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, September 25, 2013

Maximum Overload! Time to take a step back & reevaluate #amwriting #inspiration

Maximum Overload! I've hit the breaking point and am taking a time out to ask myself some questions in a search for balance in my life. 

I'm usually a pretty mellow person, at least that's what I like to think of myself. I have so much to be grateful for...the beautiful view outside my back door, healthy kids who happen to make me laugh more than not, and a career that allows me to pursue my passion and work from home.

But lately I'm a nervous wreck. The smallest things are pushing me over the edge. I have so many balls in the air that I'm scrambling at all hours of the day and find it difficult to put the phone down for even five minutes. The last thing I see before sleep is my Twitter feed--usually as I'm tucked in bed with the lights off. The first thing I do in the morning is check my messages--always before my feet even hit the floor.

Today alone I had over 1000 emails. No, that's not a misprint; it's a combination of three accounts, personal, author, and editorial.

It's not working out too well. Even writers who do what we love for a living can get burnt out. As the saying goes...everything in moderation. A few weeks ago I considered leaving this business all together because I sometimes feel I'm addicted to it. That's not a good feeling, especially when I've worked my entire life to attain this level of success. Give it up now? There must be an alternative.

I used to be a person who led a balanced life. I had a set routine of exercise, work, play, relax. I laughed a lot more than I do now, that's for sure. I also felt better--lighter in spirit.

Beginning today, I'm asking myself the following questions and making changes that will bring balance back to my life. What would your answers to the same questions be? Answer them with me so I don't feel like a lunatic. You can share your answers in the comment section, but only if you feel like doing so.

  1. What is my main priority every day? Well, work is the first thing that comes to mind, but there's a problem with that response. You see, at the moment, I work seven days a week. I need another main priority. Instead of answering with an action like work or exercise, I'm going to say that feeling content is my main priority every day. Contentment beats stressed so I'll aim for that! 
  2. What is no longer working for me? Too much social media. I can't handle all the noise in the world. Sometimes I feel so exhausted from dealing with drama between other authors that I don't have energy to write. When I don't have energy to write, I become agitated. Writing, I love. Chatting in author groups, not so much. 
  3. What do I want to bring into my life? Ease and joy. Hey, I'm an author...life should be easier than this, right? When I say ease, I'm referring to the struggle I feel every day with competing tasks vying for my attention. I need to prioritize my commitments, push social media to the sidelines, and remember that life can be easy if I make it so. 
  4. What is going on in my life that is terrific and wonderful? (I never ask myself that question so thought I'd give it a go to change my perspective a bit.) My career is outstanding. All four books are doing well, readers are fun to connect with, and I have more projects releasing soon. The kids are healthy, smart, and annoying--typical teenagers.  
  5. How healthy am I? Not very. I had a health scare last week that's been a wake up call and reinforces the idea that I need to change the way I do things. 
  6. What do I want to do more of that I'm not doing now? Travel. I used to travel a lot and now I'm obsessed with working. Travel used to be my way of connecting with other people and with my travel partners. Weekend getaways were the norm, now not so much. Okay, yeah, I'm sensing a theme. I hope you're answering these questions, too! Oh, and I'd like to socialize more. I used to have girls' night every month, but now I've allowed that to slip away, too. 
  7. What image do I want to project? I want to project an image of a successful, healthy, fit, peaceful, and happy woman. Considering the fact that I went to the kids' high school wearing pink pajama pants, no make-up, and my hair in a twist, I think I need to work on that. My image today was more frazzled, sloppy, and floppy. 
  8. Am I willing to let go? Ooo...hard question. Yes, I am. I think my stress is coming from holding on too tightly to everything rather than surrendering to the flow. No, I can't control everything. I need to accept that, focus on what's changeable, and let the rest go. 
I know when I'm stressed. Despite seeing all the signs, I refused to stop and take a breath. We all know our boiling points. We all know our stress triggers. It's learning to use those signs to help us that's the challenge. 

I don't want to be that person who's glued to their social networks, who refuses invitations to play because it might mean not returning an email right away, or becomes that boring person who only has work to keep her company on Saturday night. 

I know how I want to feel inside...that's what's most important. I want to feel relaxed, content, confident, and secure. Perhaps if I achieve that feeling, I'll go from sloppy and floppy to stylish and fabulous! 

What about you? Care to share any of your answers to the above questions? 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Life is Shifting a guest post by Donna McDine #SEP #ASMSG #YA

Time is such an elusive concept. We never seem to have enough of it, often take it for granted, and usually waste more of it than we should. Today's guest author talks about her own experiences with time and asks us to share our own thoughts in the comments below.  

Life is Shifting by Donna McDine

When I was a little girl I remember a distinct conversation I had with my Nana. She was babysitting me and my siblings for a long weekend one summer while my parents took the opportunity to slip away for an adult weekend. It was right before school started back up again and I remember complaining the summer vacation went way too fast. Her response was, “Dear this is nothing, just you wait till you get older and you have a family of your own. The years will fly by with the snap of a finger.” Boy was she ever right.

My husband and I have two daughters. The eldest is 18 and started college three weeks ago and the youngest is 15 and is embarking on her sophomore year. The shift in dynamics in our house, like so many other homes across the nation certainly takes on a different feel when a child leaves for college. I have had the privilege of working from home for over 16 years as a virtual assistant along with my writing, which has afforded me the opportunity to be home for my girls when they arrived home from school each day. I truly have cherished this chance and continue to do so.

At our daughter’s high school graduation party I read the following to her:

Dearest Nicole,
I never believed Nana when she said over 30 years ago in reply to a statement I made about how time is going by so quickly. She said, “Dear this is nothing, just you wait till you get older and you have a family of your own.”
Boy is this ever true. It feels like yesterday when Daddy and I brought you home from the hospital. All 6 lbs 15 ozs and you fit from dad’s fingertips to his elbow. Now you stand before us a beautiful and confident young woman.
Look around you today as you get ready to embark on this new chapter in your life. The many people gathered here today and those unable to attend love you dearly.
From the time you were born, we always said “We love you up to the stars and beyond” whether whispering it to you, writing it in cards or notes in your school lunches. Your success is imminent as you get ready to take FIT and NYC by storm. May you always be true to yourself as you explore and achieve your greatest expectations of success.
Thank you for giving us the privilege of being your parents. We love you up to the stars and beyond!
Mom, Dad and Hayley

I’d enjoying hearing how your life has changed through the years. For each of our experiences are uniquely our own.

Thank you for visiting with me today. 

About the Author: 

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book fiction, and Preditor & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Book ~The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s recent releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony will be joined by two more books to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, A Sandy Grave, and Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network and Family Reading Partnership.

You can find out more about Donna McDine, her books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/3tv4jgf

A glimpse of her book Hockey Agony...

Peer Pressure and Honesty many times go hand-in-hand.  What is Larry to do when his teammate asks him to cheat when he is given the responsibility to run the clock during the big hockey game?  Outwardly, it may seem he will follow suit, but his conscious tells him otherwise at the moment of truth.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Baring one's soul is never easy: writing a memoir #asmsg

For years people told me that I needed to write the story about how the kids and I coped after my husband's suicide. Everyone told me that I had an obligation as a writer and a suicide survivor to give others a voice who may be experiencing a similar tragedy. I scoffed. I shelved it. I started. I stopped. 

Now it's done. Not only is Free Fall written, it's published and out in the world generating a life of its own. Early reviews call it brave, insightful, inspirational, and raw. 

I'm not sure it's brave. I'm uncertain how to feel about it all together. It simply is my story.

I opened my journals written during that time frame with a great deal of trepidation. I'd written them, stuffed them in my bedside table, and written more afterward. Reading them again brought all of the pain back. I could see where my tears had crinkled pages and caused ink to run. I scribbled words like "grief sucks" and "I miss you, Sean" over and over again. And there were pages of such anger that I squirmed in my seat recalling how intense that had felt at the time. Raw is an accurate word. Again I wondered why I'd want to write a memoir about such a painful event, but then I found myself sitting at the computer with tears streaming down my face as the story poured forth onto the screen. 

I told myself that the only way to do it was to write uncensored. If I meant to tell my truth, then I needed to reveal all of my journey, even the darkest moments. It's not always flattering. It is, however, always brutal. 

The story is short, only about 36,000 words which isn't even half of what one of my novels would be. I couldn't write anymore than that. It was too intense, too real, too sad to relive.  

I kept my intention in mind as I edited because it was important to me that this not be a vindictive story or one of victimization. I wanted it to be a story of the brutality of grief and the promise of hope. I wanted to show my reality so that no one else walking a similar path would ever feel as alone as I did. So I edited to show only my perspective, changed the names of certain people who didn't choose to be in the spotlight, and relied on my journals of anguish to guide me. 

Baring one's soul for the world to see isn't easy, but I felt it necessary. People in my Survivors of Suicide group also encouraged me to write this, telling me that they didn't have the means to express themselves so I needed to speak for them. I don't presume to do that, though. I can only speak for myself, for Sean, for my children, and for our journey which is still unfolding. 

Fiction is a helluva lot easier...and more fun...I can testify to that. For a memoir to be true, it must be bled from the heart and soul. 
About Free Fall...

"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."

Excerpt of Free Fall...
Being alone like this is more frightening than I ever anticipated. Grief isn't a 'condition' or an 'issue' to get over. It's the loneliest journey I've ever experienced.
Everyone leaves. Everyone who said "call me" doesn't answer the phone. This kind of alone is terrifying. It's different than being single, back when I had single friends who were available and plans were abundant. This is the absence of what was and what will never be. This is the realization my life plans have been thrown off course and I have no idea how to navigate this new path.
I feel almost desperate to connect with Sean. I wear his sweaters, look at photographs, watch our wedding video, wear his wedding ring on my thumb, and write him letters in my journal. I sit in my closet and talk to him out loud in the middle of the night. I ask him why he didn't choose us in the end. When I look at those pictures and videos, I stare at his face and wonder when he became so lost.
Bree has a stuffed monkey that she carries around. Sean bought it for her last Valentine's Day. When she presses the paw, a recording of Sean's voice says, "I love you, Breezy Bree." She's upset tonight because it stopped working. I thought it was a battery problem, but that didn't fix it. Another piece of him is gone.
"You can't do anything right!" She threw the monkey at me.
I'm holding it now as I sit in the closet where he died. Maybe I'm losing my mind. I tell him about my fears that I'm a horrible parent, my worry about letting everyone down, and tell him that I love him.
New Year's Eve is approaching. Normally, I look forward to the new year, but now all I see is a void of endless nights where I pace, scared to sleep for fear of seeing him in my dreams.
I ache, simply ache deep in my chest and I don't think it will ever go away.
He left us, damn it. He chose to go, yet here I am mourning him like a fool, pacing the house, wearing his sweaters, and holding a damn monkey while sitting on the floor where he died. There's not one thing that's right about this picture. Not one thing.
How do I get beyond this? What if I'm stuck here in this state of limbo, of not being able to think beyond the moment? How can I mesh the two parts of Sean? How do I make peace with any of this?
In DC, my family said they want the old Amber back, that they can't stand seeing me look so sad.
I don't think the old Amber exists anymore.
I feel like I'm in a soundproof booth, trapped behind glass. I see myself on the other side—a version of me that is happy, secure, and confident. I smack the glass with both hands in an attempt to break through to reach her, but the barrier won't yield. I'm trapped in this bubble of grief, nightmares, and regret.
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