Getting yourself “out there”

Becoming a writer is no easy task because rejection is never quite that easy to swallow.  But you can learn from it. If you believe in yourself, in your work then continue marching forward. I plan to and I plan to submit my manuscript to Harlequin Romance.  Those of you interested in the Historical Romance genre can check out Harlequin’s website here for further details:

 

Harlequin Historical Key Elements

  • Strong and dynamic characters with believable, relatable conflicts, appropriate for the time in which they are set.
  • Central relationship as the driving force of the story.
  • Historical research and accuracy are essential to bring the world to life! But remember to focus on the romance.
  • All levels of sensuality are considered. From the tingling sensation you get when a wet-shirted Mr. Darcy rises from the lake, to the explicit bedroom romps of Tudor times, whatever the level of sensuality, chemistry and sexual tension are vital.
  • Variety is key in this line – we’re happy to publish stories from ancient Greece to the Wild West and all the way through to the mid-twentieth century.
  • Word length: 75,000

For explanations and tips about conflict, dialogue and emotion please click on How to Write the Perfect Romance

 

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When your spouse is your best friend

Out of billions of people in this world we choose one person in legal matrimony or civil union to enter our family fold.  They are the first-line witnesses to your good days and bad..riding along beside you on the roller coaster of life.
Shouldn’t it stand to reason that they too are also your best friend.  I mean separate from say your girlfriend or a husband’s best buddy….partners shouldn’t simply have a contractual union but a deep personal one as well.

The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.

Barbara de Angelis
The catch-22 is not allowing your “friendship” to take over the life you had before getting married. It’s healthy to always have outside interests and friends.  For some of us developing long-lasting and meaningful friendships is difficult.  When you constantly move, like I have via the military and then college, you make strong connections only to lose them because of a geographical divide.
My husband and I are so different in so many ways that it’s incredible we even married. However, those same differences attracted me to him and add spice to our relationship. One thing I have tried not to do, (because this is an easy trap married couples can fall into), is to change my husband. I knew exactly what I was getting into when we married. The only thing I have ever asked is we adhere to having mutual respect for one another and keep an open line of communication. Marriage is hard work. Every day we have to consciously realize this person has made a commitment to us that isn’t through blood.  They chose us for a reason.
With that being said, there are things about my life that are better shared with very few close girlfriends I have known for many years.  They are able to give me the “woman’s perspective” on certain issues.  Women are great communicators and sometimes you simply need that “girl-time.”
Life is about balance.  Too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Let your spouse have their hobbies and sometimes it’s good to actually participate in something that he or she may like.

Below are 25 ways you and your spouse can create a long-lasting loving relationship with friendship as a base:

25 Ways to be a Best Friend to Your Spouse

Loving your spouse for who they are

1. Enjoy your spouse for who they are.

2. Discover and foster mutual interests. Best friends find things they both like to do and continue to develop those mutual interests.

3. Prioritize your spouse.

4. Spend quality time with your spouse.

5. Remind your spouse of their best qualities, especially when they feel vulnerable.

6. Criticize (without being critical). Best friends challenge you to be the best person you can be.

7. Listen, don’t judge. Our friends want to know first and foremost that we understand them.

8. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.

9.  Let it go a bit when your spouse is grumpy. We all have bad days and want our friends to give us wiggle room when we have them.

10. Take notice of your spouse’s favorites. If something is important to your spouse, recognize it, even if it is not important to you.

11. Don’t take advantage of your spouse’s weaknesses. Recognize that your spouse trusts you.

12. Only speak good things about your spouse, every time and to everyone.

13. Defend your spouse in front of others. If someone talks negatively of your spouse, defend them. That is what friends do.

Find activities you can enjoy together

14. Do things for your spouse. You do not need a reason and you should no expect anything in return.

15. Tell your spouse the truth. Sometimes you need to level with your friends in a kind, respectful way.

16. Discuss your hurt or anger with your spouse during disagreements without belittling them.

17. Share in your spouses happiness. It is always more fun to be happy together!

18. Celebrate in your spouses success. If your spouse has accomplished something (even a small something) congratulate and cheer.

19. Share your interests, your thoughts and opinions. It is important to show your spouse you are willing to trust him or her with your thoughts and opinions as well.

20. Communicate clearly. You should not expect your spouse to read your mind. Be clear when expressing your thoughts.

20. Keep your spouses secrets. Your spouse needs to trust that emotions and thoughts shared with you are for your ears only.

21. Accept your spouse’s silence. Respect that sometimes your spouse is not yet ready to talk about something and be patient.

22. Laugh with your spouse.

23. Treat your spouse as your equal. Friendships are a give and take that balances out over your friendship.

24. Support your spouse’s decisions. You may sometimes disagree but in the end do your best to support your spouse in their decision.

25. Be reliable for your spouse. Sometimes we may bail on our spouse because “they will understand”. You should also make every effort to come through with what you said you would do.

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Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.

Zig Ziglar

Comforting friend….

“It may be a cat, a bird, a ferret, or a guinea pig, but the chances are high that when someone close to you dies, a pet will be there to pick up the slack. Pets devour the loneliness. They give us purpose, responsibility, a reason for getting up in the morning, and a reason to look to the future. They ground us, help us escape the grief, make us laugh, and take full advantage of our weakness by exploiting our furniture, our beds, and our refrigerator. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Pets are our seat belts on the emotional roller coaster of life–they can be trusted, they keep us safe, and they sure do smooth out the ride.”
Nick Trout, Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon

Dominance

Not sure what is up with the male species, or at least in this case, my cat Simba. He is a neutered 10 year old Himalayan and has taken to “marking” the foyer by the front door.  The mailman used to slip my mail through the door slot. However, once I had Wendy, who would incessantly barked every time the mailman did this, I bought an outdoor mailbox to help curb the problem. It broke her barking however Simba took to pissing on the mail and he pretty much did this once I bought Wendy, and she would alert the household that the mail “was here.”

Now that’s she’s passed, and it’s been almost 5 months (and no I still cannot bear to look at her pictures or videos), Simba is still marking.

I am taking him to the vet today and pray a solution can be found. I DON’T want to give him up.  I’ve had this little guy since he was 2 months old.  All he knows is my family and Luna, our American long hair cat.  She is 13.  I think it’s cruel to transfer a pet to another household after they have adapted to a single one pretty much their entire life.  I don’t care what others say.  Animals WILL fall into a depression when separated from their families. There is documented evidence of dogs and cats trying to return to their former families because they cannot adjust to a new household.

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So, I’ll do whatever it takes to cease this behavior.  There are already 2 litter boxes, one for each cat. My house is not a loud boisterous one. I will also buy him some toys to play with and maybe the vet can give me some anti-anxiety pills to curb his stress.

When my husband was in Afghanistan that little cat was my constant companion, slept with me almost the entire time he was gone. He follows me everywhere pretty much like a dog.  I would sorely miss the furball if my hand is forced to give him up. If I do of course it would be with a Himalayan rescue group but I pray it doesn’t come to that. In the meantime, I am pinning all my hopes on this vet who might have a saving answer:

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Here is some useful info regarding marking behavior from the Humane Society:

More tips

  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly with a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate urine odor. Read more about removing pet odors and stains »
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive.If this isn’t possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat, and play with your pet in the areas where he marks.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach.Items such as guests’ belongings and new purchases should be placed in a closet or cabinet.
  • Resolve conflicts between animals in your home. If you’ve added a new cat or new dogto your family, follow our tip sheets to help them live in harmony.
  • Restrict your dog’s access to doors and windowsso he can’t observe animals outside. If this isn’t possible, discourage the presence of other animals near your house.
  • Make friends.If your pet is marking in response to a new resident in your home (such as a roommate or spouse), have the new resident make friends with your pet by feeding, grooming, and playing with your pet. If you have a new baby, make sure good things happen to your pet when the baby is around.
  • Watch your dog when he is indoorsfor signs that he is thinking about urinating. When he begins to urinate, interrupt him with a loud noise and take him outside. If he urinates outside, praise him and give him a treat.
  • When you’re unable to watch him, confine your dog (a crateor small room where he has never marked) or tether him to you with a leash.
  • Have your dog obey at least one command(such as “sit”) before you give him dinner, put on his leash to go for a walk, or throw him a toy.
  • If your dog is marking out of anxiety, talk to your vet about medicating him with a short course of anti-anxiety medication.  This will calm him down and make behavior modification more effective.
  • Consult an animal behaviorist for help with resolving the marking issues.

What not to do

Don’t punish your pet after the fact. Punishment administered even a minute after the event is ineffective because your pet won’t understand why he is being punished.

If you come home and find that your dog has urinated on all kinds of things, just clean up the mess. Don’t take him over to the spots and yell and rub his nose in them. He won’t associate the punishment with something he may have done hours ago, leading to confusion and possibly fear.

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The art of forgiveness

“If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate.”
C. JoyBell C.

When it came to marriage or any serious monogamous relationship, one of the greatest deterrents for someone like myself was the inability to forgive. I grew up in a household chalk filled with grudges and unspoken words of grief and betrayal.  I saw what these negative and destructive actions did towards my parents and siblings.  As I grew older I continued to see mistrust, misgivings, heartbreak and anger with other married couples and it warded me off taking this huge committal step.

I did notwish to co-mingle in any of those toxic feelings again. I wanted my freedom. Craved it!! I wanted to experience life and everything it had to offer: adventure, free love…independence.

Of course the military wasn’t exactly the best teacher for healthy relationships.  I saw infidelity all around me.  Their were casual hooks ups with other soldiers within my unit, men visiting “Mamasan” and her girls at the local village bar.  At 18 years I was a novice at love, with life.  It sort of hardened me towards trusting someone fully with my heart.

And as I grew older, my focus was primarily on my daughter and gaining an education.

As a single mother I knew I had to continue bettering myself and provide a loving/stable home.  I enjoyed college, being young, carefree and winning over people with my positive energy and really just loving life.

Financially it was tough, but I persevered knowing something better was around the corner when it came to finding the “perfect” job and the “perfect” man. Of course neither exists.  Life is what we make of it and we can take any job, any relationship, and with a little hard work make it all work.

Yet marriage eluded me and rightly so.  I continued to find misgivings about such a commitment. I saw how couples bicker about the littlest of things, perhaps a culmination of mistrust and boring routines.

“I have always found it odd that people who think passive aggressively ignoring a person is making a point to them. The only point it makes to anyone is your inability to articulate your point of view because deep down you know you can’t win. It’s better to assert yourself and tell the person you are moving on without them and why, rather than leave a lasting impression of cowardness on your part in a person’s mind by avoiding them.”
Shannon L. Alder

What I think couples lack is knowing how to forgive and move on. They dwell on past misdeeds or indiscretions, unable to let go of the betrayal and hurt.  Partners or spouses are unable to move forward because they lack compassion or perhaps they feel “stuck” in a relationship that really is going no where but are afraid to let go because they feel, “this is all there is.” If your partner or spouse continues with said behavior, doesn’t change then yes, it’s time to let go if all other avenues have been exhausted.    You need to realize what is important to you may not be important for that person.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll change. Before you know it 5 or 10 or 20 years can slip away and your life, this gift, will be filled with a toxicity of regret. So, please please remember this:

“Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.”
Shannon L. Alder

 

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The focus on family

Are U.S. marriages on the decline?
According to Pew Research’s survey regarding this demographic trend…apparently the answer is yes:

A new “marriage gap” in the United States is increasingly aligned with a growing income gap. Marriage, while declining among all groups, remains the norm for adults with a college education and good income but is now markedly less prevalent among those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder. The survey finds that those in this less-advantaged group are as likely as others to want to marry, but they place a higher premium on economic security as a condition for marriage. This is a bar that many may not meet.

The survey also finds striking differences by generation. In 1960, two-thirds (68%) of all twenty-somethings were married. In 2008, just 26% were. How many of today’s youth will eventually marry is an open question.  For now, the survey finds that the young are much more inclined than their elders to view cohabitation without marriage and other new family forms — such as same sex marriage and interracial marriage — in a positive light.

Even as marriage shrinks, family— in all its emerging varieties — remains resilient. The survey finds that Americans have an expansive definition of what constitutes a family. And the vast majority of adults consider their own family to be the most important, most satisfying element of their lives.


Perhaps because of our varied demographics, it appears we Americans have our own colorful view of what constitutes a family.

In more traditional societies it means being married and the marriage is between a man and a woman. Of course today’s newlines have shown, that too is changing. For the betterment of society as a whole, that’s ones own personal judgement.

In regards to socioeconomic status, it is of no surprise to see that attaining marriage is not a high priority for the “less-advantaged” groups.  This trend has been going on for many years but seems more pronounced since the 1980′s (my personal opinion).

Couple all this with modern technology and the ease of seeking out affairs, porn, etc….it’s a wonder we still have people wanting to get married. The study shows there is now a trend towards cohabitation and leaving the martial institution in the background. People want to play house but not be emotionally, financially, or contractually obligated towards each other for the long-term.  There’s always “a way out.”

No matter what one thinks about the institution’s future, there’s no getting around its stark contraction during the past half century. Some 72% of all adults in the United States were married in 1960. By 2008, just 52% were.

If this downward spiral continues perhaps the institution of marriage will become an archaic practice to look fondly upon, or derisively.

Does having a positive attitude work?

…when you don’t feel it? And this blog post is focusing on the 9 to 5.

It’s a bear.  Day in and day out you face the same routine, wondering if all the culmination of hard work, years in school and/or the military (like myself) are paying off.

Is there something about your work environment that is creating stress?

beingpositivequotesYou have a couple of options either 1.) Change or job 2.) Continue on in your abject misery or option 3.) Change your attitude.  And with today’s economy #3 is the far better choice.

Pretty much everyone has that one thing (such as workload) or with a particular someone, which contributes to their stress. You can try delegating some of your work or reducing the number of projects/responsibilities you have, (if that’s a viable option), or simply practice better time management.

Everyone has a work complaint.  However, if you persist with the negative attitude, then you need to examine if this type of job is really for you.

Also, examine your goals.  Are you ready for a promotion?  Is there another job opening within your agency that has “your name on it?”

Think about various ways you can improve yourself,  even your immediate work environment. If you have a cubicle (like I do) personalize it (if you’re able) and bring a little piece of home with you including pictures. Those are great motivational tools for someone like myself. I decided to start small and am “reinventing” myself through a new wardrobe.  The compliments I receive, let alone just feeling better about myself, has greatly picked up my spirits.  Speaking for myself, I love my jeans and t-shirts so getting out of the lazy habit of throwing those on when I come to work (dress code is informal), was difficult for me.  But when I decided to change my current style, (if you want to call it that), was fun and uplifting.

10175070_10152262957958366_149267932635700388_nDo what works for you and create goals!  Having something to reach for, to look forward to is quite an energetic way to continue on the right path towards success and ultimately a more sane and “better” you!  :)

 

Where do I go from here?

A lot of us “middle-aged” folks come to this precipice wondering if we have reached the pinnacle of our existence.  Is this all there is to life?  To me??

Why do we think this way? I’ve come to the morbid conclusion it’s because we realize our time now has an expiration date. My main concern is being able to retire comfortable within the next 13 years.

There are coworkers who are still working at my agency in their 70′s.  Their 70′s!!!

It’s a damn shame these people continue clocking in when they should be enjoying their Golden Years.  And not just only that….but when they retire, the vacancy opens up opportunities for the younger generation.

But, to retire on a fixed income is downright scary. I think this fact among health issues, keeps us up late at night.

With the current state of our union, this economic disarray really is forcing people to rethink their financial future. However, with that being said….being cognizant of your future earnings should be as important and part of your life goals as anything else you deem important.

 

The bottom line is….Don’t leave things for the last minute.

 

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The creative bug

I write on this blog because, to put it simply, I love to write.  I think about all the illiterate people in the world who miss out on some beautiful literary works of art–and being able to read, to put my thoughts down on paper is a priceless gift which I never take for granted. I found inspiration everywhere, from my childhood experiences to my world travels and military service.  To be a great writer takes patience and fortitude. It also means accepting rejection letters in a way they can motivate you to do better.  Being a writer means having a thick hide, taking constructive criticism not with a grain of salt but as something quite flavorful to chew and create something meaningful.

“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

“Plot is people. Human emotions and desires founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an explosion—that’s Plot.”
—Leigh Brackett, WD

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”
—Harper Lee, WD

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”
—Ernest Hemingway