Posted in Fiction, Peek into Stella's Books

Chapters of 34 Seconds

Do you want to read the Prologue and first two chapters of 34 Seconds?

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PFFTTTTT…..

Clearly this post isn’t done! And it’s getting likes.

And you can sign up. And I think MailChimp is set up to send you a link to the chapters. But I kept pushing this post out…and out…and out because I wasn’t ready.

Clearly, my calendar caught up with me. It’s no longer a scheduled post I need to find time to write…it posted! Just like that.

But it’s okay. I’m okay, And you’re okay too.

And I’m human. So I say sign up – but I have no link.

I’m not ready.

So I’ll put this on my calendar for another few weeks and see if I will be ready then.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience and acceptance for simply being human.

And if you really want the chapters…I’ll send them to you. Just message me. 🙂

 

 

 

Posted in Life stuff

Be an Architect in Your Life

I am my architect, are you?

I don’t often post motivational blogs, but in an effort to post more and with a better schedule, I’m starting this week off with a #MondayBlogs #MotivationalMonday post.

Really, this is the result of much self discovery and a snapshot of battles we all struggle through. Some of us survive while others do not. I have two friends who divorced and are mending. I am so in love with the idea of them and have muddled through the swamp with them to find they aren’t muddy at all. They are discovering themselves again and opening to loving again because they have decided to be their own architects. For them, this means they will control how they communicate, the love and the anger they put out there for the other to receive, and how they want their new world with one another again to look and feel.

I am the architect in my world.

I create what I would like to have in my life and I control who I allow to live in it with me.

It’s funny to think how much I have changed, how much I am the person I used to be, and how much I was willing to tolerate because as my world changed and evolved around me, I became more and more unaware of my own surroundings, and that changed me.

One of my children spoke to me about negativity in their world earlier this week. We face it so often. Anger on the road. Frustration with those around us. Impatience in the grocery store line. People in our world who don’t know how to communicate effectively all project negativity onto our path.

How do we stop them?

                                   How do we build our own world without these things?

The answer I gave my daughter was kindness.

Kindness is the path to greatness.

But it’s not all that simple. And it’s not easy.

“I used to love her, but I had to kill her.”

Those were the words I heard once when I called my lover’s phone by accident.

My lover.

My support. My rock. My I do.

‘I used to love her, but I had to kill her’ is the title lyric from a Guns and Roses song. I remember the song. I used to jam to it when it first came out. The line ends with something about putting her six feet under and still hearing her complain.

This is not the world in which I wanted to live.

“This is my love song to you…” these are the words which start a different song I hear often. When we argue. When I’m upset. When she’s upset. When we question the world around us. When we wonder if we’ll make it. When she wants me to know I am her lover. I matter. I am important. I am loved and wanted.

We get to build our own world. Build one you want to be in. Build one you want to live in. Build one where you will thrive. Build your world where you are loved, supported, accepted, and able to be who you are.

It took a lot of building to create a new world where I am comfortable not only with myself but with those I allow inside. Be your own architect. Don’t fear letting go because once you do, amazing things open on the other side.

 

So, I’m not really motivating here, in my motivational post, but I wanted to share because I am still hit with negativity every day. And I put a wall up to it. We will always have those in our loves who bring us down, those who want nothing for us but to bring us down, but it’s how we build our worlds and support systems that will make the biggest difference in how we handle that negativity.

I have days I don’t know how I am going to make it. I have days I want to curl up and cry all alone because no one could possibly understand. But I know you do. You get it. Because you have those days too.

It’s not always easy to get up once we are down.

Building a world which can carry the weight of negativity and the power of grief is the key to surviving the times when we are so far down it’s difficult to get back up. Creating a support group, or a tribe as I call those, those people who are there to lift you up and hold you until you are steady, brings us up to a place where we can not only survive but thrive as well.

Getting out of survival mode is fucking hard.

Yes. It is. I said for many years I was in survival mode week in and week out. I had a small tribe. Those I called when my migraines were so bad I couldn’t stand in the kitchen long enough to cook macaroni and cheese for my children, but I never leaned on them for much else. I never told them about the song my lover had as a ringtone for my phone about loving me one time and then killing me another.

Breathing day to day is tough, breathing moment to moment is tough when you are only surviving. We go from task to task, day to day, week to week, waiting for something new, a change, hope, or the one thing our world truly lacks.

Reach out

Building a new world and being your own architect includes building a tribe. We need infrastructure and a team who will carry the weight we cannot when times are tough. Find those people for your personal tribe. And invite yourself to be in theirs as well.

Be an architect in your world. Plan your world out so you are loved. Plan your world so you are free. We are out here to support you and hold you up. Just come find us.

Peace, Love, and Life.

~Stella

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Peek into Stella's Books

.99 Cents Sale

It’s funny sometimes how I run promotions and forget to tell people

34 Seconds is on sale for .99 cents right now on Kindle and Nook!

Grab yours and don’t forget to leave a review once you have read. Reviews are like collectible coffee cups or Precious Moments figurines.

They are moments that matter.

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Make it the most wonderful day. Hug someone. Or share this blog because that’s like a hug too.

Spread kindness like glitter and smile.

Okay, I’ll stop telling you what to do…

~Stella

Posted in Writing

Father, mine and someone’s

He wouldn’t have danced with me, my father. The day he gave me away, I told him we were only having dinner, not a full reception. Ours wasn’t a traditional wedding anyway, so skipping the father-daughter dance wasn’t a big deal to me.

Dancing wasn’t the only thing he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t have read my screenplays, but he’d happily watch the movies once some Hollywood director ripped apart my words until the idea behind them was all that remained. He would laugh though. No matter what we were doing so long as it wasn’t dancing, he’d laugh with me. A quiet all-knowing laugh that would leave me wondering if my laugh didn’t quite hit the rhythm of the joke. And he’d talk with me.

He’d ask questions, wonder where my life was, where it’s going, and what I needed from him to reach my dreams. He’d listen to my complaints. Funny, I don’t complain about the same things today as I did then. I wish he knew. I wish he knew me today. I could tell him I am closer to the young woman he used to know. Not the teenager who fought him every step of the way. Not the teenager who’d been raped and feared not the consequences but rather telling her father her secrets. All of them. The small girl who picked clovers while singing the song wondering if they were red clovers or merely the color red and clovers separately and the young woman who wanted acceptance, not just tolerance, needed to find that place of warmth in her father’s arms again. I was that girl again, not the in-between girl, while dancing.

But the dance, the journey, began long before. Not in a field of clovers but in the sound of the blooms coming out to live free.

Honeysuckle sweetened the sour air outside my father’s house. Closing my eyes, I inhaled the scent of nectar while twisting the ring I wore on my right hand. Unless he’d seen the headlights from my car rising up through the dust, Dad wasn’t aware I was there watching him. His silhouette in the light of dusk only lit up when he inhaled the carcinogens from the cigarette in his left hand. As had been threaded through my childhood and adolescence, music filled the air. Dad had built a wall unit to hold his stereo several years back. The massive stereo, as esteemed as a family heirloom, was the centerpiece of the room. When we weren’t watching the latest Thursday night sitcom, music was on. It was how I’d spent my childhood. From sitting on his lap as a young girl to adulthood struggles, the soundtrack to my life was Dad’s music. Irony closed in on me as song lyrics spoke thoughts of loving her. Pursing my lips together, I smirked at the song. Tommy James and the Shondells was a band I’d been singing along to since I could make sounds. This was an album my father listened to again and again. When times were tough, when stress was overwhelming, when sadness took over his emotions, the lights went out, a match struck, and Tommy James sang of love and clovers.

This time was no different. I had run. Life doesn’t allow us to run long or far, but it didn’t stop me from trying.  I had to get away to find my support. To find myself. The only thing I’d realized from my choice to run was my life wasn’t a choice, and I needed to be true.

After spending five days in the hospital with her, I’d said my final goodbye. Her death was an awakening to me. Every beat in the song of clovers reminded me of the rhythm of her heart. The one I used to hear with my head on her chest. But only while it still beat. Beneath the tiny feet of squirrels sounded a crunchy autumn of the past, and hanging in the air, the crisp spring scent of honeysuckle mingled with sounds of musical waves leading to me stand in a doorway wondering if I had the strength to tell my father the truth.

“Dad?” The door squeaked as I opened it. A light went on as if his fingers were on the switch waiting for me.

“Hey.” It was all he could say to me.

I did call him collect from nine hundred miles away to tell him I was safe. My dependence on him ran deeper than tolerance.

“You’re home,” he said.

“I am.” Neither of us dove into the conversation we needed to have.

“I’m sorry I left,” I said with a cracking voice. “Maybe we can talk?” The question in my tone asked to be Daddy’s girl again.

“Are you okay?”

“I am okay. It’s been a rough few weeks. She…”

Tears fell from my jawline to the floor. I’d hidden too long. I was exhausted from hiding. Afraid of showing my weakness, I sat. The couch fabric scratched my skin as I pushed my body back. With elbows on my knees, I stared at the carpet below. It was a cesspool of dark hues and stains. Yellow light from overhead dulled the browning cigarette smoke laden carpet below my feet and reflected on the cobwebs draping the walls behind my father’s chair. Our conversation was about as pleasant as smoke stains seeping from the walls.

“I lost a good friend in a car accident, too. When I was your age, I mean.” He was trying. At least he was talking.

“Dad?” My voice cracked each time I said the word. “I’ve lost everything.”

“You have your health. And your job.”

“I’m nineteen. Of course, I have my health. And I wouldn’t have a job if I were back in school.”

“I’m not going to feel guilty for this. You want to go to school, sign up. But study something that will get you a better job than you have now. You need to be in business. Or computers.”

“Dad, I love theatre.”

“Fine. Study business. Join a theatre. If you can get a job in theatre, great. But you need a backup plan. You need a future.”

“I don’t want to argue, Dad. I want to tell you about my trip. About me. About what I experienced. About her.” A tear slipped from my eye, running as fast as I’d run before, soaking into the carpet leaving another dark spot.

“How about you tell me about that tattoo?”

“It’s Pop-Pop’s guitar.”

“You’re never going to get a good job with a visible tattoo.” His words bit. Word after word, sentence after sentence, the space between us grew larger. There was no way we’d ever find commonality.

The music had changed. The silence built between us as lyrics changed from loving her to new days coming. Change. People changing. I had to keep trying. We had to find that place again. That place where I climbed up onto his lap and wrapped myself into security and everlasting love.

“She…” I sobbed. “She wasn’t just a friend. She was my girlfriend.” The words came out faster than my mind could think them.

“What? What do you mean?”

“Dad.”

“The tattoo? You got it for her?” He looked closely at my leg. Names surrounded the shiny guitar still covered in healing ointment.

“No. I got the tattoo for me. I play guitar. Music, thanks to you, Dad, lives in my soul.”

“She was your girlfriend? You’re gay?”

“Yes, Daddy.” In my mind, I’d already crawled up onto the lap I remembered as the warmest and most loving place in the world.

“Well,” Dad said. His eyes didn’t leave his father’s Gibson Sunburst on my ankle. “We finally have something in common.”

“You have a tattoo?”

“No.” The silence sang louder than Tommy James. Dad stood, took two steps, and wrapped his arms around me. “I like girls, too.”

Crimson and Clover played from the wall speakers.

 

Over and Over.

Now he’s gone, my father. But I got to dance. And we laughed. The music blared, disco, then The Temptations, and Sister Sledge. I danced with a man who was not my father. A man who took time to show me steps even my father didn’t know.

“I don’t know how to two-step,” I said bending my neck to view the white hair towering over me.

“It’s three steps,” he said. “Two to the right, one back.”

“Then why is it called two-step?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll show you how.”

I hadn’t danced with a man in many years. But we connected. Sure, it was the Manhattans for me and the abundance of beer for him. He led me to believe the forty years between us kept him young on that floor.

“Forty years! We don’t have forty years between us!” Light above my head dulled as I closed my eyes imagining my twenties as if they were yesterday. I hadn’t moved like this since that time.

“Well, I know you’re a lot younger than I am, whatever the difference is. You’re keeping me young,” he said. My body spun into his. I was getting the hang of letting him lead, which wasn’t an easy feat.

My wife came over with another drink for me and looked at him with a crooked smile. “Your wife wants to know if you want another one,” she said.

“I’m exhausted. Yes, I need another one.”

We sat and laughed. His wife was beautiful. And funny. She and my wife connected. But on a different level. In their world, they could be neighbors. Friends.

Another song came on, and we danced. Sometimes all four of us, sometimes just me and him, and for some songs, I stood back with bourbon in my hand watching my wife’s body do something it does so well. Her movements were like ocean waves. Closer to me, then pulling away leaving me wanting another ride. Between the lights and the music, the bourbon, and the elation, I allowed myself peace watching her dance.

“This is our song!” he grabbed my hand, so I could dance another one. We didn’t have a song. He barely had a name, at least not in my world. But we had a connection. One that I missed because I hadn’t had one like that in the years since the clovers.

For one evening, I connected with someone’s father. And I remembered mine.

 

I lost my father about six years ago. Our relationship struggled for many years before I came out to him. It struggled after for a bit as I tried to find my place in the world. But with three children and an amazing partner, I’d like to think he’d be proud of me today. I settled many times until he died. Then I remembered Kris, my first girlfriend, who never thought we’d ever see gay marriage and who never did because a car took her away before she left her twenties. And with Dad’s death, I decided to live again. In 2012, I promised him I’d publish my novels. And I have. Irony never ceased between Dad and me. The last book he read was Jaws when I was a baby. But, today, I still write for him.

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Peek into Stella's Books

Cafe

So there I was. In the cafe again. And he walked in. My heart beat a little faster. His eyes looked past me as he gazed across the room. Tilting my chin down, I felt disappointed. We’re both in here, and though he doesn’t even know my name, I wish I knew him well enough for him to say hello. I’d settle for a nod. Some kind of acknowledgement that we both exist in the same place would be ideal. Hello, my name is Eric. That would be nice. I only know his name because the staff all say, “Hey there, Eric. Usual?” Each time he walks in, I hear those words. I also know his usual is an Alaskan Crepe and soy latte, hold the foam. Sometimes he jokes with the barista about how she might hold the foam, and how long she could work with a pile of foam in her hand. He’s funny. I think I want to know him because he’s funny. But I don’t know him. I just know he comes in every morning at the same time. I know this because I am here at the same time as well.

I’m young. Too young to be pining over someone I don’t know. But I do know when chemistry exudes from across the room. And we have it. Or I have it. He’s radiating chemistry, and I’m feeling it. I doubt he’s feeling anything. Except maybe hungry for salmon wrapped in a crepe. Each day is the same. For us both. I’m here when he comes in. I write. An advice column actually. I thought it was odd when I was asked to write advice for young teens, because I’m still a teenager myself. I don’t believe I know anything more than they know. I just have a few years on them. There’s a small magazine in the area that advertises fun things for teens to do, that’s how they make their money. Every now and then there are small articles on exciting happenings for teens, and there are a few of us that write for the mag each week. I am one of them. We have a cook, she likes to call herself a chef, but I’m not sure she knows more than how to do neat things with common processed foods. She’s given us recipes for pizza using dinner rolls, and tacos using Doritos. Not exactly exotic foods, but I guess it’s what our teen scene is looking for. We have a sports guy and a make-up artist that both write each week. I do the advice column. I get questions each week. I choose three and write my mature worldly response. I usually write those responses sitting in this café. I keep waiting for a question to come up that I could relate to. Something like, ‘The same guy walks into the same café I am in each day, and I’d like to talk to him because, from afar, I love him. What do I do?’ I’m sure I’d have some grand advice, like, sit at his table and engage him in a conversation about art or classical music. But in my real world, I’m not doing anything like that.

This morning, something with Eric seemed off. Different. He kept watching the door from his usual table. He was expecting someone. And it didn’t take long for her to show up.

“Daddy!” The toddler ran into his open arms, and Eric’s eyes lit up. I smiled as I watched them. For six months, I’ve watched him. From afar. And I’d never seen a daughter before. I watched him hug her, holding her tight as if she’d leave him. Behind the little girl, stood a woman. She was stern. Cross. I thought she was angry. Who could be angry at this scene? What I was witnessing was happiness. Joy. Incredible love. Eric moved his hand down his daughter’s hair, smoothing out her curls. He didn’t wear a wedding ring. One piece of advice I’d given a teenager once was not to trust a guy that wouldn’t be honest about his life outside of their relationship. As an adult, or up and coming adult at least, I didn’t trust a married man without a ring.

“You look so beautiful,” Eric said. That made me smile. I looked at his face, hoping for a small moment he was looking at me as he spoke. He was looking at his daughter.

“She knows that. You tell her all the time. You need to stop with this princess crap. Here’s her bag. I’ll pick her up at your house on Tuesday.” The girl’s mother bent over, kissed the girls cheek and walked out of the café. I looked down at my notebook. Chewing on my pen, I was reminded at just how little I know about dishing advice. I had no idea what just happened.

Of course I didn’t know what just happened. My notebook stared up at me. The one thing written on it was the topic of the day. “How do I make friends and keep them?” I thought this one was going to be easy. I’d walked into the café thinking about being yourself, making good choices, simple acts of kindness, and asking questions to people to get them to talk. People loved talking about themselves.

‘The best way to make a friend is to ask them to share something about themselves,’ I wrote. That was just an immature response, I thought. I chewed on the pen more and stole a glance at Eric again.

His eyes were sparkling. Did he have that sparkle before? His smile rose on one side of his face as he looked at his daughter with admiration. The little girl was pulling something out of her bag, asking Eric to put it on her. She said, “Daddy. Every girls has to wear one, while she sips her tea.”

“Okay, honey, you put it on, I’ll go order your tea. Do you want a raspberry crepe too?”

“With whip!” She laughed while she said it, and I wasn’t sure what was so funny. Maybe she thought her daddy was silly too.

Eric disappeared to the back of the café where the barista was waiting to take his order.

“Do you like to sip tea too?” I heard the question, but I wasn’t sure who had said it because I was watching Eric walk. He lacked his usual confidence today. His shoulders were slumped over. He looked tired.

I felt something resting my leg and looked down. A small plastic tiara was resting on my knee, ready to topple over and hit the floor. “Do you like tea?” She’d been talking to me. And she gave me a tiara.

“It’s mine, but you can wear it. I can’t seem to get mine to stay on. Could you help me?” She looked up at me with big blue eyes. Eric’s eyes. Her blonde hair curled up at the ends. And she was smiling. I smiled back at her. Taking the tiara from her hands, I placed it on her head and clipped the attached barrettes into place so it wouldn’t fall off the top of her head.

“I think it should stay now,” I said to her.

I looked up and Eric was standing over us with a tea cup in his hand. “Sorry about that,” he said to me. My heart skipped again.

“Oh.” I was flustered. I didn’t know what else to say. “Oh. That’s okay. She just needed some help.” I handed the tiara that was resting on my leg back to her and smiled. She was so cute.

She took it from my hands and said, “You don’t want to wear it?” I watched her eyes look down toward the floor. No one wants to disappoint a child.

Before I could respond, Eric, jumped in. “Honey, it looks like your new friend has some work to do,” he looked at my notebook. Immediately embarrassed, mortified even, I tried to cover the question that was boldly written on my page.

“Oh.” I said again. Good grief. Eric probably thought I was trying to make friends and taking notes about how I should go about doing it. “Work. Uh–” I just stared at him. He was older than I had originally thought. Crow’s feet peeked out from around his eyes. Laugh lines formed along his mouth as he smiled down at me.

“I’m Eric,” he said. “And I guess one little girl and two tiaras is one way to make friends.” He smiled again.

I was struck with fear. Dumbstruck. Starstruck even. For six months I’d watched this man, wondering what it would be like to talk to him. Wondering who he is. And the moment he was in front of me, talking to me, I couldn’t find words to say.

“Oh,” I said again. “Yeah, she’s so cute.” Yes, that’s a great ice breaker. Tell him the obvious. I tried to dig my way out of a hole. “And yeah, friends… I’ll have to write that one down. In my column. I write for an advice column. For teenagers.” I was pausing between every thought that was coming out of my mouth. “Bring tiara, make friends.” Eric laughed when I paused. “I might want to stay away from bringing little girls. My advice column is for teenagers. We try to keep them from having little girls.” I smiled at him.

“Probably a good idea.” Eric pulled two chairs over to my table, and set his daughter’s food next to my notebook. “You mind? I figure if you’re going to be sitting here wearing a tiara, you might not want to be alone.” He held up the tiara, and I tilted my head as he placed it in my hair.

“Yeaaaa.” The beautiful golden curls bounced as she clapped and bounced up and down.

That’s how I met Eric and Leslie. Today, that bouncing little blonde is graduating high school, and her two siblings are entering high school. Eric is only four years older than me. I was nineteen when we met that day in the café. After watching him for six months from afar, all it took was a smile and a tiara to start a friendship. Today we are married. But we always wear our tiaras when we sip tea. Which is almost never.

Posted in Life stuff

Hello Winter

Hello, Winter?

Hi. It’s me again.

Stella.

Yes, Samuel.

Yes, I know.

I remember. We just spoke last week.

Of course, I know it’s January.

Oh, you’ve really only been here three weeks? Really?

Ahh, I see. I see. But you’ve settled in quite well. And rather quickly, I think.

Yes. I know. Winter. But, Winter. Did you ever notice when Spring arrives, she doesn’t unpack her bags, and jump into your frozen waters right away?

Right. Maybe when you are done here, you can let her do her Spring magic and thaw my little piece of the world, and then go away. Head north, head south, but maybe this year, you can just not come back with three more snow falls…?

Yes. March. March is also when Spring arrives. Get my point? So having our snowiest month be the same at the month that Spring arrives isn’t something I’m looking forward to.

Okay. Thank you for that. I look forward to the weekend. Maybe we can all get rid of all the frozen reindeer that have all been staring at icy ground with their little bent metal heads for the past eight weeks.

Oh. There’s more to come?

Of course I know this is Colorado! Did you forget? Colorado is the state of sunshine.

Right, what do you know about Florida? What I mean is the sunshine in Colorado usually melts all of your snow rather quickly. But I’ve been looking at the same dirty, ugly, and overly icy snow since Christmas day!

Yes. It was nice. Thank you. I love a white Christmas. But I do not like a white January 13th. Maybe it’s just me, but…well, it’s not even white out there anymore. It’s gray. And dirt colored. It’s the color of ick.

Yes. Ick. That’s what I said.

There’s no ick in summertime. Not even one ick—

Well, no, men in Speedos aren’t really my thing.

Yes, I get your point. Look…Can we compromise maybe?

I’m sure you think three weeks into your season is too soon to compromise, but I’d like to at least talk about it.

Sure. I’ll take the weekend.

Yes. I heard it might get up to 60! But I think you’ve lost the trust of your audience around here. We’ve been skating for two weeks now, and frankly we’re all a little uptight right now.

I’ll make you a deal. You melt all the snow and ice this weekend, and I won’t complain about Winter for one more month.

Yes, I know March is still coming. One month from the weekend brings us to mid-February. I’ll shut it until then…but you take a step back and let my sun come back out.

Or I may have to move to the Bahamas.

No. I don’t ski.

No, don’t really like the snowboarding thing either.

Yes, Colorado. Yep, born here. I love it here. Why do you ask?

You should give a crap if I move!

No, I don’t know why you should.

Yes. Summer is my favorite.

Because I like to hike. I like to swim. I like sunshine. I like to be outside.

Nope. Not when it’s cold.

Sure, I like the snow. I just like the Colorado sunshine that melts it quickly.

Yes. We are going in circles now.

Look. Just stop it.

Winter…just stop.

I know. You don’t care. I’ll try again next week.

Yes…I’m not done with you either!