Neither is it bad or wrong to stand up for what you know is right.  Action doesn't mean you are not kind or that you're a troll or that you have to be mean to get a point across.  Action means being a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  I regret swearing at a bunch of kids, but I don't regret the valuable lesson I learned:

I am a woman of action.  Action is forward progression.  Action takes discipline, heart, and courage.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong or bad with taking action.  I would rather die knowing I'd been the mom who lit a fire under my kids butts that action is a better option.  It wasn't long after that incident with the eggs that my own son took action against a bully who tried to choke him.  He took action and he doesn't regret it. 

Neither do I.

Be the good.  Act.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Midnight Nightmares

I come to you in the middle of the night... or technically ridiculously early in the morning (you pick, I don't care) to say that The Exiled Prince (book #3 in the Ian Quicksilver Series) is soon to hit the shelves.  And it's going to be awesome.

I mean it.

I hate everything I write.  At some point or another I swear at my books and wonder why on earth I am even published because that was straight up rubbish.  I think all authors go through it at some point or another or at least they should.  I did meet a writer once who was massively in love with his own writing.  He signed up for a critique at a writing conference and told me, point blank, he did it on a whim and probably wouldn't take my advice because he loved his story and writing style that much.  I don't get that.  At all.

Hating what you write is a good thing. It makes you second guess what you wrote, be more critical and see more plot flaws.  If you totally love everything you write there is no room for growth, improvement, or development.  Was Charolette Bronte a total genius at the get go?  Nope.  Her sisters shredded her work and she was brutally harsh on her own writing.  Granted, the lady could write like a boss, but she had a keen, critical eye.

So, it came as a total shock that after I finished The Exiled Prince, I loved it.  Not from the very beginning, mind you.  I went through five re-writes and had a hate fest slaughtering each one before I settled on the story it is today.  However, now that it is done, I actually like it.  Why?  

Because I was mean.  I created characters I loved to hate, built a story around two amazing teenagers and I totally fell in love with Corbin all over again.  Let me tell you something about Corbin... he may only be a side character, but he has his man hands gripped on my heart.  

Gosh, i was about to lay out some spoilers.  Good thing I stopped myself!  I guess you'll have to read it and see what I wrote!

The Exiled Prince releases September 12th.  Pre-orders can be made on Amazon...HERE!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Officially Belted

That is me.  That is my name.

I knew this was coming.  There is a beautiful disconnect when I think about moving forward in Martial Arts.  It's there, but not quite real until I got tapped on the shoulder and told... "Hey, did you check the Black Belt Board?"

For a second I panicked.  I've been training for so many years.  What if I wasn't as ready as I thought?  What if there is a mistake?  What if...?

Nope.  That's my name.

Despite the momentary feeling of bad-assery, it quickly fled and replaced with a deep sense of calm.  Which was weird, considering the circumstances.  

Being a black belt is not just a belt.  It's not being called on to demonstrate technique, it's not about being right, or first, or the best.  It's not about beating people up, hurting your training partner, or proving great physical strength.  It is not pomp, pride, or demanding respect.

Black belt is an accumulation of bruises.  I've amassed my fair share.  I have accidental ones where I've not remained in control.  I have bruises where I've hurt my training partner, I've been hit too hard, kicked wrong or positioned my body incorrectly.  Those are learning bruises...good bruises.

I have intentional bruises.  Those are the ones I am not proud of.  They happen when I train too hard, hit with emotion, and take my daily mental crap and load it into my training.  I always end up more angry and hurting too much.  Black belt is about control.  Mental and physical.

Lastly there are the determination bruises.  They're the big ones that don't fade for weeks, the ones I have to grit my teeth and suck it up to keep moving forward.  They are hard earned and deep.  Some of them are mental bruises.  I have to keep pushing myself to work harder, to conquer my fears, and to master anger, attitude, and self doubt.  These come after long hours of training off the mats at the dojang.  I run.  I do yoga.  I do physical therapy.  I go to the doctor...

And sometimes I wonder why I do it.

As I was sitting in the tub last night, soaking in a hot epsom salt bath and inspecting my new collection of bruises, I had to wonder why.  Why do I go to the trouble?  Why do I inflict so much pain on myself?  I've broken bones...same ones multiple times.  I've been through surgery and therapy and taken more than my fair share of ibprophen.  I have flat out cried in the middle of class, which was so gloriously embarrassing.


I didn't quit.

I didn't give up.

I conquered.

And I just might be a little bit crazy.  Just sayin...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Shades of Winter Blue

It’s been a long winter.

I live in the mountains.  There are basically two seasons of the year.  Nine months of frigid life-sucking cold and three months of sweltering heat.  There is no in between.

My bout with severe winter depression started in October of last year.  Bet you didn’t see that one coming.  I would languish in bed bemoaning my fugue state, wondering why the hell life was so stinking hard.  Problem was, it wasn’t hard.  My hubs cleaned house, did the dishes and the laundry week in and week out for months.  He pampered me and loved me and kept me going.  And for some reason I couldn’t get my butt out of bed for more than taking kids to school and bringing them home again.

I really have zero excuse for this behavior.  Our bills were paid, I have a nice car, my cell phone is the latest whatever version of phone-ness, my kids aren’t total idiots, and my husband took good care of me. 

By golly, you must be thinking, you lazy little twit.

But I got it in my head that my life must be PERFECT.  If it wasn’t perfect then somehow I wasn’t a good wife, a good mother, or even a decent Christian.  I know it sounds stupid.  I know I shouldn’t think that way.  I KNOW!!!  Okay?  I know.  But women where I live are OBSESSED with appearing perfect.  They can’t, heaven forbid, talk about the strain of dealing with kids, problems in the bedroom, or anything else that might be construed as less than perfect because that would present the image that they haven’t done enough.  That somehow, they have failed.

Look at me.  Yes, you… the person reading this crap.  Repeat after me: 


You aren’t.  None of us are and here is why:

I feed my kids eggs on Sunday because I’m too tired after church to cook a big Sunday meal. I found DIRTY UNDERWEAR on the frigging kitchen table (YES, where we EAT!!!).  I swore at a dump truck that cut me off and dinged my windshield… with all my kids in the car and a few of their friends too.  I totally lied to the police officer who pulled me over last week.  I fully admit that I freak out every time I have to clean off the internet history (I live in fear of ever seeing the word “sex” in the search browser).  I speed.  I cheat on my diet.  I take naps after working out. I have totally been caught picking my nose at a red light.  And my personal favorite:  I frigging laughed my butt off when I saw in the news that some lady won the “Mother of the Year” award for 2016 and was being honored at a banquet on Capitol Hill.  Laughed until I peed myself, people. 

The list goes on and on and on.  Why?  Because I am not perfect. I love my kids, my husband and the God-saving gospel with all my heart and soul.  It is because of them that I finally pulled out of my depressed funk I’d been muddling through for six stupid months.  That also shows how imperfect I am.  It took me five YEARS of putting up a perfect carbon copy of myself out there and six months of crying, pouting, and deep loathing of myself to realize that being less than perfect is perfectly fine.

Why have I not failed?  Because in February I seriously considered taking my life.  But I didn’t.  I am less than perfect, but damn it, I HAVE NOT FAILED.

And neither have you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Person Behind the Con

I’d like to believe I’m about the most real person you’ll ever meet.  You ask me a question, I’ll tell it to you straight. I have a hard time mincing words.  I’ll also tell you how I am feeling.  You might be a little confused though.  Even if I really don’t like you, I believe in BHD. 

Basic. Human. Decency. 

It’s the stuff where regardless of my emotions running amok, I’ll respect you enough to not show them on my face and use words instead.  Not harsh words, but I try to go for kind words as much as possible.  BHD is something my parents raised me to have.  I try to instill it in my own kids, but that’s beside the point.

BHD is a lost art.  I find that I really struggle with BHD because I have other more glaring problems.  The Evil A (Anxiety) for one and a deep loathing for PS (Public Speaking).  Evil A and PS take my normally congenial nature and suck it down a tube, which is not a good place to go when being an author.

What I was never told was that being an author means that I have to meet people, shake hands (I also have an irrational germ fear, but that’s another post entirely), and speak in public.  The first time I had to get up in front of a classroom and teach, I had a full-blown panic attack before AND afterwards.  I am not proud that I nearly passed out in the BYU campus bathrooms.

That being said, I think it is HILARIOUS when someone comes up to me after one of my lectures and tells me that they are so impressed with my natural ability to speak in front of large audiences.  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!  Sorry.  Whew, I lost it there for a moment.  They don’t see the shaking, the dry mouth or hear my heart thumping in my ears to the tune of The Flight of the Bumble Bee. 

But I keep doing it.  I keep trekking across the country talking to kids about writing, I keep going to Writing Conferences, and Comic Cons.   Anxiety is very real.  The intense fear of public speaking hasn’t diminished.  However, I’d like to think that I got a healthy helping of BHD somewhere in my genetics.  I sincerely love people even though they scare the living daylights out of me.  It’s a very weird combination.

I was asked if all writers have to be outgoing and extroverts to be published.  No.  No, you don’t.  But, for the sake of my books, I pull up my big girl panties, walk in those classrooms with my head held high and keep 911 on speed dial.  One of these days I am going to pass out and go into cardiac arrest.  But I can promise you that I will teach the best damn class before I get wheeled out on that stretcher.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What I Wish I'd Known About Boys in Middle School

Middle school sucks.  Not only does 6-8th grade suck the life out of a kid academically, it sucks hormonally, physically and socially.

It came as a real surprise to me that I love to write in the teenage boy voice.  You'd think I came from a background of expertise: boyfriends, a male BFF or I actually knew how to talk to boys.

I didn't.

In Junior High I was the human equivalent of Chihuahua/Husky mix breed pup with no visible breasts, hips, or femininity.  I was the youngest of eight kids and shared one bathroom with six older sisters who were a million times more fashionably and hygienically forward than I was.  My days consisted of basic survival at home and blundering idiocy at school

I was horribly backward.  Boys were the mysterious other gender I knew absolutely nothing about.  I had two older brothers.  However, they were confined upstairs and limited to teasing and farting.  My dad had no real interest in educating me on the ways of boys so when hormones kicked in somewhere at the end of seventh grade, I was a complete novice.

My interaction with boys then makes me cringe.  I figured that if I stared at them long enough, they would somehow inherently know that I was interested in them.  They would have to completely ignore that I hadn't washed in two days, I didn't know how to brush my hair, and would probably need to ignore that there was something nefarious stuck in my teeth from lunch.

And now I am laughing and crying at the same time.  I need a selective amnesia pill.

I was dumb.  I didn't understand boys at all until I hit college and even then I only seemed to attract jerks.  When I met my husband... well, that took a lot of hard work too.  He was the good egg. I was the funky chicken, molting in the corner of the yard.

Now that I am greatly outnumbered in my own household (three to one ratio of males to females), my learning curve has sharpened.

Boys are not dumb.  Boys are not emotionally stunted.  Boys are very much aware of what goes on around them.

They have incredible minds that think very literally.  Black means black and white is white.  Grey area hints are a waste of time (my sons tell me this frequently).  The idea of body language is completely lost on them.  So is fashion.  When a girl comes to my home wearing booty shorts and a tank top and rubs up on my 15 year old son (to which I'd like to slap her into next week), TRUST me when I say that the only thing he noticed was that her underwear was falling out her shorts and that made him seriously uncomfortable.

My thirteen year old hasn't even noticed girls yet (THANK HEAVENS).  The one girl he likes is a head taller than he is, but dude, she can play soccer like a boss.  Which is why he likes her.  Both my boys notice the tone of a girl's laugh, what they say, who they gossip about, and how they act.  Swearing is a turn off.  So is destructive gossip about their friends.  My sons, and all their friends too, think smart girls to be super attractive.  They like girls that can carry a conversation, play a sport, or have a cool talent.  Crushing on Star Wars is a big bonus too.

I wish I had known all this in middle school.  It would have saved me years of awkwardness.  On the brighter side, I now get to channel those years into my books, as seen through a boy's eyes.  It makes my boys cringe.  I know they hate it.  But they are the best study subjects I have.