She will find her way the way I did, a short story

When the verdict was handed down, tears of anger are slapped from the eyes of Amy Quinn. She’s helpless to stop herself from looking at George Cook, who’s waiting for her to glance his way, his beady eyes laughing with demonic glee, a child molester turned loose to destroy more innocent lives. Harold lays his long, wrinkled fingers gently over Amy’s own. “We did all we could, child, don’t let it get you down.” Amy has grown to love this wizened old prosecutor who has to duck under doorways, his silver hair wild sprouts, sprinkled over the garden of his fertile mind. She nods at him, unable to speak, and gathers her things, hurrying from the room.

Pushing blindly through the crowd, she blasted her way through the massive doors of the Boone
County Courthouse. Her office is inside the courthouse, but that’s the last place she wants to be right now. She’s headed for oblivion, and the trip is a short one. Emory’s Bar & Grill is right across the street.

George Cook had been molesting his fifteen year old stepdaughter for the last few years. The girl had come to them several months ago, depressed, suicidal; desperate for help, and Child Protective Services had immediately taken the steps necessary to remove her from her home. Part of Amy’s job as the psychologist for CPS was to comfort, counsel, and advise “at risk” children, and from her first meeting with Heather Green, she had liked the teenager immediately. Short and stout, with eyes like Raggedy Ann and a boy’s crew cut, she was a fierce and intelligent young woman. The Brewers were considered saviors at CPS, the middle aged couple always willing to offer emergency shelter to troubled teens, no questions asked. They had embraced Heather, and after only a few weeks, the teenager’s state of mind had improved tremendously. As part of the investigation, Heather had been examined by a local physician, who’s report had confirmed the girl’s story of sexual abuse. Heather was prepared to testify against her stepfather, and Harold had felt confident that they could put the evil bastard away. Their case would have been a slam dunk if it hadn’t been for Heather’s mother.




Mildred Harper was the CPS case worker assigned to investigate Heather’s abuse. Several days after George Cook’s arrest, Mildred paid a visit to Heather’s mother. When she returned to Amy’s office that day, Mildred’s face had been a mask of total disgust. “Oh, Amy, you would not believe this house. It smelled like dirty feet and cat shit. There was trash piled everywhere! I’ve been doing this job for five years, and that was the filthiest house I have ever been in. I was afraid to sit down!” as she crumpled into the nearest chair.

She had described Norma Cook as a butterball in a moo moo, dirty bare feet, with a wooly gray Afro topping an impish face, her eyes tiny slits in biscuit cheeks. “She’s a horrible woman, Amy. She said that Heather was a liar, that if anything had happened between her husband and “that girl”, it was Heather’s fault for seducing him, leading him on with her skimpy clothes and “breast that she shouldn’t even have yet.” She said that about her own daughter!” Lisa cried, as she ran for the restroom.

As Amy had listened to the sound of Mildred being sick, a rush of maternal love had enveloped her. This job was the older woman’s whole life. The short, staunch spinster had a wild mass of gray hair, wire rimmed glasses riding the tip of her misshapen nose. But she was ferocious in defense of these children, pouring her sweet heart into their protection. She was a loner, and spent her nights watching TV and caring for a slew of animals.

Waiting for Mildred to recover, Amy’s thoughts had turned to Norma Cook. She recognizes the classic symptoms of denial. The woman was unable to accept the fact that she was married to a pedophile. Or maybe she just didn’t care, Amy is gaining steam now, becoming angry, or maybe, she had just been jealous of her daughter, who’s body attracted George Cook in ways that her fat ass didn’t anymore. Whoa girl, Amy thinks, you are not supposed to be thinking

those kind of thoughts, but she feels better anyway, after throwing up with her mind, while Mildred throws up with her body. The poison has to come out somehow. As Mildred drags her emptied, pale shell from the restroom, Amy asked, “Are you alright?” “I feel better, thanks, but I’m worried that we are gonna have major problems from that woman.”

How right Mildred had been, Amy thinks, as she orders her second beer. Her exotic, royal blue eyes catch her own reflection in the mirror behind the bar. People have told her all her life how beautiful she is, but the six foot blonde scoffs at her looks. If anything, beauty has been a deterrent to her, a roadblock. She is a serious young woman, on a quest for justice, her mission to rescue the innocent children, ready to do battle for those who can’t defend themselves. If Mildred only knew how much there were alike. This is Amy’s first job since she received her master’s degree, and over these last six months, Lisa has been her guiding hand. Amy is thankful for her everyday, and for this wonderful little town, the first place she has felt at home since Claire and Chicago. She is the head of Child Protective Services, with a Master’s degree in psychology from Texas A& M. Mondays are hard for her, it seems that most of the damage done to the children occurs on the weekends. She’s only been here for three months, and already she feels an overwhelming sadness at times. The things people do to their kids. But, this is what she has wanted her whole life, to make a difference, to help the people who can’t help themselves. She is a petite young woman, but formidable when crossed. She moved to Chicago for this job, and this morning she is homesick for Texas. She was raised in the country, with three older brothers, and she’s not afraid of anything. But the human snakes she encounters in some of the homes she visits here make the rattlesnakes at home look like prized pets.

But a smile quickly replaces her sadness as, not the first time in the last three months she thinks of John Graves. She met the lieutenant right after she started here, her job requiring continuous interaction with the Chicago police. He is quite a bit older than her, but she likes him. She finds his rough exterior attractive, reminding her a little of her brother, Jack, all rough lines and sharp corners. She senses a calm, softer layer underneath all that gruffness, and it has her attention. Amy can’t think about anything good after what just happened with George Cook.

She can’t believe the son of a bitch is a free man. She knew they were in trouble the minute she walked into the courtroom this afternoon, Norma Cook sitting smugly behind her husband, no Heather to be found. What had the woman threatened to do to her daughter if she testified?

Amy could kick herself for not seeing the red flag when she called the Brewer’s house yesterday. Heather had been reserved, the effervescence of late absent from her voice. Amy had chalked it up to nerves about the trial, never dreaming that the girl would pull a no show. Without Heather’s testimony, the defense attorney had torn them to shreds. The bubble butt lawyer had reminded her of W.C. Fields, all bluster, a bulbous, drinker’s nose. He was out of Dallas, one of those snakes in the grass you see on TV commercials, making a joke of the profession of law. “Your honor, my client is the true victim here. A young girl, jealous of her mother’s happy marriage, has brought shame and embarrassment on the good name of her stepfather.”

Harold really had done all he could, even though Heather had tied his hands. Carrying himself in regal fashion, calling Dr. Phillips to the stand, “I would like to enter as exhibit A the doctor’s report of his examination of Heather Green. Doctor, state in your professional opinion what you discovered upon examining this young lady.” The doctor had made a convincing witness, explaining the medical aspects of Heather’s sexual abuse, the broken hymen, the brutal damage done to her young vagina, but the defense attorney backed the doctor into a corner, “Isn’t it true, Dr. Phillips, that this damage could have been caused by any number of the young boys Heather has been having sex with?” W.C. Fields had done his homework. Harold was left with no recourse but to dismiss the doctor, for Heather had admitted to being sexually active, and without her there to defend herself, he was afraid of doing more harm than good. George Cook had always used a condom on his step daughter, the brilliance of evil, and with that knowledge, the district attorney’s office had declined to administer a DNA test.

When Norma Cook took the stand, it was another nail in our coffin. The woman must have taken a bath and bought a new dress, for her appearance was matronly and respectable, her hair tamed into a grandmotherly bun. She painted a picture of her daughter as a wild and disrespectful child who resented her stepfather for trying to bring some order and discipline into her life. She described her husband as a good man, hard working and honest. She apologized to the judge for the lies her daughter had told , and begged the court to release her husband so that they could rebuild their lives. The defense attorney had closed the deal, “Your honor, this is a travesty. The young lady who has brought all this trouble and heartache down on her family is not even here today. Obviously, she has realized the error of her ways, and decided not to get herself in big trouble by bringing her lies into your courtroom. I move that this case be thrown out, and my client be reunited with his loving wife.” The judge had bought it, hook, line, and sinker. CPS was never even allowed to testify, and the judge angrily reprimanded Harold for allowing this case to get this far. Case dismissed.

Amy doesn’t want another drink. People are starting to drift into the bar after work, and conversation is the last thing she wants. What she does want is at home, a hot bath, some candles, soft music, and something good to eat. As she steps down from the barstool, she thinks of Heather. Amy has been in her shoes, and she hopes that somehow, the young woman will find her way out, just like Amy did.

Reunion with an old friend, a short story

Irene is a true believer. She believes in dreams, signs, spirits, things that defy explanation. But one thing Irene doesn’t believe in is coincidence. Helga Steiner showing up yesterday was no coincidence.

Irene had been doing the breakfast dishes, worrying the finish off the plates, her mind picturing her and Maddy in that TV version of the big mother and daughter talk–even though she wasn’t Maddy’s mother–when Helga had knocked on the front door. It was as if Irene had conjured up her friend with the pure power of dilemma. Helga would know what Irene needed to say to her granddaughter.

Helga and Irene had been friends for over thirty years, but this was the first time they had actually seen each other for at least ten. Irene was so glad to see Helga, she could have cried. The two women hugged fiercely.

Helga still had the same crazy style, her hair shocking red, piled high on her head, a loud yellow silk cowboy shirt and blue jeans. Gold and silver bracelets jangle on her wrist. Her cat-like eyes were spidered with black mascara and thick black eyeliner. The only thing different had been the added wrinkles. The skin on her face had always been dark and leathery, but there were deep creases now, lines zigzagging across her face like a road map.

Irene had made a pot of coffee, and they’d spent at least an hour catching up. Helga was on her way to San Antonio, to live with her daughter. She said that when she’d seen the Waxahachie exit, she almost flipped the UHaul, deciding in that instant that she needed to see Irene while she still could.

Helga had moved to Missouri ten years before to take care of her dying mother, but she and Irene had kept in touch over the years through letters and phone calls. But a lot had changed since the last time Irene had heard from her.

Helga’s mother died six months before and not long after that Helga found out she has cancer. She said it was in remission, and with her signature sense of humor, Helga had laughed deep and hard, saying she decided she better “get while the gettin’ was good.” She had always been a tough old bird, and Irene understood exactly what she meant. Being able to drive herself to her final destination at least made her feel like she still had some control over her life.

As she’d listened to Helga, Irene had become distracted by the sounds of a normal Saturday morning streaming in through the screen door, Katie barking as she chased a squirrel, the little boy next door varooming, giving his hot wheel a motor, carefree and innocent. Irene had to shut the door. How could the world just carry on, she’d thought, while Helga sat there, only steps away, bearing the heavy knowledge of her impending death?

Her bright yellow shirt had made Irene want to cry. That was Helga, sticking her tongue out at death, daring it to come. A picture had formed in Irene’s mind, a negative that must have lain dormant for years, waiting for this moment to develop. It became a crystal clear image, a snapshot of life, wonderful and horribly cruel in equal measure. THIS IS HOW IT IS.

*****

Irene’s been tossing and turning in her four poster bed for hours. It’s Sunday night and she needs to get to sleep, she’s got to be at the Senior Citizen’s Center by seven to make the lunches for the shut ins, but her mind won’t let her rest. Seeing Helga yesterday has sent her on a trip down memory lane. They didn’t meet under the best of circumstances; they’d shared a room in the hospital, Helga there for a hysterectomy, Irene with a broken arm. Irene had argued with Dr. Williams in the emergency room, she couldn’t stay in the hospital, she had kids at home that needed her, and besides, she had no insurance. The old doctor had been adamant that he was keeping her for a few days, for “observation.” He had been her physician for decades and had seen the bruises, but Irene had always made up a lie; she’d bumped into the door, tripped over one of the boy’s bikes.

But Eugene had finally gone too far. Irene had decided then that she was through making excuses for him. Dr. Clark had tried to talk her into pressing charges, but she had refused, and that’s when the doctor had decided to keep her there, in the hospital. He wouldn’t even allow her to have any visitors, hoping that if she had a few days to think it over, without any outside interference, she might change her mind. As fate would have it, those days spent in the hospital would end up changing Irene’s life.

*****

Irene gets out of bed and quietly makes her way to the kitchen. Maybe a glass of warm milk will help her sleep. She pours some in a pan, and sets in on the stove to warm. Always the faithful companion, Katie appears in the kitchen door, the look on her speckled black face a question, “What are you doing up so late?”

Come here, Katie,” Irene says. She stoops down, her knees making that cracking sound they always do these days. She puts her arms around Katie and gave her a big hug and a kiss. “You are such a good girl”. She isn’t worried about waking Maddy up, the child could sleep through a tornado.

She hears the milk hissing in the pan, and rises with effort from her crouched position. Damn, she hates getting old. She pours the scalding milk in a mug and sits down at the table. Katie walks over and lies at her feet. Its past midnight, and the only sound in the room is the ticking of the clock on the wall.

Irene has sat here countless times in the dead of night, and she is usually soothed by the sound, but tonight, it’s the most lonesome sound in the world.

As she sips her milk, she thinks about the first time she laid eyes on Helga. She smiles now at the memory, but it wasn’t very funny then. When they’d wheeled her into the hospital room, she was already depressed, her husband had broken her arm, the doctor wouldn’t let her go home, and she had young boys at home, the only person to take care of them the drunken bastard who’d put her in the hospital in the first place.

Then of all the people she had to room with, there was Helga. Irene knew her type, she’d seen her share of women just like her in the honky tonks Eugene frequented, the kind of woman he was attracted to; all dolled up, ready to party. As soon as she’d seen Helga, Irene had shut her eyes, pretending to be asleep. She’d thought, I’ll be damned if I am going to make nice with a woman like that.

But once she’d closed her eyes, she had slept, the sleep of the dead, her mind and body beaten down, exhausted. After the fight the night before, Eugene had left, as usual, and she had tried to sleep, but her arm had hurt so badly sleep had been impossible. When the light of day had come, Irene had driven herself to the emergency room. All she’d been able to think about was getting something for the pain. It had never occurred to her that her arm might be broken, or that she’d end up staying in the hospital.

This life, a poem

First and finally we are loners
from that beginning breath
until the last dying ember
we are given the task of loving
yet on our own.

It’s through the grace of God
and the hand of family
the compassion of a friend
the devotion of a pet
it could be as simple
as the peaceful repetition
of supper on the stove
or the wild passion of romance
that the journey is eased
the impact of life’s
storms lessened,
and delight is brought
to the act of living.

Still, when the day is done
and the last whistle blows
we leave like we came
unleashed from this earth
but as one.

We are always waiting for something

While I was waiting for something, I started thinking about all the waiting I do. My ex is moving out today, but he’s still sleeping and I am waiting for him to wake up so he can get the hell out of here. It got me to thinking about all the waiting I have done where men are concerned. I have been married a couple of times, been in more than a few serious relationships, and also raised two sons. So I figure I have spent approximately one million, two hundred thousand; three hundred and fifty days waiting on men.

Waiting for them to come home

Waiting for them to wake up

Waiting for them to call

Waiting for them to say I love you

Waiting on them hand and foot

Waiting on them to change their mind

Waiting on them to move out

Waiting on them to arrive

Waiting on them to leave

Waiting for them to propose

Waiting on them to make up their minds

Waiting on them to move in

Waiting on them to see the light

Waiting on them to change

Waiting for them to pick up after themselves

Waiting for them to stop snoring

Waiting to see if one is attracted to me

Waiting on them to learn some manners

Waiting for them to stop being such assholes

I’m through waiting.

Sunday lust, a poem

I felt like posting a poem I wrote a few months ago. The writer in me, the creative writer, is yearning for sustenance, and the writer’s ego in me can’t help but share, or I guess it’s ego, it just feels wrong to keep what I write to myself. I haven’t been motivated to send anything out for awhile, so hey, here we go. I am at least sending it out into the blogosphere.

Sunday Lust
“I dream of a cranberry couch,” she said to her husband
as she ran her wrinkled hand across the tattered sofa.
The coffee perked, filtering through last night’s dream.

In her dream she had been a young man,
a testosterone-charged gigolo, a contestant in a reality show
sailing a royal vessel across miles of aqua-blue heaven.

Waking had been a disappointment, quiet
stretching across the hours. Putting the dream into words
might have ruined their day; or worse, tainted its memory.

So she said the first beautiful words that rolled off her tongue
grounded her to yesterday, to domestic pleasures.
She stirred the coffee and gazed at her husband with Sunday lust.

An Unfinished Story From Highschool

Two failed marriages, two house payments behind, two kids with a less-than-stellar mother, fired from two jobs in less than two years; Karen Freeman had stopped believing in second chances. “Why did I let you talk me into this?” she snarled at her best friend, Judy, as they stepped into the past. It was the twenty-year reunion of the class 71, Wichita High.

A wannabe 70s rock band was playing a sorry rendition of “Purple Haze” in the corner of the gym as Judy shouted. “I need a drink!” She made a beeline for the refreshment table, Karen on her heels.

“Ooh, look…Tom Jeffrey’s is fat…and bald!” Judy pointed to a short, chubby man standing in a group of other similarly overweight males–the former Wichita football team.

Karen slapped Judy’s hand down. “Stop pointing!”

“Thank you, sugar,” Judy winked at the young man as he handed her two plastic-cup margaritas.

“You are incorrigible,” Karen said, taking her drink from Judy.

“And the night is young!” Judy glowed as her eyes took in the room. Suddenly she took off across the gym floor, “I’ll be right back!”

Karen had been a beanpole in high school, a nerdy girl who’d never belonged to the in-crowd. Judy hadn’t been that popular either but she’s never seemed to care. She had always had a reservoir of self-confidence that Karen had lacked, though Karen had been confident to a point. It was just that over the years, she’d let the cards she’d been dealt bring her down. It made her angry at herself, for Judy had been through plenty of her own trials and she was still on fire with life.

But Karen’s bitterness ran deep. She stood by the refreshment table sipping her drink and spotted Sarah Womack, once Wichita High’s head cheerleader, who looked to weigh about two hundred pounds. Karen was overcome with evil delight. She’d filled out quite nicely after she’d had her kids, and though she admonished herself for being catty, she couldn’t help but feel peacefully vindicated. Though when she looked down at her Target dress and Payless shoes, she saw that it didn’t make a difference if Sarah Womack became the fattest woman in the world, she’d always outclass Karen.

Then she saw him walking toward her next to Judy, his once-dark hair white as an albino rabbit’s, though she would have recognized him anywhere; tall, still lanky Bobby Griffith, the boy who had loved her, the boy who’s affection she had scorned. As the now grown man looked into her eyes, she saw herself as the person he must have seen back then, the one she’d forgotten about.

Confessions of an aspiring writer

I would imagine that everyone has heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” As a newly single writer, I am here to tell you that never were truer words spoken. For three years I wrote poetry, short stories, essays, a few articles here and there, not really worrying about whether the markets paid or not. My husband paid the bills and supported me in my writing endeavors. (At least I thought he did.) I was building my publishing credits, creating a portfolio while I looked for a publisher for my novel.

Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard and I worked long hours. I was dedicated. I created a blog which I still maintain for other writers, listing markets and links to help guide them through their journey. I created and edited an online flash fiction journal. I also spent a lot of time on writer’s message boards, giving and receiving advice and searching for markets, making friends; and yes, wasting time chit chatting.

Those days are gone. I have been forced by circumstance to support myself. I had several choices when my husband left: I could go out and get a regular job or start my advertising business back up–which I created and ran for ten years and grew to hate–or I could try to make a living as a freelance writer. I chose the latter. I had to do a lot of soul searching, for as anyone who writes for a living knows, security is not a word that applies to freelancing, or at least not to new freelancers. But I love writing. I made a commitment to myself when I gave up my advertising business that I would spend the rest of my life writing. And that is what I am going to do.

I find that the biggest challenge for me is a psychological one. It truly is mind over matter. Still, I get up everyday with a clean slate, determined that I will not give up on my dreams. I am strong, smart, industrious and a good writer. And there ARE ways to make a living writing, though what I have found is that the easiest way for a beginning freelancer is to write for the web. I get paid through Paypal for most jobs. I look for jobs that pay quickly. I write content. I have written for a soap opera site. Whatever writing I have to do to make sure the bills get paid that’s what I do; so far so good.

But I find it highly ironic that I used to be such a Prima Donna about writing for the web. When I would read post by writers on message boards who were working for very little pay I would bombast them, telling them that they shouldn’t give their work away. Now I eat crow everyday as I check the job boards and submit my beautiful words for less than I think I deserve.

I guess you could consider this a confession, the confession of a woman who is determined to make it as a freelance writer and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. The good news is that I no longer have the luxury of hanging out on message boards. Time is money, and the hours that I don’t spend writing for the web I spend sending out queries to magazines that pay good money. I have created a resume and am starting to get more offers for web work than I can handle. I have also learned that my background in writing ad copy in real life equates in the writing world to copywriting. Beginning copywriting, granted, but still, I’ll take whatever accolades come my way.

I realize that the road ahead is a long one but I am hopeful and excited. I know that as I continue on my journey as a freelance writer the more experience I get under my belt the more often better paying jobs will be available to me. I also know that the time will come will I will want to write new poetry and short stories, maybe even more novels, or who knows? Maybe I’ll even write a non-fiction book. The writing world is wide open before me. All I need to do is keep plugging along and not lose faith.

I am sure I am not alone in my predicament. My hope is that these words will help other writers who may be in a similar life situation. And on that note, I’d like to close this confession with a challenge. I have always firmly believed that you can do anything you set your mind to. I intend to be a shining example of exactly that. What about you?

The Importance of Reading Out Loud

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned about creative writing is the importance of reading your work out loud. I am not referring to reading the finished product to an audience. I am talking about reading your draft out loud, to yourself.

When I was writing my young adult novel, when I finished a scene, after I was reasonably sure the words were just the ones I wanted, that my dialogue was natural, that my grammar and spelling were correct, I would print out the scene, and in my office, alone, like a performance artist, I would act out the scene, reading out loud, using the voices of the narrator and each character. If someone had seen me they would have probably thought I was nuts. But this was a sure fire way of finding out what sections of the scene needed work.

Reading a piece of fiction or poetry out loud, you hear it with the ear of the reader. Sentences that need pauses, words that require inflection or emphasis, the dialogue between two characters, rise up off the page in a way they simply can’t do by reading the work silently.

How to develop real creative writing talent?

I am reading a book by Cormac McCarthy called “The Road,” a heart-wrenching story of a man and his young son trying to make their way through a future gone mad. The world as we know it has ended, and there is barely nothing left, only fire, ash, sorrow, and dead bodies. There are few survivors, and most them have banded together into evil, insane gangs that prey on the decent.

I came across a metaphor last night that prompted me to write this post. McCarthy was describing the dead trees. “the thin black trees burning on the slopes like stands of heathen candles.”

What a picture that creates! The thing that makes McCarthy’s passage great is the fact that he describes something in a way no one else could. That is the sign of true creative writing talent, the ability to convey a message in a way that is unique and not cliche. Think about it. The greatest writing is that which makes us see things in a new way, a way we’ve never considered.

Why I deserve something?

I was born into slavery. All my life I had been a tool, a means to an end for other people’s needs and desires. I was kept in the dark, living on a diet of stale Ritz crackers, peanut butter and diet root beer.

But the day came when I finally saw the light. I remember it well, it was the eve of my 16th birthday. My keeper forgot to lock the door when he left for his latest assignment as a hired killer. I escaped, running through the streets of the city, shouting for joy, saying hello to EVERYONE, amazed at the beauty of the people around me, at the bright lights and the excitement of freedom, of living. Then suddenly, someone took my picture. At first I was frightened, but the old woman who had snapped the photo was kind. She snapped several others. Then seeing my discomfort, she wrapped her arms around me as we walked to the photo development shop. As we waited for the pictures to be developed she fed me chocolate truffles, cooing over me, telling me what a pretty child I was. She had never had children, she said.

Well, I had never seen myself, I had never even looked into a mirror. And I have to tell, you, one hour later when the photos she had taken of me were passed into my hands, my life changed. I really WAS pretty. I had a button nose and big brown eyes. And my smile was radiant.

I never returned to my prison. The old woman took me home, adopted me, and began to fill my starving belly with cheeseburgers, french fries and strawberry milkshakes. I was in heaven, though there was only one thing missing. I needed a camera. For Christmas that year, the old woman bought me a disposable camera and I became a fanatic, snapping pictures of all the beautiful, free people that came into my line of vision.

That was many years ago. The old woman, the only mother I have ever known, died last year. Now here I sit, free but poor, living on a diet of stale Ritz crackers, peanut butter and diet root beer, unable to even afford a disposable camera, just wishing that Ted Murphy, the CEO of PPP, would have mercy on this wounded soul and make my dreams come true by hooking me up with some HP camera gear.

I could start my life anew by making my profession one of taking digital photography and finally be able to afford the chocolate truffles, cheeseburgers, fries and strawberry milkshakes my dear mother raised me on. I beseech you Ted, oh powerful one, choose this former slave and prospective photographer as one of the lucky posties that you bestow a gift upon!

How to control my thoughts?

I started out this morning in a really good mood. I was very calm, even felt peppy, the first time I’ve felt that good since the marriage trouble started the day after Thanksgiving. But I started having a sinking spell around noon, and I decided to pay attention to what was really going on in the back on my mind. You know what I mean, those little tapes we play in our head that tell us things are not going the way they should, that nobody loves us, or that we aren’t pretty; everybody has different negative stuff they play, whether they are aware of it or not, or I think pretty much everybody does, at least when they are going through a rough patch in their lives. That’s usually the first thing we do is start beating ourselves up.

What I began to tell myself, however, was that those tapes were old, worn out and not true, and I started playing new tapes, telling myself that I loved myself, that God loves me and that I am fine, safe, even on the way to being happy, maybe for the first time in years. We really DO have the power to control our thoughts, and as we all know, our thoughts control our actions and our actions define our destiny. So, at least for today, I am headed to a much better place emotionally, for I overcame. I plan on doing it again tomorrow.

How to find time for myself?

I have a confession. I am a lurker. And one of the places that I often lurk is the WAHM forum. I love the place, and you know why? Because I used to be a single parent and I can’t help but admire their stamina, persistence and the actual joy that comes through from work at home moms in their posts. I have never seen a group of harder working people.

I just wanted to stop by here tonight before I pile up in the bed with my little dog and a good book and say to the WAHMs out there to remember to take some time to yourself. I don’t care if it’s an hour a week and all you do is go to Walmart, do it alone, find a babysitter, trade turns with your neighbor or another WAHM so she can do the same. Enjoy some quality time.

As women, we are guilty of putting everyone’s needs before our own. And that can be honorable, but it can also take a huge toll on you and the people you love. Taking time out for yourself is a gift you give to you all. Good night, and keep on plugging along!