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Monday, March 25, 2013

What Do You Dream About?

In your secret heart of hearts, what do you wish would happen? Is it something you ever talk about, or does it stay hidden away for fear if the world looked too closely, they’d throw sand on your rainbow?

Do you have friends, or mostly acquaintances? How can you tell the difference? That’s easy. Friends respect confidences. They’re there for you no matter what. They don’t preach and they don’t judge. They support your rainbows and your dreams. Most of us are heavy on acquaintances and shy of real friends.

Back to my original question. Do you turn your dreams into goals, or are you convinced they’re simply too farfetched to ever leave the dream realm? If that’s true, have you asked yourself why? Not much is truly beyond our reach. The main thing standing in the way is us. Yup. You heard me.

Once upon a time, they taught problem solving skills in school. Most of my college education was an exercise in problem solving. Even beyond an actual problem, my professors—the good ones, anyway—taught flexibility. If the first attempt to address something doesn’t work, it’s actually a learning experience, not a failure. It gives a golden opportunity to assess just why things didn’t work so we can craft a better solution.

I’m absolutely convinced all problems can be broken into components and the components addressed individually. It’s how I’ve taught myself things I really had very little aptitude for, like flying, for example. People need spatial ability to fly. That’s the skill of judging three-dimensional space. Mine is so non-existent even topographic map reading is a struggle. It took me twice as long as it would have taken anyone else, but I did manage to get a private pilot’s license a number of years ago.

Another issue is I really do not like it when someone tells me I can’t do something. It hurts my feelings and kicks up a stubborn streak and an, “I’ll show you,” attitude that’s gotten me into hot water a time or two.

How about you? What do you struggle with? If something is hard, does it make you try harder or give up? This is a pretty anonymous forum, I’d love to know what you think.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Real Women and Real Bodies in an Airbrushed World

I can tell you roughly how many calories are in practically anything I eat--oh not in a restaurant, but I'm good at estimating things in my refrigerator or pantry. When I was growing up a long time ago, nearly everone was "normal" weight. No one bothered with calories or went to a gym. But there were some major differences.
1. No computers. There was television, but people mainly watched a couple hours at night.
2. We walked, rode bikes, and played outside.
3. Food was mostly grown locally and we ate what was in season.
4. There were fewer "convenience" appliances. Washing dishes by hand burns more calories than tossing them in a dishwasher. Ditto for hanging clothes on a line versus chucking them in the dryer. You can see where I'm going with this line of thought.

Obviously, there's no way to roll the clock back half a century, but there's more emphasis on appearance today than ever before. There's also a "fix me, but don't make me change" mentality which has spawned an entire industry of weight loss products and bariatric surgery. Despite the fact that radical surgeries, which short circuit a person's digestive tract, carry a significant mortality risk, people sign up in droves. Obviously, they don't mind risking death, if they can only die thin.

We live in a, "I want it, and I want it now," society. The only sure cure to body image issues takes time and a committment to wanting something different. There's no easy way to lose weight. It took time to build up and it takes the same time to come off. The good news is while you're learning how to eat differently and get out and about with exercise, things change in your brain. It no longer feels good to veg out in front of a screen. You find you want more from life.

Women  come in all shapes and sizes. We're not all a size 0 or even a size 6. Furthermore (and this may surprise you), even size sixes can have body image issues. I'm always wanting to lose five pounds despite my clothes fitting fine.

Where does that come from? This always wanting something other than what we have. Partially from the media. Look at the plethora of magazines like Shape, Runner's World, Mountain Biking, and Men's Journal. Even Ladies Home Journal always has articles on getting (or staying) in shape.

Learning to love who you are is an art. You're just as valuable as you'd be if you were twenty pounds thinner--or even fifty pounds. Once you come to terms with that, it's easier to give yourself permission to make the changes you want in your life. When we come into something from a perceived "one down" position, we add an emotional component. When we're feeling emotional, we comfort ourselves--usually by eating. The trick is to see exercise as comfort (it actually is, since it pushes endorphin production). So next time something goes awry, a brisk walk is a much better panacea than a donut and a calorie-laden latte.

It's important to come to terms with the core human you are. We all age. None of us are young and beautiful forever. There's nothing sadder than an aging diva who only had her looks. Once they're gone, as far as she's concerned, there's nothing left. (There are men who fit this description, too, by the way.) Just remember, there's always someone younger and prettier waiting in the wings for their fifteen minutes of fame. What you want isn't fifteen minutes based on your looks, but a lifetime of feeling good about who you are.

Get in touch with what you love about yourself. Don't wait. Do it today. Once you have a good handle on that and are coming from a position of strength, pick one thing you'd like to change. Stick with it. It will happen. Even if it takes a year, you'll spend the same year doing something else. You may as well spend it helping your inner beauty shine through and learning to appreciate who you are.

Any stories you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Paranormal Historical Romance

 Historical Romance--With a Shifter or Two to Keep Things Interesting

Buy Link Liquid Silver Books
Buy Link Amazon

Come join me in a tale of unforgettable love which spans two continents and reveals the shadows where our nightmares live. From the old country to the new world, one woman learns you cannot change who and what you are in a quest for everlasting love.

Relegated to a shadowy existence of half-truths, Gwendolyn lives in fear her wolf side will be discovered. She leaves the Old Country with Hunters nipping at her heels, but things in the Americas aren’t any better. Eighteenth-century society is just not kindly disposed to either shifters or witches. Mikhail, the love of her life—except the relationship always felt pretty one-sided—has been missing for a hundred years. When he shows up after escaping imprisonment from an Abbey in Austria, Gwendolyn is ecstatic to see him. But she’s afraid nothing’s really changed. Victimized by superstition and running for her life, she’s sure she’ll never be able to emerge from the shadows.

The full moon rode low in the sky, clinging to the horizon far longer than it should have. A blood-red cast made it eerie and threatening somehow. Gwendolyn threw back her head and howled along with all the other wolves in her shifter pack, but something about the moon was so ominous that hackles rose along her back.

High, wailing shrieks, shrill as banshee cries, split the night. Her nostrils flared, scenting the air. Humans. Humans had found them. Not humans, Hunters. Humans wouldn’t interfere with a wolf pack as large as hers. They’d be torn to bits reloading their muskets, and they knew it. Before she was even done thinking, Gwendolyn put her head down and ran, keeping to the shadows of a thick Austrian forest.

Shots rang out, lending her speed she hadn’t realized she was capable of. Howls, growls, and snarls faded as she put distance between herself and the ambush. Her breath left white plumes in the cold night air. She kept running. It was what they were supposed to do. She’Lara, the One Wolf and their leader, had said it often enough. “Do not let yourselves be captured. Hunters will bind you with iron and interrogate you. When they are done, they will kill you. Better to die free.”

She didn’t know how long she ran. Her wolf side wasn’t any good at judging things like that. She stumbled and knew how tired she was. Her flanks heaved as she willed herself to keep going. The scent and sound of rushing water filled her senses. She realized it had been there for a while, but she’d been so focused on possible pursuers she hadn’t been paying attention. Without warning, the earth before her fell away. She stuck out both forelegs to break her fall, skidding on her haunches. It didn’t help. She tumbled down a steep embankment right into the muddy Danube.

Her thick wolf’s coat shielded her from the water’s chill as she let the river carry her downstream. If anyone was looking for escapees from her pack, a few more miles between her and the Hunters wouldn’t hurt.

Gwendolyn clawed at the bank and pulled herself out of the water. The sky was lightening in the east. Shifting in broad daylight was risky. It upped the odds of discovery. Given the surprise attack, staying in wolf form didn’t feel any too safe, either. She shook herself from head to tail tip and then did it again. Clothes would be a problem. She’d left hers near where her shifter pack had gathered—miles from her present location.

She looked at the sky again and made her decision. She did not want to ride out the coming daylight hours as a wolf. Smoke stung her sensitive nostrils. That meant people lived nearby. Melting into the deeper darkness between two gnarled oaks, she gave her body the command to shift. The first thing she noticed was how cold she was. And a sharp thorn under one of her feet. Human bodies were fragile. Because her wolf self had been wet, her human form was too, which meant her long, copper-colored hair clung to her head and shivering body.

Good. Maybe I can tell whoever I find that I fell into the river and nearly drowned.

Yes, but that won’t explain why I’m naked.

Sitting still would be a death sentence. She’d freeze. It was late autumn. Even if the sun did come out around mid-morning, it wouldn’t carry much warmth. Gwendolyn took off at a trot, cursing as rocks and brambles cut into her feet. Nostrils twitching, she scented the air for the smoke she’d smelled as a wolf, but couldn’t find it. She shut her eyes. What direction had it come from? Where there was smoke, there were bound to be people.

“Lady!” A man dressed in tanned deer hide breeches and jacket stepped noiselessly out of a thicket. His dark eyes were wide and shocked. Blond hair hung down his shoulders and an unkempt blond beard obscured the bottom half of his face. “What has happened to you?”

She shielded her body as best she could with her hands. “I fell in the river a long ways upstream. I-I must have hit my head and passed out. When I finally pulled myself from the Danube, it was just back there.” She jerked her head over one shoulder, not wanting to move her hands.

“Where are your clothes?”

She felt color rise from chest to face. “If you must know, my husband took them. He was angry because I did not make supper last night.”

The man’s blond brows drew together. “And did he perchance help you into the river?”

Gwen hung her head and nodded. This was going even better than she’d hoped.

“Here.” He tugged his leather top over his head. “Put this on. It should cover your, ah, woman’s parts.”

“Thank you.” She pulled it on. It smelled of sweat and poor tanning, but at least it was warm.

“I have a place not far from here. My wife will find clothes for you.”

“Thank you again.”

* * * *

Gwendolyn dug in the dirt next to her front door and came up with a key. She shoved it in the lock and let herself inside. Her feet were cut and bruised, but the rest of her seemed none the worse for wear. It had taken her the better part of two days to walk home. She would have made better time if she’d shifted, but didn’t know if she could risk it.

Herbert, the man who’d rescued her, and his wife, Isolde, had been more than kind. She’d stayed with them for a few days, working off the debt she would incur once she left with an item or two from Isolde’s meager wardrobe. Like many country dwellers, Isolde had only a single pair of shoes. She’d offered them, but Gwendolyn had refused. It was bad enough she’d taken one of the woman’s two dresses.

She lit a fire in the stove and then went outside to pump water from the well. She needed to bathe; she could smell herself. As she worked, she realized how lucky she’d been. She hadn’t been raped or set upon by highwaymen. And she was still alive. She wondered how many of her shifter pack had survived.

Nostalgia washed over her. She thought back to when she’d been truly young. Shifters were free to be themselves then. No one persecuted them. They could take their animal form without fear. She’d been born in 1263. It was now the year of our Lord, 1621. “Not my Lord,” she muttered, annoyed with herself for using the phrase even in her thoughts. Gwendolyn wasn’t young anymore, but she expected to live another several hundred years. Shifters had long lives—unless they spent too much time in their animal form.