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This Phoenix Speaks

Seven years in the making, my first published book, This Phoenix Speaks , is now a reality. The tireless and tiring work invested to ma...

Christmas music


I don't know what the deal is with all this Christmas stuff in August, but as I've said before, it just proves that the slips of paper are randomly chosen.

When I was little, all the Christmases were a blur of sparkling lights, cookies, candies, wrapping paper, and gifts. You could hardly walk across the floor once everyone's gifts were opened for all the paper strewn across it. But setting gifts aside, my parents always took time to teach us about Christ's birth being the center of everything, and my mom made it happen by infusing the season with music: singing songs to and with us, playing the most high brow Christmas selections on the record or tape players, playing sacred hymns and carols on the piano, taking us to concerts for Handel's Messiah, and participating first-hand in Christmas caroling as a family.

Christmas was shaped for me then into a permanent form. Christmas is not Christmas enough unless there is music filling the air as often as possible.

a sweet dream


Retirement feels more like an elusive, distant dream to me than any sort of reality I can fathom, yet I can see it right in front of me as if it is tomorrow, and in that dream I am traveling along the countrysides of new and familiar places with someone, not quite sure who yet, but traveling contentedly with a darling, dear companion who loves me and I love him, and I write about the sights and sounds, smells and tastes of everything we encounter at the end of every day because in the midst of our adventures I am taking photographs like an absolutely obsessed freak, who is happier than a kid on Christmas in a candy store with their hand caught in the cookie jar riding a train for the first time.

just joy


First of all, we will just ignore the typo, ok? So anyways. Back to our usual program.

I grew up in Las Vegas, and not to say downtown didn't ever decorate for Christmas, but I don't remember it being all that. It only snowed once in all my recollection as a child. And Downtown Las Vegas is different from most downtowns you'll find anywhere, like around the entire world, for being such a small city when I was growing up. It's just inherently different.

I did, however, grow up in an area of town where there were mostly Las Vegas natives, and I'm telling you, they knew how to decorate. It was so fun to go for rides in our big old van to look at all the Christmas lights on people's houses around (our side of) town. I look back on that tradition and feel so much joy. It was a wonderful time to be together, singing Christmas carols while driving with my parents and little brothers.

It could be the passage of time making the memory sweeter, but I don't have any bad memories mingled with these outings, so that makes it all the better, maybe even perfect.

on a whim and a prayer

I haven't felt whimsical in the least lately, but today is different because yesterday was different, and now I'm ready to share something that I love just for because.

You might have already heard this one, but whatever. I really love the song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles and what she has to say is something I want everyone within my reach to hear. The message of the song itself is powerful and empowering, and I love the music video even more so because it is peppered with Bareilles's signature whimsy and delight.

Next week, I embark on my last full school year of classes with full time credits and four kids, being a single mom taking dance classes with people 10-15 years younger than I, and having no end in sight to my marital woes. This said, I have declared this my fight song. I want to see myself be brave through it all, and even though I might need you to remind me some days, I know I can do it.  And I'm going to strive to do it with a smile.

I hope you will listen to it, for the first time or listen to it anew, with my wish for you to be brave along with me as we continue on this adventure.

The Best Things Come From Texas

From time to time, a person crosses your path who changes you undeniably for the better. I used to believe these special angels on Earth had to be someone you have actually talked to on the phone, seen where they live, maybe even had them over to the house, or at least have been a pen pal with them for a few months, still knowing where you live as part of the deal—the old-fashioned definition of what a friend looks like. Right? Over the past couple of years, my perception of who real friends can be has been changing drastically. I've written about it before, but I need to say more, today.

I have become connected with people around the world through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog (I even have a Tumblr, somewhere out there). Each passing day gives me proof that there are people who can and do appreciate the pictures I paint with words, the feelings I wish to convey. There are real people who actually enjoy reading what I write and seeing what I see, and I am astonished and grateful, every day. 

When I first began to dream of becoming a writer (a writer of poetry no less), I had never heard of blogs. Honestly, I don't think there was such a thing, or at least, they weren't commonplace in any way, shape, or form like they are now. There wasn't such a thing as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, for certain. I could not imagine how my aspirations would come to fruition, so I simply dreamt of it, for years and years, still not knowing what to do to make this dream reality.

But then, something happened. I woke up from a nightmare of a dream and began gathering the remnants of the person I once was, and began to build. I began building with tools of hope, vision, and determination, and I still put those tools to use as I continue on my journey of reaching my dreams, for I have many dreams which have been brought to life by freedom and confidence. I haven't always had confidence of my own though. The several people who reach out through these various venues lend me some of theirs whenever mine is waning.  And they always come through. Always.

Some of you might be thinking to ask, "What about your family and (traditional) friends?" Well, I have to tell you something—I have amazing family and friends who love me, think I'm a brilliant writer, read my stuff, share it from time to time, and fuel my fire to keep reaching my dreams. However, I also have a great deal of "family and friends" who are quite oppositional, unfriendly, unkind, and flat out jerks to me because I am the way that I am.

By reading my blog you might have got the sense that I say things as I see them sans sugar coatings (with exception being made for my poetry of the sweet variety). You also might have gathered that I have strong opinions and feelings. All of these things are true about me. I step on toes because I haven't learnt to tip toe around sensitive people and topics just yet—though I am trying to learn. I also say things that are unpopular or abrasive because I have been a prisoner in many ways for much of my life and I will not go back to that. I will not be quiet. This causes me some scrapes and misunderstandings (I apologize a lot out of necessity). Yet, anyone who cares about me knows that if we can just talk it out long enough, you can get to the heart of it with me, and things are made right.

I learned about apologizing and talking things out from my dad. He wasn't well-educated, but his West Texas roots and upbringing taught him to make things right when things go wrong. He was a professional apologizer and good at helping you come around to seeing where his heart was in a situation. He gave me intangible tools for navigating my world. Sometimes I wonder if he knew I'd need his imperfect example from which to gain these tools . . .

And that brings me to where I am right now, today, in my journey to becoming who I am meant to become and the inspiration for me sharing some of my layers of individuation with you.

I have this friend, who I've never met but know what he looks like (thank you, Instagram) and have a sense of his sense of humor (thank you, Twitter), and he has made me smile, without ever having heard his voice or knowing where he lives, and he made a simple comment to me that I had missed—until yesterday. It is one sentence, but sometimes one sentence can be life-changing, especially when negativity gets force fed to you on a daily basis by the truckload. It showed me that I do make a difference—not only as a mother, sister, or daughter; not only in my neighborhood; not only at church; not only at school or even in person anywhere I may be—but I make a difference with people who I probably will never meet in any tangible way. I've been shown this before, but I needed to be reminded. I know I needed reaffirmation of this something that I hope to be true because I was feeling low and humiliated. I was feeling like I don't matter and that my goals are unachievable nonsense. Life has become a suffocating mess for me as of late, and this one sentence whispered encouragement into my heart to keep reaching.

I want you to know this is gold to me, treasure beyond price. Throughout my process of individuation, I have come to know that this is what I want out of life; to make a difference is my life's work. I hope that, as I move forward from this point, I will be able to keep this treasure in my pocket of remembrance. The so-called red but actually purple onion will stand as my reminder because no longer could it "just be an onion" again, thanks to my friend, "a Texas guy in Colorado . . . Lover of the Perfectly Flawed."

keeping it real

To say that I haven't felt like writing would be a lie. However, I can admit to not being able to put my thoughts onto the page as per usual. Ideas, feelings, random thoughts come visit for awhile, and then they fade out into nothingness as I let the wisps fly away instead of tying them down and spinning my yarn to make something more out of it all. It is hard to say how or when I will find my way out of this. I wonder if I ever will. It doesn't seem possible, no matter what anybody says.

Right now, I have so many things I want to tell you, but I can't seem to be able to invest enough heart to put it out there. Excavating my thoughts on emotional terrorism drained me of all I had left to give in any smart way.

I don't even want to tell you how long it took for me to get this much written down, because I am ashamed of how I've allowed myself to let go of my happy place, where I am free. I don't feel free to say or do as I choose. I know that I am; I just don't feel it.

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Emotional Terrorism

When I was first contemplating the term emotional terrorism, I caught myself and began reflecting on whether or not I was putting hyperbole into action as I explore this avenue of thinking. So, I did some research by, first, looking up a few words in the dictionary, the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition to be precise.

1. of or relating to emotion 2. dominated or prone to emotion 3. appealing to or arousing emotion 4. markedly aroused or agitated in feeling or sensibilities
the systematic use of terror esp. as a means of coercion. 
1. a state of intense fear 2a. one that inspires fear b. a frightening aspect c. a cause of anxiety; worry d. an appalling person or thing 3. REIGN OF TERROR
[this is as it appeared in the text] 4. violent or destructive acts committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands. 

I'm not sure if many (or any) of you are into reading dictionary definitions (we can't all be nerds), but I've found that understanding all the meanings of a word or words really sheds a great deal of light on how you can/should use the word(s) you took time to more fully comprehend. It also sheds light on the depth and severity of a situation when you know more facets of the words someone chooses to use when describing a situation or whatever the context may be without needing to know every unsavory detail.

That said, I believe there is something to this concept of emotional terrorism. It is not hyperbolic to relate a long-standing pattern of treatment that is peppered with narcissism; lying by omission; agitating in order to cause unnecessary anxieties; intimidation; appealing to emotions with intent to manipulate; and so on and so forth as being emotional terrorism. In fact, I believe it is aptly chosen when describing situations involving emotional wreckage inflicted outside of the power of the receiver to avoid or change. Whether witnessing as a third-party observer or being party to such treatment either by giving or receiving, it is rational to suppose that most people would agree these behaviors fit the mould as described within the aforementioned definitions. Albeit, the antagonist most likely would not readily admit to being such a character, but it would be true, nonetheless.

Emotional terrorism is a difficult thing to escape because emotions have been appealed to, loyalties have been secured then breached on many occasions in some instances, and there is always the chance that there is a hope for the person to one day turn things around and stop it.

But we must remember that there are no true victims here, once the situation is recognized for what it is: terrorism of the heart. One must take responsibility for cutting ties by not buying into lies, manipulation, half-truths, half-efforts, small tokens of care, and above all else, not giving unearned trust. Take responsibility for your emotional health.

As for me, I have realized that I have been soft-hearted and made a fool, and more. Due to realizing my part in adding to the unpleasantries now plaguing my life, I have adopted an official policy on emotional terrorism:

I have no room for emotional terrorism in my life; I will not negotiate with emotional terrorists of any kind no matter who you are.

inspired by Ronald Reagan's statement on terrorism

My vote has been cast, and emotional terrorism is officially uninvited for reelection!

if you're reading this...

I don't know what to say, except thank you to everyone who reads my writing. There are so many undesirable things happening in my life right now, but writing has been one of the blessings. Discovering my voice and finding an audience are two things that add to my joy in life. It really has been a dream come true, and I'm just getting started. It is amazing to have so many people, who I haven't even met, wanting me to succeed and are willing to help me do it.

Thank you.

roller coasters

I used to think I liked roller coasters, until I had to live one. The ups and downs were such a thrill. Breathtaking delights they were. And now--now every up promises a down, not to mention turns requiring a twist. There's no need to take away breath. I forget to breathe long enough to make me dizzy.

I live a roller coaster, and I wish I could get off this ride, but it's not over, yet.

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My greatest joy and my greatest sorrow are forever intertwined. Being part of a family and creating one of my own has been my greatest joy. Alas, the profound problems, in varying degrees, associated with family members (not excluding my marriage) are my greatest sorrow. It is all part of one whole which cannot be sorted out or separated.

Family brings joy and sorrow for me, and I believe it has been this way continually throughout my existence.

Seeking to Become: August 2013

This month marks two years of doing this Seeking to Become series, and I have to say it has been a very good thing for my personal growth. I missed a couple of months this past year, so it hasn't been as faithful of an endeavor, but the benefits have been measurable, all the same. Challenging myself amidst the difficult trials of life that I am facing has given me a positive focus, and it is enriching to have a few people here and there piping in from time to time. My hope is that, as I continue to seek to become more like the Savior, I will be able to rise above my weaknesses with more strength than before, that I might be able to get to know Christ better by walking in his ways.

As this next year of challenges arise, I look forward to more participation and reflection. 

Throughout July and even now, I have been thinking a great deal on the state of affairs in my home--how the divorce is affecting my children--and I came across these verses in Jeremiah which have brought me great comfort and focus.

Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
And there is hope for thy future, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border. 
Jeremiah 31: 16-17
I intend to work more diligently to refrain from weeping and worry, placing extra emphasis on the goal this month. Please join me, if you will.

For your reading pleasure, I have included links to this past year's series, as well as the introduction from August 2011:

Introduction - August 2011

Humility - September 2012

Comfort - October 2012

Replenishment - November 2012

Loving others - December 2012

Defend and do justice - January 2013

Fear not - February 2013

Love - March 2013

An epistle of Christ - May 2013

Service - June 2013

broken hearts

I walked gently into the night,
Breathing in every sound and sight
Stars glimmering through it all, unknowing
Dread fills me as I realize I am loving
Someone, you, who cannot give
What I need to keep going, to live

People, poets, speak of broken hearts,
To redundancy, in the name of art
And here I am doing it, too
Much has been said, I knew
You for so long, so long
We have been two hearts
Apart and yet still one thought
Brings it back and we are one


About that heart
That fractured, broken heart
With no home
No owner
Because I won't even claim it
I turn my back in utter grief
Knowing it could have been
If only...
If only I would not have gone
Gently into that night with you
I might still have some shred
Of nothing to hang onto

So now I see that I chose
A broken heart.
For better or worse,
I chose.

Longing for Home: Delightful!

Longing for Home: A Proper Romance Longing for Home: A Proper Romance by Sarah M. Eden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Longing for Home, by Sarah M. Eden, begins out on a trail that takes the Ireland-born Katie Macauley to the small town of Hope Springs, Wyoming to figure out what home really means. I, too, was carried along for the ride in more ways than one.

The concept of what home is has been something I've thought about quite often, and so this beautiful Irish-threaded story struck a harmonious chord for me. The elegant stitching of Irish dialect and 1800s American colloquialisms creates a language delight that transports you into the story's world. Because of her apparent Irish flair, I wanted to get to know Katie better and see where her efforts would take her, and Eden does not disappoint. Excellent character development, intriguing plot twists, and delicious foreshadowing make for a page-turner novel you won't want to put down.

One of my favorite quotes from Longing for Home:

"When a man finds such a treasure, he doesn't part with her for anything."
     -- Tavish O'Connor, talking about his horse.

I know this is jumping the gun a bit since the giveaway on my blog doesn't start until August 6th, but I just couldn't hold in the excitement from reading this refreshingly romantic tale.

View all my reviews

overcoming negativity


I need to come up with three good qualities about myself, but every time I think of something to write down, negativity comes in with a resounding rebuttal. Is it a type of sickness to believe you have good qualities but not feel worthy to voice the belief? I suggest that it is.

To combat this deplorable sense of inadequacy, I reached out to the world over the past couple of days so that I might see what they see, instead of being blinded by this omniscient perspective that keeps insisting I add qualifiers to any nice thing I attempt to declare about myself. Here are some things that other people said I'm good at or are good qualities about me: 
writing, poetry, being a good mom
smart, outspoken, kind
loyal, friendly, smart
kind, compassionate, empathetic
beautiful, witty, kind
diligent, hard-working, dedicated
friendly, helpful, kind
an infectious laugh, you are very beautiful, and you have a strong command of our crazy language

I purposefully highlight this list in order to place literal emphasis on these positive sentiments that were generously expressed so that I might allow myself to believe them--so I might be brave enough to make a list of my own.

And still, it proves too difficult. I blame myself for this lack of confidence. I have allowed a great deal of negativity to seep into the cracks of my imperfection, only to break my resolve to never forget my divine worth. How could I let this happen? Why would someone like me allow anyone, especially my own self, to denigrate one of God's creations? It doesn't seem right or good. And I submit to you that it is wrong to do such a thing--most especially to ourselves.

If I can't love myself, how much love do I have to give others? I should think not enough, certainly not enough required for being the type of mother I aspire to be or the type of friend I attempt to emulate as I experience friendship from others or the gift to humanity that we all truly are when doing our personal best.

That I might not be a hypocrite deluxe, I shall write this list. I will overcome the negative voices in my head, but in return for my exercise of great courage, I ask for you to be brave and share three of your good qualities, too. Share this with others who need encouragement to overcome negativity. Let us celebrate the goodness within, with nothing added to blacken it.

Three good qualities about me:

1. Passionate
2. Creative
3. Intuitive
out of the mouth of babes