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

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The blame game

I don't know if you watch reality television or not, but last week a husband of one of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" committed suicide.  Immediately the blame game began:  must be the wife's fault for being on reality television...must be the network's fault for portraying him badly...must be the pressure of living beyond his means that got to him...she looks like a cold bitch...she must have been too selfish to care.  

This all hit close to home with me.  When Sean committed suicide, I was that wife who everyone started wondering and whispering about.  Wow, she must be horrible to live with.  Didn't she know her husband needed help?  Why didn't she make him get help?  It doesn't matter than making a grown man do anything he doesn't want to is impossible.  There is a reason that therapists say someone cannot be treated unless they acknowledge that they need help...and then want help.

Some how and in some way I had to be the reason why he chose to leave this earth.  People needed someone or something to blame.  I remained alive; therefore, I had to know the answer as to WHY, right?  

I didn't know the answer as to why.  Still don't.  Sean's suicide was not my fault.  No one's suicide is ever the fault of anyone else.  It is not the fault of anything outside of that person, for that matter.  Suicide is a solo decision born out of despair and a darkness so all-consuming that it distorts rational thinking.  Suicide is a purely individual act.  

Death is tragic--whether it is cancer, war, murder, accident or suicide.  A loss has occurred.  Period.  Mourn the person's life rather than speculate over the WHY of death. 

Even six years later, I feel the stain of suicide on my life.  I carry it with me always like a giant S tattooed on my forehead.  When I meet someone new and they discover I am a widow, I am always asked how Sean died.  I don't know why people need to know HOW someone died, but it always has an adverse effect on the mood of the conversation.  I doubt a divorced person is immediately asked, "why did you get a divorce?" in a casual setting by a virtual stranger.  But I am always asked how--regardless of if I am in an exercise class, a bar or a party.  Geez!  Are manners a thing of the past?

Have we as a society lost all sense of boundaries and common decency?

Even if it weren't suicide, it's not a good subject to bring up in a social setting.  But it happens.  I meet a guy...he asks if I'm divorced...I say "no, I'm a widow"...he asks, "how did your husband die?"  REALLY?!  I don't want to talk about the how--no one does in a social setting. I have tried all of the answers like "I don't like to discuss that" or "now isn't the time for that"...but the reaction is always the same. They still want to know how.  And, once the S word is uttered, I see the wheels spinning, the dynamic changes and the conversation becomes awkward.

People who survive the suicide of a loved one live with it daily--even years later.  We don't need to be reminded or criticized or judged.  We do not need to openly discuss the why or the how with you just because you're curious.

Let it be.  If someone you meet says they are a widow or widower, let it be.  It's not your business as to how...or why...or anything else. 

Stop the blame game, the judgment, the speculation and the whispering.  If you learn anything from me, let it be that suicide is not the fault of anyone.  It is a tragedy like any other death.  It is not open for round-table discussions about how evil the spouse/parents/significant others must have been.  It is not a stigma.  It is NOT entertainment.  

Maybe as a society we have become desensitized.  Personal boundaries have blurred.  Respect seems like an old-fashioned concept.  Compassion is rare.  Kindness is labeled as weakness.  Personally, I think that is a tragedy that affects us all. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Saying no to CNN

For about a year now--maybe longer--I've been on this kick of consciously choosing what I put into my mind.  I choose what I watch on television, listen to on the radio, and read.  I also choose the people I spend time with by avoiding all energy suckers and jerks.  I choose how I spend my time and make no apologies for how I spend it.  And, despite this blog that seems to tell all, I also choose what I allow people to know.  (Only a few people get to see the wizard behind the curtain.) 

Maybe this seems like a no-brainer to some of you, but let me ask you this:  Do you watch the news just because you want noise in the house and get caught up in trials of strangers in far away places? Do you find yourself getting all fired up over situations a world away that have no bearing on your life?  WHY?  Why expose yourself to anger, frustration or fear on purpose?

Choice is a powerful freedom that we all have.  If you can choose to shut out the negative noise in your life and feed yourself with positive experiences, why don't you?

I am not advocating ignorance.  That would be...well...ignorant.  Instead I am saying that we need to protect ourselves from being inundated with madness.  Just like we have the ability to choose the food we eat, we also have the ability to choose what information we allow into our minds.  Managing our own lives--and our health--is more important than what Palin is doing on her bus.  (Trust me--a truer sentence has never been written.)

The next time you find yourself watching the news out of habit or boredom, take a minute to gauge how it's making you feel.  Are you going to take that feeling with you when you attend your child's basketball game?  Is that anxious feeling going to stick with you when you try to sleep at night?  Why? Why do that to yourself when you don't need to?

Choosing my exposure to the news--and what kind of news I read or hear--has elevated my mood.  I feel free.  I am in control. I am living on purpose.  Shouldn't we be in control of ourselves?

Go on a mental cleanse for a week.  Wash your mind out with joy and fun.  Force it, if you need to, but try it. Turn off the talk radio and listen to your iPod.  Seek joy!

No, I am not a Pollyanna.  I am not advocating a Hide-Your-Head-In-The-Sand-And-Pretend-All-Is-Perfect mindset.  I am advocating freedom to turn off the constant flow of news and choose something uplifting or fun instead.  Why not?  If you're afraid that it will make you stupid if you cut off the 24/7 news flow, then...well...enough said.

Self-worth is more important than net-worth.  Invest in yourself.  Take your power back.  Choose to look for the positive instead of being mired in the negative. Who knows?  Maybe you'll realize that you're not a grumpy SOB after all! (and maybe you'll realize there's more good in the world than is being reported on CNN.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spiking the ball

I started writing stories when I was nine years old.  I would sit in my bed and allow my imagination to come to life in tablets about horses, love (yeah, I was nine...but I tried to imagine), mystery, and I even wrote one about murderous ghosts (must have been puberty).

Along the way, people scoffed at my dream of being a writer full-time.  Dreamers don't make money, they said.  Nice hobby, they said.  Being a writer is like being an actress or singer, few people ever make it, they said.  As I grew up, it became even more derisive.  I started not admitting to writing manuscripts and "legitimized" myself with jobs that ranged from journalist to a registered representative at a national brokerage house (my dark period).  But I never stopped writing those stories. Never.

I felt like an addict--secretive for many years about how I spent my free time.  I attended writers' conferences like a spy heading off on a mission. Where are you going this weekend?  Um...San Diego.  For what?  Um...to hang out. (Okay, so I wouldn't have been a very good spy.)

Well, guess what?  I am a published author.  My first romantic suspense novel, Kiss Me Slowly, is being released in November 2011 via Siren-BookStrand Publishing.  It will be the first of many to come as I have others in the pipeline as I write this.

Do you know what it feels like to have a dream come to life?  To have that dream validated?  It feels like I caught the ball, scored the winning touchdown in the Superbowl and am doing my celebratory dance beneath the goal line--complete with shimmies and jazz hands, baby.

This is fun.  Perhaps I need to find a more profound word to describe what it's like to live out a dream, but right now fun describes it perfectly.  When did fun become a bad word anyway?  It's good to have fun. Isn't that the point? To enjoy life? To enjoy what you do?  To embrace the joy?

Well, I am enjoying myself and that's that.  Suck it up.  I deserve this.  I worked hard for it.  I never gave up when the rejection letters came.  I never gave up when people rolled their eyes at me.  I stayed in the game despite the odds.  Now I am having fun.  I love it.  I love that I get to consult on the cover.  I love that I have a publication timeline.  I love that my characters will get an opportunity to entertain someone for awhile.  I love that the story I created will make someone smile when they turn that last page.  That's fun stuff.  That's like waking up on Christmas morning and finding out that Santa is real!

Like it or not, I'm spiking the ball and enjoying a WIN.  How do you like my shimmy, baby?