What the heart wants

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

This afternoon when I woke up from my nap and was snuggling with Angel before finding the strength to get up, I realized exactly what I wanted to make me feel better. I wanted my father to make me my favorite comfort meal of mashed potatoes and chicken and then sit down and talk to me about anything. I miss the sound of his voice and I miss hearing about everything he knew in that amazing mind of his. I wouldn’t care if he talked about wars, trains, planes, or the origins of math, I just wanted his company. Alas, what the heart wants isn’t always possible.

My pup and the kittens have been doing their best to look after me but snuggles and shadowing aren’t the same as making me chicken soup or getting me fresh water. I’ve heard that knowing exactly what you want is the first step toward getting it but that doesn’t work in the case of wanting my father and I know that. I like to imagine that there’s at least one guy out there who would be willing to take care of me like my dad did, but perhaps that’s a fantasy. Maybe what I’m looking for only exists between daddies and daughters and men my age are all like my ex: babies when they’re sick and in need of my TLC but unable/unwilling to take care of me when I feel unwell. Perhaps when a once-beautiful chick with a healthy flush in her cheeks and pep in her spirit turns pale, tired, and slightly whiny, she loses all her appeal. Perhaps the whole idea of being with someone through thick and thin is just a fantasy these days or something that just doesn’t apply to me.

I admit, being sick brings out the “wuss” in me and I long for what I don’t have. Even sick I’m capable of taking care of myself, but it would be nice to have someone to help me when I don’t feel good. To acquire at least some of what I really wanted today, I went out, bought a little rotisserie chicken, then came home, and made Potato Buds like my dad used to do. Well, kind of like my dad used to do. In my semi foggy state I misread the directions and added more milk than I was supposed to, but they turned out edible eventually. I then cut some breast meat and a drumstick from the chicken, spooned some mashed potatoes onto my plate, poured myself a glass of eggnog, and settled in the living room to watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation while I ate.

Like the “superwoman” I am I did all my freelance work today despite feeling tired, sore, and foggy. I won’t be walking Jazzmin daily again until I feel better because my body obviously needs and wants rest. Thankfully, Jazz doesn’t have a great concept of time so as far as she knows it could have been 30 seconds or 30 years since our last walk. We’ll get back out there eventually and I’ll find my stride again, but for now, I’m snuggling with my furbabies on the couch watching The Nine Lives of Christmas on Hallmark Channel. I’ve seen it three times now but it has the cute guy who played Superman in one of the more recent remakes and it’s about how he falls for a chick kind of like me with no life, a cat, and a love for large quantities of ice cream. Even if such things only happen in movies, it’s nice that a hopeless romantic like me still appreciates the notion.

kitten in bed

Angel wasn’t eager to get out bed today.

You Can Call Me Al

I listen to Pandora and lately it’s been adding new songs into my mix that aren’t new to me at all. Songs from my younger years like “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. Even though I’ve heard the song countless times, somehow hearing it now fills me with renewed happiness and fond memories. I remember watching the video for the song and loving how Chevy Chase lip-synced the words while Paul Simon went along with it. That song is just one of many that make me want to dance and I’ve been doing a lot of spontaneous dancing today because I’m HAPPY! 

I have numerous things to be happy about every single day such as my beautiful daughters, my good health, my adorable pup, my career as a freelance writer, the fact that I own a house solo, and so much more! Today I’m especially happy because last night I was finally able to turn off all the “noise” clogging up my energy and listen to what my heart and spirit were telling me. I had one of those amazing moments yesterday evening where something inside me just “shifted” and suddenly I knew exactly what I had to do regarding a certain situation. Once I did what felt right, everything fell back into place and the shadows on my future path cleared revealing a totally new direction.

I know how easy it is to succumb to shadows and fall into negative thinking, especially because losing my father dropped me down into a deeper ravine than I knew existed. Dwelling in those “safe” shadows would have taken absolutely no effort, but fighting my way out of them took every ounce of strength within me. Once I found the light again, I never wanted to lose it!

I’ve always tried to be a very positive person but the death of my father really put that positivity to the test. As much as being without my father hurts my heart, I know that he wants me to continue on my positive journey and to shine my light to benefit the world around me. My father always greeted me with “Hey, beautiful!” and he saw the beauty inside me that no other man I’ve loved has bothered to discover or appreciate yet. My dad has the right one lined up for me I know he does, but the right one hasn’t found me yet.

As the years since my father’s death and my divorce have passed, I’ve realized that everything happens for a reason. I never expected to be still single three years after my divorce, but I am and I’m okay with that. Being single this long has allowed me to discover who I truly am without a man by my side. I know that if I’d gone into another relationship right after being divorced, it would have turned out just as poorly as all my previous relationships. I can’t define who I am by whom I’m with and I don’t think anyone should. 

So today my spirit felt lighter than it has for a while and I wondered why I ever allowed the shadows back in. Somehow, I’d forgotten how much fun it was to dance around in my kitchen, in my chair, and with the dog in the middle of the living room. Yes, Jazzmin thinks I’m nuts when I’m dancing, but she senses my happy energy and wants to join in somehow. Dancing might not be her idea of fun, but she loves her mama and goes along for the ride. I know she won’t mind if I call her Betty and I’m just fine with her calling me Al. 😉

Romance in raspberries

Lovely sweet berries buried in the prickers.

Lovely sweet berries buried in the prickers.

Almost every evening for the past several weeks I go out and pick black raspberries from my hedgerow. It’s the best black raspberry crop I’ve ever seen as the mix of rainy monsoon and hot, humid weather agrees with the delectable little fruit. I have a gallon size freezer bag almost full with berries now and I add at least a half quart every time I go picking.

As I pick the berries, my mind wanders and I think about how picking berries resembles navigating the unpredictable path of romance. There are raspberries at the very edge of the hedgerow that are easy to pick and involve no danger of being scratched. But some of the best raspberries are hidden beneath leaves or buried back among the prickers. Someone who doesn’t want to make the effort will leave the best berries among the prickers, not wanting to risk getting hurt or tangled up in the stems. But someone who sees the potential of those sweet berries will brave anything to get them whether it be prickers, mosquitoes, deer flies, unseen holes in the ground, spiders, beetles or bees. When they’re really lucky and persistent, they even find rare berries of a different color.

Finding golden raspberries is a nice treasure.

Finding golden raspberries is a nice treasure.

I pick all the viable berries I see. I end up scratched, bitten and usually sweaty. I’ve even been rained on a few times. I’m not afraid of making the extra effort and I’m a smidge stubborn and quite tenacious. Not everyone is like me though. It seems nowadays more people are willing to settle for the easy to reach berries, the “he/she isn’t really what I want but they’re there and they like me so they’ll do.” It seems difficult to find the ones that are willing to see past all the overgrown bushes and brave the prickers for the better berries, the “he/she has a tough exterior, has been through some rough stuff and is going to take some effort but to me they’re worth it!”

I know it’s a bit peculiar that I think of all this while I’m picking black raspberries but I do and I imagine that other writers understand. Writers and those with the creativity bug see the world differently than others. We see beyond what’s in front of our eyes, we see inside it, we explore its potential in unique ways and we seek to reveal new dimensions of imagination to the world. I see my wild, daydreaming, hopelessly optimistic and endlessly romantic mind as a great blessing and I’ll never stop expanding upon its abilities.

Romance Has Many Definitions (repost)

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Yes, I’m resorting to a re-post from Corbin Creations again already. Today has been a crazy day and I don’t have quite the right words now to express how I feel. Luckily, I had the words in an older blog post and they’re actually advice and inspiration that I needed to hear right now! I’m brilliantly psychic! Go Julie from the past!

Romance Has Many Definitions (5/26/2012)

On the weekends when I have my daughters, my cell phone alarm wakes me up playing the song “Telling the World” by Taio Cruz. It is truly inspiring to wake up to the words “Every part of my heart I’m giving out, every song on my lips I’m singing out…”  I open my eyes and greet the day and my heart and spirit beat in the optimistic hope that someday, the man I chose to share my heart with will wake up knowing how lucky he is to have me as his girl. Perhaps that sounds a little conceited, but to me it really isn’t that much to ask.

Ask women what they think romance is and I guarantee you’ll get a variety of different answers. Sure there are the usual flowers, jewelry, candy, remembering important dates, etc. that pop into mind first, but romance is so much more than that! Romance shouldn’t be about materialistic “things” and flowers that wilt, it should be about something deeper and more enduring. To me the smallest gestures touch me where it counts. Opening a car or entrance door for me, pulling out my chair at the table, holding my hand, moving my hair off my shoulders, touching my face, meeting my gaze when I speak, kissing me, wanting to be close to me no matter where we are, missing me when we’re apart…and so much more.

I love affection, I love feeling coveted, I love knowing that the person I’m with truly appreciates all that makes me who I am and will never hold it against me when I stumble along the complicated path of life. I know I love all those things even though I have never actually experienced all of them. I suppose that’s what makes me such a prolific romance writer; that eternal hope and desire for something I’m not entirely sure exists…

Stories that come at just the right time…

The book that made Gina Ardito my new favorite author!

The book that made Gina Ardito my new favorite author!

Everyone has their own favorite author or authors and growing up mine were Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey. I still love those authors and have introduced my oldest daughter to Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, which she now loves too. For most of my life, I avoided reading romance-style fiction based in reality because the whole reason I read is to escape anything that reminds me even remotely of my daily life. This past spring, something inside me finally snapped, clicked, realigned or whatever and I discovered my new favorite author.

It started when I saw the cover of a book that made me hungry for pizza. It was by one of the authors I connected with via social media. The author’s name was Gina Ardito and the book was A Little Slice of Heaven. Once I started reading that book, I couldn’t put my Kindle down! I wrote a review about it on Amazon and expressed how it restored my faith in romance because it did just that! That really is saying a lot for a woman like me who’s a divorce single mother in her 30’s struggling in the world of modern  “dating” and fishing through disingenuous men. I do still believe that there are good men out there, men like my father who know how to treat a woman right and who are true gentlemen.

Until I find such a man, whom I love and who loves me back though I will continue to bolster my faith by reading Gina Ardito’s books. I’ve now read Charming for Mother’s Day, Duet in September and Duping Cupid. Last week I started reading Eternally Yours and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! Are all the men in her books true princes who ooze kindness, charm and sincerity? Of course not! Who would believe that??

I will write reviews on all the books I’ve read but for now, I hope this helps spread the word about them. What I love about Gina Ardito’s books is that all of her characters are easy to identify with. They could truly exist in the real world and their struggles are relatable and human. In the end, the characters in her books snap into shape, wise up, reveal their true hearts and become the heroes that all men and women should be. It isn’t always the man saving the woman, quite often it’s the woman saving the man or the characters saving each other. There is a yin to the yang, a balance to the relationship and the understanding that everyone should stand on equal footing.

Whenever I read Gina Ardito’s stories, they come at just the right time. When I am floundering with my belief in love, when my personal relationships are struggling and when I have trouble seeing the light among the shadows. All I have to do is fire up my Kindle and start reading her written words across its bright surface in my dark room and my hope is restored. Now that is the type of writer I strive to be someday!

Redefining the Single Woman

As someone familiar with online dating sites, I’ve gotten the impression that there are certain assumptions about single women, especially those on online dating sites. There seems to be the assumption that they must be desperate, picky, looking for sex, only attractive in still photos…or all of the above.

I have been rather surprised to discover that single men my age want a woman my age (though usually younger) who doesn’t have kids. I don’t really know how many women my age don’t have children. I only know my circumstances. I get that a lot of men aren’t into the idea of “the whole package” that already includes kids. Their profile says they “want kids someday” but apparently, those kids have to be genetically there’s in order to fit the bill. They’re entitled to their preferences just as I’m entitled to mine.

I do wonder though, does anyone really understand how many dimensions there are to today’s “single woman”? There are so many reasons why a woman is still single and I assure you, there’s nothing wrong or broken about being a single woman. A woman might be single because:

She’s so busy with her career she knows it would be unfair to attempt any sort of romantic relationship.

She suffers from unrequited love and chooses being alone over trying to find someone else she knows she’ll never love.

She endured an unhappy marriage and has no desire to venture down that road again.

She prefers the company of her pets because they don’t mind that she hangs out in yoga pants even when not doing yoga.

She loves the feel of having a bed all to herself.

She doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone else for why she does what she does.

The idea of being ignored on “game day” really doesn’t appeal.

She has children and she doesn’t want to introduce them to men who won’t stick around.

She’s never actually tried “the bar scene” and has absolutely no desire to.

She’s waiting for the tragic…er romantic comedy that is her life to have its happy ending.

She figures if playing “hard to get” is the way to win a guy then playing “impossible to get” should lure the entire male population.

She likes never worrying that she’ll fall into the toilet in the middle of the night because the seat is up.

Men are too blind to see what an amazing creature she is and how deserving she is of love.

There was no real rhyme or reason to any of that. Just the musings of a single woman with a talent for observing the world around her. Agree or disagree, call the reasons bitter, cliché, stereotypical or outright ridiculous but I bet they ring true for some other single gals out there. I will tell you this though; today’s single chick is one tough cookie that comes from her own unique and beautiful recipe.

Sharing the Sky

When I looked out my front door this morning the Harvest Moon was still visible in the sky. The sun hadn’t risen over the hills yet but the sky was getting brighter. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen and all the stars were hidden in the growing daylight. Those are usually the quietest moments of the morning and I enjoy them while they last.

As I waited for the bus with Jordan shortly before 7 a.m., the moon was still visible. It was lower than earlier and I knew it would be out of sight within a half hour. I took several pictures of it as I stood in the middle of the road. It was a beautiful warm morning, perhaps the last of its kind for a while. Jordan got on the bus to middle school and I went back inside the house to be with Jaycie until her bus came.

By the time Jaycie’s bus arrived the sun had risen over the hills and the moon was no longer visible. I think the sun and moon shared the sky briefly this morning and I wondered if they engaged in conversation or exchanged longing looks. The entire day was amazingly beautiful and picturesque and I bet the sun wished the moon was there to share it with her.

Sharing the sky with the sun today and keeping her company were a variety of lovely creatures. I saw several small butterflies, a couple of monarchs, my resident hummingbird, a handful of dragonflies and of course the usual gatherings of songbirds. I’m sure the sun knows how lucky she is to be able to see all the creatures of the world as it turns. Yet I wonder if she is always trying to look a bit further, up a bit higher, around that curve…in search of the moon.

Chasing Moonlight

I believe in magic. Life would be stale, lifeless and dull if magic didn’t exist. I see magic in everyday events and I always feel magic when I look at the moon. No matter what phase the moon is in, the moment I see it I feel mystical powers at work.

Tonight as the moon rose in the east while the sun set in the west I began to wonder. What if the sun loves the moon? Is it filled with longing as the moon stays just out of reach? Does it wonder what the moon is hiding on its dark side? When the moon and sun share the sky do they tell each other stories about everything they’ve seen? Does the sun wonder why the moon grows quiet when they’re far apart? Is the sun worried the mystical, shadowed moon finds the constant, bright glow of the sun boring? Does the sun long to feel the cool night air and to experience the excitement of the darkness the moon so often dwells in? Does the moon ever long for the sun?

I can wonder all this but the answers are a mystery to me. The romance between the sun and moon is undoubtedly a complicated relationship if it exists. Perhaps the romance began with the thrill of the chase. I imagine the sun is sad if she feels like she’s always chasing moonlight only to be forgotten in the darkness.

Dawn of Allies – Fantasy Book Excerpt

Hands of Magic Series by JulieAnn Corbin

Book 1 – Dawn of Allies

Chapter One

A Mother’s Wish

“There are those immune to your magic, Son.  You haven’t encountered them yet, but you will.  If by some rare chance one of them is a pretty young woman, then you will have met your match.”

The remnants of those words were constantly running through the mind of the man named Brenderin Waylen.  Though the person who had spoken them was someone he loved more dearly than himself, their consequences never failed to anger him.  The speaker had been his mother, Brialla.  He could still see her fair hair shining in the afternoon sun as she stretched her lean body over his bed, her hands tucking in freshly washed sheets. The sheets had smelled so strongly of the sweet soap she had used it still made his nose itch.

He had been bragging about his latest trespasses into the thoughts of schoolmates and the advantage it gave him in class-for he had always found his mother far more understanding than his strict father-and her response had been those cautionary words about the limits of his magic.  That warning and her subsequent light-hearted conclusion about the proper girl for him, had begun to change the course of his destiny years before her sorrowful death.  Bren had tried to comfort himself with the knowledge that “a pretty young woman” immune to his magical ability to read thoughts could not possibly exist.  In his eighteen years of life he still had yet to meet anyone resistant to his power, despite searching his entire home continent of Kran and its neighboring lands.  Nevertheless, he knew better than to doubt the plans his mother had laid for him with her subtle yet powerful magic.

It had been eight years since his mother’s death from illness and in that time he had grown progressively resentful toward his father, Dyrk Waylen, feeling that the man should have been able to save her.  Dyrk was the town healer and Bren’s belief that the man could work miracles had been shattered by Brialla’s passing.  The shared loss had created a rift between father and son, and Bren had been spending less time home each passing year.  With the distance between himself and what remained of his family, he had started to believe that he had escaped his mother’s idea of a proper destiny.  Life had seemed within the control of his own hands for so long that he was more than a little irritated when his apparent mastery of fate swiftly fled from him.

He had begun to feel the overdue shift in his existence almost a week ago and while he stood on the edge of a small familiar town called Bordres, he frowned.  A change in the wind chilled the air and stirred his long brown leather coat about his legs.   Leaning forward against the wooden staff he used as both weapon and walking stick, a sigh escaped him.  Time was pressing ever heavier upon him, for the north wind promised something much more unwelcome than snow.  His predetermined path loomed and its chill was colder than anything nature could create.

Bren had visited this particular town more times than he could count, but he knew somehow that this visit would not end as it usually did.  Though he had not yet met the girl his mother had suggested for him, there were few pretty young ladies who could resist the allure of his six-foot height, long brown hair, mahogany skin, handsome features and the shadows lurking around his dark eyes.  He never promised more than he was willing to give.  If the girls wanted to toy with the tresses he kept mostly tied back at the nape of his neck or peer into his face trying to discern the color of his eyes, he let them and invited them to further explore whatever else might please them.  In the end, the darkness claimed the man and his lovers without regrets, but he felt that this trip would not conclude nearly as pleasantly if his mother’s magical meddling had its way.

Why must it be a north wind?  The only thing that lay north of his present location were the snow covered mountains of Corlan, the iciest region on the continent of Kran, and within them was only one small settlement that shared the name of the range.  It was a place for those who sought solitude and isolation from the rest of the world and often where they died alone and recluse.  For a man with his magic it could have been ideal for Bren, but the bitter temperatures and constant winter sounded far more intolerable than enduring the petty thoughts of everyone he encountered.  He did not need to hide in a nearly uninhabitable range of mountains. He had perfected the sad art of concealing his soul within walls stronger than any tower of earth.  As held true for Bren’s heart, little escaped Corlan, and he knew that the arrival of its icy air was an ill omen indeed.

 ***

The wagon piled with straw rolled away and Larc leaned heavily against one of the low trees, barely noticing the slight breeze that stirred the short brown hair atop her head.  She focused her ice-blue eyes on the poorly made wooden sign before her and could just barely make out the words “Town of Bordres.”  If the sign was any indication of the condition of the town, it held little appeal.  She could just turn away from the town and keep walking down the dusty road in search of her true destination of Tranquil, but she had eaten all of the food she had packed and did not relish the idea of sleeping on the hard ground.  Remembering the coins in the pouch at her waist, she wondered if the town might have an inn with a soft bed where she could spend the night.  She decided to enter and hoped she would not later regret the idea.

Larc’s short height worked to her advantage as she made her way along the street, dodging swiftly around the clumps of people and animals.  She would occasionally peek into open doors or touch the wares the street vendors were shouting so loudly about.  People eyed her diminutive stature and lean build with disdain and frowned at her oversized gray tunic, trousers and boots.  She tried to ignore them, having little concern for what strangers thought of her.

Residents of her former home settlement all lived in small one-level cabins, but this town was almost totally filled with two-story homes and shops.  She wondered why the people needed so much space to live in.  Though she had known that streets in towns outside of her mountain home were more than packed snow, walking on such hard pathways was a new experience to her.  The stones were more abusive than snow and her feet were already sore from even that small amount of walking.  The hard material made every movement louder, horseshoe steps seemed to echo forever and the street amplified the surprising morning bustle of the town.

The noise level made her ears hurt and she was soon forced to dodge into a small alley where the clamor was not quite so overwhelming.  Leaning against the wall as her travel pack, short bow and quiver of arrows pressed into her back, Larc took in a deep breath.  She regretted that action when a strange stench reached her nose. Grimacing, she stood straight and gazed down the debris-filled back street to see a one-story building built behind the two shops that formed the alley.  There seemed to be only men going in and out of the structure and it did not have much light coming from it.  As hard as she stared, she could not discern what the place was.  It was not as neatly built as the rest of the town.  The windows were so dirty she could not see in at all and the only appeal it held was the lack of noise coming from within.  Yet something was definitely drawing her toward it.  Deciding anything was better than facing that street again, she approached the building.

As Larc neared the structure, she began to hear the sounds of low voices talking in hushed tones and the noise of glass hitting glass.  Gripping the straps of her travel pack, she slowed her pace and tried to peer through the heavy door whenever someone went in or out.  When that did her no good, she swiftly stepped through the door behind a man as he entered.  Once inside, she hid off to the side next to the door and gazed around her only to discover to her dismay that the unusual stench had been coming from this building.

Larc’s immediate instinct was to flee but that odd pull within her remained and she stayed where she was to take in her surroundings.  There were lamps hanging on the wall but they were too few in number to do much to light the large room within.  To the right of the entrance there was a long high table with a man standing behind it giving the patrons glasses of some dark liquid.  Smoke filled the air from men using pipes and the din of low conversations seemed to rumble through her head.  Unexplainable gut feeling or not, she began to think that perhaps this building was not the best place for her.

***

Sensing more than hearing the double doors of the tavern open, Bren raised his dark eyes from where they’d been glaring into the drink in his hand. He’d chosen a seat by the large hearth at the back of the building to avoid notice.  Craning his neck up slightly to see over the crowded tables, he frowned as a waif of a person entered the tavern.  The child’s short hair and skinny figure might have fooled most into believing that it was a boy, but as Bren was more perceptive than nearly everyone on Aindar, he knew the truth.  The new arrival was a young woman older than the child she appeared to be, yet still too young to suit his tastes.  Stretching his leather-booted feet up onto the table before him, Bren sat back and waited for the inevitable drama of this stranger’s appearance to unfold.

Making Time for My Writing Passion…

While I am passionate about everything I write, even the blogs and articles I can’t take credit for, my first love in writing will always be fantasy fiction. I started a new fantasy book a couple months ago and while I have tons of ideas for it, I haven’t had the time to work on it much. I’m going to make some time tonight to add a bit more to it. For anyone curious about it, this is what I wrote up as a sample book jacket blurb. To read some of the first chapter, click on the link at the end of the post to go to my Corbin Creations website. Happy reading!

“What happens when a woman whose heart was broken by the death of her beloved father finally does what every man she’s met since tells her to? “Stop crying.” No longer able to express her pain, Vihresa’s tears turn to rage. A rage that hardens her heart and threatens to turn the magic she possesses to darkness. What will come when the fire within finally burns to the surface…”

Unbroken Flames – excerpt