Where Love Really Does Conquer All

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It's been a little over a week since my friend Regina passed away. I've thought about her every day. I met her through the North Texas Romance Writers more than a decade ago and then we became critique partners in a smaller group of 6, enjoying monthly lunches that spanned into suppers with how much we talked and all enjoyed each other's company, and yearly writing retreats~most of them hosted by Regina as she was a boss at organization and loved coming up with themes and treating us with fun writing incentives. 

It was in those overnights that we had deep talks about so much more than our writing ideas and I discovered what a treasure she was. There were times when my life was a mess, struggling financially mostly and how I was so tired of it. Rather than bemoaning with me, she asked, "Where would you like to be?" and then compensed to lay out a plan of success. I'm not the only one she did that with. I know because she told me. When her children were struggling with something, they would get the same treatment. She'd take them out to lunch and ask the same type of question. "Where do you want to be?" and then commence to laid out a plan to get there. 

I was smart enough to follow her plan and a few years later the financial woes are in the past and I'm making a good living. It's not a huge leap to say that Regina changed my life and by so doing affected my family's life as well. I've no doubt that many more people than myself can say the same. 

Regina was also the most intelligent person I've ever known in real life. There wasn't a subject that she didn't know something about. She loved learning just for the sake of learning. She kidded that she liked hanging out on what she called "the dark web", which consisted of finding the writings of intelligent people, professors and such, that weren't easy to find by following breadcrumbs along the Internet until she found what she was looking for. She simply had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, which also came in handy when we were all brainstorming.

Once I asked for a scenerio where one of my fictional heroes could be the donor for a rare type of disease. I wanted something unique and without batting an eye, Regina came up with some rare disease I can't even remember the name of. She then proceeded to tell me all about how it would be a feces transfusion. "A what? Regina, I'm not having my romance hero give someone a poop transfusion!" to which she just laughed and laughed, her eyes twinkling in mischeviousness. 

That's how it was with our critique group, a lot of fun and laughter mixed with moments of support for each other's pain. It's going to be forever changed without Regina. 

And she loved her family. It was evident in the way she spoke about them with so much love and pride about what they were doing with their lives. She was also a planner for herself, always making goals and plans with several trackers that she dutifully placed stickers in. She had plans. She said she was in the 3rd quarter of her life and had plans for her 4th quarter, places she wanted to travel to, goals she was on track to achieve, including books she was in the process of writing. I can't help but think, "what about your 4th quarter? You weren't done yet." It makes me want to stop waiting for a future day, but to live now, be bold now.

Pat and I attended her prayer service at her home the night before her funeral. We were a few minutes late so came in and stood near their front door. Touches of Regina were everywhere. I could tell she had put up her Christmas tree as it had ornaments she loved, several that were received from fellow writers. I couldn't help thinking "How is her husband Steve ever going to be able to put them away?" I imagine him leaving it up for a while. Her office was off to the side, dark and still, her trackers spread out across her desk, her youngest son was doing a valient job of holding it together while the prayer service continued and I was glad to be in the back where it was easier to wipe my tears unnoticed. 

However, there is comfort also. Regina was a woman of faith. It was evident in how she thought of others before herself and it was evident in her funeral and the choices she made for scripture and song. She once told me that she wasn't afraid to die, but was worried about how hard it would be on Steve. Again, thinking of others. I grieve for her loss in my life and I grieve for her family. I know they'll be okay because she prepared them well to be achievers, but there will be those life events when they will want her to be there. 

Goodbye my sweet friend. I wish I could express how much you meant to me but words aren't large enough. Until we meet again. 

Waiting to Exhale Through September

 Today marks the anniversary of my son Chase's death. I usually mark this date in my heart and outwardly keep going through the motions of the day. And then his birthday comes a few weeks later. I mark it on my heart again, sometimes send him a Facebook shoutout on his page. It's been more than ten years and the loss is still just as painful. The tears flow just as heavily. The he'd-be-this-age-now-and-doing-these-things-now thoughts wash across the floor of my mind, leaving behind minefields I step on at the most random moments.

I tell myself that if he were alive, he would have left my house by now like all my other kids, living his own life. It's just like he moved away farther, to a place I can't visit, without cell reception. But then there are times when I feel his presence so clearly that I don't need a phone call to reach him anyway. I feel his happiness at being free and doing whatever it is that he is doing. 

With cystic fibrobis I would still be counting every one of his breaths instead of holding my own until September is over. September has become a month when so many people die. My friend's husband and my other dear two friends' parents. There seems to be more celebrities that pass in September as well. Jimmy Buffet was the first I've heard of this month late last night. Or maybe I only think more pass in September because I'm more attuned to it. I don't know.

But as years pass there is also joy in September. My grandchild who shares Chase's name was born this month. Chase probably loves that. And two days before Chase's birthday we're celebrating the marriage of his brother to an amazing woman. 

Perhaps this September I can release the breath I'm holding a little bit earlier. 

What I Carry

What I CarryWhat I Carry by Jennifer Longo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love those books that you can't wait to get back to and are sorry you have to put down because you have to work instead of read all day.

"What I Carry" is one of those books. I loved Muir and the way she portrayed what it's like being a child in the foster care system. My heart hurt for her and rejoiced as she opened hers up and took the chance on trusting people when she never had been able to before.

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Happy 2023


It's time to say adieu to 2022. I started my 3rd year teaching High School English to Freshman. I'd love to say it's been going great but I'm still learning the best techniques to manage the classes and keep them engaged. I feel like an imposter nearly every day but keep on faking it until I make it. 

I watched a Ted Talk the other day about power poses and how your body language can actually stimulate your brain and make good things happen so when I get back to school I'm going to do the Wonder Woman power pose before the students come in. 

I've been creatively busy and the past couple of months with a new series of books. 
I finished the last two books in the Chapel Pines series and the first book in the Billionaire Brigade series. I have a plan and a planner to get the next five books completed before the end of 2024. 

It's going to be a busy year but a great one. How about you? What are your goals for this year?