#STRONG #WOMEN – LOVE THEM – BE THEM

Strength

By keeping their lives in order this means getting up, dressing up and showing up for life.

That includes going to work, caring for your children and your home and paying the bills. Doing all of this keeps you in charge of the things that are within your control, even when things that aren’t are knocking on your door.
Staying empowered by making good choices instead of excuses is what makes you strong.
Knowing you can count on yourself and that other people compliment you and don’t complete you is strength.
Giving a shit about what’s most important makes you strong.
Whining and complaining is not strength.
Neglecting your responsibilities is not strength.
Taking steps toward improvements, even small ones is strength.
Telling everyone how bad ass you are is not strength, that’s ego. Proving how bad ass you are by doing your best in all things is strength.
Finding joy where you are, wherever that is, is strength.
Asking for and graciously accepting help when you need it is strength. Pride, is not strength.

I’ve stood in the shower and cried my eyes out for fifteen minutes when I’m scared or feel like I can’t make it through another day of craziness. I’ve screamed at the top of my lungs in my truck while driving to work when I’m angry. Hell, I’ve even punched my pillows to death but giving up has never been an option for me. I have too many people depending on me, including myself.
Thankfully, I’ve learned just sitting quietly or getting lost in my writing helps me find my center and relieves any anxiety I’ve built up in the course of a day.

Ranting, raving and venting only release all of that negative energy into the world and keep the stresses close to you and just drag those around you down.
Yes, I still cry, scream and get angry. I’m human. I’m a work in progress and thankfully, I don’t do those things anywhere near as often as I used to out of frustration, even though some days I feel I’m provoked to the point of madness.
If I let go even a little bit, EVERYONE and EVERYTHING I’ve worked so hard my whole life for will unravel

Strength is believing in yourself. I believe.

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A Love So Big It Hurts and The Gift of A Dream

One of my granddaughters fell ill over the weekend. REALLY ILL.

What Matters Most

Saturday night I received a frantic call from my daughter that one of the twins, Harper, who had just been to see the pediatrician on Friday for a mysterious fever and an unusual bout of lethargy, lack of appetite and not wanting anything to drink was much worse. Unable to find an obvious issue, the doctor diagnosed her with an oncoming cold.

He was wrong. REAL WRONG.

By the time my daughter called me Saturday night, my granddaughter was pale, screaming in obvious pain, barely able to focus or function at all and was in dire need of immediate attention. I stayed with the other two girls while she and her husband rushed this terribly sick fifteen month old baby to the emergency room. I’m going to name the lousy hospital emergency room too – Harbor Hospital in Brooklyn, MD. It’s the closest one but by far their emergency room fucking sucks!

My seriously ill granddaughter and her desperately frantic parents sat for THREE HOURS waiting to see a doctor! How do you leave a baby as sick as this sit in a waiting room for three hours?! You fucking assholes all need to go jump in the Baltimore harbor! I hate you and I wouldn’t take my cat to you if you were the last emergency room on earth!

To be honest, I’ve always hated this emergency room. I have been there twice now with one of my granddaughters and both times have waited no less than three hours. The hospital itself is not my problem, just the ER. I gave birth to my son there and had an excellent experience. I’ve known others who have been admitted there who have had good experiences but they can shove their emergency room right up their asses.

My granddaughter was so severely dehydrated that she required three IV’s before she could even wet a diaper. She was misdiagnosed with a bladder infection according to the house pediatrician who saw her this morning and claimed her tests for bacterial infection came back normal. Apparently, they never did find out what was wrong with her and labeled it a virus of unknown origin. However, my daughter will follow up tomorrow with her pediatrician because a baby who was perfectly healthy on Thursday night, somewhat sick on Friday morning and completely dehydrated, lethargic, disoriented and screaming by Saturday evening needs a fucking diagnosis!!!

Thank GOD she’s better. She was released this afternoon as her fever was gone, she was eating and drinking and had wet her diaper several times. Could the three rounds of antibiotics have cured her? Could her little body have cured itself? Maybe one of these so called medical professionals who will send out an exorbitant bill for her care will magically figure this out.

Oh, and please don’t come at me with how wonderful the medical profession and physicians and nurses are. I KNOW how wonderful they are and have far more great experiences with them than bad. I’m speaking on this one emergency room and this one situation with one of the loves of my life. I’m sorry but you can’t touch this.

My opinion is this: If you can’t figure out what is wrong with a child who cannot tell you what hurts, go back to medical school or send her to a pediatric specialty hospital! A virus of unknown origin is NOT a diagnosis! If anything like this ever happens again, we are going straight to Johns Hopkins!

***************************

The gift of the dream is something directly related to this but a supernatural experience I will never be able to forget.

You can believe me or not. As you can tell, I’m in an “I don’t really care what anyone thinks” mood tonight.

Saturday night I was up very late. Harper’s twin, Scarlett and my eldest granddaughter, Esme were wound up and wide awake until after midnight due to the chaos and stressful evening prior to my arrival and my daughter rushing out to ER. They’d heard their sisters cries and seen the pain in their mother’s eyes and were difficult to settle down but somehow my grandmother magic kicked in and I had them both tucked in fast asleep by 1:00AM.

They conveniently live right next door so my husband had checked in on us allowed me to run over and make a coffee and grab my phone charger so as not to miss any updates from my daughter. Once he went home and the children were sleeping, the house fell silent except for the purring cat near my head on the back of the love seat.

Not that I slept. I was worried sick. I woke to every sound. Scarlett was fighting a cold and coughed a bit and whined. The cat leaping down and then her subsequent crunching on dry kibble in the kitchen. The occasional car driving by…you get the picture. Scarlett awoke at 4:30am for a bottle and At 5:00am, I received a text message from my husband asking me if I needed anything. He came over and checked on us and then went out and brought me breakfast and a well needed coffee.

I could see he hadn’t gotten any sleep either so I whooshed him back out the door and within minutes, that delicious sausage, egg and cheese bagel, a text from my daughter that Harper was resting in her room with medical attention, the knowledge that the other girls would most likely sleep until 10:00am, and the coffee, dropped me into dream land at last at around 6:45am.

By 9:15am, I woke, sobbing.

The dream started out horribly. I was in my daughters house and I opened the front door and a strange looking animal was trying to come in. At first, I thought it was a skunk as it appeared to have the while stripe down it’s back. I tried pushing it with my foot and closing the door but it got past me. I was screaming “No! No!” and suddenly behind it, chasing it were all kinds of cats. All different colors, racing past me so fast I couldn’t stop them and behind them were my children and some other people, chasing the cats!

I turned around and joined the chase but I was screaming at them to get the animal. My son yelled out, “Mom, it’s a big rat!” and I screamed back, “Well get it!” I turned back to the front door which I had finally managed to slam shut and the wall started to crumble away at the front of the house and a giant hole appeared and through the hole came more animals! All kinds, shapes and sizes and I screamed to run for the girls to get them out of the house and was shouting, “Help Me! Someone please help me!” when suddenly, everything went white.

I was sitting up on the love seat I was sleeping on and standing there in front of me in my daughter’s living room, was my husband’s grandmother. She was the matriarch of our family. We lost her last September. She was 93 years old. She was our rock. She was our light in the harbor, our adviser, our revered and precious elder. Her word was the gospel in our family and her loss was felt so deeply we are all still recovering.

Granny June Bug

Oldest Baltimore Ravens Fan!

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I have had no dreams of her since she passed. I think of her every day. I remember how she would scold us and discipline us and then take us in her arms and hug us and kiss us and make it all better.

She was wearing one of her signature light blue sweat suits with the flowery embroidery on it. Her hair was perfectly coiffed as it always was and she glowed. She looked so pretty. That’s what I told her.

I stood up and said, “Gran! Oh my God Gran! You look so pretty!” She held out her arms to me and leaned down and hugged her. She looked like she did the first time I met her over twenty years ago. I could feel her hands stroking my hair like she used to. She held me back away from her and said,

“Everything is going to be alright.”

I replied, “But Gran, we miss you so much. We all miss you.”

I grabbed her again and hugged her tight.

“She stroked my hair again and said, “I know honey I know. I miss you all too. Give them all hugs and kisses for me will ya? And tell them I’m wonderful. My beautiful girl. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be alright.”

She started to pull away from me and I held onto her.

“No Gran, please don’t go!”

“Honey, I promise. Everything is going to be fine. Now I have to go.”

I was sobbing. She was gone. I was standing there in the middle of my daughter’s living room, sobbing.  I kept saying to myself, “This is a dream but everything is exactly right.”

What I meant was the room was EXACTLY as is really was. I can’t remember having a dream where the room was perfect. The stockings hanging on the mantle. The cat sleeping on the ottoman. The light on in the kitchen. The Santa clause on the ledge in the foyer. The baby socks on the floor. The blanket balled up on the love seat. It felt so real it scared the living daylights out of me.

My eyes flew open. Tears were running down my cheeks. I sat up and could barely catch my breath. I got up and opened the front door and stepped outside to somehow snap out of it but I was shaking. My hands were trembling and I started sobbing again. I texted my husband but he didn’t answer so I called him and told him I needed him right away. I told him immediately that my sobbing wasn’t about the baby so that he wouldn’t worry. Then, I told him about the dream.

I know she was there. She was there either as her soul, her spirit, her energy or some inexplicable image from my subconscious, that just happened to be able to replicate my daughters living room down to the baby socks on the floor.

The day before, my husband and I went to a fabric store because the eldest granddaughter decided she wanted her bedroom at our house completely redecorated in Disney Frozen, so I needed to make her all new curtains. When we were looking for the fabric, a family was picking out some fleece and the mother said, “Oh look at this. Granny June will really love this.”

I’m sorry but again, not a coincidence. You can say hearing her name in the store the day before triggered the dream but I believe in signs. Had we stopped to eat first like we’d planned, we’d have never heard that woman say what she said.

Last night, I was reminded of a similar dream I had…again, over twenty years ago. Almost the exact same situation. I was going through a terrible traumatic time in my life. My sister Barbara was always my rock prior to Granny June. She died very young at only 53. She was 19 years my senior and was like another Mother, as were most of my older sisters. I could always turn to her when something bad happened. She too came to me in a dream. Again, I woke up sobbing. Again, the room was exactly as it really was. Again I was embraced and told everything would e alright, which it was. The only difference was when I woke up from the dream with my sister, My clothes smelled like her.

Yesterday, after my dream about Granny June, I instinctively smelled my shirt. However, I only smelled a clean, fresh smell for a few moments and then I smelled like me. Then I thought…

My sister was known for her perfume. My Dad used to say you’ll smell Barbara coming in the house before you’ll see her.   I don’t even think Granny wore perfume but she always smelled fresh and clean. 🙂

Our little angel Harper is home safe and sound. Smiling, giggling and although she’s definitely not herself after having been through such an awful ordeal, everything turned out alright…again.

Goodnight my lovies.

Sweet dreams.

 

Sometimes…it’s not the song…

The other day whilst driving from work, I heard a song that took me back twenty five years or more and I got a tear in my eye. Not because the song is sad but because I miss my sister Sheila so much it hurts.
She was like a bright shining sun that could warm you with love and yet burn you to a crisp if you crossed her.
Struck down in the prime of her life by cancer.

The song is, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” and the memory has nothing to do with the lyrics but with the fact that my sister was notorious for changing the words when she sang them.
We were out one snowy Friday evening for a few drinks and lots of dancing together in Baltimore and she didn’t like to drive in the snow. I was designated driver so I enjoyed watching her having fun as always.

Sheila and Me

Not sure what I was wearing for this outing but hey, the 80’s..don’t hate. I’m on the right.

On our way home rather late, in my little Chevy Chavette, that song was on the radio. I chose a road less traveled. It’s a two lane road that I take to and from work everyday. The same road where I heard the song,
My Chavette drove beautifully in the snow. I don’t know why but it did and since there was no other traffic, as my sister sang at the top of her lungs, “I want to go where love is…” I drove, weaving down the road, crossing the invisible center line at 2:00AM, making beautiful waves in the freshly fallen snow. In my rear view mirrow, I could see the wavy pattern. It was lovely and strange and sparkling in the glow of the road lights.

Just Sheila and I in my little silver Chavette. She’d be so proud of me. What I wouldn’t give for one more night, driving on a deserted road through the snow listening to her sing that song.

Music

Is there a song that does this to you? Tell me about it.

Don’t Forget You’re #Human

Meltdown

I do sometimes…you know.

I forget I’m a person.

I forget I have needs.

I forget to take care of myself.

I forget to work on my own problems,

because I’m too busy thinking about someone else’s,

and worrying that they are alright.

If and when–or even if I actually did meltdown,

no one would ever see it.

I’m just not that person who needs an audience.

No need to unpack,

I don’t have any baggage anymore.

Cry alone.

Meltdown alone.

Refocus alone.

Continue on…alone but never, ever lonely.

From Bucharest to Baltimore – A Review That Left Me in Tears

If you’re a writer, how do you measure your success?

Do you base it on how many books you’ve sold? Is it making piles of money or maybe your Amazon ranking?

Since the first time I held my debut novel in my hands, I’ve tried to measure my success in shot glasses. That warm jolt and the “Ahhh…” of tossing it back and then that little buzz that comes after, keeps me thirsty for more. The night I held “Fireflies” in my hands for the first time may have symbolized this analogy as my husband and I did in fact do a shot to celebrate. We’re not exactly part of the champagne set. However, no, we do not do a shot every time something awesome happens but today, I feel like I’ve had a whole fifth of Captain Morgan. The past twenty-four hours has been like being on some drunken binge of writer joy. Although my inability to sleep last night did add to my foggy state of consciousness quite a bit today too.

Just after midnight I found out about being a finalist in two categories for the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and then this afternoon, I received an e-mail from the beautiful and gifted M.C. Simon, containing her review of “Hope From the Ocean.”

To answer my own question, I measure my success on how my writing touches people and how their reactions touch me.

I was eating lunch at my desk at work as usual and I received her e-mail. The minutes that followed were surreal. Her review left me with tears in my Weight Watchers and steamed vegetables. Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those loud sobby cries (I wasn’t alone in the office) but rather tears of pure joy that simply escaped my heart and trickled from the outside corners of eyes just slow enough that I could catch most of them with a napkin and blot them away.

M.C. replied several weeks ago to my invitation to review my books.

Thank God she did.

M.C. or Mirela (her real name) lives in Bucharest, Romania. English is not her first language but she certainly put into words one of, if not the best review I’ve ever read. She explains that I have touched her heart. Little does she know, she not only touched my heart but she read my soul.

Here is an excerpt from her review and the link to her web site. Please take a look around. She is a woman of substance and depth, with a generous sprinkling of stardust and sunlight.

HftO_preview

 M.C.  Simon Writes:

“Writer, artist, Wife, Mom, MomMom, 9-5er in her free time, P.S. Bartlett’s question made me dig deeper inside her world. “I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”

I decided to take the voyage inside her new book, “Hope from the Ocean”, published in March, 2014 and which according with the author’s affirmations, is a prequel to her already published first novel “Fireflies”.

Having to write a review, it is necessary to comment on the novel from a critical perspective, offering suggestions for improving the writing elements. From this point of view I am somehow confused because there are not too many suggestions to make. So, according with my own experience during this book’s reading, I will start…

“Hope from the Ocean” brings to the reader’s attention portions from the lives of two orphans, who after their parents’ death are taken to be cared for by their relatives. Describing the rural activities of this poor family, P.S. Bartlett succeeds to bring to life some very interesting characters which completely kept my attention.

The fact that the author describes these relatives as good people impressed me very much. I really believe that is necessary to point to people’s kindness rather than their cruelty; especially when it is about orphans as in this book.
I see this novel like a fragment from a family saga. After ending the book I remained with a deep longing to know more about Brianne, Dan, Loch, Dillon and Patrick’s cruel grandmother who “claimed the only book which they had in their room, in the morning when she came to claim their mother’s body”. The short description of the scene in which the grandma appears made me feel the need for a pause from reading while I was thinking and wondering a lot about this character. Evidently she’s the “bad guy” type but I would like so much to know more about her life and about the reason which made her act like this.

The book contains many scenes which made me feel very emotional. I will only superficially touch them here and I will let the reader find the pleasure from discovering these feelings while reading the novel; a very good novel. I make this statement not based on the revealed writing techniques or on a very organized plot, but based on the gift which the author revealed in writing this book; I am talking here about a gift which I appreciate very much… the gift of touching the reader’s heart.

Not being a native English speaker and for sure having no knowledge about the Irish language, the beginning of the novel found me totally unprepared to read it. I was first somehow shocked to find that I am dealing with a language with lots of Irish influences. For sure I thought I would not be able to handle reading the book so well. But… after the first pages I had one of the biggest surprises of my life… yes, sounds too much to call it like this, but… let me finish the statement. The gift which P.S. Bartlett has is that kind which succeeds to immerse me inside the story, to make me be one with the multiple characters; after only a few pages into it I found myself totally understanding the language about which I knew nothing before. So, yes, from my point of view, this was a really great surprise, to understand a new language without even trying to learn it… but only due to the author’s talent to include the reader into the plot.”

This excerpt is part of her long variant but if you’re short on time and attention, she wrote a second short variant as well.

If I were to measure my success based on just today, I’d be somewhere on the other side of the moon and still going.

Thank you M.C. for not only sharing your time but more importantly, your spirit.

I’m off to line up the shot glasses and napkins again. She’s reading “Fireflies.”