A day off

Last Friday, I had the day off work for the simple reason that I’d met my hours for the week. It happened at a perfect time, as our daughter from Washington state had arrived home for a visit on Wednesday. Kate hadn’t been home since last Christmas, so it did our hearts more than good to see her, her boyfriend and their puppy Milo. (Little Milo is a Vizsla, same as our 4-year-old dog Stella.)

Milo learning to temper his A-game of puppy enthusiasm with a moment of restraint.

As usual, when provided a free weekday, I began a mental list of things I should/could do — housekeeping, home projects, errands, etc. What actually happened, however, was a leisurely morning spent having coffee and talking with my husband and our daughter, and watching Milo try his hardest to get Stella to play with him. Spoiler alert: She wasn’t having it.

Later in the afternoon, the three of us took the dogs for a walk in our neighborhood. As Milo is still learning his lead manners, Kate had to stop quite frequently and give him the heel command so he would stop pulling. Bless her heart — it was literally every few steps. I wasn’t completely surprised though, as Milo was in a new place, filled with all kinds of interesting sights, sounds and scents. We were walking around the nature area adjacent to the river, and we reached the point where a trail runs from the paved path, along the river and leads us back to our house. Going “off-road” was perfect for the dogs, and they happily trotted along, inspecting sticks and catching scents of the various critters in the area. Walking along with Kate and Milo forced me to slow down my usual walking pace, which is a bit on the quick side. I realized, however, as we made our way along the river under a canopy of trees, that I was able to truly enjoy the surroundings for a change. This wasn’t one of my super-charged, power walks, where I focus solely on maximum effort for a good cardio workout. This was something completely out of the norm for me — an honest-to-goodness stroll.

And it was glorious.

I had been feeling kind of defeated that my mental agenda was cast aside earlier in the day, but I realized as we walked along that the time I’d spent visiting and chatting over coffee was exactly what I’d needed. And having the rare opportunity to saunter through the woods on a crisp, clear early autumn afternoon was another dose of goodness for my soul. I stopped walking for a moment and looked around. I took a deep breath. I paid attention to the trees and the sunlight filtering through the leaves. Most importantly, I gave myself permission to stop and enjoy it.

I started another mental list at that moment, but it had nothing to do with projects and errands. It had everything to do with slowing down and allowing myself to enjoy down-time on a regular basis.


But will there be cake…?

Today I’m helping celebrate the “book birthday” of Jami Amerine’s new book Well, Girl: An Inside-Out Journey to Wellness. I was fortunate enough to be part of the launch team for this project, and thrilled to have received an advance reader copy. I’m sharing my review here, and want you to know the book is available NOW on Amazon and B&N (audiobook is available too!). Happy Book Birthday, Jami!


Health and wellness have taken center stage in 2020, but Jami Amerine’s new book Well, Girl: An Inside-Out Journey to Wellness zeroes in on the basics of spiritual health and fundamental beliefs, rather than sanitizers and facemasks. Before diving into my advance reader copy of Well, Girl I thought I enjoyed overall good health when it comes to spirituality my relationship with God. However, I had a habit of constantly feeling like I was falling short — that I wasn’t doing enough. That, at my core, I wasn’t enough. Even worse, I believed in what Jami calls an “If/Then Jesus” — thinking “if I do xyz,… then He will be pleased with me.” My perspective changed as I underlined the passage (one of many!), “Grace is the ultimate gift. You can do nothing, outside of believing, to become more worthy or more perfect than the yes that accompanied His sacrifice.” I am enough. Another great lesson is learning to develop the spiritual relationship and take it to another level by “Weighing In” on a regular basis. (No, this doesn’t involve a scale.) Finally, exploring new ways to see physical health in accordance with spiritual health delivers an amazing amount of freedom. Jami relates to readers throughout the book using snippets and experiences from her own life, and shares candid moments all in the name of helping each reader on her (or his) own journey. As she states near the end of the book, “This is my life. I am not built like you. We don’t have the same careers, demands or tastes. My life’s calling is not the same as yours. Really the greatest thing we have in common is a God who loved us unto His death so we might live. This is the Good News. This is the plan that won’t fail you.”
Well, Girl: An Inside-Out Journey to Wellness is an engaging read that will likely elicit more than just one “a-ha moment.”

Would-be birthday and the summer that wasn’t

Today would have been my mom’s 82nd birthday.

Any other year would have me looking forward to about 10a, which was the appropriate time to call and wish her a happy birthday. I used to call earlier, but over the past few years, she’d developed a habit of sleeping in a bit later. Since this falls on a weekend, chances are we’d probably have been at her house for a visit, likely having a nice dinner tonight, complete with cake and candles.

But not this year.

Mom died on August 17, just two days past the fourth anniversary of my dad’s death on August 15.

She’s been gone exactly seven weeks today, and I miss her so much. My heart aches each time I habitually pick up my phone to give her a call, on my way home from work when traffic makes the trip longer. My heart aches more when something happens that I want to share with her, or a question pops into my head, to which only she would know the answer. But now my commutes are spent listening to music or in silence. And my questions remain unanswered.

It all began with a phone call in late March, when Mom told me she had pneumonia. Naturally, I was concerned, but she was a healthy 81. And with the exception of swiftly defeating an early-stage breast cancer in her late 60s, I struggle to remember a time when she was ever sick. But this would be different. I thought this was just a temporary sideline.

“They found something on the x-ray,” she told me a few weeks later.

The calendar began filling with more medical appointments and tests. Then came the words “cancer” and “oncologist.” However, it wasn’t until the biopsy that I truly understood the depth of the situation. Until then, by the way Mom spoke of it, the “something” the doctors saw was small. When the oncologist spoke with us and brought up her recent scan, I wasn’t surprised to see the small glowing area in her lung. What I wasn’t expecting was watching that small glowing area grow larger and larger as he progressed through the images. “This is a significant mass,” he said, and I read the prognosis by his expression.

By the end of May she was using oxygen 24/7. Radiation therapy was determined to be the best course of treatment, which she began in the first week of July. Treatment, it turned out, was more of a hindrance than helpful. After just five days of 15-minute zaps, she took a drastic downturn–no energy, no appetite and a drastic decrease in her strength. Walking from her bed to the bathroom–just a short distance away–was impossible to do alone. We rallied quickly and determined Mom would come live with us. She was a hard-sell on this idea, which I completely understood. She didn’t want to leave her house. Period. This, I believe, is where she felt closest to Dad, since she was surrounded by all reminders of him. But the fact of the matter was, she couldn’t care for herself. When I proposed the choice between our home or assisted living, she grumpily decided we were the better choice.

“Geez, you don’t have to sound like that about it,” I said, laughing. “We’re a fun bunch!”

She smiled. Well, kind of anyway. The problem was, in addition to not wanting to surrender her independence and leave all her memories of Dad at the house, she was determined not to be a burden to anyone. Fiercely determined. No matter how much I reassured her that she could never be a burden to us, still she worried.

As the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I worried to myself the entire two-and-a-half hour trip from her house to ours. I’d never cared for anyone with more than the flu or post-surgery. I knew we had the local Visiting Nurse Hospice lined up, but that was only a couple times a week–what on earth were we going to do the remaining time?

Turned out all my worries were for nothing. I won’t say caring for a terminally-ill person (especially when that person is your parent) is easy… not by a longshot. However, even when I felt like I was doing everything wrong, we were reassured by those whom we trusted that we were doing fine. More than fine. It was clear, however, that “doing fine” and “feeling fine” are two very different things. Receiving reassurance that what we were doing was commendable, didn’t help the fact that we were literally walking Mom to Heaven. The time we spent with her was precious in every sense of the word, but incredibly heartbreaking as well. Watching and monitoring the process of death is excruciating, and when I inevitably prayed for God to ease her suffering, I felt guilty and extremely selfish. One of Mom’s nurses eventually mentioned it’s common and completely OK to feel relief when a terminally-ill loved one dies. I was grateful to hear that, because I wasn’t easily reconciling the grief/relief combo in my head.

In the end, and now looking back, I feel at peace about Mom’s time with us, her journey and our roles as care-givers. As with my dad, I held her hand until her last breath. Letting go after that moment, I realized Jesus now had one hand and Dad had the other. All was well.

The span of Mom’s illness and her time with us completely spanned the kids’ summer break from school. In my head, this is why it’s “the summer that wasn’t.” We were consumed–mentally and physically–with her care. And while I wouldn’t have done it any other way, it didn’t escape my notice that our 10-year-old was along for a ride that most certainly didn’t boast all the fun and excitement summer vacation usually holds. But this young man of ours… let me tell you… not one complaint, eye-roll or sigh of discontent. He rolled with whatever came his way, usually with his iPad or a book in hand. (Well, mostly the iPad.) We’ve mentioned to him a few times how much we appreciate his attitude and willingness to go along with whatever we needed to do for Grandma, and he’s said he’s glad we could have her with us. Bless his heart

One of the biggest silver linings of the entire situation was the fact that we were able to host my brother and his family every weekend Mom was at our house. Being that he’s nine years older than I am, we were never super close growing up, then I moved away after college. Being able to have him, my sister-in-law and their entire family here every weekend was amazing, and I love the new direction our relationships found.

I’ve been told by a few people to do something today that Mom would love to do. As I responded to one, “Mom swore by convenience store vanilla cappuccinos, and as much as I love her… no. NO.”

Even if I sub-in a nice glass of wine later tonight, I’ll probably buy some scratch-off lottery tickets and see if I have the same luck she always seemed to have with them. And anyone who knew my mom knows that I’ll do this while watching Wheel of Fortune.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you and miss you.


Forge ahead

Back in February, my husband and I were sitting around after dinner one night, poking around on our phones. I hate defaulting to phone use — especially at a time that’s prime for talking with the kids and catching up on the day’s events. But this night, for probably a variety of reasons, the kids were elsewhere and I was probably way behind in my Words with Friends games. Eventually, I found myself scrolling through a writing-related Facebook page, 10 Minute Novelists, and found the Buddy Tuesday post. This is an open forum where writers can find a critique partner, beta readers or general help with any works in progress. I’d read through the posts before, but never felt compelled to post or respond.

Until that night.

That was the night I stumbled upon a post from a fellow writer who was in the market for … something… she wasn’t quite sure what though. Anna’s post caught my eye because that’s exactly what I would’ve posted. I responded to her message and, after an introductory phone call, we became critique partners. For the past five months, every couple of weeks we swapped pages, read and then spent about an hour on the phone talking through characters, plot points, challenges, etc. It’s been terrific — having a 1×1 sounding board is amazingly helpful.

Over the last few weeks Anna and I have revisited outlining, structure and story lines. When we spoke today, we discovered we’d both completely revamped our stories. We wrapped up our phone call today, setting a time to chat again at the end of the week, wherever we might be with our respective stories. At one point, one of us used the phrase “forge ahead,” and it seemed to resonate.

Forging ahead took on an entirely new meaning, given the new direction things are taking. When I say that I’ve been restructuring my current work in progress, I mean it in every sense of the word. I’d been grasping onto story idea that was mapped out at least 15 years ago, despite it just not feeling… right. These characters have lived in my head a long time, and I was dead-set on making things work. But, as in life sometimes, sometimes things just don’t work out. They can’t work out — for whatever reasons. And rather than forcing it, you have to let go.

So I did.

I let go of all the old material that wasn’t working, and created an entirely new direction. It’s exciting and a little scary, but it just feels like things are coming together in a good way.

And even though I may not have all the things figured out, I need to have faith and forge ahead.

Art Elements Design Challenge – April


This was the Art Elements challenge for April, and I was stumped. I don’t have a lot of artsy things around the house to whip up something cute and fancy like all the others in this group. The month got the best of me, and by this past weekend, I had no ideas, no inspiration, no motivation… you see where I’m going with this? I almost bowed out, but since I had to do that last month for a whole other assortment of reasons, I hung in there.

Then, last night (just for emphasis — I’m talking about April 29 — the night before the reveal. For the love.) I was on the verge of panic, standing in the kitchen cutting up celery, and then… boom. There it was.

This is actually AFTER I started the process.
I was so excited that I found a project, I forgot to take a true “before” photo.

I’d noticed before that the bottom of the celery bunch looked slightly flowerish, so I decided to grab the craft paints and my watercolor book and get to work.

The first two passes were with pink and bright yellow.

Considering we’ve been seeing only grey skies and rain the past several days, I immediately went for the bright, fun colors. This initial combo reminded me of a Lily Pulitzer pattern, so I forged ahead.

When all was said and done, my “repurposed” celery stamp gave me a fairly vague floral vibe, so after fashioning a little quick greenery….

For an 11th hour project? I’ll take it.

I know this post was short and sweet, but I hope it inspired you a little to take a look at what’s within arm’s reach and make something fun! For even MORE inspiration, check out the other participants in this month’s challenge. Trust me, you will be blown. away. by their creativity and talent!



Evie & Beth








AE Team










It’s still a good thing

A little over three years ago, I sat down and wrote the following blog post. For whatever reason, it was saved in a folder that I just now got around to cleaning out, because I AM A WORD HOARDER.

The post dealt with realizing that my normal, everyday life at the time could use some down-time, and I set my mind on doing just that. Looking back, I probably tried, but got busy with “things,” as I was prone to do. Now, with three years gone by, I can see I arrived at a point at which I no longer have to force down-time. There came a point when it just integrated itself into my life naturally. Granted, the first-grader mentioned is now a fourth-grader, the middle-schooler is now a high-schooler, the high-schoolers are now college students. Our schedule has changed drastically, but there’s still plenty to do. I love the message, though, and think it bears repeating for anyone who hasn’t reached the point where down-time just made itself happen. Maybe if we’re conscious of how important it is to take time for ourselves, it opens the door for the opportunity… whether now or later.

Blog post originally published December 2015

A Good Thing

            While I’m not a full-throttle Martha Stewart devotee, I do love me some Living magazine throughout the year. I generally take the ideas, tips, recipes, etc. with a grain of rosemary-infused sea salt, integrating those nuggets of wisdom that fall in line with my craftability, pantry inventory and required effort. (But, seriously, she almost lost me as a follower the day I received an email article titled, “Life-Changing Laundry Tips.” Seriously. Want to give me a life-changing laundry tip? Tell me someone’s coming over to my house to do all the laundry. That will change my life.)

            One of the magazine features that never fails to catch my eye is Martha’s calendar, in which the gentle reader gets a glimpse of what I’m sure is a scaled-down version of M’s monthly To Do list. In my most recent issue, the calendar spanned December and January. I’ll admit — I did enjoy a little wistful daydream as I read of her pre-holiday prep, which included decorating her tree and taking a horseback ride the same day. Imagine! We were lucky to have gotten our tree completely decorated in one day, with rearranging the living room to accommodate said tree, weeding out the strands of lights that decided to crap out on us this year, and tasking the kids with selecting only a few of their personal ornaments to hang among the wide array of family ornaments that needed branch real estate.

            And then I saw it.

            There is was, on January 10 — nestled between “make lemon curd” (and a horseback ride!) on the 9th, and “prune topiaries in greenhouse” on the 11th:

            “Quiet day: plan garden for spring.”

            Of all the daily agendas I’ve read over the years, I don’t remember seeing anything like this. Let me be clear — it wasn’t the garden planning that stopped me in my tracks.

            Quiet. Day.

            Leave it to Martha to reach into her hand-knitted bag-o-tricks and pull out a show-stopper like that, which, as she would say, is a “good thing.”

            My own inclination toward slowing the pace in 2016 was instantly reinforced. I mean, if Martha’s going to stitch in a quiet day every once in a while, why shouldn’t I? The truth is, I’ve been really needing one. Or two. Or twenty. Here’s a sampling of what could be considered a “busy” day for me so far this school year:

            5:20a   Wake and go for a 30 minute run

            6:00     Home, coffee, shower

            6:20     Wake middle-schooler

            6:25     Wake middle-schooler

            6:45     Threaten middle-schooler

            6:50     Drive middle-schooler to school

            7:20     Home, wake 1st grader

            7:40     Walk 1st grader to bus

            7:45     Home, wake high-schoolers

            7:50     Wake high-schoolers

            8:00     Threaten high-schoolers

            8:15     Drive high-schoolers to school

            8:45     Arrive at work

            1:45p   Leave work

            2:15     Pick up middle-schooler

            3:00     Home, fetch 1st grader from bus, work at home remainder of afternoon

            4:15     Pick up high-schoolers, transport to off-site sport practice

            5:00     Home, begin dinner, begin laundry

            6:30     Pick up high-schoolers from practice

            7:00     Home, dinner

            7:30     Help 1st grader with homework, clean up kitchen, continue laundry

            8:00     Start 1st grader pre-bed routine

            8:30     1st grader to bed, tell middle- and high-schoolers to shower

            9:00     Remind middle- and high-schoolers to shower, continue laundry

            9:15     Threaten middle- and high-schoolers

            10:00   Lights out for kids, continue laundry

            11:00   Tell myself to get to bed

            11:15   Remind myself to get to bed, finish laundry

            11:30   Threaten myself

            11:45+ Bed

            This is just an average sampling. Some days are less busy, some are even more chaotic. My husband is a firefighter, and works a 24-on/48-off schedule, so the days he’s on duty, I’m the Alpha Parent. (Those are the truly chaotic days!) On his off days, he totally picks up on critical items like cooking dinner, which is awesome. So, you can see how the idea of scheduling a Quiet Day is more than just a little appealing to me — and after 2015, it’s a requirement. Looking back over the past 12 months, a high-level glance would show a roller coaster that lurched to incredible highs and devastating lows. In between the peaks and valleys, the ride was rickety, bumping along at breakneck speed. Sure, there were enjoyable parts, but the feeling of constant busy-ness kept me from ever really relaxing enough to fully recharge and restore myself.

            I had already planned some changes for the new year — not so much solid resolutions, but rather a general change of lifestyle. I need to slow down, place my focus where it should be — on my family, close friends,… even myself. I’ve grown tired of reaching each weekend feeling like the preceding week had chewed me up and spit me out. I was spending weekends feeling like I was treading water, and before I knew it, the week began and I was pounded with waves again. Yet despite doing this week after week, I still felt like taking time to relax and recharge was selfish. How could I possibly justify sitting down to write, read a book, or cruise HGTV with unfinished projects, clutter and laundry waiting in the wings?! I know a lot of other moms feel the same way. How did we get to this point? How many times have we forfeited what we “want” to do, for what we feel we “should” do? Cue the Mom Guilt.

            If all it takes is actually inking a Quiet Day into our schedules, then let’s get on that train, Friends! Pick up those calendars, planners and smart phones. Pick a day, any day. Write it down. Make it official. We owe it to ourselves to set aside one day a week, or month, or whenever, just to regroup. Recharge. Rejuvenate.

            My first Quiet Day is scheduled for Sunday, January 17, 2016.

Artist in training…

Because I’m clearly not happy unless I have nine million irons in the fire at once, I decided to participate in the Art Elements theme challenge for January, the subject of which was the moon. (Quick backstory: I became familiar with this group because my fabulously artistic and talented sister-in-law Jen Cameron is one of its members. When I saw the theme challenge announcement, I was overcome with optimism, and before I knew it, I’d signed up. Never mind that I’m more “word-artsy” than “art-artsy,” I decided kicking off the new year with something different and outside my usual boundaries was exactly what I needed to do. So here I am.)

Before getting my hands busy with my project, I stalked reviewed the other artists’ pages, and was instantly amazed by the talent, creativity and depth of their work. “I’m going to stick out like a sore thumb,” I mumbled, fighting off the apprehension I felt creeping up on me. However, I refused to bow out of the commitment. I forged ahead during my free time on my project, which I knew would be paper-based. I had recently begun fumbling around with paper-making, and thought it was pretty interesting. The idea that stuck in my head was four separate note card-sized papers, with some kind of moon image, and the word moon written in four different languages, because words are my thing.

First on my list was making the paper. I’d used newsprint in the past, and while I loved how the different words and typefaces mixed & mingled in the finished product, I wanted something plain for the background (I’ll explain in a moment.) I used an ordinary, brown paper shopping bag, tearing it into strips and letting them soak in water a little before blending them into pulp. I added a few pieces of construction paper to break up the monotony, and this is what I ended up with:

My original concept was going to have ripped newsprint sort of collaged into a partial moon, filling the bottom left corner of each card (which is why I stayed away from using newsprint on the card itself). I talked myself out of that, though, opting instead, to sit down with some watercolor paper and paint to see what I could come up with. After playing around, I had a full page of this white-gray, mottled pattern, which I let dry and came back to a few days later. (No picture of that, because I’m new to this and forgot to get a shot of it.) At first, I cut a full circle and played with that against the cards. To me, it looked too perfect against the rough edges of the cards, so using a guide, I tore the paper into circles, and liked that better. Apparently, I can’t leave well enough alone, because I dragged out the watercolor palette again, and fussed around with different colors to highlight the moons — because leaving them to resemble the actual moon felt too … I don’t know… expected? (Again, forgot to photograph this part of the process. Sorry.)

I knew when it came time to write out the words, it HAD to be in silver, and it turned out exactly as I’d hoped.

My first instinct was to use “moon,” and “luna,” so I stretched further choosing lune (French), mond (German), lua (Portuguese) and mane (Swedish). I’m also new to the hand-lettering trend — which is weird, because I absolutely LOVE handwriting — so these aren’t super pretty, but I feel like it’s passable. I affixed the more colorful moons, weighting them briefly, because of the uneven surface of both papers made it difficult for them to lay flat.

And then, they were done!

Even though these cards are pretty basic, I was happy with how they turned out. I’m glad I stuck with the challenge, and now that I’ve done one, I’ll probably try and participate most, if not all, months in 2019.

All participants and group members are listed here, and I highly recommend you check out their projects/websites/artwork. It’s amazing, and maybe you’ll even find yourself inspired to jump into an Art Elements monthly challenge in the coming months!

Jenny Melissa Kathy Sarajo Hope Sarah Rebecca Divya Anita             Rosantia Cat Evia Alysen Beth Tammy

Art Elements Crew:
Claire Laney Caroline Cathy Sue Niky Jenny Jen Lindsay

Meet Frankie…

The following is an excerpt from Comeback:

“She’s up there — somewhere.”

Frankie Posey-Gilbert’s words left her mouth in barely a whisper, riding on a thread of cigarette smoke. She was perched on a picnic table, staring into the vacant summer sky. Her cousin Meghan was somewhere in the baby-blue expanse 35,000 feet up, flying from New York City to Indianapolis.

She absently flipped the stub sideways into the gravel, tilting her face upward toward the mid-July sun. A soft breeze played with her hair, while the sweet scent of freshly cut grass co-mingled with the pungent lawnmower exhaust and fading smoke in front of her nose. Warmth had finally crept back into her cheeks, frozen from the past four hours on the Agricorp production floor. A quick glance at her watch confirmed her break would be over in eight minutes, just enough time for one more cigarette, which she immediately lit. Frankie hired in at Agricorp before the ink had dried on her high school diploma. Nearly everyone in Midway worked for the company in one way or another. And if they weren’t working at Agricorp, they were farming the surrounding fields.        

Except for Meghan.

Meghan spent the past 10 years out of state, first living in Los Angeles for a few years, then moving to New York City. She’d found fame and celebrity starring in a popular reality television show; however, her growing ego turned off enough producers that eventually she was only able to get spotty work, guest appearances and endorsements. That is, until three quick flutes of champagne and a hot mic at an awards show got her into a hot, snarled mess.

And now she was coming back home. She had to come back. Not only because a judge ordered her to do so, but because home is where you go when you’ve hit rock bottom and alienated just about everyone in your professional and social circles.

Frankie smirked, recalling the entertainment news segment describing Meghan Posey as “a world-class arsonist with impeccable talent for burning every viable bridge behind her. At one point, a rising star, she has perfected the art of career suicide.”

Not usually one to take delight in others’ misfortune, if she were completely honest, Frankie would admit to feeling more than a twinge of satisfaction reading about the demise of her cousin’s career. A career that could have been — should have been — hers.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the groan and sputter of a riding lawnmower, as Brewer “Boo” Huntley came around the end of the building. He spied Frankie and turned, making a line in the grass that stopped three feet from where she sat. He flipped the key to cut the engine, which stopped with a rattle that shook the entire machine.

“Hey, Frankie… on break?”

 Boo was quite the master of deduction.

  “Yep,” she replied, squinting through the sunlight. “Almost done though.”

Boo reached behind the mower seat and grabbed two sodas from a cooler. He turned and leaned forward on the steering wheel, offering her a dripping can.

 “Here. S’really hot today.”

“Thanks, Boo.” She took the drink, and icy droplets ran from her palm to her elbow. She cracked open the tab releasing a sneeze of carbonation and took a quick sip.

Boo wiped sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand, and they both watched a bumblebee hum through the heavy air between them. She knew what was coming next.

“So, I heard Meghan’s coming back today.”

 And there it was.

 Frankie sighed, took a deep drag from her cigarette, remaining silent.

Boo shrugged. “Yeah, well…. Hey, there’s a field party out at Tucker’s on Saturday…,” he paused for a swig of soda.

Frankie held her breath in anticipation. “Don’t say it,” she thought.

“You wanna come?”

 She exhaled. Relieved.

“And, y’know… bring Meghan.”

 Frankie’s glare locked on Boo’s sunglasses as she leaned forward.

“I’m sorry, I’m busy Saturday,” she replied in a tone well-suited for the inside of Boo’s soda cooler. She ground out the last of her cigarette against the blistered green paint on the table, before sliding down and walking toward the building.

“As for Meghan,” she threw back over her shoulder, “you’ll have to ask her yourself.”

“What?! What’d I say?” Boo called after her.

Frankie didn’t even feel bad. He knew exactly how she felt about Meghan.

Everyone in Midway knew.

Frankie’s hard steps crunched and scattered gravel as she crossed the parking lot, her mind racing back to last week, when the certified letter arrived, announcing Meghan’s return. As the words on the page were registering in her brain, her hands started to shake.

July 15, 2018

85 Market Street

Midway, IN 45792

Ms. Alice Posey

Dear Ms. Posey:

This letter is to inform you that Meghan Posey, will arrive in Indianapolis on July 23, in immediate need of transport to Midway. Specific flight details will be provided as received.

Please be advised that Ms. Posey’s arrival has been mandated by Judge Ramona Green’s sentencing decree of July 14, 2018. Ms. Posey is to remain in Midway for a period of one (1) year, or until Judge Green sees fit to rescind the restriction. During said period of one (1) year, Ms. Posey is to remain within the town limits of Midway only. Failure to comply with this sentence will result in one (1) year of incarceration and up to a $10,000 fine.

Please direct any questions you have regarding this arrangement to my office via the contact information below.

Regards —

J. Nathan Sommers

Attorney at Law

834 W. 34th Street

New York, NY 10012


            She’s here for a whole year — 365 days of hell.


Whether it’s trite or a good sign of productivity, here I am.

I still barely know what day of the week it is (I spent three hours this morning thinking it was Wednesday), and getting back to a halfway usual schedule tomorrow will bring a sense of content, I’m sure. The past week and a half has been a full-blown, holiday whirlwind: Christmas prep, celebrating with family on Christmas Eve, baking and prep for the annual family ski trip to northern Michigan on the 26th, back home to celebrate my 50th on Sunday, New Year’s Eve, and now… finally… New Year’s Day.

Kicking off at least one resolution today–getting back to healthy eating–has me feeling decidedly more human. I feel like we’ve been surviving on a steady diet of coffee, sugar and carbs because WE HAVE BEEN. It’s fun at first, you know… when the first batch or two of holiday cookies & treats are made. “It’s the holidays!” you say, popping a warm, peanut butter kiss cookie into your mouth. But I’m here to tell you, after a week of that tomfoolery, the mere sight of the cookie platter left me feeling trapped and defeated. I wanted a cookie, and probably could’ve summoned the willpower to stay away, but then there was that little voice somewhere in my brain, reminding me that I’ve had zero willpower thus far, it’ll taste wonderful, and they’re little cookies anyway, so just eat the damn thing already. So I do. And the little voice is absolutely right on every count, including the part about them being small cookies, so I listen again when it tells me to take another. I’m not going to lie here — when I finally dumped that platter of decorated sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, and the pb kiss cookies this morning, I felt so incredibly liberated. It was awesome, and I may or may not have smirked as I heard that voice in my head shriek and begin to weep.

Not. Today. Satan.

With all that temptation behind me, I’m hoping to focus more on returning to the healthy lifestyle I left back in mid-December, as well as getting some fiction out for reading.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the beginning of a rough draft, and I hope if you come by to read it, you’ll leave a comment. Tell me what you like, what you don’t like… what works and what doesn’t. One of my goals for 2019 is to get work out in front of readers’ eyes, and to develop a mutually-beneficial environment for feedback and constructive criticism. Similar to the way my physical self won’t improve without hard work, neither will my writing. And the only way I know what to work on, is to hear from those who read it.

Happy New Year to all!

36 minute respite

I can’t remember last Sunday.

That’s how busy the past week has been.

From work to holiday prep, I readied myself each morning with a quick mental layout of the day to help keep my sanity.

It worked. For the most part.

At the moment, I’m in a brief respite — no one home except the dog… Christmas songs being crooned from the Alexa … and enjoying the newly-assembled holiday decorations. This? Is bliss. It isn’t going to last much longer. Jeff and Bobby will be home soon, and we’ll settle in to watch some NFL for the remainder of the afternoon. They left to meet up with Jeff’s brother at Taco Bell, which we never visit. The thing is, Bobby recently realized he was the only one of all his siblings to have never eaten at Taco Bell. Personally, I’d have worn that feather in my cap pretty darn proudly (no offense TB), but he was determined to try it out. We made several attempts, but plans always managed to fall through at the last minute. Last week, with family over, there was an exchange during which James (Jeff’s brother) waved a Taco Bell receipt at Bobby, inadvertently rubbing it in that he’d never had it. James truly felt bad, and promised to take him on the maiden voyage at some point. That point, turns out, was this afternoon.

I imagine right about now Bobby’s downing a chicken soft taco, chasing it with a Baja Blast.

But for now — it’s so calm. A stark contrast to the last six days. The perfect snippet of time to breathe and think about how truly thankful I am for the things that made me so busy. Today we sent off two of the kids — one back to Purdue, and the other to her new apartment in Manhattan. Neither wanted the short holiday break to end, but they’ll be back in a few weeks for Christmas. Until then, it’s back to the daily grind–work, school, classes–until we’re all together again. The break in the busyness of last week is giving me perspective on the upcoming holiday. I’m a planner by nature, and that fact saved me from a mental breakdown on many occasions. However, I’m going to try setting aside about 20-30 minutes at the end of each day to assess the ol’ To Do list, and stay on track. We’ve got a short, four-day family vacation after Christmas, and I would love to just relax and enjoy it, rather than feel like I’m constantly getting duck in a row.

How do you prep for the holidays? Are there any tried-and-true methods that keep your head above water and a smile on your face? If it isn’t anything too top-secret, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

Oh, and if you check in here once in a while (usually wondering why in the world a writer can’t manage to keep writing on her own blog), don’t be a stranger. I’m going to be trying out this space for some creative projects very soon!

UPDATE: Bobby’s full report on his first Taco Bell meal was summed up as he walked in the door: “It. Was. Awesome.” He also came home with souvenirs — three packets each of Fire! and Mild sauce. And, as he peered over my shoulder to the laptop screen, he affirmed he did, indeed, have a Baja Blast, and “drank it like it was his job.”