Fairy Tale . . . Shoot!

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Fairy Tale Shoot was my January 2015 post. My first and only post of the year. The reason being, our daughter Rachel was diagnosed in February with breast cancer. The dreaded C dragon swooped into our realm and darkened our family fairy tale.

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(Before things went dark.)

2014 had been a difficult year for our family, so I was happy to say goodbye to it and welcome 2015 with open arms. Rachel traveled to Nacogdoches with me to be my personal assistant, (a.k.a. hairstylist, make-up artist, photographer, cheerleader), as I attended my very first Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend. I met Kathy Murphy, the founder and Queen Herself, along with many fabulous authors and book club members. It was a fun, enchanting time. At the end of the weekend. Rachel and I went to a wooded spot and did a magical photo shoot of my Fairy Godmother persona. ( Rachel is a fantastic professional photographer. Score.)

Then February came along and on our granddaughter’s birthday the dreaded news came, and our world turned upside down. It is still upside down as she is still in treatment, but the prognosis looks good, and we are grateful for God’s presence with us in these hard days, weeks, months, and now year.

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(Siblings: Sean and Rachel)

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(Family Racing for the Cure!)

This has been her personal fight, but not without the support of our entire extended family and many, many friends. We have all surrounded her with every ounce of love and strength and courage we could muster, and then, we abide. It’s a helpless feeling to watch your child fight for her life. There are no words to truly describe the depths of these emotions, so I won’t even try. But, I have watched her stand strong, and on those days she could not stand, I watched her husband carry her . . . I watched her brothers lean in . . . I watched her family and friends circle up around her . . . I stood with her dad on her behalf.

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And yet . . . there are days when no one else can stand up for her, and she fights on because she is a warrior. She is strong and brave and beautiful. And I love her with all my heart.

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The battle continues. It requires the drinking of poison for an entire year, but she has beaten the C dragon, and she has the scars to prove it. Fairy Tale . . . shoot! This is real life!

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And because this is real life, I write fairy tales. There are days I cannot gather one creative thought, and I sit. Then, I am carried away by my own emotions and I write. Several characters lost their lives in 2015. It was a dangerous year. However, no matter how dark and desperate things appear, I will bring light to my story, and my heroines will be strong and courageous, ever-flawed, but heroes just the same.

I have come to realize I cannot wish away bad years, bad months, bad weeks, bad days. What I can do is embrace each day as a gift. I have to take it as it comes and do with it what I can. I have to live in the middle of the pain and the mess and feel it completely. And, I am grateful for the days that are full of joy and beauty and light, because I have those as well. Life is an adventure! Grab your sword, your bow, your wand, your pen, whatever weapon you use and join in.

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This hangs on the wall in my writing studio as a reminder.

(Original quote by G. K. Chesterson: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children dragons can be killed.”)

 

On The Road Again: The Packing Ritual

76 Packing for Germany Spring

Almost finished! Packing is a process for me. Especially when I’m packing for three months, three seasons. We’ll leave Dallas where it will be in the 70s and sunny and land in Munich where it has been snowing and raining. It will be in the 30s when we land. Hmm. Even dressing for the flight over is a challenge. Winter dies hard in Germany.

A week after we arrive in Munich, we’ll leave for Macedonia for the Service Project with International School students from all over Europe. The weather will be unpredictable, warmer during the day unless it’s raining, cool at night. Maybe. Then, we’ll return to Munich and drive to our apartment in the Black Forest. Hopefully, the sun will begin to shine and Spring will arrive. By June, we’ll be in northeastern Spain for training. Summer begins, It will be quite sunny and warm.

So you see my problem. I know. I know. You’re saying, Poor you, traveling to all those places. It’s true. I have a great job. But seriously, packing takes thoughtful planning. (Was that redundant.) I first lay out EVERYTHING I think I might wear in piles on the bed. Then, I leave and do something else for awhile. Later, I come back to my piles and rummage through them, pulling things I really don’t need. Again, I wander to the kitchen for chocolate and a coke. Finally, I return to the bedroom and make a final run through, holding up each piece of clothing and asking myself, is this really necessary, or can I pack an extra package of flour tortillas in its place? At this point, I put everything in the suitcase and weigh it. Now I can decide what shoes/boots will fit. I, of course, will be wearing the heaviest pair on the plane!

77 Books for Research

Now to pack my carry on. What books will I need? I’ll be working on my new novel. (I MUST BUY A KINDLE.) Then, the DVDs, chocolate, more books, laptop, more chocolate, pictures of the family, additional chocolate, passport, deck of cards… Done.

I know what you’re wondering. Isn’t there chocolate in Germany? YES. Amazing chocolate, but hey, it’s a long flight.

I’ll try to take pictures and do a better job of documenting our journey while we’re at home on the other side of the pond. Auf wiedersehen!

The Art of Waiting OR Can I Get a Bit of Closure SOMEWHERE

64 Me at Highland Loch

(Me, in 2002, in the Highlands near Inverness, Scotland, listening for a word from my ancestors. I had to wait three more years before they spoke up.)

It seems I’ve been spending a lot of time waiting lately. And I just have to say, many of the things I’m waiting for are good, or the possibility of good things anyway. Now I don’t want to complain, I really don’t mind waiting from time to time, but it’s a bit crazy for me right now. What do you mean? Glad you asked.

65 Sonic after 1st PET Scan

(Stopped at Sonic to get my caffeine/sugar fix after a 24 hour fast for my PET Scan in February. PS: I was radioactive in this photo can you tell? Are my superpowers showing? I had my cape on just for the occasion.)

I had labs drawn last week in anticipation of my oncology appointment tomorrow. I’ve been waiting for three months since my last one to see if all is well…to see if I’m holding steady in my battle against cancer. This time around it was fairly easy on the front end. I just had blood drawn. No tests, no scopes, no scans, no…well you get the picture. I’m not so much in a battle right now, I’m waiting. And this is one time I don’t mind the wait! I’m hoping for healing or a new form of treatment that is less destructive to the rest of my body. This is the heavy one when it comes to waiting. It’s better from here on out. I promise.

30 FJ40 on Trailer

(Here he is! Dr. Livingstone at Stuart’s, Land Cruiser mechanic extraordinaire!)

I’m waiting for my sweet ride to get a makeover. Dr. Livingstone, my 1974 FJ40. I love him. He’s rough and rugged and has been known to rescue many a young man’s TRUCK out of the mud. Just sayin’. You all know who you are. He is right now in the greasy but loving hands of Stuart, my new mechanic. This will be worth the wait. In the meantime, I’m without wheels.

31 The Stone Manor Spiral

(This is sitting atop my dad’s desk. Just wanted you to know I don’t keep a large current photo of myself atop my own desk.)

Then there are three very cool events I’m waiting on that have to do with The Stone Manor, my novel. I’ve entered it in two different writing contests for unpublished novels. The first is the Golden Claddagh Contest, of which my novel is a finalist in the Celtic category. Woohoo! The winner will be announced September 5th. Waiting! The second contest is The Catherine Toronto Romance Writers Contest. Finalists to be announced mid-late August. Waiting. And last but by no means least, I have submitted my manuscript to a NYC agent. She’s considering representing my work. No timeline on this one. Waiting!!!!!

66 Moving from Berg Container

(Our container preparing to leave our German apartment for Texas. Bon Voyage! Or I should say Gute Reisen!)

Jim and I are moving from Munich to the Black Forest in Germany. We are also downsizing (if that can be possible) so we’ve shipped most of our personal belongings back to Texas, where we’ve taken an apartment near our daughter and her family. So at this very moment, much of our earthly things are in a container on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Wait! I didn’t word that quite right. Hopefully they’re not in the ocean literally, the ship is sailing ON the ocean. Does that sound better? I have seen pictures of freighters plodding through stormy seas, containers sliding off into the water. Not a pretty sight. Image be gone! The container should be here in about a month. Wait for it.

32 Me and Jim Smiling Fam

(Isn’t he handsome? Well worth the wait!)

Finally, Jim has been in Germany without me for a month and will arrive back in Texas on our anniversary, in just a few short days. BEST ANNIVERSARY PRESENT EVER! Waiting!

I could go on, but I won’t. We all are waiting for one thing or another on any given day. Some of us wait expectantly, some excitedly, some with great fear and dread. The danger is always this, we’ll miss living in the moment, the here and now, while waiting for the future to get here. Each day is a gift. It comes and it goes and we can never, ever get it back. I don’t know what you’re waiting for, but I hope you don’t miss what’s right in front of you while you’re looking ahead. I’m writing these last words for my own benefit, really. I needed to hear them. What about you?

When Spiders Ruined My BRAVE Moment

74 Brave Ticket Mishap

I save movie stubs. Just my favorites.I look at them periodically, and they make me smile. Or I’ll find one randomly, and it’ll make my day just remembering how much I loved the movie. That being said, I’ve been waiting…anxiously waiting for BRAVE to open in theaters. Then, I had to wait even longer till we were able to actually go see it. FINALLY, a few days ago, Jim, our kids in Austin, and I went to the 7:37 showing. I was so excited when the previews were over and the movie actually began I giggled, like I was five years old. Then I did that silent clap with my shoulders scrunched up around my ears. Still giggling.

So what’s up with the stub from SPIDERMAN I’ve displayed above? (And of course it doesn’t say SPIDERMAN, it says SPIDER! Are you kidding me? And yes I know, I could use a manicure.) The guy working the window at the theater gave us tickets to the WRONG movie. We didn’t notice till we were already inside. I was so upset. You have no idea! Of all the movie ticket stubs in all the movie theaters in all the world, I REALLY wanted this one. I wanted to look at it and have it say BRAVE. I wanted to open my wallet in a couple of weeks or months searching for my insurance card or the right change and find it…and smile…and maybe giggle. Our son Sean said not to worry, this would make a good story. He was right, I guess.

The problem is I HATE SPIDERS! I don’t even want to put this stub into my wallet. I don’t want to touch it because it has the word spider on it. I don’t even like having to type out the word in this blog post. Just sayin’. I’ve been learning to be brave lately. But there comes a time when a person just has to put their foot down and say “no sir.” I will never conquer my fear of spiders. If you knew how quickly I just typed the s word you’d say, “Wow, that was really fast.” I’m telling you they totally creep me out. Okay, I’ve talked enough about “them.”

Just so you know, BRAVE was a beautiful movie. The animation was beautiful, the music was beautiful, the accents were beautiful. It was a little short on story content, but hey, I left wishing my hair was bright red and curly and I could speak in a Scottish accent. (I’ve been secretly practicing the accent.) If you haven’t seen the movie…GO.

Easter Egg Hunting

75 Frog Easter Basket

I went on an Easter Egg Hunt today with my niece’s daughter. This is her Easter Basket. I love it. I love that we were using a FROG basket to hold the easter EGGS brought by the easter BUNNY. And what would happen if we found a GOLDEN EGG? What then? Don’t you just love a good fairy tale?