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, January 20, 2011

The world needs more romance

When people discover that I write romance, I usually get the following questions as a response: Why write romance?  Don't you want to write something more serious, more relevant?  In return, I ask, what's more relevant than love?

Love makes a life.
I loved my late husband. He made me laugh, told me every day how much he loved me, opened my mind to things I would never have tried, and balanced my frantic energy with his more mellow self.  But when he killed himself, people wanted me to hate him.  I have actually been asked, "why don't you hate him?" I don't hate him because I loved him.  He was more than a guy who killed himself.  He was the guy I married, the father of my children, the man who made my heart skip a beat every time I saw him.  He lived well and died young. How he died is irrelevant; how well he loved is all that matters now. 

Love heals.
It is often easier to be angry or bitter rather than forgiving and loving. I don't know why this is, but I have found it to be true.  People tend to see anger as a sign of intelligence or as a signal to others that they can't be messed with. Back off, the anger or bitterness shouts to protect a wounded heart. I know this tactic.  My former mother-in-law and I have had our differences since Sean's suicide.  We played the blame game.  What we both lost sight of was the fact that we both loved the same man--she her son and me my husband.  From that mutual love comes healing for ourselves and for the children involved. As with most things, underneath the anger and bitterness is love waiting to be recognized.

Love hopes.
I am fortunate to know a lot of great couples--happily married or simply building a life together.  They have endured loss, trauma, financial issues, health challenges, alcohol abuse or gambling problems yet are still standing.  They stay together through the ups and downs not out of co-dependency or need, but because they love one another.  Their love gives them hope that tomorrow will be better.  Their love gives them hope that the bad times are temporary.  Their love gives them hope because they know that no matter what loss or challenge is thrown at them, they have each other.  They walk with the gods because they know love is not always blissful or secure--rather it is messy and needs attention.  They know the secret.

I write about love because I believe in its power to overcome everything--even if my storyline throws in some spies, human smugglers, kidnappers, murderers or what-not.  My intent as a romance writer is to lift people from their everyday troubles and entertain them for a few hours.  Maybe I will make a difference in a small way if I can make them smile or forget.  More importantly to me, writing about love--with some twists and turns thrown in for fun--makes me happy. 

I believe that the world needs more romance and laughter.  When we are old or sick or scared, what is more relevant than love?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Waves

Have you ever been caught in an ocean wave?  A powerful force slams you beneath the water.  You are tossed as if you weigh nothing.  Saltwater stings your eyes.  What you think is up is down and the only way to get your bearings is to touch bottom and push yourself up until you can breathe again.

Being spun around in a wave describes my journey from the moment I found my husband dead until today.  And the waves keep rolling over me as I get close to shore; the only difference is that I now find my bearings more easily than before.  

It is those unexpected waves that snag me around the knees that get to me these days.  Recently, a family member told me that I am a "disappointment" for temporarily putting my career aside to home school my daughter when she had anxiety issues and for taking time to make sure the kids were on steady ground before piecing myself back together.  I haven't lived up to my potential, according to this person, and am a failure for not getting my career back to pre-child status yet.  Even me being stressed out from time-to-time has been pointed at as a sign of weakness.

Life is not a Hollywood movie.  Life can be ugly.  Life can be mean.  It is not some sitcom where the widow brushes herself off, looks perfect everyday, juggles being an only parent with a laugh over a glass of wine, flirts easily with the single neighbor guy and lands her dream job by the third episode.  To think otherwise is a sure sign of insanity, not to mention a deep lack of sincerity, compassion and empathy.

Being a mom is significant.  I reject the notion that choosing to stabilize my family after a severe trauma and loss would be considered a failure by anyone.  I wouldn't trade my time with my kids for all the riches or all the glory in the world. If you feel a need to criticize that, then I feel sorry for you. 

When you have been this close to death, so close that its scent and chill linger in your memory whenever you shut your eyes, then you know sorrow.  When you see your spouse carried out of your house by the coroner, you know desperation.

I am sure that it is the same with a child, if not more so.  That immediate sense of love vanishing from your life is more profound than any other kind of loss.  I know because I have had other kinds of losses--grandparents, uncles, friends--all of whom I loved and mourned; but nothing compared to my husband's suicide.  Nothing.

People who have survived an intimate loss need compassion rather than judgment; understanding instead of resentment.  What was said or done in the aftermath of a loss that deep cannot be held as a grudge or as 'proof' of some type of deficiency.  On the contrary, what is said or done (within the law, of course) while someone is caught in the wave of grief needs to be seen within that context and dismissed accordingly.

Emotion is useful not shameful.  Trauma is not drama--it is reality. It may not be pretty or easy, but it is real. Mistakes were made because decisions needed to be made--and then adjusted.  Again, a consequence of reality. 

The big waves come.  When you are caught, you will be tossed and you will be scared.  When your body touches the bottom, be grateful.  Push upward.  Go toward shore.  The waves will dissipate, the water becomes shallow.  You will make it to solid ground, even if you end up standing there alone.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Me: uncensored

"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish."--John Jakes

There have been two time periods in my life where this simple declaration by John Jakes resonated clearly for me: in my twenties and now again in my forties.   But even in my twenties, I felt shame from being who I really wanted to be.  That idea of "be yourself" was never as clear for me as it is today.  Now I say, here I am.  Do not censor me.  Accept me or leave me. 

There have always been people around me who discourage me from being a writer for fear of what I might write about them.  I find this weird and oddly disturbing.  What are you so afraid of?  The truth of how I see you?  My perception of your insecurities? 

I was only nine years old when I wrote my first real story.  It was eighty pages of blood and gore--I like to describe it as Stephen King-esque--but it's actually sort of a comedy when I read it these days. That was the beginning of countless stories written in notebooks and passed between classmates from elementary through high school.  I doubt that anyone I grew up with assumed I would be anything but a writer.

But wait.  A writer?  Is there any money in that?  Is that a real career?  Are you kidding me?  Suddenly, outside influences voiced their disbelief and criticism when college rolled around.  Do something useful with that talent. Go into marketing.  Be a journalist.  Anything but say you're going to write books! You silly, dreamer, you.  Do not shame us by being something as non-important as a writer.  That's not a real job.  Oh, and you say you write romance?  As in sex scenes?  You're not using your real name, are you?  How embarrassing for us, those close to you.  People will talk. 

Well, I hope people do talk.  That's the point.  It took years of compromising, settling for less and writing manuscripts that I never submitted before I reached this point of declaring, "Here I am, world.  Look at me.  I am a writer.  Read what's in my heart." 

I will not be censored or downsized anymore by anyone.  There have been times in my life when I feel as if hands were wrapped around my ankles pulling me down until I could barely breathe beneath the weight of the expectations (never my own), limitations (from all the compromising) and the judgment (misguided).

Now I am swimming above all that muck.  I feel the sun on my skin.  I see the limitless blue sky.  I will never be dragged down again.

As Bono of U2 said, "every artist is a cannibal."  I must write what is in my heart and soul for any of the words to ring true.  If I know you, will I write about you one day?  Probably in some way or another.  Will you know it?  Only if you recognize yourself as how I see you.  Will I name names?  Never.  Not in print anyway.