Posted in Life stuff

In the mind of Stella…

So I help my partner by running her social media, blogs, and calendar when I can because she’s out of the house working much of the time.

Here in the Valley of the Sun, a mile south of the sun, we’ve had more dust than fresh air lately. She runs a pool business, and pools are wrecked every day, then cleaned just in time for the dust to roll in again. It’s amazing to watch. Check out this photo from Jerry Ferguson, a local news helicopter photographer from just last week. He’s also responsible for the microburst photo from 2016. Coolest storm ever! Check him out here.

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Anway….see? This is how my mind works.

This morning started with an effort to show my partner how to create ads on Facebook so we could promote the last blog I wrote for her site. This is how it went:

Stella Mind: Welcome to Thursday, Stella. You have no appointments and you could write all day if you’d like. How would you like to start?

Stella: Oh, I don’t know. How about I steal Jessica’s business page from her and see how that goes?

Stella Mind: Well, that doesn’t sound productive. You have hours and hours to write. Maybe you should start there.

Stella: Yep. But, first, let me steal her business page. It’ll be quick and painless. And she doesn’t have any appointments this morning so we can spend some quality time together. It’ll be like Battleship or Strategy. Fun stuff.

Stella Mind: You have a book to finish.

Stella: Yep. I need to kill someone today. It’ll be a sad day. I should take over the world first.

Stella Mind: The world is a big place.

Stella: Which is why I will just take over Jessica’s business page. Funny, when it said Page Owner is Stella Samuel, while she was cooking me breakfast, I did laugh a little.

Stella Mind: So you did it? Now you can write?

Stella: Yep. I did it. I own her page. But that didn’t make her happy. And really, all I wanted to do was show her how to make an ad not just boost a post.

Stella Mind: And you took over her whole page.

Stella: Yep. But then I had her delete me from it altogether so I was no longer owner and also no longer an admin. That might have stung a little bit.

Stella Mind: As much as it stung her when you stole her business from her?

Stella: Probably not.

Stella Mind: So it’s all fixed now, and you can go write?

Stella: Well, she kept me off as admin for a while so we could try to figure out other things. Each time I went to her page to make a change, I was only able to look at it.

Stella Mind: How did that make you feel?

Stella: Like we broke up.
Well, really, like standing outside on a cool windy day…one of those fall days that smell like pumpkin spice and hot coffee…in front of a candy shop and looking into the crisp, clear window filled with chocolates, lollipops too big to ever consume without getting dirt or dog hair on them, and one of those taffy pulling machines and no money in my pocket…after we broke up. Because really, it’s her candy shop…I want her candy…but I can’t get in.

Stella Mind: You really should be writing, you know. You just set the scene…well, you know what you just did.

Stella: I will go write. I must. I know.

Stella Mind: So, her business page is hers again?

Stella: Yes.

Stella Mind: And you got her ads all set up for her or at least with her?

Stella:

Stella Mind: Ads? For Heath Family Pool Service? Are they done?

Stella: No.

Stella Mind: Did you do anything?

Stella: I ate breakfast with a beautiful woman.

Stella Mind: Chocolate and lollipops?

Stella: Where were you when she was cutting up peppers and putting them into eggs?

Stella Mind: I’m always here. I was trying to get you to write.

Stella: I will….go write, I mean. But I should create an ad for Jessica.

Stella Mind: Maybe Jessica should do that.

Stella: She has to go. She has afternoon appointments. But we got to spend the morning together.

Stella Mind: Yes, you did. Because you stole her business from her while she was cooking you breakfast.

Stella: Do we have to talk about that again? I. Got. To. Spend. The. Morning. With. Her.

Stella Mind: So, go do that ad for her business. Then go kill someone.

Stella: #Goals
Coffee first…
Wait…do you know where my pen is?

Posted in Fiction, Life stuff

Why, Stella

I tried to convey some of this in my live video while revealing my new cover for 34 Seconds, but there were technical issues because me and technology…well, that’s all, just me and technology.

I’ve been asked several times why 34 Seconds has a new cover, and why I keep saying I’m relaunching my brand. Those of you who know me or have followed me for the past several years may know I have undergone some of the big life changes in recent years.

I released 34 Seconds, my debut novel, in 2015. It was the start of a new school year and the second year I spent more time researching different schools and districts, including those out of my home state of Colorado, than writing.

After yet another year of incessant teasing and bullying, including being pushed down stairs and into tables and lockers by kids we knew, I pushed for a move for my daughter. I’d always said she won’t see the age of sixteen unless she has wings to fly and be her own person. The high school she was slated to join had lost several kids to suicide. It took the entire school year and into the summer to make the move, but in mid-2016, my family and I moved to Arizona. I could get into how much happier I am, but that doesn’t matter. I could even get into how well my daughter is doing though I am convinced she has pain I may never understand, but that, too, doesn’t matter to the story of 34 Seconds.

Before the school year was too far underway, I discovered something about myself and about what I needed in my world. For the first time in years, I had a support team. Not just a friend or two who listened and advised or nodded heads in an understanding of parental difficulties, but a real team. People who surrounded me, lifted me up, loved me, told me day in and day out that I am worthy. I had been bullied almost as much as my daughter had been. By teachers, by schools, by the people I thought loved me most. I had been told over and over I am wrong, not worthy, and useless. It didn’t take long for me to grasp the good in my world, hold my breath and fall off a cliff into a realm I knew little about.

My family fell apart.

My world spun out of control.

I stared at divorce papers through tears wondering if I’d ever believe the things I’d heard in my new world.

In the two years since the move the Arizona and the six months before, my debut novel didn’t get any love. I couldn’t publish my other work. I couldn’t promote my one novel. So, it sat. Unloved. Unattended.  Unwanted.

A burden.

Like me.

There’s a funny thing about life’s challenges. If we push ourselves, if we build a team around us to hold us up when we are weak, if we allow ourselves to feel every horrible emotion settled into our stomachs, we can come out not just alive and surviving, but better than before.

I can’t say I’m there yet.

But I believe Stella is worth it. I believe my work is worth it. And I believe I am worthy.

And those things are a big change from where I was two years ago.

So, when the time came to allow myself to publish again, I ran 34 Seconds through more edits, more Beta readers, and found a fabulous designer to make a new cover.

And it’s here. Like me. Much the same, but new again. Renewed. Worthy of being out in the world. It’s not the writing I do today. If I were to rewrite this whole book today, I’d probably change quite a bit. Nikki would be stronger. Maybe Will would respect her and not just think he did. Maybe Chris would be the partner a strong Nikki deserves.

But I didn’t change much. This book is already a few years old now. But it’s a story that is so close to my heart, I had to make it worth getting back out into the world.

I will be publishing more again. Just Jules should be ready for beta readers soon. My artist is waiting on cover ideas, so he can get to work. And if you’ve followed me for the past few years, you may know Finding Her and What May Come will follow in the next year to two. I’m also working on a middle school adventure, and I’m excited to bring Zane into my writing world. I haven’t decided what I will do with the LGBT stories I have, but I will share when they are ready.

If you take anything from this, know you are worthy. And stop letting people tell you otherwise.

You know, I’d truly appreciate sharing with your friends and grabbing your copy, so I’m tossing some links in below so you can easily find 34 Seconds. Grab a bottle of wine and some tissues while you’re shopping.

Amazon Print and Kindle

 

Also here if you are a B&N shopper

Barnes and Noble 34 Seconds

 

Stay real and spread love like glitter,

~ Stella

Posted in Life stuff

Never Underestimate Your Power

My favorite high school teacher passed away on Friday, July 13th. If you knew him, you’d likely think he chose this date for his own demise, even if only because we’d say it was so.

I have some of his writing I’d like to share at some point, but I can’t just yet. I cannot yet read it out loud without crying.

But I wrote this in his honor.

In memory of Hugh Scanlan:

In the blink of an eye, it passes. Life. Like the mist on the lake water, it glides over moving with grace and speed until light fills its spaces and darkness lifts. As we go about our day-to-day chores, as we laugh and cry, time passes without regard to our thoughts, our stresses, our worries, or the moments we’d like to revisit.

The sun set on us all at one time, and though I’d like to think my sun is at high noon, we never know just when gravity might cause it to fall straight from the sky crushing us with the weight of overwhelming loss.

My sun is setting. So is yours. I’ve buried the suns of loved ones for years without a question as to how I would carry on. Because we just do. We carry one day in and day out. We move forward, we move past, we move ahead sometimes tripping over our own lives, our weaknesses dropping us to the ground in moments we haven’t the strength to carry, and we get back up wondering how we survived, checking our sun in the sky for the slightest movement. But that’s the thing. Its movement is so slight we don’t notice it. Like watching a baby grow, we don’t see its occurrence, only acknowledge it has occurred.

I started my journey with Scanlan in my life when I was fourteen years old. In ninth grade, he challenged me and opened my eyes more than any other teacher had before. Sure, there were others before him who let the light in, introduced me to something inspiring. But Hugh Scanlan was it for me. He was…just a school teacher some would say…just a guy who knew movie trivia and who could rent the movie to you if you guessed the title from a quote…just someone pushing pencils and dropping tests to watch us squirm…he was an inspiration, mentor, father, husband, friend, coach, comedian, and so much more under the guise of a simple high school teacher.

After my ninth-grade year, I had Scanlan again for Oral Language Lab, then my junior year English studies and Senior year English was in his classroom too. I did the one-act play under him and went on to college to study theatre because, in all those years in his presence, I developed not only a love for the stage but also an appreciation for the work it takes to get a piece on the stage. When we studied Shakespeare, he allowed me to read Stephen King, because he and I had discussed William’s words so much after school and in his free periods, he trusted I knew the material. When everyone in the film section of our lab had to report on My Fair Lady, he let me work from Pygmalion because he knew I like the stage version better. But more than that, he knew I get more out of the play than the movie.

You see, as much as I’d love to think I was special and stood out to Mr. Scanlan, he did this for anyone who let him know they’d follow him to the moon if he only asked. He had this special power so many teachers have that often goes unnoticed until we wake up one day and realize the impact this power had on our lives. He could see deep into every student. He knew our personalities; he knew what motivated each one of us, and he knew how to keep us in a position where we were constantly growing – all without us knowing. My story is just one of many lives he touched.

I graduated in 1991. For the first few years, still living in the county, I’d pop in after school and sit and talk with him. In 2012, I came back to Virginia to say goodbye to my father. I knew I may never go back again, so I stopped at the high school to say goodbye to my favorite teacher too. I didn’t get to see him that moment I tried. It was late September, early in the day, and the office ladies didn’t give a hoot who I was and why it was so important for me to say goodbye to him before I left. But they caved and told me when he had a free period. I waited. I got in my car, drive to Gloucester thinking of all the evenings I’d drive down there to visit him at the video store and all the things he taught me standing there talking about movies. All the movies I’ve seen in my lifetime because he said to give it a watch. When it was time to head back to Saluda, my heart raced. I cried. I knew I had to share something big with the man I’d given credit to for so many years without him knowing. And I wasn’t sure if he’d even care or remember me. But he did. And we talked. He told me he was retiring after that year. We shared to sorrow from the past year and some laughs from years past. Finally, I told him I had to come to see him because I’d buried my father and wanted him to know all the things we never to someone until they are gone. He was my inspiration. He was my mentor. He is the reason my life has taken the path it had taken. When I felt (or feel) less than confident about something, I remembered him and his words. I remembered how he knew me. And how he always had the right thing to say to put me in a role where I’d thrive or get me back on track. I was already in my late thirties, and I was writing my first book. I looked into his striking blue eyes, and said, “Thank you. You are the reason I am a writer today. I did other things in fun industries outside of theatre before becoming a mom and staying home to focus on children. But when it was time to focus on me, when it was time to ask myself if I could do anything I wanted to do, if I had the freedom to be me, who would that be, I thought of you, and said I will do what Scanlan believed I could do.”

I released my first novel in 2015. I only had his school email address. And he’d retired. I knew 2012 would be the last time I spoke to him. But, it’s funny…life…I said all the things I wanted to say to him. I gave him the credit he deserved, the credit I’d give him for so many years when speaking of my life to anyone but him. I told him he is the reason I believe in myself. And today, almost thirty years since graduating all of his classes, he is still my reason.

His spirit lives in everything I write – even if he would have torn it apart and challenged me to rewrite it.

~Stella

Posted in Life stuff

Another Year

With the titles of all the books I’ve written…

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This cake!

Another year…

This was a big birthday for me, but I’ve learned every birthday is big as long as we are still here to celebrate it.

I wrote a blog that was almost depressing as I pondered my own death and whether or not some would notice my absence at this point in my life. It was sad. It was cathartic. It was a culmination of each big moment I live without those from my life – those I miss. And the end result was to keep living. Upon my demise, I would no longer know if tears were shed, if regrets were discussed, or if I’d been long forgotten before a second thought would be given — or not given.

So, instead of focusing in the negative, I decided to focus this blog on celebration. It was a big birthday. And those I missed were noted in my personal world.

But I was celebrated.

I’ve spent years with my birthday passing without pomp and circumstance. I have a daughter whose birthday quickly follows mine and am used to focusing on her and frankly, being forgotten in the mix. It’s the life of motherhood. I’ve had few complaints, but I have been hurt as July 6th passes with a cup of coffee from Starbucks and not much else in acknowledgement of the day. For years.

Lack of celebration has not been a large deal to me until celebration became the norm in my new life. I told someone yesterday I feel as if I have been celebrating for two years now. I am often floored by the love and support surrounding me each day.

Backtracking a bit, I had a good life. A great home. A family. Fabulous though sometimes challenging children. But I lacked in my world, and I accepted everything I had as somewhat of a compromise. Two years ago, I made a huge change with a move from the snow to the desert. It didn’t take long to realize the core troubles in my world wouldn’t change as a result of a dry heat or an impressive monsoon season. As a result, I made another huge change in my world. It’s been a scariest two years of my life. But also the most enjoyable and eye opening years thus far.

As this year’s birthday came around again, I was reminded of just how much has changed in my world during these past two years. While I was living in memories passed wondering if another year would go unnoticed, the people who love me most today – the people who have filled my world for the past two years – were busy planning another surprise party for me. They did this last year, so this year I didn’t think it was remotely possible they could pull it off again. But they did. I didn’t scream and run away this year as I did last year, but they got me. Not only did I walk into my home filled with people, but I cried.

Cried.

People.

Friends.

Love.

Acceptance.

Balloons.

Celebration.

But what got me was this cake.

This gorgeous amazing cake.

First, I have to give a shout out to Brittany who made this amazing cake. She can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/sweetbbs/

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Did I say amazing?

Second, these people…these sweet, kind, wonderful people who set up, shopped, gifted, decorated, cooked, and showed up to celebrate me…well, let’s just say I’ll never get used to this is my life. And I appreciate it more and more each time I am gifted with anything from you all.

Third, and this is not lost on me. I am an author. I’ve known many of these folks for two years. When they met me, I was an author. I had one book out which was a year old. I had a plan to get these other titles out, but as my life has taken these twists and turns, I couldn’t publish. I’m just now getting back to working on rebuilding – by relaunching my first novel which is almost three years old now. These other titles will be released in the next two years to follow, one by one. But these amazing people in my world who don’t hesitate to celebrate me, celebrate a cup of coffee, the chance at a glass of wine, or just the sun rising haven’t ever hesitated to support my journey as an author despite the fact that many of these books I talk about have yet to be published.

So, cheers to another year. One of moving forward instead of looking behind. One of love and support filled with positive energy and kindness.

And cake!

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Posted in Life stuff

Today

Anyone with the vast sense of loss can understand the emptiness on days that would, in another lifetime, come in celebration. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries spent honoring love and life together. One day those dates come and go without the same meaning. But our hearts remember. Our minds cling to the memories. The snapshots of years past with the same dates fill dark voids.

I’d like to call. I’d like to send wishes of peace and happiness. No number exists in my world. None to call. No one to answer. It’s another day. Another day I am reminded of what I don’t have instead of what I wanted.

Just how do we handle such emotion on these difficult days? Surely, they pepper the calendar all year long. Are some more difficult than others?

Today. I will sit. In quiet. I will say happy birthday twice. I will remember. I will cry. And I will soak up the sun to remind myself I am alive. And I owe it to anyone who has loved me even once to live while I can.

Yesterday, I wrote these words:

I ache for your voice. For the stubble brushing my cheek as we hug. I ache for your love and acceptance. I ache for the memories of you. For forgiveness and moving on. But I accept. As much as I ask for the same, I’ve simply learned it’s what you want. Acceptance too. So, I do.

I accept you are both gone. One I cannot touch. One won’t touch me. Instead of the memories of smiles and heartache, I give the gift of moving on. It isn’t what I thought it would be. It isn’t us smiling together. But it is me smiling with fond memories. And it’s you smiling. Wherever you are. I accept it now.

Posted in Life stuff

It’s the little things

It only takes a few small things to snowball into one massive emotion, struggle, or success. I’ve said it’s been a tough two years. It doesn’t need to be repeated. But, for me, those toughest moments live weaker in the snowballing success.

A few weeks ago, I got notification that two of my tiny pieces would be published on Nailpolish Stories. This is a fun site with the strict requirement of exactly twenty-five words base on a color of a nail polish.

Funny, I don’t paint my nails. I’ve never really gotten into that sort of feminine care. I’ve tried. I’ve given several reasons or excuses over the years for why my nails aren’t as colorful as the rest of me, but really those excuses don’t fly. In reality, I’m just too lazy.

But this was a fun project. I got to peruse the vast web for fun colors and imagine where those colors took me and my writing. The editor picked two pieces to publish here.

Thank you to Nailpoish Stories and to Nicole, its founder and managing editor. I hope to peruse this world of shiny colors again.

My snowball just got larger this afternoon when I saw this message from my school. As part of rebuilding myself, I searched for a school that would fit my needs, my personality, my goals, and my past in the industry. I have been in theatre. I have been in music. I have written novels. The university I chose is the perfect fit, and I am happy to report I still hold a 4.0 average. I cannot promise I can keep that, but I will dedicate myself to doing my best.

Today, I received this note:

I wanted to let you know that you have earned the Course Director’s Award for Scriptwriting Techniques, for your section this past March! This recognizes your outstanding work, your dedication to your craft, and your ability to generously and professionally contribute to your fellow students’ success. You definitely crushed it this month.

 This award is documented in your college records, announced at your graduation ceremony, and it marks you as a student of distinction. 

Thank you for your inspiring commitment. It has been a pleasure being your guide on your journey through this course.

Congratulations! I really am looking forward to hearing about you as your career progresses. Please stay in touch 

Regards,

 I cannot tell you how these two things, fifty tiny words published and an award from my school of choice fitting for my specific industry, lift my spirits. This is a snowball I will happily climb onto and ride.

So many things around us bring us down. We often ride these negative snowballs which turn to avalanches buying us in deep snow. Instead of placing focus on the negative, I choose to ride the positive. They won’t always appear exactly when I need them, but they are there. From the sunshine each day to smiles on faces in the world surrounding me.

I ask that you do that same. Focus on the positive. Ride those snowballs like rollercoasters up large hills with a down filled with invigoration and glee. Share your positives with those around you. This is a tough world. There are folks out there with goals to simply bring us down. We win each and every day when we prove their competition, our foundational support systems, are large and enormously positive.

Posted in Life stuff

The Big Comeback

I don’t even know where to start, you guys!

It has been a whirlwind of a couple of years here in Stella’s world.

The move to Arizona: the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

The move to Arizona: the worst thing I’ve ever done to myself.

 

Just how does one cope with both extremes at once?

I spent a year bouncing back and forth wondering, ‘What have I done?’

I’ve spent close to ten years, maybe more, I refuse to dive any deeper, living a good life. But with huge compromises.

 

I, like many mothers, like many wives, put myself last on every list I made. Did I need something? Surely someone in my family needed something more than I.

Did I want something? Sure, but raising children certainly pushes wants to the side. And when parents get a chance to focus on wants, we often fill our children’s buckets first.

I won’t bother to fill you with details of my downfall but know I am up again.

I won’t speak poorly of others but know I have my own story to tell.

 

But what I will do is remind you to look at yourself and ask where you are placed in your world today.

And why?

I encourage you to stand up for yourself. In your home. At your job. With your parents, with your children, with your spouse. Stand up and stand firm. And know I will stand with you and hold you up if you topple.

I couldn’t have rebuilt my own foundation if it weren’t for those who held me up these past two years.

I learned love is hard. And it’s unforgiving. And it is certainly conditional at times. But loving yourself is so much tougher than loving someone else. Seeing good in others is easy. They fill your flawed holes with the things you wish you had. Strength. Wisdom. Acceptance. Tolerance. Patience.

But filling those voids alone is where we thrive. When we sit with ourselves and wait for the magic moment where we accept ourselves, our mistakes, our discretions, and our flaws, our world opens to possibility.

I knew I wouldn’t be loved.

I was told I was unloveable.

I was reminded of unforgivable acts time and time again. Simple things such as asking to attend a birthday party. Unforgivable.

I was told I wasn’t worth it.

I wasn’t even sure what ‘it’ was. Nor was I sure I even wanted it.

Time and time again in my life, I have said goodbye to people who couldn’t offer me what I wanted or needed. I have said goodbye beacuse I didn’t offer what they needed or wanted either. Time and time again I have lost love to hold on to sanity.

Until her.

She opened my world again.

She showed me I am loveable.

I am worth it.

And I know what ‘it’ is. Finally.

It is pure magic.

It’s love. It’s tolerance. It’s acceptance. It’s longing and yearning. It’s desire. It’s respect. It’s understanding. It’s laughing. It’s crying together. It’s a hug at the end of a long day. It’s a reminder that you are valued. It’s everything good handed to you with a smile. It’s everything bad shared because we, as social beings, shouldn’t have to feel alone. It’s forgiveness. It’s kindness. It’s gentle. It’s fierce. It’s love. Pure and simple. Gray yet filled with colors, love knows no bounds and it grows by the minute. It’s challenged and stronger, not weaker, after the run.

It’s honest. It’s lovely. It’s imperfect.

 

It’s not hurt. It’s not pain. It’s not cruel. It’s not guilt. It’s not hatred.

 

Stella is getting her groove back.

I came out to my father at nineteen years old. My heart was broken by a few women in the time before I walked away from pride and rainbows. I buried my first girlfriend. I broke a heart or two myself.

I let fear guide me along my path. Over the years, I fed a relationship that didn’t feed me back. And then I stopped feeding it. I suffered. The relationship suffered. Our children suffered.

Today, I am out again. I come to you with a notion of love.

It doesn’t matter who you love.

I am in love with a woman who was built just for me. I’ve waited for her my whole life. I looked for her in every person I’ve met. But she was never there.

Today she is here – with me. And as I fought to keep my work going here and let the world forget Stella Samuel, she was here to remind me I can come back. I can rebuild. And I can keep writing.

I’ve disappeared far too long. But I had reason.

I’m coming back. With a re-release and a new release. And I’ll kindly ask for your help bringing me back into the world of reading and writing.

I have big things going on, and I’ll need you if you’re still here. Bring a friend.

 

With this new publishing venture, I’ll be starting a mailing list. I hope you’ll sign up. I also hope you’ll share with people you know.

Until then, I thank you for allowing me the time to check in. Don’t forget to check in with yourself today too! You matter to so many in your world. Make sure you matter to yourself as well.

Posted in Life stuff

Big Life Changes

I have been writing. I have been living. And I will be sharing all the great things going on in my writing world again, but for now, I’ve left my website alone so I could focus on the important things in life. Living it.

I still have three novels in the works, two close to ready for my editor. The other in a rewrite stage. I’ve also started that children’s series I’ve talked about for years. And I’m trying to get my other name back out into the real world.

I miss connecting with my writing world. It amazes me at times just how much I need this…this writing…this connection…this creativity to survive.

But in the past six months, I’ve learned and focused on one thing. I no longer want to only survive. I want to live. So I will.

And soon, I will share more writing from Stella’s world.

I hope you all are well and enjoying the new growth of a beautiful spring.

Stella

 

 

 

Posted in Life stuff

Happy New Year

 

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As we end the year which will go down in history as the one which started the apocalypse, as some would say, I would like to begin to look ahead. A world without Mrs. Brady. A world without David Bowie. A world where each time I watch Severus Snape, a tear sneaks from the corner of my eye.  A world where a princess and the dancer who created my love of musicals are together in a beyond I cannot fathom just yet.

This year I took more control of my life. Of my feelings. And of my own actions. I pushed a move to Arizona to better my life and that of my daughter who had been bullied, violently at times. It worked. I am happy to say, though we have parenting challenges, she is doing quite well. She is coping. People here are kind. There seems to be little drama she gets involved in. And oddly enough no one pushes her down the stairs.

The other thing I did this year was quite selfish. I decided I wanted to live. I want to be alive. I want to wake each day in love. I want to watch the sun rise knowing I am loved. I want to live each day to the fullest. Face each challenge with grace. I want to feel pride again. Pride for my home, my family, my life. I didn’t seek a new adventure. It found me. Life looked me in the eye and said, if you want to be a part of this, jump in and hold on tight because this will hurt at times, but it will also be incredible. You’ll need to decide which one is worth the fight. Give up or live the life of someone alive. I cried at times this year, not knowing how I would move forward with the challenges I accepted into my life. I’m sure I will cry even more as these challenges face me each day going forward. But there will be a point where I am in a good place again and the journey will have been worth it. The journey is the goal, right? The journey needs to be good in order for the end to be rewarding. If the journey isn’t fulfilling, then I didn’t cross the paths I needed to cross. I didn’t climb the mountains I needed to climb. Speaking of climbing, I hiked Camelback Mountain recently and can’t wait to get back up there again. Hiking to the top to see the world around me is something I want to relish every day. Each day I’d like to wake knowing I am but a small part of this world but I can overcome the negativity which faces me.

I didn’t write as much as I thought I would this year. The next year will change that. As I face my new normal, writing will become the outlet I’ve always needed it to be. I have three books in the works right now. My goal this year will be to get one to market and the second ready for Spring of 2018 if not earlier. Then the third, which I wrote just last month during NaNoWriMo, ready for the following year. It sure would be nice if I have them all ready earlier. The next challenge I’ve created for myself in my writing world is the middle school series I’ve allowed to float around in my head for years.

Add to that a home renovation and the need for an office in which to write again, and I think I have a pretty full year ahead.

Someone asked me recently if I am happy. I said yes. And I meant it this time. I am truly happy. I struggle with a lot of things. This coming year will bring new challenges as our family changes once again. But I am making my way, creating my path, and making my own happiness. Because I matter. To me. And to the people who love me.

If you do anything new or different in 2017, I’d ask that you make your own happiness. Force big change on yourself. Push yourself. Challenge those around you to love you in the ways you need to be loved. I made my happiness. Go make yours. Make it a great year.

Stella