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Perspective

I’ve been mulling this conversation over in my head for the past year. And what a year it’s been. But the subjects are building and if I wait any longer, it will turn into a novel and nobody will want to read it.

I’m reading so many posts anti-Trump/anti-Obama, women’s march/anti-women’s march, politically correct/anti-politically correct. I can go on. The subjects are endless and it seems like people are searching for anything to argue about. The one thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve sat back (well, most of the time) is that these subjects are black and white, defined lines. Nothing is monochrome or blurry. Is that accurate or true? I’m here to say in my opinion that I don’t think it is.

My entire life when I have encountered a person who has done a kindness on another, I have always told them, “Bless your heart.” And I’ve meant it. I have wished miracles and blessings upon them and their heart because they were so kind to another. As I’ve found out recently, that term doesn’t mean the same to me as it does to others. For awhile I struggled with not saying it because I didn’t want to offend anyone. Then I realized that how I say and mean it makes a huge difference. I say it with love, kindness and sincerity. It is never misconstrued as an insult. So I am back to blessing a kind person’s heart and soul. It feels good and right to me. But I never post it in a text or social media because without hearing the words, it could easily be twisted and taken completely out of context.

This presidential thing. Oy vey, are we in a mess. Again, black or white. I’d like to point out the monochrome I mentioned earlier. As a human being, I respect Obama and absolutely adore Michelle. She is graceful and classy. As a president, no, I didn’t like Obama. I didn’t respect the decisions he made as a president that affected the town I lived in, my husband’s job and healthcare. We lived in fear for eight years, wondering when we were going to lose everything.

I also don’t believe that everyone should enjoy the same benefits in life. My entire working life, which started at a very young life, I have struggled. I’ve put in 14-16 hour days, sometimes two or three jobs to get where I am at today. I’m still not where I want to be but I’m getting there. Why should I help pay someone else’s way, who is not my family, to live a lifestyle similar to mine while they choose to stay at home and do nothing? If you want cell phones, cars, eating at restaurants, a nice roof over your head then work for it. If you physically can’t (legitimately, not some excuse) then there are programs out there but they shouldn’t be paying for your Escalade, cell phones and designer sunglasses.

While Trump scares the bejimminies out of me, I also agree that there needs to be a change. We were not all created equal, hard work is a reality, life isn’t fair is truth. Things happen. Destroying property that isn’t your own shows how far the pendulum has swung in the direction of immaturity. Our laws have become so slack that you can break the law and not worry about being punished. Heck, with the right attorney you won’t even get a slap on the wrist. What happened to being held accountable for your actions?  Those who are breaking the law are blaming their actions on others. I didn’t realize we had raised a bunch of puppets. I have no problem with protesting. It’s how things get done, attention brought to the wrongs in our society. But when it’s done with hatred, violence and disrespect for others, I won’t participate. Even if I agree with you. Respect used to be earned, now it’s expected. If you can’t respect another person’s point of view and beliefs, how can they respect yours? You expect me to listen to your pain, your hurt but you won’t listen to mine? Life doesn’t work that way.

Which brings me to the latest women’s march. This was a tough one for me and I’ll admit, I didn’t handle it the best on my social media page. I “shared” a post which I mostly agreed with but I didn’t change it to share my tone/personality. This morning I saw another post attacking the post I and many other women had shared. I saw this woman’s point of view because she “spoke” with some respect. I deleted my post but I haven’t changed my opinion on the march. Since this is my blog, I can take the time to remove the emotion from my “voice” and try to explain my position respectfully.

Why I didn’t support the march. This other blogger summarized that the reason “I” (generalizing women who didn’t support this movement) is because we didn’t grow up with hardships, we didn’t struggle or suffer so we needed to be put in our place and have compassion for those who have. That is the post that at first, infuriated me but instead of lashing out on my social media page, I decided it was time to stop, calm myself and post on my own blog.

I am the epitome of everything this woman was talking about in her blog. I grew up in a household where verbal and physical abuse occurred. Money was a very precious commodity. Just yesterday I came across a letter from the Governor of Colorado and the Colorado Ambassadors of Music congratulating me on being chosen as a participant in an All-Colorado performance tour of Europe. My band teacher, Ms. Stork, had recommended me to the board and I had been chosen. 25 days traveling Europe and I couldn’t go because my parents couldn’t afford the airfare. This letter was dated Sept. 16, 1985. That’s how much I wanted to go and how painful it was that I couldn’t. I was so proud of myself.

I was also legally emancipated by sixteen. At fifteen I had been kicked out of my house and lived a short time with my best friend. I still call her parents Mom and Dad. I didn’t graduate high school. I dropped out four months before graduation because I was not only working full-time, but I was fighting with my mother, bouncing from friend’s house to friend’s house for a roof over my head. I didn’t graduate with my classmates and it’s the reason I refuse to go to class reunions. They earned it, I did not. I got my GED and continued struggling in life.

After working minimum wage jobs for five years, I decided I wanted a better life. I chose automotive. I took out student loans and was accepted into a technical college. What the hell was I thinking? A high school drop-out, a woman, going into a male dominated field. Talk about asking for torture. And I did suffer. I was discriminated from the get-go. And do you know the comment that made me the angriest came from a woman? At graduation after I walked across the stage to accept my diploma, a woman came up to me while I was with my family and stated; “You don’t look like a mechanic.” I turned and smiled sweetly and asked, “Well, what is an automotive mechanic supposed to look like?” The discrimination came from both sides but it hurt the most coming from other women. I dealt with women who wanted to talk to a man because they knew about cars. Of course I had the men who wanted to talk to a man because, well, they knew about engines.

Discrimination came from higher up too. I was told by one dealership owner that I would never become the service manager because I was a woman. He kept me as an assistant service manager for over a year, enjoying the benefits of the customer service awards I won for his dealership. And the ultimate discrimination? How about getting fired for having a baby. It wasn’t sugar coated, glossed over, put nicely. I was told straight up that I was fired because I took maternity leave. And in the state of Colorado, any business with less than twenty employees can let you go for any reason, legally. So yes, I’ve dealt with the discrimination and difference in pay for over fifteen years.

The great thing about America is I can choose a different path, a different life. So I did. I murdered my boss who fired me for taking maternity leave. Well, metaphorically I did. I took all of that anger and hatred and I wrote a book and killed him. Damn, it felt good too. And I decided I wouldn’t work in a repair facility anymore. I taught automotive classes at Colorado State University, gave lectures, wrote newspaper articles. I called out repair shops who tried to take advantage of women. I worked and created the kind of life I wanted to live.

I’ve also experienced rape. A horrific, life-altering experience to be sure. It’s the reason my husband and I make our girls take Tae Kwon Do, why they learned gun safety at a young age and taught to listen to their instincts. You never honestly know what’s in a person’s soul.

Now I could take all of these terrible experiences and blame my childhood, blame society, talk about how awful life is but I will be the last person who will do that. My life is wonderful and I am blessed beyond belief. There are times I break down in tears, grateful for the life I have. I refuse to dwell on the negatives. I look for the window that opens when the door shuts. If I can’t find the window, I break down the wall and make my own escape. I can do anything in this life that I want to because I believe it and I work for it. If I have to put in a twenty-hour day, I will do it. I don’t look outside of myself to make things happen because I know I have the power to do it.

The older I get, the more I realize that those who handle themselves with grace and respect get heard the most. To have an intelligent debate, showing respect for the other person’s experiences and opinions, will have greater weight than words spewed in hate and anger. While I will admit I have “lost it” sometimes on social media, giving into my strong emotions, I will often delete my comments or apologize. I am human, I do make mistakes.

I have worked and fought so hard to be where I am at. I have incredible friends, a husband who honestly respects and honors who I am, daughters who look up to me, ask my opinion, value my teachings. So I refuse to act in a manner that is disrespectful. Putting on vagina hats, spewing hateful words and then trashing the streets with signs and litter is not the way to be heard or taken seriously. My children asked why all of the women were wearing clown hats and because I’m honest with my girls, I explained to them what was happening and what those hats really were. Their words; “that’s stupid.”

So the entire purpose of this protest was lost on many who would’ve taken it seriously, believed in the same cause, experienced the same things. I want to be taken seriously. I did not feel that this was the way to accomplish that.

So to the blogger who tried to label me, tried to box me, I respectfully argue with your position. Life is not black or white. It’s filled with different shades of color. It’s what makes us unique, special. Please don’t speak for me because you haven’t walked my path, nor I you. I won’t tell the world who you are, I won’t paint you black or white. I won’t put a label on you because I have respect for you as a fellow human being. I would appreciate the same respect.

Juggling ADHD Balls

Wow, it’s been a while folks and for that I am sorry but as I look back on my posts I can see the defining path of self destruction that I was laying before me. Here I am, at a cross-road that can either ruin me or make my life more fulfilling and more successful. It’s this reason that I am taking a moment, taking a breath and looking around.

As you know, 2012 was all about my writing. I won the Master Koda Extreme Author Makeover Contest in January. In April, my metaphysical romance, With Love; Now & Forever, hit #1 on Amazon and I released another novel, Love’s Everlasting Song. Things were going great, I was writing and things were smooth for a few months. Then my youngest daughter got sick and I had some run in with people who took advantage of me professionally. The combination was too much and I decided to take a sabbatical from work. No writing, no publishing, no reviewing. I was done. Or so I thought.

I should know, being ADHD, that my mind is in constant motion. It’s one of the reasons there are many nights I get very little sleep and my ideas appear endless. It was during one of these restless nights that I realized we didn’t have a tack store in our town. For non-horsey people, it’s a place to buy saddles, bridles, items for you and your horse. Our community is still very old west; in fact the day we moved here, there was a gentleman who rode his horse into City Market, tied it to the lamp post and went grocery shopping, I am not lying. So to not have a place to buy these necessities was just crazy so I decided to approach the hubby about opening a store. To my extreme surprise, he agreed! I quickly threw together a business plan and with the help of a wonderful local banker, found the perfect company and applied for a small business loan. Within a couple of weeks, we were approved, secured our store location, came up with a name, secured the proper license and was in the process of remodeling the store for our May 1st opening.

Now as if that wasn’t enough chaos in such a short period of time, we started having people walk into our store with bags of boots asking if we were going to do boot repair. No, we replied, we didn’t know how and hadn’t even thought of it. After the 46th person walked through our yet-to-be-open doors requesting boot repair, we realized we had better start looking into it. By chance, (man does God/the Universe really look out for you if you let Him) a gentleman called about my gelding for sale. He came out and began talking about our store. He asked if we were going to do boot repair and I explained we were considering it but had never gone to school for it. He laughed, told me he was a retired cobbler and though he had taken some courses in cobbler schooling in Oklahoma, it’s basically a self taught art, and a dying one at that. He told me that if we were serious, he would teach us how to do boot and leather repair!

Needless to say, we were thrilled and after inquiry, found out this man has an amazing reputation as a boot repairman. We were learning under one of the best. After pricing the equipment, we decided that we would make a six month plan. We would open the tack store May 1st, and then if it did well enough, we would buy the boot repair equipment, remodel the store and start doing boot repair in November. Well let me tell you, I should know better than to make plans. Today is July 25th. We bought our boot repair equipment last week and this past Sunday and Monday remodeled our store. We have already been learning the boot repair process, (I did a pretty good job on some heels if I do say so myself) and will be “officially” be taking work August 1st. Though that hasn’t stopped the numerous people who have already dropped things off at our store stating they are fine with waiting.

My point to my ramblings is that you never know where life is going to take you and the saying “Be careful what you wish for” is oh-so-very true. I will never give up on my writing; it’s in my blood and in my soul. But I now have a new business, a growing new career and a new respect for business owners. I’m also happy to report; I have a healthy daughter again!

Life is meant to be fun; enjoy the journey my friends

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop with Wendy Siefken

I would like to thank Master Koda/Kim Emerson for including me in this blog hop that helps readers and authors come together. This gives us a chance to share our fellow authors to our beloved fans and maybe introduce you to another favorite author to follow!

My blog today is with Wendy Siefken, an honestly sweet and kind author who has supported not only myself but so many other authors out there, including her son, Charles Siefken, whom she co-writes with! Sit back, sip on that latte and enjoy the interview!

What is the working title of your book?
Kai’s Journey
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Basically it’s a mix of games, stories and books I have read.
What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult, but anyone who likes to read fantasy might like it too.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I think I would like to give some unknowns a shot at it. I think that would be the best way to 1. Find new talent and 2. the unknowns seem to make the best movies!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It’s an apocalyptic world where one man dares to find hope and one group of people offer it.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
We self-published the book but we are now under the publishing company of MKSP.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About four months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don’t know that our book is like others. Most of this type seems to search out the darkness in the light where ours searches for the light in the darkness.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Christopher Paolini has always been a great influence in my desire to become a writer. I admire his writing style and I admire him as well.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Our book gives a new twist to how werewolves are portrayed and how dragons came to be on earth.
Wendy, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today! Here is their website, please jump on over and check it out!

Here are also a few more links to authors I have tremendous respect and love for!
K.R. Hughes and T.L. Burns at www.krhughestlburns.wordpress.com

Crying Over Cut Broccoli

As most of my friends and fans know, my life has been a whirlwind of changes and challenges this past year. Between moving, leaving my job over health issues, becoming a bestselling author and trying to keep up with my family, I have been a little overwhelmed. No one wondered or thought it strange when my Miss Suzie Sunshine personality became cloudy and dark. We all chalked it up to stress and too much on my plate. I went in for a physical in March because the exhaustion and irritability were becoming more prominent but after a complete exam and blood work. That was when they found the lump in my breast and a mass in my uterus.

I went to a specialist in Denver for my breast and my family and I cried in relief when the tests came back negative for breast cancer. The biopsy from the mass in my uterus also came back negative and it was believed that I was just under a lot of stress and pressure. Everyone said that the explanation made sense, everyone but me. I just didn’t buy it. I wasn’t stressed or under pressure. I’ve been there. Being a service manager at a large automotive dealership, working 16-18 hours a day, dealing with people who are angry that their car broke down or how much it costs to fix it, that’s stress and under pressure. I was playing on 35 acres, planting my garden, playing with my horses and children, being a wife and mother. I was in heaven! It slapped me up along side of the head that something major was wrong when twice I behaved in a way I never had before. The first, I yelled at my beautiful daughters just because they were playing in the mud, making mud pies and castles. Normally I would be out there joining them but this day I hollered because of how dirty they were. I’ll never forget their shocked and pained faces; it breaks my heart every time. The second occurrence was when I was in my garden cutting broccoli to steam for supper and I began crying, apologizing to the broccoli for killing it! How insane is that??? I knew then that I had to get help.

I found a specialist who deals with female hormones in Steamboat and made an appointment to see her. After describing my symptoms she asked if we could do a physical and also an ultrasound of my uterus. I thought that was a little unusual but agreed. We went into another room and she turned the monitor around so that I could see what she could. In vibrant blue and red colors, I looked like I was pregnant with forty little alien babies! I had so many polyps, masses and disease that my body basically thought I was pregnant and was pumping so many hormones into my body that it was completely messing me up. It was recommended that I have a hysterectomy as soon as possible, leaving my ovaries for natural, and normal hormone production. Feeling so relieved that I wasn’t going insane and that there was a reason for my actions, I quickly agreed.

I am now almost four weeks post surgery and yes, sometimes I still cry but it is because of the joy and happiness that I feel over feeling me again! The biopsies that came back on my uterus were all benign which is a reason for joy but also my inner joy and happiness is back. My girls tell me all of the time that they are glad that their fun mommy is back and I laugh so much more. My husband is thrilled that he has his loving wife back and the irrational, hormonal one is gone. And I feel fantastic! I have more energy, don’t sleep as much and also excited that I will be able to get back on my work out routine and not have it disrupted a week out of every month.

I am writing this article because I want to encourage any woman who has noticed a change in personality or stress or just feels off to go get checked out. And if the first doc says there is nothing wrong, get a second opinion! That’s what I did and I’m so glad I listened to myself and my body. And don’t be embarrassed to ask the questions, regardless of what you find out. I asked all of the “embarrassing” questions, like would I still enjoy sex? Could I still have an orgasm? Would it hurt or feel different? Would this cause any problems with my bladder? If you don’t know of anyone who has gone through a hysterectomy or aren’t comfortable talking to them, HysterSisters is an amazing support system that allows members to be completely anonymous. If you’re still uncomfortable with that feel free to email me. I’m not a doctor, have no medical experience but I do have experience as a woman, both hormonally insane and sane! My email is raeannehadley@hotmail.com. Granted, I still cry. I cry at the blessed life that I have, the beautiful and amazing family that I have but I don’t cry over cut broccoli anymore.

Life’s meant to be fun; enjoy the journey!

Love beyond skin deep

I recently watched the movie, The Help, and though I had read the book before I will admit that I cried during the movie. To visually see the abuse and mistreatment that people do to one another because of skin color is abhorrent and makes me so sad. I cannot understand why, under any circumstances, would anyone think it’s alright to abuse another human being, regardless of race, color, religious beliefs, anything.

I feel very blessed for having been raised by the compassionate and empathetic mother that I have. She taught me to look at a person’s soul, their inner spirit, to see the beautiful person there. Color was never a big deal. Flowers come in all different colors yet each as beautiful as the other. I was taught to see people for their actions and behaviors, not their skin color and I can honestly say that I don’t see color on people, I see their souls.

We grew up with foster kids and I’ll admit it was difficult at times. These children had come from horrific circumstances that no child should ever have to experience. The idea that adults had hurt these children is too painful for me to talk about and as a mother I will not bring up those memories. We did have two children, a brother and sister, who were African-American that came to stay with us. The sister was only with us for about a year when her biological father came and took her but because her brother had a different father, he stayed with us for another four years. He became a part of the family, the brother I had always wanted, the son my dad had always dreamed of. He stopped being my foster brother. My mother went through the necessary steps and applied for guardianship and I remember being shocked and hurt when they denied us guardianship because we were white. This was my first experience with society and its decisions based on color. To this day I still think it’s wrong.

As I grow older and my fan base and friendships grow larger I find my heart expanding and I’m filled with love for so many people. I honestly believe people are beautiful, regardless of their race, color, religious beliefs. I am still shocked by things people are doing to one another. As I’m writing this today, the headlines are the shooting in Aurora, just a few hours from where we live, at a movie theatre. It seems that there are those out there bound and determined to hurt, kill and maim for no apparent reason. I guess I feel compelled to write this today because I have so much love in my life, so much compassion for others that I have a difficult time reading and watching those in the human race hurt one another. So please do me and those poor families affected by the shootings a favor today, hug one another. Fill someone’s bucket today. I promise that the next time I see you I will give you a hug! Life is meant to be fun; enjoy the journey.

When book reviewers go too far…

As published writers we all put our work out to stranger’s eyes to be read, critiqued, loved or rejected. It’s the gamble that we take and we understand and accept that. It used to be that you’re work was reviewed by a professional and was posted for the world to see, good or bad. You read where you could improve, how your next piece of work could be better or you celebrated that the reviewer enjoyed your work. In this modern and advancing world, we have Indie authors, such as myself, and now have self-proclaimed Indie reviewers. As authors we have to learn, grow, improve or we will not survive in the eBooks world but what about the reviewers? Don’t they have a responsibility to other readers and other writers to learn how to critique, how to review?

Mechanics of Murder was my very first book, written over 8 years ago when I was filled with a passion yet very little knowledge. Most of my fans know the background of Mechanics and the emotions behind my story to finish it for my ailing father. It is not a grammatically perfect book, filled with errors of a novice writer who wanted her father to get better. I will never be ashamed of my book, will never regret putting it out there and have prepared myself for the negative reviews on my punctuation and my grammar. I’m really okay with that. After all, it’s how we grow and learn and my work has done the same. With Love; Now & Forever became a best-selling book this year and I’m SO very proud of this book but it wouldn’t be half the book it is if I hadn’t learned how to write properly. Thank you, Mechanics. But in a recent 1 star review, my evaluator tore apart my characters and how they acted/reacted in a story stating that it was unbelievable. They claimed that because my character was 30 years old, she wouldn’t get butterflies or tongue-tied when her love interest came into a room. This is the first time I have truly found a review deeply insulting and I walked away for a day but couldn’t let it go. So here is my question of the responsibility reviews should have.

All of my work stems from my own life experiences, as I’m finding is true with other fictional writers. It makes sense; this is the only life I’ve lived as far as I can remember so I have to draw on my own emotions and reactions to explain through my characters. My story Mechanics is loosely based on my life and the relationship part is the base of my relationship with my husband. I blushed when I saw him looking at me, I got butterflies in my stomach when he came near and my tongue was often tied when we talked. I was 32 years old. We will now be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this year (yes, I’m 42 now) and I still get butterflies when I see him, I can’t keep my eyes off of him when we are in a room, he can still make me blush and often still literally sweeps me off of my feet. We are each others’ best friend and lovers. So when someone tells me that my characters wouldn’t act that way, it insults me because Steve and I do act that way and that is what I have to draw on for my characters. A part of me feels some pity for that person, that they either never had or no longer have that kind of relationship with a partner. But then my frustration kicks back in.

I welcome the reviews and critiques for my grammar, my formatting, and my layout. Without them I couldn’t continue to grow as an author, I wouldn’t be driven to learn to perfect my work which I know will never happen because I’m a human being, I’m not designed to be perfect. I welcome those who wish my plot was stronger or took a different direction, it drives me to come up with something that hasn’t been done (tough order for sure) but if you’re going to judge my work for all of the world to see, don’t tell me how I (or my character) would or would not react in a situation. We are all very different, individualistic people who make this world so interesting and exciting and we handle things distinctively. Keep your comments professional and limited to your knowledge of the written language and not something as unique as a person’s nature. Oh, one other little thing, if you want to be a reviewer and commentate on another’s work, make sure your own spelling is correct.

Life is meant to be fun, enjoy the journey!