About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Second Chance at a Once in a Lifetime Love #ScintillatingSunday #Romance

Welcome to the Scintillating Sunday Romance Blog Hop where multiple authors share eight paragraphs of their work that they find 'scintillating.' Taking a look inside the romance drama, Dancing Barefoot.

Excerpt...

-->
“Kiss me,” she whispered against his mouth.

“No." His hands slid up her arms before cupping the back of her head. 

"I dare you."

"Never."

"I know you want to."

"I don't."

"Now who's the liar?" she asked, her teeth tugging at his lower lip. 

Their mouths met in a kiss that melted her skin like candle wax, turning them into one being, one entity consumed by desire. To hell with restraint and regret. She needed this, needed him, here and now. 

From the back cover...

-->
Naked photographs plastered on a book cover remind Jessica Moriarty that the past isn't as dead as she'd assumed. Her carefully constructed life as an architect on the fast track to partnership is threatened by a love she'd abandoned five years ago when responsibilities had trumped dreams.

World-renowned photographer, Jacques Sinclair, could have chosen anywhere in the world for his book signing and photography exhibit, but he'd come to Boston to shake things up. He wanted answers, but they aren't what he expected.

Reunions aren't always happy—sometimes they stir up unwanted pain and forgotten passion. As Jacques and Jessica stumble their way back to one another for a second chance at love, they're ensnared in a web of conspiracy, manipulation, and sabotage designed to keep them apart. Will they be able to break free of the ties that bind them to seize the love of a lifetime? Or will the pressure to conform rip them apart forever?

**This is the conclusion of the two part Dancing Barefoot series and can be read as a stand-alone. However, to get the full impact of the love story, the author recommends reading book one, In Between.**


Monday, February 1, 2016

How Did I Get Here? This Is Not My Life #MondayMotivation #Inspiration

-->
 
Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime" (Same as it ever was) 


There are moments when I'm consumed with the "how the hell did this become my life" feeling. I look around at my reality and it doesn't mesh with what I'd imagined it would be twenty years ago. 

Whose house is this? Who is that staring back at me from the mirror? Whose car is that in the driveway? 

Last night I was watching Good Wife and a scene from the program made me cry because it struck me with my own inner feelings and fears. Alicia, the main character, broke down saying that she didn't recognize her life--no one to trust, no joy, a routine that didn't suit her, grown children she no longer even knew if she liked, a job that she seemed to be failing at, trapped in a home she resented, and a love lost. Raw emotion. Intense honesty. 

Same as it ever was...

How did I get to this point in life? When I look at young moms with their little kids and handsome husbands, I feel a pang of envy. That used to be me, I think. I used to have all of that. I loved it--don't regret one minute. But then what happened? How did I get here, to this moment with everything unraveling and in tatters at my feet?

When I get sad about all the detours my life path has taken, when those moments of overwhelm strike me, I remember that this is all temporary. Every second is fleeting. People come and go like the ebb and flow of the ocean. What I think of as a great burden today will seem like nothing in ten years, maybe I won't even remember it. Every situation is fluid. Our lives are in perpetual change. 

Imagine yourself as an eighty year-old and write your current self a letter. Sit down, imagine being an elderly person and write yourself a letter starting with, "Don't worry..." Imagine being that eighty year-old looking back on life and being able to send you a note telling you about all the great things that are going to happen. Be a time traveler in your own life! Allow your future self to intervene, to give you that thumbs up, and tell you, "Hey, we make it and it was an amazing journey." You will see how far you have yet to go, that these setbacks can be overcome, and that you can master your future. 

No, this may not be where you want to be right now, but the moment is fleeting. You have time. Breathe. Put whatever stresses you have in your life into proper perspective. Even if they seem insurmountable and crippling...breathe.

Same as it ever was...

In the episode of the Good Wife, she ended the program laughing and realizing she had more friends than she'd assumed. She'd even kissed a really sexy guy--yes! Isn't that how things usually turn out? Right when you're about to say, "screw this", life reminds you of its greatness.

Write yourself that letter from the old you to the current you...imagine the greatness ahead.





Peace to you!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.amberleaeaston.com 


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Off-the-Charts Chemistry with Nail-Biting Suspense #ScintillatingSunday #Romance

Welcome to the Scintillating Sunday Romance Blog Hop where multiple romance authors share eight paragraphs of their novels that they find 'scintillating'. 



An excerpt of the romantic suspense/action adventure novel, Duplicity


"I'm not one of the nice guys who play fair," he warned. 

"Who said I liked nice guys?" She reached for the snap of his jeans and pulled it open. "And why in the hell do you think I play fair?"

He smiled, reached for the neckline of her shirt, ripped it down the center, and tossed the pieces of fabric aside. Without hesitating, he dipped his head and nibbled her neck while his hands claimed her bare breasts. 

She arched upward, craving skin-on-skin, needing the feel of his hard body pressing into hers. The sea breeze kissed her nude torso, the coolness contrasting sharply with the heat of his mouth on her flesh. 

She mimicked him by reaching up to the neckline of his already torn t-shirt and ripping it off of him. Shreds of material blew away in the wind. Sinking her teeth into his shoulder, she moved her hands frantically over his wide back. The more she felt, the more she hungered for more of him, all of him. 

In a daze of whiskey and desire, she dropped the back of her head onto the cool surface of the boat as his mouth claimed her breast. Eyes open, she stared at the stars and sighed when he dipped a hand inside her shorts.
"We should go to the bedroom," he muttered against her mouth. "We might fall overboard."

"I can swim." She smiled against his mouth. 

From the back cover...

Nothing bad happens in paradise...or does it?


Lexi Dubois is in trouble. On Grand Cayman for business, she discovers the company she's been working for is funding a human trafficking ring—and the money trail leads back to her. Scared for her life, she charters a boat for a week to hide from the men on the small island who want her dead and to buy time to find enough evidence to take them down. The last thing she expects—or wants—is a torrid affair with the hot captain and dive master.

Larry Gibbon has been running a charter dive boat operation in Grand Cayman for years. He's seen it all—and done his share of creating havoc. But when a mysterious woman charters his boat for a week—alone—he has no idea what trouble she's bringing aboard.

The ocean is vast and unforgiving, but will Larry's knowledge of the Cayman Islands and Lexi's relentless determination to survive be enough to save them?

**The Wanderlust Series consists of stand-alone adventure romance novels. Occasionally, characters from previous novels may make a cameo, but each story truly does stand on its own merits.

Be swept away today!

 
-->
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com



Friday, January 29, 2016

Love from the Other Side #ParanormalActivity


Love never dies. What does that mean? Before my husband's death, we'd never experienced paranormal activity at our home. In fact, it would be fair to say that I was a skeptic. Ghost? C'mon. Get real.

Be careful what you ask for--things got real, real fast after he died. Almost immediately after his death, my phone would ring with static at the other end. I would be away from home and see that the caller I.D. was that of my home office. A chill would come over me and I'd quickly disconnect. Either someone had broken into my house or someone--something--was calling me from the other end.

I told a few people about this only to see their eyes widen. I could almost hear their thoughts, "Oh, she's so consumed with grief she's imagining phone calls from 'the other side.' It didn't matter that I could show them proof on my caller ID. So I started keeping the experiences to myself, even though my curiosity had definitely been ignited.

Then things intensified when I cleaned out the closet to remove Sean's clothes--it disturbed me seeing them there as if waiting for him to walk in and get dressed. So I boxed things up and gave some away.

But then the unexplained activity started feeling aggressive or more insistent. I'd see a shadow figure that looked exactly like my late husband's upper torso looming at the edge of the bed. There would be knocks on the window with no one there. The dogs would growl at...nothing. I'd wake up all tucked in beneath my covers as if someone lovingly wanted to keep me warm. I would have vivid dreams where he'd sit and talk with me about the day just like he used to do…and when I woke up, my skin would tingle where I felt he'd touched me.

Fuses kept being blown with no explanation. Not just minor ones either, but major high voltage ones that controlled our water pump for the well. It happened again and again...no one could find a reason why. It was as if the energy in the house had gone wild with no explanation.

Ghosts became a fascination for me. I started watching paranormal investigations on television, reading whatever I could on the subject, and eventually met with a psychic who validated the experiences I'd had in my home.

Again, despite the personal experiences with the unexplained, I was skeptical and somewhat guarded with the psychic. I didn't give her any background information on me at all and went to the appointment with hope on one hand and a "what the hell am I doing now" attitude in the other.

One of the first things she said to me was, "He left energy behind, trapped energy that's causing fuses to blow." 

I froze. Seriously?

Then she smiles and says, "He's a bit of a smartass, isn't he? Your husband? He didn't mean to kill himself. He's sorry. He didn't want to leave you or the kids. He wasn't thinking right." 

At this point I start crying. I hadn't told her about the fuses, the weird calls, the knocks, the shadows, none of it. I hadn't even told her that I was widowed.

"He likes it when you talk to him in the closet," she said.

I talked to him when I was in there putting away clothes...

"He wants you to know he loves you and that he checks in with you when he can. He wants you to be happy."

I left that appointment shaking and silent. I still wasn't sure about any of it--but at this point I wasn't a published author yet and it wasn't so easy to google my life story. So how did she know?

What did I know? What do any of us really know about the after life and what happens? I'd heard my husband's last breath--watched the light go from his eyes. The moment is burned into my mind. I'd felt the change of energy in the house and in my soul.

I truly believe that love never dies. It transcends time, perhaps becomes another energy that surrounds those of us who survive. Death is not the end of our existence, merely a transition. My curiosity has only grown since these experiences. The paranormal activity in the house has subsided for the most part--compared to those first days and months after his death, it is quiet here now. Peaceful.

I went to a different psychic again last year at a psychic fair for different reasons, even wore my wedding rings because, in the back of my mind, I know there are true psychics and some who are most likely con artists. Again, I said the bare minimum about my life, just sat down in the chair and grinned, and the first thing she says is, "Your husband is sitting next to you. He's really proud of you...and he wants you to know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing." 

Explain that? I hadn't even voiced my question or said one word beyond, "hello."

Cue the XFiles music...

Have you ever had a paranormal experience with a loved one who has passed on? I'd love to hear about it.

Something to think about...
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.amberleaeaston.com
 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gloves Off! Wearing Your Warrior Persona to Stand-Up for Your Kids #parenting #relationships

My children returned to school less than three months after witnessing their father's suicide. He'd died one day before summer break. At first, I hesitated sending them back, but people assured me it was the best thing to do. They'd been traumatized and hadn't yet absorbed the magnitude of the loss--none of us had, not really.

I should have listened to my gut.

Fourth grade teachers misunderstood my daughter's sudden shyness as a learning disability even though she had been advanced in third grade before tragedy took us by surprise. All knew about the loss our family had suffered, but I learned quickly that knowing something and understanding how to deal with it are two different things.

My son's second grade teacher heaped on extra homework on him, demanding he "snap out of it".  A once happy kid, he'd come home crying. The teacher said he was moving so slow in class, seemed distracted, so needed to be punished with extra homework that the other kids in class didn't receive.

Our grief counselor visited the elementary school several different times to try to communicate the stages of not only grief but trauma, but her efforts only served to get me in trouble for sending in "outside" help.

My daughter was prevented from going to recess because she wouldn't read out loud and would cry. She was bullied by other kids who told her that her father was in hell because he'd killed himself. One of the teacher's aid confiscated a ring (fake ring) that I'd bought her over the summer on a weekend trip because she said it was a distraction--and she never returned it, not even to me. When my daughter--remember, only in fourth grade--came home with a black eye and a dislocated arm from being bullied on the playground, I was told that she deserved it because she'd been teasing the boy by taking a ball and running around the playground with it. 

I went in that next morning--after calling the sheriff to report an assault--and withdrew her from the school. My son stayed--he was happy in the social sense--but my daughter was stiff with anxiety and there was no way I was taking her back there.

I was told by the teacher that day that my daughter had a learning disability (umm...no...she'd seen her dad kill himself and was only eight years old) and I was going to put her back a few grade levels if I took her out.

I said, "fuck it" and did what every motherly instinct inside of me told me to do.

I hadn't planned on home schooling. I thought home schooling was only for the ultra-religious or people who didn't want to socialize their kids.

I was winging it, much like I had done since the moment my husband had died. I told her to trust me, took her home, and figured it out.

We were lucky to live in a school district that had a program set up for home schooled students who wanted some part-time instruction. Two days a week, I drove her forty minutes away so she could study math and science, subjects I felt were way out of my comfort zone.

Not only did the teachers feel I was in the wrong, a lot of our friends did, too. They loved the school, thought I was overreacting, felt I was doing my daughter a disservice and perhaps that I was somehow "losing it" over my husband's death.

My family felt the same way. My mom thought I was going to "stunt her growth."

I did it anyway. More and more, I felt like the leader of a team of three, determined to do what I felt was best for my kids even if it ran contrary to popular opinion. I battled for them with grief counselors, coaches, teachers, family, friends. I was not only their mother, I was their warrior. Still am.

We did this for nearly three years until she was ready to go back to school in seventh grade. The words of the teachers and everyone else echoed in my mind...she'll be behind, you're screwing up her life.

That daughter of mine is now a sophomore at the University of Colorado where she is on the Dean's List with a 4.3 GPA majoring in neuroscience and pre-med. I think we did okay, don't you?

I sometimes feel like driving back to that elementary school where those same teachers still teach--the same ones who discarded a child going through such a severe loss and traumatic experience and who scolded me when I challenged their woefully wrong prognosis that she'd be held back in life because of my decision--and tell them exactly how amazing she is. I'm sure they'd remember us...our family tragedy was the talk of the town for a long, long time.

Sometimes being a parent means doing what you know is best for your child even if everyone around you undermines your confidence. It means being a warrior, strong in your belief not only in your child, but in yourself to make the right decision. It means looking like a fool to the outside world and ignoring the derisive comments.

I admit that I was winging it that day when I marched into the school and withdrew her. My hands shook as I signed the paperwork. It took every ounce of my control not to start screaming at the condescending staff who didn't seem to care that my eight year-old daughter who'd just lost her dad had been beaten up to the point of a dislocated shoulder and black eye--because she'd apparently been teasing?--as they spoke to me like someone with a learning disability about all the reasons I was doing the wrong thing. I kept my control. Did what I need to do.

We volunteered at the school once a week in my son's class. Perhaps I did that as a sort of 'screw you' to them, but I felt I was showing up to watch my son closely. He had a large group of friends--the social aspect was good for him. My daughter? She remained on swim team for her social connections. It all worked out.

But, oh, the comments she received. The doubts. The concerned glances. The downright rude questions.

Perhaps when she is actually a neurologist with her MD proudly displayed behind her name she can return to the elementary school herself and say, "Remember me?"

No regrets here. Was I scared that day? Angry? Yes. But I would do it again. Often as parents, we're all just winging it, doing the best we can in that particular moment of time, sometimes terrified that we're making a mistake. That's what courage is...being afraid and taking action anyway. As parents, we are warriors protecting our little ones and showing them that they have people in the world who will always be on their side.

Be good to yourself.
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.amberleaeaston.com

-->
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com


Monday, January 25, 2016

Putting an End to Frienemies #relationships

Loving and Respecting Yourself Enough to Say, "No More Inauthentic People Allowed."


One of my biggest personal flaws is cultivating one-sided relationships that end up hurting me. I attract narcissists who, at the end of the day, don't have my back. For the longest time, I have allowed people who treat me like an afterthought to cycle through me life at their leisure. But I'm not blaming them--I accept that I've allowed this behavior in the past with my eyes wide open and with the attitude of just letting it go.

But the letting it go hasn't served me well--it's only benefited them. As they show up only when they need me, I am left alone in the 'in between' when maybe I need a friend to just spend time with or share a laugh. If it's not on their time table, then they don't have the time. Period.

Or, worse, they're the first to backstab and throw me under the bus based on conjecture or rumor--zero facts. Is that a friend I really need to mourn the loss of? No. Yet, I still find myself missing someone who was really only a placeholder for someone more authentic, filler in the void of loneliness that caused me to settle for less than what I deserved.

I think we all go through periods in life when we know we are compromising our standards simply to avoid being alone. After being widowed, I had a gaping hole in my life where my best friend had existed. I floundered, brought people close who hadn't earned access to the inner circle, assumed a confidante type relationship too soon, and ended up burned and often hurt.

It's taken me a lot of time to realize that self-love isn't just about exercising or eating right or getting a facial every now and then. Respecting oneself also means having standards for the people who get close enough to hurt you--do you really trust them--can you--have they earned it?

Do you know they won't leave your house to gossip and tear you down? Do you know they aren't just using you for your expertise or help and that, once they get it, they won't disappear for months? Do you believe that they care about your heart enough that they would never intentionally stomp on it? Do you feel that they know your true heart and would go to the mat defending you in your absence? If not, then they need to stay in the "acquaintance zone" until (and if) they prove themselves worthy of your friendship. 

Why is this so hard for me to implement? It seems easy enough on the surface. I can recite it to myself repeatedly, but then when someone shows back up in my life after an extended absence, I'm too willing to take them back into the fold. Guess what? They disappear again, usually more hurtful than before, and it's simply a cycle I can no longer accept.

Perhaps the death of my husband made me co-dependent in some ways--maybe I needed human connection so much that I reached out to anyone who was there and willing to step in. I'm the first to admit that only-parenting while building a career is damn hard--and lonely. Perhaps that need to feel connected to someone blurred the boundaries. I was too eager to pick up the checks for dinner and buy concert tickets back then--only to be told years later when finances became stretched that people my age should be better off.

I own my mistakes. I take full responsibility for my actions--then and now as I say, "no more." It's time for me to respect myself more by demanding a higher quality of relationship in my life.

I'm not perfect. I'm flawed. My life is chaotic. I work a lot. I always give people the benefit of the doubt and trust too easily. I like getting wild and letting loose because the weight of the world is always on my shoulders. Money is tight because I'm a single mom with a college student and another one about to go. But, more importantly, I'm a good friend who is honest and has integrity. If people can't see that, if they don't automatically believe that after knowing me, then they aren't my friend and perhaps never wanted to be. That's been the hardest part for me to accept---that maybe, yes, they were never as invested in the friendship as I was and I simply wanted to believe it was a deep connection so I didn't feel so alone.

That's the part that makes me doubt my judgment and my heart.

But no more. My life isn't a revolving door for people to show up, shit on me, and leave only to return as if nothing ever happened because good ol' Amber will just 'go with it.' I look at all I've accomplished and all that I've survived and think, "I deserve to be treated better. No more settling. No more disrespect."

I own all the good, too, you see. I own the scars, the drive, the battles, the heartbreak, the creativity, the successes, the failures, the triumphs, the joy, the adventures, and all the love I've cultivated between my kids and me. I'm giving myself respect--which is true self-love. 

If your personal relationships aren't allowing you the freedom to express yourself or embrace your successes, then it's time to rethink the people you've allowed into that inner circle. That inner sanctum should be a safe place for you to fall, a place of support and celebration. Even if it's a party of one at times--don't compromise your standards.

Wishing you all green lights and happy days...
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.amberleaesaton.com

-->
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Diamonds, mayhem and passion beneath Miami sun #ScintillatingSunday #RomanticSuspense

Welcome to the Scintillating Sunday Romance Blog Hop where multiple authors share eight paragraphs of their work that they deem 'scintillating.' Here's a glimpse inside the romantic suspense novel, Kiss Me Slowly.

Excerpt...
 
“I’m no one’s hero, Grace,” he whispered. “You know that better than anyone, don’t you?”

“You’re not exactly the scrawny teenager I remember, sailor boy.” Her fingers traced down his bare chest, face alive with curiosity. “I keep trying to hate you but end up…not.”

“You have blood on your dress.” He fingered the strap in question that had slipped off her shoulder. “You should probably take it off.”

“Careful. We can’t go there.” Sand clung to her neck and stuck to the tangles in her hair. The light from the bedside lamp shadowed her face.

“I meant change out of it, not…well, maybe I meant take it off. But then we’d be crossing lines that you don’t want to cross.” He let his fingers trail down her arm. “That would be wrong. Terribly wrong.”

“You are nothing but trouble.”

“You always liked trouble.” He rested his right palm against the bed, supporting his weight on his healthy arm.

“Shut up, sailor boy. Kiss me.” She kissed him as if savoring the taste. Her hair fell forward, locking them in a caramel-colored veil of intimacy. Eyes wide open, they dragged their lips slowly against each other's, conscious of the sirens outside and time slipping away with each accelerated heartbeat.




From the back cover... 


Trapped in a set-up that could have him in jail or dead by Monday, Jonathan Alexander trusts no one in his inner circle. It’s Saturday. His only hope is Grace Dupont, the best forensic accountant in Miami. But there’s a glitch with that idea. She’s also his ex-girlfriend who'd rather watch him drown than throw him a life vest. Going to her feels desperate…because he is.

Grace enjoys seeing Jonathan squirm. On your knees boy, she thinks as he pitches for her help. Always a sucker for the dark-haired-blue-eyed boys, she risks her precariously balanced life of secrets to help him. Helping him slaps a target on her back–she’s the key to proving his innocence and that’s a bad, bad thing.

Tangled up in a whirlwind of conspiracy, murder, million dollar money trails and diamond smuggling, Jonathan and Grace flee to the sea to stall for time to prove his innocence. Romance sizzles beneath Florida Keys’ sunshine. Both scoff at happy endings. Both doubt justice. Both know each kiss could be their last.


Available in ebook and paperback from: 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Anniversary That Never Will Never Be #love

A letter to my children on what would have been their parents' 20th wedding anniversary:

Twenty years ago I woke up full of nerves and excitement. I was about to marry my best friend--the man who made me laugh like no other man ever had, the man who showed me he loved me by being ridiculously over-the-top romantic, and the man who would be your father.

My bridesmaids and I spent the morning at the salon drinking champagne and laughing about the wildness of the accelerated romance. He'd proposed to me after three weeks and we were getting married six months later. People thought we were crazy--some (a lot) tried talking me out of it! It's too soon, they'd say. Don't rush into anything, they'd say. It's not too late to change your mind, they'd say.

But it's true, sometimes just know when it's right and, yes, it had been love at first sight. 

And it was right. No regrets here, not even today, twenty years later after he's been gone for so long.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that he wasn't a good man just because he committed suicide. Don't ever let anyone tell you that our love affair wasn't real and wouldn't have stood the test of time.

I was there. I know the truth.

No, marriage isn't easy and it's not all a fairy tale. He suffered from alcoholism, but he fought the good fight to be sober. For you. For me. For himself. We had our ups and downs, but we loved each other so much that it was worth the fight.

We'd had plans on renewing our vows on our twentieth wedding anniversary. We wanted to stand on a beach on Grand Cayman at sunset with the two of you by our sides. We'd talked about it a lot when you were little, back when it was hard to imagine you both as the young adults you are now. When we spoke of it, we laughed and fantasized about all the what-ifs.

He died young and neither of you remember him as vividly as I do because you were also young. That's why I want you to know that love is real. It's tangible and worth the heartbreak. My time with your father still makes me smile. When I envision him, I think of that handsome blond man who made my heart skip a beat and who always managed to surprise me with a replica of my wedding bouquet at every anniversary. It didn't matter where we were--somehow he'd managed to have the bouquet there before we arrived. It became a sort of game for him--and it never failed to surprise me. That's the kind of guy your dad was. A romantic. A lover of surprises. A man who liked to make me laugh.

So don't let the years since his death taint you toward love--the years being raised by a single mom with our struggles and my worry. He wouldn't want that and I definitely don't. I want you to know that you were born of love, that you had two parents who used to dance in the kitchen while making dinner, who used to conspire about ways to hide Easter eggs in the snow so you'd believe that a big old bunny had visited, and who used to swing in the hammock together watching meteors slash through the night sky long after you'd fallen asleep.

You come from love. No matter what people may say about the way your dad died or the fact that I've remained single this long. You need to know that this twentieth anniversary date makes me smile with memories of your dad dancing in his tuxedo, friends who wished us well, and a late night jaunt to the airport for us to head off to our honeymoon.

No, we never made it to that vow renewal on Grand Cayman at sunset. But that love that we shared? That remains. I see it in your smiles and hear it in your laughter. I see him in your eyes.

I hope that each of you finds someone who is goofy and wild and kind and over-the-top romantic. He would literally shout, "I love this woman" when we'd be out and scoop me up as if wanting to show me to the whole world. I want that kind of love for the both of you.

That is why I still honor that wedding day even though I am now a widow--because it's always a good thing to remember the love, to honor it, and to shout to the whole world, "I know what love is!"

Keep your hearts open to love. It's real. It's worth it.


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stop Spinning Your Wheels and Get Unstuck! Life is too short to be stranded in neutral


After my husband died, I became consumed with "keeping things together." Whether it was the kids' routine or the house, I became focused solely on surviving, putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on. We'd already suffered a major loss in our lives and every therapist agreed--routine was good.

But after a few years, routine started to feel like stagnation. Once the grief had worn off, the kids seemed "okay", and my career started to move...slowly...ahead, I realized I had developed habits that no longer served my present or my future. I realized I was stuck. But figuring that out and figuring out how to change are two different things.

A wonderful emotion to get things moving when one is stuck is anger. It was anger more than anything else that had set me off, roused me into productivity and creativity.
Mary Garden

Until you recognize what is holding you back, you'll continue spinning your wheels and digging yourself even further into the muck. We've all been there--the dreaded rut. Identifying being stuck is the first step to figuring out how to free yourself, but this is going to involve some effort on your part.


What are some of your bad habits that have kept you locked in neutral? See if you can identify to any of the following:
  • Being perpetually late
  • Talking instead of listening
  • Working long hours without a break or exercise
  • Forgetting someone's name sixty seconds after meeting them
  • Eating fast food regularly (as in your standard M-F meal program)
  • Socializing too much on your phone
  • Procrastinating on everything from preparing your taxes to cleaning out your closet
  • Not promptly returning phone calls or emals
  • Not taking time off for family or friends 
  • Knowing you're bored, but eating instead of figuring out an alternative activity that would stimulate you.
Take a minute to reflect on any habit that is standing as a roadblock to your success. When I say "success", I'm not just talking about whatever it is you do for work. I'm referring to your overall life. Remember this--your actions are the truth; your inner intentions, no matter how inspiring, are meaningless if not put into action.

For me, when I really stopped to look at the habits I'd created, I realized a lot of them were born from sadness...or avoidance of living. Maybe I appeared busy on the outside with juggling kids' activities, a household, and restarting a career, but my habits that I'd created were not serving my highest good because they were keeping me locked in the past--and, in some ways, they kept me safe from taking certain risks that scared me.

When reflecting on your habits, be honest with yourself. What do you do that is stopping you from achieving your highest vision for yourself?

We all get stuck. We all lose ourselves a little bit in a fantasy or in our jobs and forget how we feel about other things. It's really important to check yourself, to spend some time alone.
Amanda Seyfried

Your habits and belief systems are also products of your environment. If you're surrounding yourself with people who love eating fast food every lunch hour, that social peer pressure is keeping you in that bad habit. Breaking free of it may require some social discomfort. The same thing applies if you are surrounded by people who are constantly talking about the gloom and doom of life--how can you feel positive about the world if your friends are convinced of the worst case scenario?

Or, in my case, I was surrounded by people who saw me as my late husband's widow and how I was in the past--whenever I tried to break free of that image, I was met with raised eyebrows and comments that made me feel silly or stupid. I'm sure people meant well, but I allowed myself to cling to the role of stay-at-home-mom even though that had ended the moment my husband died. But it felt comfortable--and it made the people around me comfortable--so I clung to it for a very long time to the detriment of my well-being. 

This is the point where you need to make a commitment to yourself about the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to live.

The first steps to breaking free of the rut are:
  • Develop the habit of changing bad habits. After recognizing the habits you want to change, live consciously and hold yourself accountable. When you are striving to improve, you build character and stamina. Think of this as an exciting journey to a better life. 
  • Clearly identify the habits you want to change. You do this by being brutally honest with yourself about what these habits could mean to your long-term goals. What are the consequences for continuing to do them? Get a sheet of paper, note the habit you want to change, and ask yourself what will your life look like five years from now if you keep doing that? 
  • Define your NEW successful habit that you intend to create. Go into great detail here. The more vividly you describe the benefits of the new habit, the more inclined you will be to change.
  • Create an action plan and hold yourself accountable. Your life may be at stake. Don't cut yourself any slack. 
Habits--whether personal or professional--are often a subconcious part of our days. We become almost blind to their impact. So this is the time to take off the blinders and ask yourself some hard questions. That rut only gets deeper the longer you spin your wheels.

Good luck!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.amberleaeaston.com



-->
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rejection and Rejuvination #MondayMotivation #Inspiration


Rejection sucks. As a writer, we're told we're supposed to toughen up and have a thick skin, but the reality is that never stops sucking. No matter how many articles are in my portfolio or how many published books are on my resume, I still cringe at the idea of being judged and dismissed. It's human nature.

Today I searched through all of my files looking for something I'd printed out years ago. I knew it was there and needed to find it. I moved my office not too long ago so now my shelves are split between two rooms--chaos, in other words. After spreading out all of my file folders and journals, I stumbled upon a rejection letter I received from a major publishing house back in 2002. For some reason I don't remember, I had it laminated! A lot has happened in my life since then so I don't remember why I would have done something like that, but that's not the point. I read that letter regarding a book of mine that's now published--by a different publisher--and looked at the criticism.

This editor had gone into great detail about the faults of the story. I started thinking about why that didn't stop me. Riptide--the romantic suspense novel that had been so unceremoniously destroyed by this woman--is one of my bestselling novels, well-received by readers and critics alike. But what kept me from quitting? Why didn't I say, "oh, well, I guess this writing career isn't for me" and quit right then? Believe me, that letter was one of many--but, for some reason, I'd laminated it.

As I thought about it, I started thinking about rejection as a whole concept. What makes us keep going after a lover chooses someone else? What makes us trust again when a friend abandons or betrays us? What makes some people fight through the darkness and causes others to give up?

I sat there for a long time looking at that letter and trying to remember that time in my life while questions swirled through my mind. What made me keep trying and failing again and again? 

I wish I could say 'hope', but that's too trite and not at all informative.

I think it has more to do with loving ourselves, with being connected with our purpose, with believing in ourselves enough to keep getting up again and again despite the odds, and a willingness to learn, adapt and do whatever it takes to succeed.

Perseverance, yes. Stubborness, yes. Focus, most definitely. Ambition, wholeheartedly.

I knew that Riptide had the potential to be great so kept on revising and submitting until a publisher finally said yes. Reading that editor's criticism now reminds me of how far I've come. Some of what she wrote no longer makes sense for the published novel so I squinted a lot trying to remember the version she'd read. I couldn't. It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter now and it didn't matter then. Not in the big scheme. Sure, it probably disappointed me, but it didn't stop me. It was just a moment in time--a speedbump--and that's what all rejections are. They are simply saying, "this isn't for you right now" and steering you in another direction.

Whether it's the lover who says, "I want someone/something else" or a friend who simply drifts away, rejection can be a blessing even if it hurts like hell in the moment. It's life's way of pointing you toward the path that's right for you. As with the rejection from the publisher, I worked harder, became better, and ended up with a novel I'm proud to have out in the world. With exes, there isn't one I'd want back! So you see? It all worked out.

Rejections are the Universe saying, "something better is waiting for you."

Rejection never stops sucking. However, don't allow them to stop you from loving yourself, believing in yourself, and embracing new people or opportunities that will inevitably cross your path.

As for the lamination...that remains a mystery to be solved another day. 

Wishing you all green lights and easy days...
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.amberleaeaston.com 


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com