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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Traveling the Dominican Republic as a Single Mom with Young Kids #FamilyTravel #Travel

Before I was widowed, we traveled frequently as a family. When the kids were only 2, we had them snorkeling with stingrays in Grand Cayman and whale watching off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. When my husband died, I admit to being concerned that our lifestyle would change dramatically--because it felt scary thinking of traveling the world solo with two elementary-aged children. Right or wrong, that's how I felt.

But, traveling has always cured what ailed me so I determined to go. When I picked the Dominican Republic, I admit I didn't know much about the country other than it had great beaches and good rum. We chose Punta Cana and stayed at the Barcelo Palace.

The confusion at the airport threw my confidence a bit. It was very hectic and no one seemed to know what bus we were supposed to get on to get to the resort. Men kept asking me where my husband was, too, and that made me feel vulnerable at the time. There I was with a sleepy eight and nine-year-old in a foreign country being asked repeatedly where my husband was in a hectic airport. To say that I started having doubts would be an understatement.

Once at the resort, my doubts intensified when a group of displaced Spaniards yelled and pushed in the lobby. To check-in, I needed to ask the kids to sit on our luggage while I forced my way through the group to the desk. Thoughts of them being abducted slammed through my mind--normally, this is where I would have hung out with them while my husband handled this chaos, but that was no long an option in our lives. While trying to keep one eye on them and another on the pushy Spaniards, I managed to check-in.

That's where the chaos ended.

Our room was amazing--a junior suite located directly on the beach was a welcome reprieve. Only feet away from the Caribbean and the amazing pool area, we had definitely arrived in paradise!

The Barcelo Palace is part of the Barcelo complex with a golf-cart train that takes you to any one of the other resorts you'd like to visit while staying there. We were staying in the "best" resort so had full access to any of the amenities at the other hotels. This was great fun for us during our stay. At night, we'd head out to try the restaurants at the other properties. I think the kids just liked riding in the golf cart train, but, hey, if they're happy, then I'm happy. This is an all-inclusive property so we seriously didn't need to worry about anything--after the hectic arrival.

During our ten day stay in the Dominican Republic, we went on a few excursions. We visited the Stone City near La Romana, took a duck boat down the river beneath the stone city (so much fun!), traveled from La Romana to Isla Catalina--all part of one excursion! On the island, we snorkeled and were served a fabulous barbecue while people salsa danced on a make-shift stage in the sand. This was a perfect excursion for the kids, very family friendly, and fun. The bus for the excursion picked us up and dropped us off directly from the resort. Easy!
The duck boat loading up--yes, I was a bit nervous. Ha.

My son on the boat-- a very happy boy. 
Looking down at the river from the Stone City
An amphitheater in the Stone City--those are my kiddos on the stage.

Church in the Stone City

Finding some shade on Isla Catalina after snorkeling

Salsa dancing on Isla Catalina--no, that's not me.
Why travel solo with kids? Why go through the hassle and worry of being a single woman traveling alone with two young children? Aside from travel being part of our lives before my husband's death and my determination not to have it all go to hell afterward, I have always believed that it's important to raise children who are citizens of the world, who interact easily with other cultures, and who are open-minded to trying new things. At our hotel, we were the only Americans for the first week. We had people from South America and France who would yell out to us at the end of the day inviting us to eat with them and being worried about where we had "disappeared to" after going on an excursion. The kids played with other children who did not share the same language, but were able to communicate joy and friendship with laughter and swimming in the pool. Travel, to me, was a vital part of raising them.

The Dominican Republic had many family-friendly excursions to choose from as well--we spent a day traveling to Santo Domingo, visiting the aquarium, shopping in the city, touring a tobacco company, and exploring a huge sink hole. Again, all of this was organized by the hotel, making exploring more than the resort easy and stress-free.

Church where Christopher Columbas's brother was married. Did you know the Santa Maria sank off the coast of Santo Domingo?

The kids at the aquarium in Santo Domingo
Hiking inside the sink hole (HUGE) outside of Santo Domingo.
We talk about this trip a lot with shared laughter. We would definitely return to Punta Canta in the Dominican Republic again. The people were extremely nice, we loved our hotel and enjoyed being "seen" and "missed" by people there when we were absent for awhile, and were sad to leave. The kids were welcomed everywhere we went and made some friends from other countries who taught them the value of travel and new experiences.

As a single woman with kids, being asked repeatedly where my husband was did get tiring, but it also wasn't unique to the Dominican Republic. The pros of the trip far outweighed that one irritant. 
Travel on!
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Kiss is Never Just a Kiss #SecondChance #Romance #MyScintillatigSunday

Excerpt of the romantic suspense novel, Kiss Me Slowly...diamond smuggling, conspiracy, murder under Florida Keys' sunshine...

“I am not your anything.” 

“You’re my something, I just can’t figure out what.” His gaze dipped to her mouth. 

“Don’t do this.”

“Do what?” Mouth a fraction from hers, he smiled. 

“Do not kiss me.” The bagel slipped from her fingers.

“Now why would I do that?” His body pinned her against the counter. His hands circled her neck. “Why would I break one of your rules, especially when I know you secretly want me to?”

“Jonathan…” She touched his bare chest. 

“Grace…” His lips brushed against hers with a tenderness that broke her heart all over again. His mouth tugged on her lower lip until she kissed him back.  “You tricked me,” he whispered against her lips. 

“How so?” Her hands moved to his back beneath the shirt. God, he felt good. She liked him pressing her back like this, liked the feel of his body heavy against her own. 

“I thought you’d changed, but you’re still my Grace.” Before she could protest, he deepened the kiss with his tongue. 

From the back cover...

--> -->
Trapped in a set-up that could have him in jail or dead by Monday, Jonathan Alexander trusts no one in his inner circle. It’s Saturday. His only hope is Grace Dupont, the best forensic accountant in Miami. But there’s a glitch with that idea. She’s also his ex-girlfriend who'd rather watch him drown than throw him a life vest. Going to her feels desperate…because he is.

Grace enjoys seeing Jonathan squirm. On your knees boy, she thinks as he pitches for her help. Always a sucker for the dark-haired-blue-eyed boys, she risks her precariously balanced life of secrets to help him. Helping him slaps a target on her back–she’s the key to proving his innocence and that’s a bad, bad thing.

Tangled up in a whirlwind of conspiracy, murder, million dollar money trails and diamond smuggling, Jonathan and Grace flee to the sea to stall for time to prove his innocence. Romance sizzles beneath Florida Keys’ sunshine. Both scoff at happy endings. Both doubt justice. Both know each kiss could be their last.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dying to Be Me #Inspiration #Love

Recently, I read a book called Dying to Be Me about a woman who experienced a near-death experience. She'd had stage-four cancer, all of her organs had shut down, she'd slipped into a coma, and the doctors had notified her family that they should say their goodbyes. From her coma state, she heard conversations about her demise even though the people were not in the same room and saw her brother flying from India to be by her side. As she slipped through the earthly bounds to the 'other side', she experienced unconditional love and realized that time is linear--in essence, there is no time and there is no judgment.

As I read this book, I thought of all my criticisms, my worries, my timelines and all of it suddenly felt irrelevant. One of the lessons in the book is that we should love ourselves as the divine does because we are loved unconditionally by those on the other side. There is no punishment, no harsh judgment, no doomed destiny.

Why is it hard to love ourselves? I have a hard time with this idea. I love my kids, my dogs, my family, but when it comes to looking myself in the eye in the mirror, I only want to criticize. I'm my worst critic, I admit that. The past few years have been a steady unraveling of the foundation that has kept me afloat. I've allowed regrets over past decisions to cripple me in some ways. Ever since my husband's death, I've been in this fight-or-flight mode, a constant battle for survival, work, work, work, and I have beat myself up without mercy for not being able to break the cycle of struggle.

I came across this book while watching Wayne Dyery's "A Course in Miracles" where the author spoke of her experience and the synchronicity of events that led to the publication of her book. I've studied all of Wayne Dyer's books and have long been a student of the Law of Attraction, yet the struggle and the sense of racing against time persists.

But if time is linear as the author of Dying to Be Me and Wayne Dyer himself suggest, then what am I racing against? A story in my own mind? A societal belief that I've adopted as my own? Where are these criticisms I have of myself coming from? My perception of a 'should' or a 'what if'?

In the book, the author wakes up from her coma, her organs miraculously begin working again, and she's declared cancer free days later. Her body that had been riddled with tumors healed, much to the shock of doctors worldwide. She returned loving everything--even cancer for the lessons it had taught her. She came back radiating love and a sense of well-being because she now understood that there is nothing to fear in death...or in life. She started speaking up for herself and only doing things that made her happy. No longer did she care much about 'shoulds' or 'time'.

I've been told that there is an air of melancholy around me and I don't like that idea. I've criticized myself for being unable to shake this air of sadness because I don't want to be seen as morose. I'm now looking at it in a different way. I love that I loved so deeply that the loss of my husband impacted me to such an extent that I write from a place of great emotion.  I love that I know what it feels like to love that way and be loved in return. Yes, I have changed...but so what? I love my journey because it brought me to where I am today and the woman I've become.

In the week since finishing the book, I've started looking at my house through eyes of love. This is where I raised a family and, even if it needs repair, it's my home. I love it. I look at the people who have left me for whatever reason and I no longer feel anger at their abandonment, instead, I send them love because they have every right to live their own lives without me just as I have a right to move on from them and go another way. It's all okay.

I'm releasing judgment--not only of myself but others as well. If the other side is full of unconditional love free of condemnation, then what right do I have to be a critic?

I love knowing I am loved on the other side by angels and deceased family members--you see, I'd been worried that I had disappointed everyone in my life, including my late husband, my deceased grandparents, and even God Himself. Feeling loved is hard for me despite loving being so easily. I'm learning. I'm practicing by holding a hand over my heart and saying, "I love you, thank you, little fighter, you've done good, I love you."

Maybe you don't believe in the other side or that the author, Anita Moorjani, experienced a miraculous healing of cancer and that's fine with me. I'm not trying to sway you. I'm not even reviewing the book. I'm merely sharing the message with you because I feel it is important.

Love is all that matters--love of the earth, of animals, of people, and of ourselves. If time is linear and we have the power to create our own experiences in any given moment, then there is no reason to race or to feel as if we are behind or falling short as long as we're being true to ourselves and our highest purpose.

The message freed me in a lot of ways. Freed me from being scared. Freed me of feeling discouraged. Freed me of carrying around so much baggage.

We are always surrounded by love. We came from love. We will return to love. So why not be love while we're here despite whatever earthly circumstances/challenges surround us? We can choose love over fear and deal with whatever comes with grace.

Peace to you.
Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Sunday, April 17, 2016

He Chose the Wrong Woman for His Game #RomanticSuspense #ScintillatingSunday

Excerpt of the new release, One True Thing, a romance thriller...

“You wanted me when you didn’t know who I was. We were just two people, strangers, without a past or a future. I knew you wanted to fuck me against that mural, beneath that tarp, I saw it in your eyes, thought about it all damn day. Then tonight there you were. You walked up those stairs like a predator, seeking me out, sweeping me away.” 

“You want to be swept away?” 


"I'll do my best." He scooped her off her feet and carried her from the balcony to the bedroom. He fell onto his back against the mattress with her silk-encased body draped across him.

“Damn dress.” She propped herself above him and grimaced. “Help me out of it?”

“With pleasure,” he whispered against her neck.

His fingers moved to the discreet zipper at her side and — with his gaze never leaving hers — he slid it down.  She shrugged it off her left shoulder. As if unwrapping a Christmas gift, he wasted no time in sliding the rest from her lean, toned body. Velvet hissed down her torso and slipped from her legs. Clad only in strapless bra and panties with her hair falling in wild layers past her shoulders, she kicked the tangled material off her feet and flashed him a devilish smile.  

“You’re deadly.” But what a way to die.

From the back cover...

Power...it's a heady drug.

Vanessa Warren is America's favorite rebel. Daughter and granddaughter of US Presidents and sister to a future one, her family connections and notoriety are seen as leverage for manipulating the White House—if she's captured.

One little lie leads to a whole lot of trouble.

Reclusive international resort developer, Dominic Varga, needs a date to ward off his matchmaking parents. When he persuades the notorious Vanessa Warren to play his girlfriend for the night, he has no idea he's stepped into the crosshairs of kidnappers who will do anything—destroy everything—to get to her.

One true thing...

Trapped in a rapidly escalating international terror plot, Dominic and Vanessa's lie becomes the only real thing in the midst of betrayals, conspiracies, and murder. As their world falls apart, they suddenly only have each other to rely on against ruthless people who will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Who can they trust? Who is behind the plot—her own family, a political rival of her family's, or a terrorist organization? How far will the kidnappers go—what will they be willing to sacrifice—to control the power of the White House? Is there anywhere in the world where they can find safety?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Being Shy is a Personality Type Not a Flaw #Parenting #Life

I remember the day in eighth grade when I decided I hated being shy. I didn't know how to stand up for myself and didn't understand certain jokes on the school bus. I'd blush terribly if a boy I liked talked to me and hated it when the popular girls directed a comment in my direction, which invariably made me the center of unwelcome attention. I hated the awkward feeling so much, that I decided that high school would be different, that I would do whatever it took to fake being more outgoing, to push myself out of my shell.

I succeeded. I tried out for cheerleading, started hiding my true desire to read and ride my horse, pretended to understand the jokes, and stifled the quiet side of myself for fear of being misunderstood. I wanted to do anything to stop being that shy girl because I'd spent my youth being told I needed to change, even if I really didn't understand why.

Faking it worked. The popular kids started asking me to join them. I made the cheerleading squad and actually enjoyed it. I still blushed around the boys, but I pushed through that as well with false bravado. Through it all, the shy girl inside of me feared being discovered and judged as faulty.

Just because the world is a stage, it doesn't mean that we need to perform for you. 

People like loud. Look at our culture today--the louder you are, the more people think you have something important to say. Scream it! Be obnoxious! Be rewarded with people saying, "he/she really says it like it is" or "he/she takes no bullshit." Shy--or introverted--people are viewed as weak or even stupid for simply being quiet or nonconfrontational. We'll be called "no fun" or have our motives questioned. Yes, society loves loud people.

Fast-forward to me as an adult and I'm the parent of a shy little girl. When she was in preschool, the teachers acted like she had a disease because she would hide her face behind my leg or not raise her hand to talk during the "sharing circle." That's when I started seeing the wrongness of the judgment. Shy is simply a personality type, not a personality flaw.

When it was me feeling the judgment, I forced my way through it. I drank too much in high school and college---good old liquid courage. I pretended not to be as smart as I was because the popular group hated nerdy quiet types. I forced myself to be out of my shell when I preferred being in it. I didn't understand how to balance it because I'd never been taught. I'd only been told that being shy was somehow a defect, a "thing to overcome."

Now that my own little girl was being discussed as having an issue simply because she preferred coloring alone or didn't jump on the table or scream with excitement over every small thing, I defended her shyness. I heard myself saying, "it's okay that she's shy, there's nothing wrong with it," much to the surprise of whoever had been criticizing. Even now that she's a college student, she has people ask her why she's quiet--and she'll be in class at the time!

Still waters run deep. 

As an adult, shyness can be judged as snobbiness or aloofness or outright bitchiness. I no longer fake being an extrovert--if I'm comfortable around you, you may think I'm the funniest, wildest person in the room because my guard will be down and I'll laugh and talk about anything and everything; however, if I'm not comfortable in your presence, I'll be reserved and quiet because that's my nature. And that's okay. Just like it's okay that my daughter doesn't chat up everyone in the room but lets loose around her true friends and family. Just because the world is a stage, it doesn't mean that we need to perform for you.

Here's the secret world of shy people: we see you ...and we hear you. We're hyper-aware of the world around us. We're observers. We want to know it's safe to be ourselves around you before we dive in with both feet. We're smart. We love deeply because we're careful about who we love. We're sensitive. We're kind.

As the saying goes, "still waters run deep." So it goes with shy people. We may not be shouting our opinions so loud that people need to cover their ears or cringe from the volume, but we have things to say if you stop long enough to ask with genuine respect and care enough to listen to our answers.

Peace to you.
Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com