Sunday, March 29, 2015

Piece by Piece the Past Falls Away #StartingOver #Life


One more piece of the my history is becoming...well, history. It's 2015, which means it's time to renew my driver's license. So what, right? It marks the passing of ten years and, more than that, sets off a countdown to an anniversary that I dread.

How did I get here? It's all a blur of kids growing up--swim meets, friends I no longer see, wine bottles consumed by the firelight, sobs in the dark, soccer games, lacrosse meets, horrible dates, fabulous vacations, graduations, and college dorms. Yet here I remain in a house where I brought babies home and where I witnessed my husband's last breath.

Why am I thinking about all of these things simply because it's time to renew a driver's license? Because I look at that picture and remember...

In my mind's eye, I see the day as if it were happening now. It was the day before my birthday--I push deadlines of all kinds to the very edge--and my husband was working up north. He'd been gone for a few days on the job site. On the way to get my license, he'd called me and we laughed over something mundane. He said he'd be back home in time for my birthday.

He never showed up. In fact, it was the first birthday of mine since we'd been together that he missed. He fell off the grid for three days, which was very unusual because we were the type of couple who called or texted multiple times a day just to stay in touch. His boss assured me that he was on the work site and I needn't worry...but I knew in my heart that something very serious had shifted.

I heard the drum of doom long before May 29, the day he committed suicide, but I had no idea what to do about it.

I look at this drivers' license picture and I see a woman who is oblivious to what her life is about to become. I see the innocence in my eyes and the confident smile. Despite the rocky relationship, I had hope that we'd get back on track because there is one thing that I never doubted--love. I believed at the time that love could conquer all and we had that without a doubt. We'd survived his alcoholism and moved on--I believed in us. 

Sean never showed up for the birthday dinner. The unraveling began then, but I couldn't put my finger on the cause no matter how hard I wracked my brain.

I accused him of drinking again, of falling off the wagon...he countered with me being paranoid and not letting go of the past.

"What do I need to do to prove myself to you?" he'd ask and I'd question my instinct.

Money started disappearing from the account--the kids and I spent the rest of April living on green beans and whatever else we found in the pantry because he kept taking cash out of the accounts and maxing out the credit cards.

"Why do you need all of this money? Where is it going? I don't understand," I'd say.

"I'm working away from home, it's my money, why don't you trust me?" he'd reply.

That was it, the unraveling of life as I knew it to be, but I didn't understand that day I was getting the drivers' license picture taken with my innocent eyes and confident smile. At that moment, I trusted that we'd grow old together.

But then he never showed for my birthday and I knew...deep inside in the dark recesses of my heart where ancient knowledge whispers...I knew something horrible was creeping up on my little family.

One more piece of the past that I'm letting go. A simple driver's license. No big deal, right? Maybe not, but when I look at it now I can recall sitting in my front seat with my cell phone pressed to my ear and laughing at something my husband said and wondering if I should have picked up on a clue. I didn't. I continued on with my day in ignorant bliss. Things happened.

I'm no longer that woman in that picture. In fact, she looks like a stranger to me.

As I surrender this license for a new one, I can't help but wonder what the camera will see in my eyes this time...they definitely aren't innocent any longer, perhaps they are a darker blue, but I'm hoping they shine with the inner strength I've come to embrace.


Peace to you,
Amber
http://www.amberleaeaston.com 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her memoir about surviving the suicide of her husband and raising two young children through the grief and trauma has been named "One of the Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read." It has also graced both national and international best seller lists. She wrote it with the intention of spreading suicide awareness and nurturing a culture of compassion. 


Free Fall Blurb

"Understanding suffering always helps the energy of compassion to be born."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

In an instant my husband stripped away my identity as wife, stay-at-home mom, and best friend. With his suicide, our world changed forever. He'd been the center of our universe, but then he was gone.

Grief is a dark journey, one often tainted with judgment and false perceptions. Add the word 'suicide' to the mix and more complications arise. This memoir, Free Fall, is intended for those who may be facing their own tragedy and feeling alone, hopeless, confused, scared, and misunderstood.

Free Fall is the journey of piecing our lives back together—overcoming children's anxiety as we traversed the brutal grief and trauma process, learning to say the words 'widow' and 'single mom' without cringing, surviving the fall out with friends and family who simply couldn't understand our healing process, triumphing over the stigma of 'suicide', forgiving my husband, and finding peace after chaos.

Free Fall is for widows, widowers, parents, survivors of suicide, family members or friends of one who mourns. This story is for anyone who needs encouragement that there is another side to grief. There is. We're there now. We're looking back and holding our hands out to you saying, "hang in there, you're not alone, and you'll get here, too."
Reviews (In case you'd like to add a few to the post):

5 stars via Author Susan Hawthorne:
Have you ever wondered what you should say... or not say... or were afraid to say anything at all, read this. The insights are deep and true.
I'd recommend this book to everyone. We all suffer loss at some point and this book lights the path. (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)

5 stars via ChristophFischerBooks:
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time.
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others. (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)

5 stars via Pastor Jennifer Swier: Free Fall is a helpful and encouraging look into one family's journey with the pain and healing of losing someone deeply loved through suicide. Her sharing is warm, loving, encouraging, and thoughtful. I found I couldn't put it down once I began. Amber's writing is compelling and will connect with all who share the journey with a family member or friend who is healing following the tragic death of the person they love: that we may begin to imagine what they are going through only because we hear the story they share.  (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)

5 stars via linz:
This book has helped me with my own grief. I would recommend this book to anyone. But more to those who don't understand losing someone to suicide.
She is very honest in laying out her and her family's experience. It's refreshing to read true experience rather than text book advise. (see full review here: http://amzn.to/15PXtsu)



Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bending in the Storm of Life #Friendships #Relationships #kindness


The Dalai Lama said, "Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion." 

This is a simple concept, yet rare to find on an every day basis. I hear too many stories lately of insensitivity in our day-to-day lives. I am not sure what is causing this lack of compassion. Perhaps it is the stress of a struggling economy or the dehumanization in our technological world. Or maybe we have become a society of "I" instead of "we".  

I have experienced great loss in my life, as have many people. During this time of grieving, I have learned that the concepts of kindness and compassion need some tweaking.  

For example, my son was only 7 when my husband committed suicide, yet was told soon after that his daddy had gone to live in hell. I, who had found my husband hanging in a closet with kids screaming "daddy, daddy" over my shoulder, was told to "wake up one morning and say today is the day I am over this." One of my closest friends told me only months after the suicide that she simply didn't have the "energy to deal with it all" and completely stepped out of my life. My daughter suffered severe anxiety attacks after witnessing this tragedy, yet people to this day fail to see her dad's suicide as the trigger for her ongoing insecurity and nervous habits. You may be shocked to read these examples, but they are true and all said by someone who called us a friend. We wounded souls needed compassion, but instead received judgment.

My experiences have caused me to change my view of the world and to redefine my definition of friend. To me, a friend is someone who gives the benefit of the doubt at all times until proven differently. A friend is someone who encourages and inspires rather than doubts and mocks. A friend is someone who loves unconditionally rather than bails at the first hint of trouble. A friend does say "I'm sorry" when necessary. A friend has boundless energy when needed to help another in crisis. A friend sees the best in me and loves me even at my worst. A friend accepts rather than rejects. 

Kindness and compassion are habits we cannot afford to lose in today's busy and tech savvy world. Today I ask you to not only show these traits to others, but to feel them down deep in your heart. When you see a stranger, smile rather than avoid eye contact. See what happens! I bet you'll get a smile in return--or I hope you do. When you feel irritation churn in your gut, replace it with compassion and look at the situation from someone else's point of view. You may be surprised at what you see. And if there is someone you know who is struggling, have the energy to express kindness rather than judgment.  

As the saying goes, everyone we meet is fighting some kind of battle...the man who cuts you off in traffic...the cashier at the supermarket who mutters beneath her breath...the teller at the bank who won't make eye contact...the neighbor who never waves back.  Looking through eyes filled with kindness changes our perception of the entire world.  


What can you do today to show kindness and compassion while expecting nothing in return?  Trust me...when you expect nothing, you receive more than you ever imagined in the long run.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Get Your Thrills This Weekend #Thriller #TheHealer

Who doesn't like a good thriller that keeps you squirming in your seat and unable to stop reading until the last page? I know that's my favorite kind of book! Today I'm happy to host a new release by an amazing author, Christoph Fischer. Here's a glimpse. 

When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, western medicine fails her. The only hope left for her to survive is controversial healer Arpan. She locates the man whose touch could heal her but finds he has retired from the limelight and refuses to treat her.  Erica, consumed by stage four pancreatic cancer, is desperate and desperate people are no longer logical nor are they willing to take no for an answer. Arpan has retired for good reasons, casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her.  Can he really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time?



About the author...
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath.  He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family. 
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; 'Sebastian' in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. "Time To Let Go" , his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions” in October 2014. His medical thriller "The Healer" was released in January 2015. 
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.





Monday, January 19, 2015

Revolt Against the Bully Culture #inspiration #BlogChat

Photo courtesy of Campaign to Unload


Lately I feel as if I've entered a time warp. In a country where the word "freedom" is tossed around to excuse everything from gun violence to hate speech, one odd trend persists---bullying others into silence. 

Last week in my son's sociology class, the teacher actually told the class that no one should question the government. Thankfully, I've raised a rebel who openly challenged her statement. This example is simply one of many in what's become a bullying culture. 

Passionate about a cause? Shh...you'll probably be called hateful names or lose a few "friends" if you speak up. Oh, and if you happen to have a public career, you'd better check yourself before you wreck all you've established--at least that's what your peers will tell you. 

Upset about being mistreated and feel it necessary to set some boundaries? Well, you'd better suck it up because if you stand up for yourself you'll be called a bitch or attacked for holding your ground. 

The sentiment of "who do you think you are" has become too embedded in our daily lives. Who do you think you are to tell me no? Who do you think you are to have an opinion contrary to mine? Who do you think you are to state exactly what you will or will not tolerate? Who do you think you are to expect respect? Who do you think you are to question what's happening in the world? Who do you think you are to question at all? 

I know who I am. I know what resonates with my soul. I am a liberal and proud of it. I love other people as fellow human beings striving to enjoy this planet. I believe in a higher power and that we are all connected. I believe we all have a voice that needs to be heard and respected. I trust myself enough to let people go who don't respect my feelings. I respect myself enough to say "this is unacceptable and I deserve better." 

Bullying is usually only spoken about in schools, but I've discovered that bullies never grow up. They are becoming more and more powerful in today's world thanks to social media and what appears to be a lack of common decency shown to fellow human beings. 

As an author, we discuss trolls all the time. Trolls are people on the internet who attack authors with one star ratings and false reviews for the sake of "taking someone down" or "proving a point." Dare to speak up directly and you'll be attacked even more. This is common place. Just last week a fellow author dared speak up about this phenomena only to be criticized by her peers and attacked by more trolls. As the "attacks" intensified, I heard peers of mine actually say she deserved it for speaking out. Do you see what's wrong with this picture? This is so common that no one in the industry blinks--but don't dare speak up. Shh...the bullies have the power. 

What would you do if you saw someone being attacked in the street? Would you think they deserved it? Would you intervene? Would you avert your eyes and pretend you didn't see it? Would you record it with your phone and post it on Twitter later? 

Compassion, common decency, and humanity are not words of weakness but of strength. It takes more courage to do the right thing than the wrong one. 

As for my son's sociology teacher, she must not be familiar with the saying 'dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' Is she not familiar with how this country came into existence?

Revolt! Be true to yourself and your integrity. Don't allow someone to make you feel as if your voice isn't valued. It is. We've become silent unless hiding behind an anonymous screen name. We mutter behind closed doors or with like-minded people who we deem 'safe' rather than saying exactly what we feel for fear of retribution--either public or personal. 

The bullies are winning. They want us to remain silent, to forget our personal power, to cower away from conflict, to embrace fear, to ignore the causes that resonate deep with our hearts. Why are we allowing this? Have we forgotten what the word 'freedom' truly means? It doesn't belong to a select few who are louder and meaner than you--freedom belongs to us all and we have a duty to ourselves to speak up and stand strong. 

Who do you think you are to dare speak your truth? No. The real question is: who are you to dare remain silent? 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gotta Love Curvy Girls! #Romance #AuthorInterview

I'm so happy to host Kristabel Reed today for an author interview and a peek at her new release, Princess Curvy: A Curvy Italian Affair. Love, love, love it!

Welcome, Kristabel!  Please tell us a little about yourself—things that aren't necessarily in your official author bio: 

I have a very demanding corgi. If she doesn’t get her “official writing treat” by the time I sit down to write, she gets very upset.

Food of the gods: Pizza and chocolate

Okay, thinking about this and realizing I spend a lot of time writing and making up things. If I didn’t write fiction, I’d be a pathological liar.

I love your honesty! I know what you mean about the pathological liar bit--I'd probably be in a straight jacket talking to my imaginary friends if I didn't write. 
How would you describe your books to a reader who hasn't read your work yet?

Princess Curvy, the 5th in my Curvy Girl series is great fun and I had a blast writing it. The entire Curvy Girl series is my counterpoint to the media’s obsession to ultra skinny. The song, “All about the Bass” came at a very opportune time for me! I feel it reflects what I was trying to get across with the Curvy Girls.

Why write in this particular genre? Do you have any other genres that interest you or is this one your main passion?

I write in multiple genres, but chose this one because a dear friend of mine has a plus size blog (www.sugarplumplus.com) and in talking with her I realized there was a desire for this sort of fun, curvy stories. As a curvy girl myself, I enjoyed writing these heroines. And wonder why I hadn’t before!

I think many women can relate to the curvy girl--or should I say "real woman" persona. As far as the creative process goes, do you have a story idea or a character concept first?

Story idea! Always the story first. I tweak my characters to go with the story and figure out what character will work with, or challenge really, the story concept.

Please tell us about a current work-in-progress (or latest release):


Natalia Dolcini had dusted off an old Italian title to launch her fashion line—Princapessa Natalia for curvy women. A line that made women look sexy, young, and gorgeous. And she loved every minute creating it. She led a charmed life in Milan and knew it.

Until Adam Clayworth waltzed into her life. Infuriatingly handsome, the sexy banker had an old-fashioned charm to him Natalia found hard to resist. So she didn’t. When he asked her for an introduction, she was more than happy to comply—only for it to end in shouts and accusations. Her temper got the best of her when she promptly threw Adam out of her house.

What she hadn’t expected was for that night to bring her into a banking intrigue Adam investigated. Or for Adam to become her lover. But then Adam’s investigation turns dangerous.

Natalia finds it difficult to keep her own heart safe as they race from Milan to Portofino and back again. Will their Italian affair end after the danger does? Or will it be an affair to remember?

Ooo...it sounds so good! As an author, what do you want readers to take away from your stories after they read the words 'the end'?

A couple things: I want them to have enjoyed it, of course! But specifically with the Curvy Series, that no matter what size you are, you are desirable, fun, smart, and can be anything you want to be. You shouldn’t believe you can’t have anything good in your life. Because you can.

What do you do for fun that doesn't involve writing or reading?

Travel. Not to exotic far off places, though I want to. But to the beach or the mountains; I like walking along the different areas and exploring. Then the normal things: family, playing with the dog, museums (I love museums!), friends.

What is the most adventurous thing you have done either personally or professionally?

I’ve been parasailing in St. Maarten (awesome fun!) and took an unescorted tour in Western China on a train that most westerners don’t get to experience. It was an experience, let me tell you!

That last one sounds like a story in the making! Good for you. Let's take a look inside Princess Curvy...

Excerpt...

She’d left early. Natalia had ignored the shocked and somewhat knowing look Violet had given her when she’d announced her departure. She’d flat-out ignored Gina as her American assistant asked if she had a hot date.
Because she wasn’t leaving early to get ready for said definitely-not-a-date. She was leaving early because her mind had been nowhere near her designs or budgets or production. Natalia was angry with herself.
She’d done all the dinner party preparations, calling in Piero, a local chef she used from time to time, to do the actual cooking. Carlotta was many things, but a fine dining cook was definitely not one of them. Mostly, Natalia had wondered why she’d chickened out. Chickened out? Was that the right term?
Yes, she’d heard Gina use that phrase. It was correct. Mostly. She wouldn’t have done that before, not with a man she was attracted to. A man she wanted in her bed.
Now, standing in front of her wardrobe, Natalia cursed herself for pulling back.
Idiota.”
Her entire life, she’d railed against women not feeling good about their bodies. Her line was especially designed for women with curves, to make them feel sexy and confident.
Turning for the mirrors, she glared at herself even as she ran her hands over her full hips. She loved her curves, her voluptuous breasts and wide hips. Confident and sexy, yes, but more she was comfortable in her own skin, with her body.
This was Italy and she knew her body was appreciated in the usual Italian ways—pinched and whistled at. She was amazed she wasn’t black and blue all the time. Other cultures thought it sexist, and Natalia admitted it was, but…
But what? She was more than attracted to Adam. The dark eyes that took her breath away, the way he watched her, so mysterious and yet knowing. They held secrets, ones she wanted to slowly unwrap, layer by layer. They also told a story, one Natalia had been shocked to discover she’d also wanted to know.
He probably looked at everyone that way, watching them from an aloof stance at the corner of the room. Yes, that description fit him perfectly. Fit Adam and intrigued her. He was so utterly different from her—the reserved British man who definitely held all his secrets closely to his chest.
And she was the complete opposite. Bold and brash, with no true secrets, open for all the world to see. And, normally, very sexual. Except, apparently, when it came to Adam. Natalia couldn’t believe she’d backed away from him in her showroom. She hadn’t joined in the dance he’d started and that still shocked her.
Natalia prided herself on flirting with the best of them. Apparently not Adam Clayworth.
And that needed to change.

Keep reading! Buy it now!