Spring Cleaning

This spring has taken my usual efforts to remove the dust and clutter to a new level. The move of a household across several states requires some very deep cleaning.

It’s been ten years since I’ve moved. Recently, after shredding the fifth box of papers from the year 2000, I really began to wonder what causes us to buy and keep some of the ridiculous things that we do.

Bottles of vitamins and potions, stand shoulder-to-shoulder, bearing promises of health and vitality. Though months have gone by since their expiration date, they remain in their  little rows,  waiting to be consumed. Until now.

Sometime during the past ten years I went to the land of homemade hummus. However, after the food processor spewed masticated garbanzo and tahini over the kitchen counter I haven’t gone back. That must have been about the same time I decided I would rather go quietly to the health food store and buy it ready for my enjoyment. It appears that instead of admitting I really don’t have to make hummus from scratch, I conveniently hid the twelve cans of garbanzo beans behind the two bags of flour. And that is where they stayed.

One never knows when you need a valentine card that says I love you. But my need for keeping-things-for-the-sake-of-having-it-just-in-case reached a new low when boxes of the kid’s leftover valentine cards fell on my head. Heck, it only took eight years and a household move to make me dump them.

Even the dogs have amassed a stockpile of half-chewed toys. I have to ask. What makes us buy all the stupid stuff? Let’s admit it. Seriously? How many dogs really want a snuggie?Mercedes in her snuggie

Once the process of “move cleaning” begins I start playing the game of, if I haven’t touched it or cared about it in five years, it’s out of here.

By the third day, and multiple trips to the donation bags and the trash can, I realized I should have invested in more trash bags.  I itch to head to the computer to look up the cost of a mega dumpster.

By the fifth day, the rules of the game have changed. I justify my tossing tactics, judging by the layers of dust that no one will miss the statue of an eagle Nana gave us  the last time we saw her. This majestic eagle, covered in stars and stripes, will never grace the inside of our home. Why do I keep it? Because it was a gift?

Once the tossing machine has started rolling that ball cannot be stopped. Everything can go! Even the patriotic eagle. Because the moving van will eventually be on its way and I don’t want to touch another item by myself.

I have a few more weeks of this cleaning thing. My next step is figuring out what I don’t need for six months.

Oddly enough, the tossing gets easier. Almost too easy. It boggles the mind when I stop to think on the amount of money spent on obtaining. Now I must spend more to rid myself of the baggage and clutter.

I can’t help wondering how the economy is in a weakened state. I did my fair share of supporting it!

Never Give Up, Even When Everything Else is Pointing You to the Exit Door

I haven’t really been able to sit down and write like I used to for, ‘Oh, at least a fricken year.’ And even now, this post comes about because I thought I should update my blog. Good grief! Time really took off without me. And it happened while I was looking.

I know we are supposed to treat writing as a job, a career, accepting that our dream requires effort. I know we are to apply our seat to the chair, glue our fingers to the keyboard. Even though our lives are flying apart like so much shrapnel, we are to harness our creative brains like little hamsters on an exercise wheel.

This hamster loss her momentum. The harness broke. I don’t know. Maybe I should have used duct tape instead of Elmer’s glue. Nothing stuck. Not even my seat. Definitely not my brain.

Sometimes it might seem like it would be easier to give up on a dream, instead of fighting for it. At least that’s what I tell myself while I’m licking my wounds. But deep down, I know that there will always be that voice that whispers, “What if?”

My DH always talks about when he was a kid they could call out a do-over during a game of baseball. How cool would that be?

So, today, I forgive myself for not writing as I should have. I allow myself to grieve. I look to today and tomorrow, taking the steps, moving forward in hope. One step at a time. I think I’m ready to call out for a do-over. How about you?

Had I Known Then

 

Had I known the title of my blog had more truth than fiction, I would have changed it to something like She Who Writes A LOT!  Instead, I have C.C. Wiley’s Life Between Words. Believe you me, there was a lot of life shoved between the words. Last year brought everything from floods, pestilence, publication, and marketing.

January 2010 brought rain that fell in epic proportion. It was like God decided to end Global Warming with a biblical firehose from the sky. And with that torrential downpour came brown water seeping into our home. We saved the home office by building a sandbag wall around the backyard. The ground was so saturated we sank to our ankles in mud. I get it. No big deal you say. But anyone who has ever tried to dig a hole of any proportion in California during the hot summer months will recognize that this is major rainfall. The baked earth that can defy the force of a two hundred pound person wielding a pickax was now sticky sloppy goo.  

As we all know, the sun will eventually break through the clouds. The winds will eventually drive the storm away. Who’s to say what changes it will bring? When it was all said and done, the winter storms of 2010 brought new floors in two bedrooms, a redesigned drainage system, repaired fencing, and a pond in the backyard complete with ducks that were willing to find any port in the storm. Too bad the dogs stamped their passports and sent them on their way.

The home office was safe. The writings. The books. The computers. All safe. And then the water heater broke.

With the rain came the joy. Our daughter returned home from college. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, she was making plans for the future. These plans included moving back home, getting to work in the real world and planning for her wedding in June. And two more dogs were added to our household.

I like to think of myself as being that calm boat that skims through life and stays balanced even during some rough seas. So having so many dogs in one household is not that big a deal when life is easy and your bedrooms are not occupying the living room and dining room while the drywall in the bedrooms dries out. We have great dogs. All six of them! However, when the rainfall totals start hitting 20 inches in about a month the mathematics of mud begins to increase: 6 dogs X 4 muddy paws = a whole lot of paw prints.

But I digress.

One spring morning the rain finally stopped, the sun came out, and we discovered our car didn’t run properly. It backed up five feet and then all the lights and bells the Lexus manufactures put in the car went off like a night at the local casino. It was just another day of not going to work. Another day of Life Between Words. However this time I could at least say that it was my first time to ever ride in a big rig to a car dealership. We were certain it was faulty manufacturing. Right? Wrong. A varmint of the toe-nailed-long-tailed-furred-critter-type had decided to sharpen its too pointy teeth on the wire harness things that hold the fricken’ engine in place. Hello! We have fruit and nut trees in the garden! Go eat those things! Instead it ate a meal that cost us over $500 for the repair and another $100 for my peace of mind. We now have the electronic pulsating things that plug into the wall sockets on every wall in the garage. 

Just more life between words. Right? Time to plant my butt in the chair and write. Instead, I’m busy in reader-loops, blogs, and email. I set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, placing an ad in RT magazine, tweak my website. Marketing.  It’s a necessary element to the published writer space, but who know that it would take so much time? It’s simple. I should have.

I look at the calendar. There is more good stuff happening. Our daughter’s fiancé graduated from college in May. In one week, he graduates from college, his parents throw them an amazing engagement party, the kids move out of their apartment and they head for California.  The plan is they will stay with us until they find a place of their own. Our spectacular daughter is a June bride! She’s made it easy on her parents. The all-inclusive resort is amazing!  All we have to do is show up for the wedding in the Riviera Maya. So far it’s been an easy job for me, the mother of the bride. Our daughter is the picture of the most efficient bride. We’re moving along. I’m not writing very much because, hey, I need to exercise and lose weight. There’s a lot riding on this. I have to find a mother of the bride dress and I have to look good in a bathing suit. How hard can it be? I’ve been working on losing weight but we had a so many reasons to celebrate. (Yes, that means with amazing food and wine).

The first week of June we attend a lovely book signing and then head for the wedding dress fitting. It was a fabulous day. My friend’s book signing inspired me to start writing again. It was time for me to shake off the change at the publishing house and write something new.

And then, more life came between words.

I broke my foot two weeks from the wedding. It is nine whole days before I’m ready to admit that ‘Houston, we have a problem.’ It is another couple of days to get to a specialist and the clock is ticking. Someone has gummed up the works and everything I have planned to do before our trip is now in a mess.  Soon I was no longer frantic and in pain. Now my productive life in between words had slowed down to a trickle. I was in a purple haze of pain reducing medications.

The resort offered me a wheelchair, but really, who wants to look that pathetic? Besides, the World Cup was on. Everyone would forget me in the corner of the bar. Crap. Even though my foot is swollen and I look like I can barely make it back to our room I decided to stop taking the meds. I refused to lose this time in a blur. Our daughter’s wedding is a memory that I will always cherish. And the broken foot will forever be a part of the photos from that glorious trip. Or at least until I can figure out how to use Photoshop. Maybe while I’m at it I’ll remove some inches from my waistline and ass.

July brought both the bitter and the sweet. I planned to celebrate the publication of KNIGHT DREAMS by attending the RWA Conference in Orlando, Florida. And that’s when my life stepped between me and the words. 

The first week back from our daughter’s wedding along the Riviera Maya, we found ourselves back in a medical facility. This time, my darling husband sat by my bedside as the surgeon wheeled me into the operating room. Mind you, I still have a lovely boot on my foot that I had started to call Black Beauty. However this little surgical procedure wasn’t for the broken bone. Nope that was just a side trip. This little procedure was to remove a two-inch benign tumor.  Normally I would try to ignore the thing, but it was in my ribcage and burrowing into the chest cavity. It was beginning to look like I had a side boob. Thank God it was benign. Thank God the three-inch scar is hidden. However wearing a bra became a challenge. I usually don’t mind going braless at home. Who doesn’t, right? How about the mother of the newlyweds. Let’s face it. The new son-in-law doesn’t want to see his mother in-law’s ta-tas. Mind you, it is now summer time. The temperatures in the valley occasionally reach 100 degrees. A heavy sweatshirt is not my friend. A loose swimsuit? Oh yeah! However, I still had to go to the writers’ conference in Florida. Have you noticed most airlines frown on bathing suit clad travelers? I made it there. No, not in the bathing suit. Nor did I wear Black Beauty. Thank God! I groused and whined the whole way there. My wonderfully patient travel friend can attest to that. I should put her name on an application for sainthood. Or at the very least erect a statue somewhere notable. A lovely, peaceful park maybe. I think I might even bury Black Beauty there.

In comes August! My novel, Knight Dreams, comes out in Print! Fanfare! Throws confetti! Blows the horn! Yay! Surely my new editor will love the changes to the second book. Sadly, she doesn’t. Perhaps the next one will.

I visit my parents. They’ve had their own adventure in 2010. It actually started on Christmas Eve, 2009. This adventure has kept them fighting to save my father’s feet and his life from the devastation of Diabetes. The battles have worn them down, exhausting the most stoic and stalwart of heart. We quit counting and kept praying after the number of medical procedures my dad had endured hit at least fifteen in the past year. They continue the fight. My mom and dad never give up. Not even when the rehabilitation facility makes his health worse. 

And reality of more life steps in.

I’m back to my preschool job and am dancing around twenty 3 years-olds on any given day. I’ve now been a published author a little over a year. The digital eBook publication released on October 2, 2009. The Print version released on August 2, 2010. And I’m struggling to remember to celebrate the accomplishment. On October 22, I have my very first book signing. It is amazing. To feel the love. To feel my family and friends’ admiration. To feel the good wishes of complete strangers. I am reminded that people whom I never met have purchased my novel, read the words, and care for the characters in the story.  And we celebrate. Finally. Days later. I really, really, celebrate and then I wonder what’s next. I can’t give up. It is time to write. To edit! To move forward. Don’t look in that rear-view mirror.

And life just happens to step in between those words again.

This time I saw it coming. I braced. And that, I’m learning, is not a good thing when your car is rear ended. Whiplash. Until that one afternoon, it’s a word that never really meant too much to me. And then the words slowed down because I couldn’t hold my head upright without feeling like a bobble head doll. The preschoolers seemed to speed up because I couldn’t turn my head fast enough to keep up with their busy minds and bodies. I hung in there. I’m like my parents. I don’t give up.

The holidays have come and gone. With the end of the old year comes a bright and shiny new year. Hopes remain high. Our daughter and son in-law are now in living in their own home and they celebrated their first Christmas as a married couple.  My dad’s health continues to improve and prepares for skin grafts. And I’m reminded that writing about hope and love is a blessing. God’s greatest gift to me is His love. It’s up to me to share that message of hope, love and joy. I’m grateful for the opportunity. And in this beginning of the New Year, I begin again. Because there really is life between each word that I write.   

What is your dream? Which path are you choosing to take next?

Parents Say the Darndest Things

On my most recent visit my parents took me to their favorite Chinese restaurant. We sat around the table, our stomachs ready to pop from all the food, and eyed the requisite fortune cookies. Who would be the first? See, with my family, there are rules for just about everything. Even when eating Chinese food.

Rule Number One: Each person must read their fortune aloud.

Okay, it’s been a while since I was home, but I’ll play along. I read mine. “Sing everyday and chase the mean blues away.” Little Mom pipes up, “In bed.” I glance at her. She smiles serenely. My sister reads hers. “Keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see.” My family says, “In bed.” The giggles start. Then Little Mom reads hers. “You will achieve all your desires and pleasures…in bed.” By this time I think my concerns for their sanity must be showing on my face. Finally my dad has his in hand, glances at me and announces that surely I must remember the other rule. Um, no, but I’m really wondering if my family members have lost it. Then I’m swiftly reminded of the second rule.

Rule Number Two: When reading the fortune we must always add the words ‘In Bed’ to the end.

My parents, who have celebrated over fifty years of marriage, hold hands, share a secret smile and giggle. They then asked for more fortune cookies to demonstrate their point.

Soon, a visitor shall delight you…in bed.
You will be rewarded for your patience and understanding…in bed.
It’s kind of fun to do the impossible…in bed.
You will be successful in your work…in bed.
You are a person of strong sense of duty…in bed.
It’s never too late to learn…in bed.
You will be happy with your spouse…in bed.
You will have a good fast car…in bed.
Good fortune is never late as long as it comes…in bed.

I’m sure you get the picture and can finish this one for yourself.

Whoosh! And here I thought I’d have to skirt around the hot scenes in my novel KNIGHT DREAMS.

My darling parents, non-digital readers, waited to read KNIGHT DREAMS. Finally! The print release came out this August. Granted, I don’t write Erotica, but I have to admit that I was a little skittish for my parents to read the hotter scenes. My anxiety levels increased when they proudly mentioned that several of their church friends are excited to read the book. Little Mom sat down and raced through it from cover to cover. She looked up at me and with that smile of hers, said, “Darling, we were young once. And besides, where do you thing you came from?” My dad hollers from his chair where he has been reading his own copy, “We had a good time practicing too. Still do.” Without missing a beat they say together, “Rule Two: Always add ‘In Bed’ at the end of your fortune. You’ll be glad you did.”

Oh lord, did they really say that? Judging by their Cheshire grins, I’d say yes, yes they did.

Each Breath, Each Moment

I’ve been thinking about the phrase ‘being in the moment.’ Recently, I spent a few days in Orlando, Florida and believe it or not, I didn’t chase after Mickey and Minnie. Seriously. Two mice, love and the power of the imagination.In Orlando. Sounds intriguing. But that wasn’t my focus.

Oh yes, I admit, I did go to Downtown Disney and play a bit at the House of Blues, but that wasn’t the reason for my trek across the United States. No, my adventure was for the love of romance.  Hmm. Now that I think about it, how many couples have a great relationship like Mickey and Minnie.

Mickey and Minnie

Mickey and Minnie

They worked through their issues and love each other no matter the distractions. So that brings me  back to why I’m learning about romance in Orlando. Why Orlando? Because Romance Writers of America had their 30th Anniversary Conference at Walt Disney’s beautiful Swan & Dolphin in Orlando.

And there, we talked about romance and finding the right words to portray each character’s story. How perfect. The conference was held at a place that celebrates one of the greatest partnerships known to modern man. Mickey & Minnie. It was the perfect unity of hope, love, passion, and adventure. Perfect.

And then those devilish, demanding thoughts arrived. They perched on my shoulder. What are you doing? Why did you do this? Why haven’t you done that? Who do you think you are?  Did you check your Blackberry? How about those emails. Do it. Do it while the speaker is talking. Do it. Do it, whether you are exhausted or not. Do it so that you look savvy, smart, with it, connected. Tweet it. Facebook it. Be the first to announce. Be the first to know…

Know what? I stopped my hand from stroking the Blackberry keys. I didn’t connect to Facebook or Twitter. I sat in the meetings and absorbed all that I could. I felt rejuvenated. Relief. My thinking cleared.  In all that extraneous chatter I just might have missed the beauty of the sunsets. I might have missed the honest words of the speakers. We are here to help each other. We share. We grow. We are. And there is balance. When we scatter our thoughts, our focus is dispersed, our light does not shine as brightly and we do not appreciate every glorious nuance that has been gifted to us in that moment.

I realized the panic of not doing was hampering the doing. I was not living in the moment. I was only surviving. I turned off my  Blackberry. I shut down the laptop in my room. Emails and networking were put on the back-burner. Afterall, isn’t the broth better after a day of stewing?

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
— Buddha

I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one fighting to maintain balance. What do you do? Do you fight it? Do you follow Buddha’s advice?