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, October 4, 2017

Difficult Sacrifices Can Lead to Contentment #StartingOver #Life

View from the deck of my (former) mountain home
A year ago, I put my mountain home on the market, not because I wanted to really, but because I was facing financial ruin. Putting two kids through college as a solo parent and soloprenuer isn't easy and sacrifices needed to be made. As I looked at my gorgeous view in a beautiful location, the reality of the remoteness of it kicked in with me being unable to get an interview anywhere because I lived so far away and up a canyon that was often closed during snowfall.

But I fought to stay. I didn't really want to move. Between hustling with my own businesses and applying to up to 50 jobs a day (no, that's not an exaggeration), I still wasn't making the ends meet. Pair this with a psychopathic neighbor harassing me daily and the police doing nothing about it except taking 'a record' in case he physically hurt me and my stress levels were off the chart.

I was rational enough to know that something needed to give, hard choices needed to be made to save myself, yet I was still wanting to fight to keep the only home my children had ever known. I took the house off the market only a few weeks after putting it on, unable to face the holidays with house showings and unwilling to surrender.

But in February of this year, for the first time in 19 years, I missed a house payment and was behind with the dorm payments as well. I went in to the local community resource center, a place I'd donated to over the years, for help. On their website it clearly stated they could help with short-term solutions to get people back on their feet. Tossing my pride aside, I made an appointment. However, they told me they couldn't help me financially and that I should prepare to face foreclosure (!?!) and advised me to get rid of my pets because no homeless shelter would take me with pets. What the fuck? I was behind on ONE house payment, was hustling as much as I could, and their advice was to give up, to surrender, to give up my animals and accept that I would be homeless? In that moment, I regretted all the past donations I had ever made to this organization. I went into my car in a daze, leaned my head against the steering wheel, and sobbed.

The feeling of failure consumed me. I'd always been a fighter, a scrappy little go-getter...and here I was in my car feeling everything I'd worked for crumble beneath me.

I called a realtor, told the kids that this was it, and accepted that I would do what I needed to do to come out of the situation as best as I could. Realtors were horrible, though, even though I was in a seller's market, they wanted to make sure I knew that my house wasn't perfect--a snide comment here, a tsk-tsk there. Well, no shit. I have been a single parent for 12 years, which meant all my money went to supporting my family rather than fancy upgrades. Some would not even come to our agreed upon appointment because my house wasn't worth a million and they told me that they only represent homes at that price point. Through the constant humiliation, I sucked it up, stood up for myself to get what I needed to get from it, and went ahead with the process of selling my biggest asset. I'd be damned if I got so far behind that I lost it to the bank or allowed anyone to take advantage of me.

It became a race against time. I did put every spare dime into getting new faucets or paint or whatever I could to make my home more marketable, which meant sometimes not having any money left over for food. I would scrape together quarters and go to Sonic for a $6 meal that felt like a feast.

With the stress of trying to maintain some semblance of a business as I went through all of this, I felt like I was about to break. Judgements from my psycho neighbor who saw the electric company come to disconnect us unless I could finagle a deal--he would literally stand in my driveway and mock me--and judgements from buyers who apparently wanted a brand new home at a 20 year old home price and judgments from MYSELF for failing took a toll on the last shreds of my nerves.

I sold belongings simply to eat or pay a bill. I fed my animals before myself.

And I had never felt so alone and scared.

I had the dorm calling me demanding money and kept praying the house would sell so I could pay them before school was out for the summer. I fell further behind on the mortgage because I was throwing money into the house so I could sell it and trying my best to keep the wolves from the door so there would at least be electricity when potential buyers came through.

And it sold. I cried while packing and I cried while signing it away at the closing table. So much life had happened there--I had bought it with a handsome young husband and babies in tow with big dreams of a life that didn't include widowhood or financial destruction. How could I not mourn it?

But the plan worked--I had enough equity to pay off debt, more than enough to buy a smaller house in another city with cash, and plenty to set my children up in an apartment with some money left to start over.

My point in sharing all of this is that you can make the hard choices. The key is to decide what do you want most--a material thing, to keep up appearances in the community or do you want peace of mind and security for your family?

Sacrifice is sometimes necessary to have another chance at life. A fresh start. A year ago from today, I thought my life was over. I couldn't imagine surviving the level of distress I experienced every day, the absolute grief at "losing everything" sent me into a horrible darkness. What I went through this past year was more devastating than my husband's death--the level of uncertainty, the lack of a support system that I could trust to confide in, the feeling of absolute failure in letting myself and my kids down, the harsh judgment from outsiders like the people at the resource center who essentially told me that I would end up homeless when what I really needed was someone to give me hope and direction.

I miss my mountain home with its one-of-a-kind view, beautiful forested lot where elk and deer strolled around every day, and the sound of the trees whispering in the wind. However, I don't miss the feeling of terror I had every day that something else would be disconnected or that I wouldn't have enough money to pay for food or gas or the wicked judgement I placed on myself for "this cannot be my life, how could it have gone so wrong?"

I am a college-educated business woman with 18 published novels. I'd survived my husband's suicide and raised 2 amazing kids who grew into smart and successful college students. I did it all alone with zero help from anyone. But could I even get an interview to shovel dog shit at the local kennel? No. Could I get an interview anywhere for anything? No. So I beat myself up even more. Further and further down into the rabbit hole I went. A few years ago I was a woman with a flawless credit rating, someone with money in the bank and a fabulous career...the reality that it had all gone off the rails freaked me out and completely destroyed my sense of self-worth.

A year ago, I couldn't acknowledge any of my accomplishments because I was so busy criticizing myself and dealing with the harshness of other people who judged me purely on my ability to pay. I fell into such a deep depression that I myself contemplated suicide.

I went so far as to write down all my passwords to all my accounts and left a note on my desk to the kids entitled "in case I die, you will need this." I thought they would be better off with no parent instead of a failed one. That's how screwed up I was at the time, how lost and hopeless I felt.

But I didn't ever try to end my life when it came down to it. I wanted to LIVE, I wanted to WIN, I wanted to FIGHT. There was always something inside of me saying, "maybe tomorrow the miracle will come."

And you know what? It did. I bawled my head off when I left the house for the final time and took my 3 dogs and 2 cats and 2 kids into a hotel that night after closing---but I had hundreds of thousands of dollars in my bank account suddenly. We spent 4 nights in a hotel before moving into a very nice apartment in Denver. A month later I bought a new house with cash--no more mortgage for me! No more debt either! I have laughed for the first time in years. I took a vacation for the first time in years! My businesses are back to thriving and growing. I'm meeting new friends who want to go on new adventures. My dogs are thrilled not to be in that apartment...the yard may be smaller than what we had at the old house, but they are adapting well.

And the most important thing? I'm forgiving myself for being human. I've given myself permission to enjoy life again. I am grateful for having an asset that could save me and letting it go despite the fear of the unknown. I am allowing myself to open up to new possibilities.

I'm still decompressing from last year and all of that trauma. I have nightmares where I wake up screaming from it all. But then I look around at my new little house. I am safe. I am thankful I listened to that constant and strong voice inside of me that urged me to ignore that woman at the resource center, the nut job neighbor, the collection people's abusive language. Somehow, despite all the turmoil, that inner voice urged me to keep hope alive and do the hard thing so that we could have a second chance to live a good life.

So now we are starting over...again...differently than before when my husband died, but also maybe better than before because everything, even the new house, is an opportunity for reinvention.

Sacrifice can feel like the end, but it's truly a chance to let miracles happen.

Peace to you.

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, Easton also writes under two pen names--Dakota Skye (erotic paranormal romance thrillers) and Cassidy Springfield (new adult). She also works as a professional editor and creativity coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, travels as often as possible, and advocates for suicide awareness. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com. To discover more about her editing and creativity coaching, check out http://www.moxigirlwriting.com 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I May Be Older But I Am Far From Over #EmptyNester #Inspiration

Back in 2010, I started this blog as a way to tip my toe back into the world. I'd been a wounded widow struggling to balance grief with solo-parenting in a community that showed zero compassion. To say I felt beat up by life would be an understatement--my confidence was all but destroyed and this blog was a way to ease back into life. Over the past seven years I've written about seeing those kids grow into young adults, about being both mom and dad, about changing friendships and loss.

I stopped blogging for awhile almost two years ago. Oh, I'd try to force myself back into it every now and then but my heart wasn't in it. I stopped everything for awhile actually as life became too big and messy for me to find the words. Health issues arose that scared me and sent me into a spiral of fear. What would happen to the kids if I died? They'd be orphans. Yes, they were now both over 18, but they'd have no living parent if I died.

To make matters worse, I looked around and realized I no longer had a confidante. I was 100% alone. Nothing in my life suited me anymore--not the community where I lived, the clothes I owned, the house I called home, or the acquaintances that colored my life like dark shadows.

With a conflicted heart, I put my house on the market and hated every minute of the experience. Finances were tight so I couldn't upgrade everything--being a single mom with two kids in college doesn't allow for any extras. I endured snotty realtors who made me feel like I lived in a dump unworthy of being inhabited despite the pride I took into taking care of what I owned--and the beauty of my cozy Colorado mountain home. I suffered through low-ball offers and potential buyers asking for things I simply couldn't afford to give. Alone, I did what I could. I second-guessed myself the entire time, but I had to leave. I needed to change. It became a necessity to save my life.

That might sound dramatic but it's the truth. I would look around my house filled with ghosts of a life that used to be mine but was no longer relevant. I would wake up gasping for breath in a panic, my first thought being, "this place is killing me." The stress of being there, the weight of all that pent up sorrow, the loneliness of isolation, the pressure of mounting bills, the crushing realization that I no longer belonged in the place I'd called home for two decades--all of it undermined any attempt for me to get healthy or regain my career footing. To make it even more unbearable, the crazy neighbor who'd harassed me for nineteen years had intensified his nuttiness to blatant threats, especially once the for sale sign went up in the yard.

I left. I moved on. I sobbed for weeks while packing and during the closing when I signed on that dotted line.

Three months later, I am in a new home, far from that one. Instead of sending the kids off to another state to school, I'm the one who left them secure in their hometown and leading lives of their own in college.

I sacrificed a lot of who I was for the sake of a marriage and my children. As I step into this new phase of my life, I'm rediscovering who I am and who I want to be. I am cutting energetic cords to people that I used to mourn--friends who I have cried over who ghosted on me no longer mean anything to me at all. They are strangers I used to know and that is all. By meditating on releasing them energetically from my sphere, I free up energy for all the new people and experiences entering my life.

I am reclaiming my power and giving myself credit for surviving my husband's suicide, raising two badass independent adults, navigating health issues alone but with my chin up, packing up a house I'd lived in for nineteen years all by myself, standing up to the nutty neighbor when his harassment became dangerous, and moving to a place where I knew no one to start over.

Who am I? Who is this forty-nine year-old with battle scars? Why on earth did she leave all she'd ever known behind for an unknown future?

I am powerful by witnessing my powerlessness and rising above despite the fear. I am stronger for surrendering. I am happier for embracing my sorrow. Instead of fighting to remain somewhere that no longer suited me or my life, I took action. I would have died there--if not a physical death, then a spiritual one.

I believe that I and I alone control my destiny. I am not a victim of circumstance, but I made mistakes that created confusion deep in my heart between what I wanted to do and what I believed I needed to do. That discrepancy led me further and further away from my true self and drove me into despair. If you've never experienced true despair, then you may not be able to relate, but trust me when I say it's a very dark and scary place to be. It feels immobilizing. Only by facing the reality of my situation was I able to break free.

Now I'm back to blogging about this new chapter of my life, about starting over in a new city and meeting new people at age forty-nine, about dating again, about traveling, about redefining the parent relationship with adult children, about how cool it is to own a house outright (thank you, equity!), about reinventing my career yet again, about rediscovering who I am without the labels of mom or widow attached to my identity like they once were so heavily, and about seeing how happy I can be because--if I've survived all that bullshit--I know unlimited joy awaits me.

It feels good to be at the keyboard again. It's been too long. The next post will be about what it was like taking my twenty-one year old daughter to Vegas for her birthday...stay tuned! I'm baaaaaaack!

Peace to you!

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, Easton also writes under two pen names--Dakota Skye (erotic paranormal romance thrillers) and Cassidy Springfield (new adult). She also works as a professional editor and creativity coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, travels as often as possible, and advocates for suicide awareness. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Friday, July 14, 2017

Disconnect from the Noise and Immerse Yourself in a Wonderland #NewMexico #Travel

Outside of a library, there aren't many places I've visited where cellphones are outlawed and staff walks around with signs saying "whisper please" and "no talking allowed". Ojo Calliente Mineral Springs and Spa in Ojo, New Mexico makes serenity a priority.

photo taken by Amber Lea Easton
An hour north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, this haven for the weary is the perfect solution to an over-worked and noise-embattled person. Just parking in the dirt lot surrounded by Juniper trees and sage bushes is a serene experience. As you walk toward the resort entrance, the earth around you is hushed except for the occasional bird call. Once inside, the staff welcomes you backed by fountains and the sense that you are about to become disconnected from all your cares...at least for a few hours. During the daytime, admission is relatively high at $36 per person, but that drops to only $16 after 6PM. For the price of admission, however, you are treated like a god or goddess for a little while. With luxurious locker rooms and resort-provided lush towels, you are set-up to enjoy a unique hot springs experience. 

The manager recommended we start out at the mud pool. This is where you get to indulge your inner child by slathering the spa's special blend of clay all over your skin before lying back in the sun to let it bake onto you. The blend of minerals is designed to release toxins from your body. Once the mud is dry, you immerse yourself in a mud pool before rinsing off under the showers. 

There are different pools to sink in, all with different minerals designed to heal your body in a myriad of ways. 

AND ALL ARE A WHISPER ZONE! What a blessing to not be bothered by someone else's chatter. 

The lithia pool is said to help with symptoms of depression--or mood--and aid in digestion. 

The iron spring is said to benefit the blood and immune system. 

The soda spring pool is enclosed and is the only pool where even whispering is outlawed--NO TALKING AT ALL! The enclosure captures the steam from the hot water where you're surrounded by natural rock cliffs. The soda spring is also said to assist in digestive problems--but, honestly, the echo from the water and the absence of outside world distractions, makes it one of the most relaxing pools on the premises, thereby assisting the soul as well. 

The arsenic pool helps relieve you of all aches and pains, including relief from arthritis symptoms, stomach ulcers, and skin conditions. 

All of the pools are banked by large boulders and the beautiful vistas of northern New Mexico. 

I had driven up from Santa Fe, New Mexico, so can't comment on the accomadations at the resort; however, if they are anything like the springs or the restaurant, I'm betting it's worth a weekend visit. 

Disconnecting like this even for a few hours refreshed me in ways I desperately needed. My body and spirit felt lighter as my daughter and I enjoyed a light lunch at the restaurant before headed back down to Santa Fe on a scenic mountain highway. 

To find out more about Ojo Calliente, please visit their site at: http://ojocaliente.ojospa.com

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and creativity coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, travels as often as possible, and advocates for suicide awareness. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Somewhere Over the Rainbow #startingover #life

I haven't written in a long time, probably the longest stretch I've gone without writing a word. It's been an extremely emotional journey as I literally let go of all I've been hanging onto for so many years. As Rumi wrote, "Life is a balance between hanging on and letting go."

I didn't really want to let go, that's the problem. I felt like I was in a battle with the Universe as it tossed one shitty thing after another in my direction and, no matter how hard I fought to hold on, to fight to make things work, the worse the situation became.

So I surrendered. I let go. I put the house up for sale, endured the endless house showings, the doubt, the harsh reality that I could no longer stay where I was because it simply didn't work anymore. The isolation had been slowly killing me, I see that now. The house I loved had become my prison. A prison filled with ghosts of a husband who killed himself and children who had grown into independent adults.

I am writing this now in the apartment I leased for my son and daughter. It's urban, it's fun, it's gorgeous. There's a swimming pool outside that looks like a five-star resort. The people around us are very friendly and the vibe is upbeat. I filled their place with things from the house so it feels homey to them.

But I'm not staying here. I'm going to find my own fresh start in a different city. This place is fabulous--but I know deep down it's not meant for me. It's meant for them. I may be a lot of things--and people can judge me as they do for things I have never been--but I am a good mom. I set them up well and they are ready to lead their own lives.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. I go from being excited to being frightened out of my mind. It's been over twenty-two years since I've been "simply Amber." What if I fail? What if I have no idea what that means anymore...to be myself? I've been a wife, then a widow, and a mom for so long...what do I want this next chapter of my life to look like?

When it comes down to leaving Colorado, a place I've lived for twenty-five years, I am sad by one thing only: I feel completely disconnected from this place. How is that possible after all this time? My heart has been broken too often and too harshly here. There has been too much loss, too many lies, too much betrayal. Friends who disappeared without even one conversation about "why", people who judged rather than loved after my husband's death and our subsequent struggles as a family...it's all left a scar on my heart.

Selling the house where I raised my family was a wildly emotional event. Now I'm buying a house in a different city in a different state and devoting myself 100% to ME and my writing. No one knows me there and I like that idea. I can reinvent myself in the version of me that I want to be deep in my heart. For the first time in two decades, I am my main priority. I held on to the house and to Colorado for all the right reasons--I wanted the kids to have stability after their father's death and perhaps I needed that too--but letting go feels necessary. 

Letting go of the pain.

Letting go of old dreams of what-ifs and maybes.

Letting go of anger toward those who hurt me deeply...at least I'm working toward that, still have a ways to go.

Letting go of the smallness that has kept me living a life of quiet desperation.

Letting go of the excuses for staying stuck.

Letting go of an identity that never truly suited me.

Yes, this change is necessary. The past months--perhaps even the past year if I'm really honest--has been brutal, like being in the throes of an endless birth. I have wept, I have been on the floor in despair, I have fought against it, I have beaten myself up, I have danced on the edge of insanity at times...until I surrendered.

I gave it all up to the Universe and said, "Okay, fine, I get it. I trust you. I let go. Lead me where I am meant to be."

Once I surrendered, everything clicked into place. The closing on the house was easy. Getting the apartment was easy. Buying a new house in a new city in a new state was easy. I remain in a state of surrender, trusting the flow of the Universe, the love of God, the protection of my angels, and the belief in myself to lead me through the fear and the nagging self-doubt.

Embracing possibility.

Embracing creativity.

Embracing freedom.

Embracing the fresh start.

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and author coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is the mother of two extraordinary human beings and an adventurer eager to experience the world. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com