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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Completion


As my stylist cut my hair last Friday, a woman popped her head around the corner and said, "it's YOU."  Well, I automatically went into "oh-no-do-I-want-it-to-be-me" mode as I struggled to place how I knew her.  Then she said, "I was first on scene at your husband's suicide.  I've been praying for you and your kids every day and wondering how you were.  You are amazing.  I'm so happy to see you."

A myriad of emotions ran through my mind at this simple statement.  Apprehension.  Fear. Sadness.  Shock.  Relief.

Yes, relief.  As she talked, I felt a growing sense of validation for the past years of struggle.  I can tell people what a horrific day that was, but there are truly no words to describe the actual scene without freaking people out.  (People don't like real horror when it comes to someone they know personally. It becomes too overwhelming for them.) 

This woman is a Victim's Advocate for the sheriff's department.  Rushing to death scenes and crime scenes is her business.  She is one of those heroic people who rush in and see things that most people don't have the stomach to witness.  She did this with me.  I have thought of her, too, over the years as an unknown angel who had the grace to hold my hand in the midst of a nightmare. 

As first on scene that day, she saw me giving my husband CPR despite his nearly severed neck, heard the kids screaming for me to save him, and saw the dysfunction of my support system as they trickled in during the night.  She said to me that, despite the many deaths and traumatic situations she has seen since that night,  the kids and I have haunted her because of the in-your-face nature of my husband's death and how alone we were in the midst of the chaos.  She said that every time she passes my neighborhood she says a prayer for us because she has never been able to shake that night from her mind. 

So, yes, she validated the struggle we have had getting over and beyond the trauma of it all.  Most people don't get it and wonder why I'm not remarried or why my career hasn't been a priority until recently.  Almost since day one, I have been told to get over it, move on or snap out of it even as the kids and I dealt with grief over losing the center of our world and anxiety of witnessing a suicide.  Hearing the judgmental comments repeatedly over five years has worn me down, pissed me off, made me doubt myself, ignited my rebellious nature and tainted my view of humanity with cynicism. 

Hearing a seasoned professional say she has also not been able to shake the events of that day relieved me in ways I find difficult to explain.  I felt so much lighter after speaking to her.  I felt free. I felt strong.

Perhaps I even felt vindicated.  

As for those who continue to judge without ever walking in my shoes or knowing the full story, back off.  Be grateful that you did not witness what we did that day.  Be grateful that you haven't walked in my shoes.  Be grateful to not know what I know. 

Talking to that woman made me happy to be the "YOU" she sought, not because she felt sorry for me (she didn't and pity is something I would reject), but because she knew...she witnessed...she stood by my side during the worst hours of my life and admired my strength.  Talking to her completed a chapter I had been struggling to end. 

She gave me her phone number.  We're going to have lunch soon.  I am lucky to have people like her---people with tenderness, compassion and a heroic soul--enter my life.  Yes, I am very lucky.

Peace to you--
Amber
 
Amazon (Universal link): getBook.at/FreeFall
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alter ego? Nah. This is really me.

I canceled a date about a month ago.  It didn't feel right--in fact, it felt creepy so I followed my instinct and backed out.  Does this make me a chicken...someone afraid of diving back into the dating world?  No, I don't think so.  I have lived long enough to trust my gut instinct over social pressure.

But the fact that I have been widowed for five years, am not a serial dater yet write romance novels confuses people.  Apparently, my solo lifestyle freaks people out.  I write love stories and am a big fan of the male species so how can I be content as a single woman?  Must be my alter ego writing those sex scenes because the real me is...what?  Uptight?  A mouse?  A wallflower?

Hardly.  I like sex.  I like men.  I like letting loose.  I particularly enjoy flirting and getting wild.  In fact, I have often said that I need a keeper--someone to reel me in when I get a little out of hand.  I have experienced euphoria and sorrow in the name of love.  I am passionate about everything.

But some people don't see that side of me because I don't trust them.  Because they don't see that side of me, they say things like my writing must be the product of my alter ego or question why I don't enjoy talking about my work with them.  (Of course it is all said with a laugh...but we all know that the most cutting things can be dismissed as a joke that isn't quite a joke.) 

I have been hurt a lot in my life.  I can be guarded, it's true.  Unless I feel 100% accepted around someone, the unguarded me doesn't come out to play.  Instead I smile politely and evade personal questions because something screams "JUDGMENT" to my ears.  I sometimes shield myself from further betrayal and heartache by retreating behind a mask that says Back-Off-And-Move-Along. 

I have lived a big often messy but always interesting life.  I have experienced love, loss, grief, adventure, triumph, violence, terror, compassion and bliss.  If you don't know that, then it's safe to assume that I don't trust you enough to let you close.

Trust isn't a given.  My intuition is right 100% of the time.  I trust it.  I trust myself.  If that inner voice cautions me against opening up, then so be it.  I have earned the right to protect my heart. 

So, no, the romance writer is not a manifestation of an alter ego.  I am the sassy heroine of my story--occasionally dark or funny or sad or balsy or silly or profound.  I am simultaneously the mysterious woman in the corner observing from the shadows and the loud woman laughing from the sheer joy of being alive.  I am a contradiction.  I am content calling my own shots, taking up the entire bed, solo-parenting my kids, being accountable to no one and writing the night away. 

If you don't see me that way, then you have not earned that all-access pass to my life yet. Perhaps what I allow you to see is the protective shell surrounding a ball of fire.

I wonder...do horror writers ever get asked if they have the life experience to pull off a novel about slasher-psycho-zombie-vampire-mutant-escapees-from-the-mental-asylum-who-go-on-a-murderous rampage?  Nah.  I bet not.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

40-somethings

The truth is shocking but here goes:  I don't want to get remarried.  It is not on my agenda and no where near the top of my priority list.  So...to all the 40-something men who quake in their shoes when I approach...relax. 

I am not a dater, not really.  I have stumbled into some..situations, we'll say...but no serious relationships since my husband died.  Is it because I hate men?  Not at all.  I love men.  I like talking to them, flirting with them, hanging out with them, being with them. Sometimes I think I have more in common with men than women.  I love sports, playing pool and tossing back Tuaca shots almost as much as I love getting a mani-pedi or a facial. 

But I have realized something about 40-something men and it's not too attractive.  Most of the ones I chat with really think they are something they are not.  Their egos have been battered along the way either by cheating ex-spouses or life in general so they overcompensate with grandiose statements that make me wince.  (Not judging here:  hell, anyone who has lived a life and risked their hearts has suffered some wounds and accumulated some baggage, whether man or woman.) But the men I talk to say things like the following:
  • "Most 40-something women want to be rescued".  (By the way, the 46 year old divorced man who said this to me is currently living in the spare room of a buddy's house, starting over from scratch after losing his business, and is bankrupt.) Here's the truth:  most of the 40-something women I know are educated independent professionals, either entreprenuers or sucessful career types, who love their kids and their friends with abandon.  In other words, they've got it goin' on. 
  • "Women our age just want daddies for their kids."  Not true.  If a 40-something woman has children she has most likely either been divorced or is widowed.  If divorced, there is a baby daddy already who is either in the picture or not--either way, what makes you think you are good enough to be our children's father figure?  Silly boy.  If widowed--like me--I honor the memory of my children's father and protect my kids like the metaphorical mama bear.  If you're lucky enough to even meet my children, then you've made it pretty far into my life.  Don't assume you are "all that" and good enough to fill that role. 
  • "Younger women have less drama".  This one makes me laugh.  Less drama? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are 42 and dating a 28 year old, for example, she DOES want to be taken care of, is still figuring herself out and is less mature than your 40-something counterpart.  All that screams drama to me.  Yes, your ego might get a boost from the delusion of your hotness, but you are actually setting yourself up for failure.  A cute 28 year old chic doesn't go out with an overweight, balding 40-something man nearing the Viagra age without an agenda.  All those things you were afraid of? Someone needing to be taken care of, someone wanting a baby daddy...?  Well, that's exactly what you're getting in this scenario. 
A 27 year old snowboard instructor from Argentina hit on me this past January.  Did my ego get a boost?  Sure, for a little while. He was exotic, hot and young.  He made me feel attractive and gave me some flashbacks to my younger days.  (The song "Does Your Mama Know That You're Out" from Mama Mia kept replaying through my mind.)  But more than an ego boost, it amused me. At the end of the day, after what might be a good roll in the sheets, I don't want another child who needs me to guide him along his life's journey. 

I truly adore men, but I am not pining away for Prince Charming to whisk me away.  I actually enjoy being single.  One day it would be nice to have a life partner to share sunsets, memories and laughs...but I am not looking for another husband.  To the men I've spoken to who think all women in their 40's are looking for a ring, I hate to ding your fragile egos with the knowledge that we aren't.  

I don't know many 40-something women who are needy or desperate in any way.  Seriously, I don't.  Maybe I'm just associating with the right crowd.  As Kenny Chesney sings in his song Better as a Memory, "all my friends are pirates".  My friend Molly said that to me once when we were talking about our friendship and I had to look it up on You Tube.  (I don't listen to country music.)  Maybe all my friends are pirates--savvy 40-something women with a lot of power wondering if they'll ever find a co-captain who can be their equal partner in life.

Maybe I am a pirate sailing solo for now and I'm okay with that.  I like the freedom, the excitement of not knowing what's beyond the horizon and the control of sailing my ship any direction I choose. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Listening

I set a deadline for myself that is rapidly approaching.  I'm a writer...I work best with a deadline, an end point where I can say "finished" and move on with life.  But this deadline is different.  It is both scary and exciting.  It is rich with possibility and angst.

My decision will change the course of my life and the life of my children.  For better, I wonder?  Is the risk too great?

So I hike.  I sit.  I listen.
Waiting for an answer is not a bad thing.  Society loses patience with those of us who wait.  What are you waiting for? Well, we wait because it's what best for us in this moment.  We wait to heal after a trauma, to honor those we mourn, to figure out the best way to start over, to come to peace with our doubts, to grow spiritually, to be confident no matter the outcome.  We wait.  A butterfly does not exist without waiting in the darkness of a chrysalis for its wings to grow. 
But eventually waiting no longer feels right.  Restlessness takes over and we know it is time to act. Time to go.

I hike.  I sit. I listen. 

When my deadline arrives, I will know and I will act.

Friday, April 1, 2011

SPEED WRITER...NOT SO MUCH


Please welcome my friend and author Rhiannon Ellis as my guest blogger today.  Not only is she witty and brilliant, she is also the talented author of two romance novels, Bonded in Brazil and Dark Wolf Protector. 

On April 8th, Rhiannon will be giving a free e-book of either Bonded in Brazil or Dark Wolf Protector to 4 lucky commenters.  Just make sure to leave your email address in the comments below this blog post so she can get in touch with you. Happy reading! 
 Romance Author, Rhiannon Ellis.

SPEED WRITER...NOT SO MUCH
A friend recently tweeted that she'd finished a novella she'd been working on. At first, I was all YAY! Go You! Then, I realized she'd only been working on it for, maybe, two weeks.

HOLY SPEED-WRITER BATMAN! MY HERO!

I asked how she did it so I could emulate and be a speed writer, too. Just. Like. Her.

Friend’s advice: Ignore everyone until they get it and go away.

That sounded easy enough. I set off right away to give it a whirl, rubbing my hands together with glee because my speed writer future looked gloriously bright.

I made sure my kids had everything they needed and put on my "Mommy's working and ignoring you" face. Here's what happened:

1. My son locates a bottle of lotion in a bathroom drawer. He promptly squeezes out half the contents and rubs it in his hair.

There’s too much lotion to simply wipe off so I have no choice but to proclaim ten in the morning bath time. I get that handled and resettle the kids.

2. Back to writing. Darling daughter calls me from the hallway, a hint of delight in her voice telling me her brother is being naughty and she can't wait to see him get in trouble. Darling son had, apparently, snatched the coffee container from kitchen counter and dumped all the grounds onto the carpet outside his bedroom. I find him tossing fistfuls gleefully into the air.

I have no choice but to pause writing again and vacuum. I also have to wipe son down to make sure no coffee grounds remain on him, scared that they'll somehow soak into his skin and he'll be awake for 4 1/2 days.

3. Back to writing. Son (yes, him again) breaks the rule of not opening sliding glass door. Sliding glass door does not shut/latch properly without extreme effort and it's Arctic-cold outside. Both kids are joyous--they're using their fingers to dig in the snow on the deck and slide mini icebergs into the house.

I put on my freak-out face because we'd gone over this sliding glass door nonsense not even 24 hours prior. After both kids have been sufficiently lectured and punished, I spend a frustrating amount of time attempting to latch the door while sliding on the wet floor. I almost kill myself at one point so I decide drying the floor first would be best.

4. Floor dry, sliding glass door latched, I sit back down. The next hour was full of the worst kind of mental torture a writer can endure. "Mommy, Bo hit me." "Mommy, I'm thirsty." "Mommy, I'm bored." "Mommy...!"

By this point my lips are unexplainably numb, I'm drooling, and I've developed a nervous twitch in my left eye. I give up on writing and announce to my children that Mommy is going to vacuum.

The vacuum cleaner is like performing an exorcism. I plug it in, flip the switch, and the precious little heathens sit on the couch in blissful silence as I electronically suck the sanity back into the house.

It took three hours to lose sight of my speed writing dream. Maybe I'll try again in a couple years. Until then, call me slow poke.

Lesson #1: What works for one writer does not necessarily work for another.
Lesson #2: My kids are on a mission to drive me insane.
Lesson #3: Moms, especially those who write, are saints.

Bio: Rhiannon Ellis is a romance author who lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their two children. She is also the proud stepmom of a preteen. When Rhiannon isn't writing, cleaning house or chasing her kids around, she can most often be found curled up with her e-reader, taking pleasure in one of the many genres she loves. She and her husband enjoy visiting casinos, are avid followers of politics, and are devoted fans of Wisconsin's basketball team--the Milwaukee Bucks.