Excuse me while I pull out my soapbox

Well, folks, I’m alive after this last week—but just barely.

I went to Lake Powell with my family to enjoy a nice vacation full of relaxation and fun. For the most part it was. Lake Powell is beautiful and the water is the perfect temperature for jumping in whenever you feel like it.

The night before we came home, my daughter and I jumped off the back of the houseboat to clean up as best as can be done in lake water. My daughter stood on the ladder washing her hair when this crazy storm rushed through the area in a matter of seconds. I’m trying to be patient, treading water a few feet away while she finished, but the swells had gone from not much, to over two feet. Faster and faster the water came. There was no rhythm to it to gage between breaths. No matter what I did I couldn’t stop it from slapping me in the face, and for the first time in my life, I faced the real possibly of drowning. I’m not a weak swimmer, I’ve lapped for years, but this water had turned into a swirling monster bent on taking me down.

With the last of my strength, I kicked my legs extra hard, drawing myself high enough out of the water to yell, “Move!” at my daughter. I needed the stairs she blocked to save myself.

Without even turning around she said, “Just a minute, I need to put conditioner in my hair first.”

Lucky for me, my older sister heard my yell and came out to the back porch of the houseboat. She saw the situation and chucked at me one of the foam noodles there at her feet. The extra floatation saved me, but ooo….it didn’t save my daughter from a severe tongue lashing.

Teenagers, the gist of what she got, I’m going to give to you. And if you’re thinking why, we weren’t there. I’ve observed you guys for far too long not to recognize you’re all guilty of doing this, so ahem…

I get it, it’s hard to stop being selfish. You see the world around you with a very narrow point of view. I get it, you’re growing up and want to make decisions for yourself. So, an adult telling you to do something is the last thing you want to hear. But, these two traits, being selfish and stubborn, are a deadly combination—and not just physically, emotionally as well. Some of the greatest regrets in life can be avoided if you’ll just turn and consider the situations around you before you react.  Soapbox out!

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Bring on the work

One of the greatest blessings about moving closer to family is my in-law’s ranch. Because of our close proximity, my oldest son goes out every other week during the summer to help his grandparents with the endless upkeep that comes with working such a place.

He came home this week looking especially filthy and exhausted. I couldn’t have been happier. He is learning the key to a successful life—a work ethic. At the moment it’s an extremely taxing work ethic, but if he can do something this difficult day in and day out, there are very few things harder in life.

A work ethic is something we all need. And I would implore you to find it while you’re young. It shouldn’t just be about making money. Finishing a job well, whether it be pulling weeds, cleaning house, or in my son’s case, chucking feed bales, brings a sense of accomplishment and self-worth that can’t be found any other way. You’ll also come to realize that anything in life is possible, but it’s not going to fall in your lap. So, get to work and make your dreams come true.

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Stuffed Souls insights: the grill-o-rific brother

One of my favorite things in my latest novel, Stuffed Souls, is the family dynamic of the Lowell family. They put the fun in dysfunctional, making so many of the scenes in this book colorful and hilarious. The oldest brother, Travis, is really the driving force keeping this family together. He is demanding, gruff, and imperfect in so many ways, yet readers love him. He just wants his teenage sister to straighten up and stop getting into trouble, but even when Megan isn’t exactly Megan anymore she can seem to do this. She even ends up kissing his best friend, which makes for a fantastic explosion. It sounds sadistic, but it’s such a funny scene. Pick up your copy of Stuffed Souls today and find out why. Click on the book below for your direct link.

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Life hardly ever gets the memo about your plans

You know what they say about well-laid plans—they often go wrong. This is as true in my life as I’m sure it is in yours. However, I’ve learned over the years that this isn’t such a bad thing. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about from one of this week’s many plans gone awry…

I needed gas in my vehicle, which happens more often than I wish it would. Anyway, as always, I’m crazy busy. I have one child who insists on a daily tennis match, another child to pick up from their summer athletic training for high school, and, of course, groceries, since my kids refuse to stop eating.

I swing by my usual gas station that’s on my way to the grocery store. I’ve used this plan on many occasions—it helps me kill two birds with one stone, if you know what I mean. As luck would have it—the pumps aren’t working correctly at the moment. If I want to use a credit card I have to run into the store, give the cashier an estimated amount I want to purchase, and then I can finally pump my gas. Nope. Nope. Nope. I see the line inside the store. There’s no way I have that much time, I’ll be late picking up that athletic daughter of mine.

I don’t get mad, it wouldn’t help anyway. I just leave and continue on with the rest of my planned morning. I’d have to find time to deal with the gas issue later.

After picking up my daughter I decide to go to a gas station that’s normally off the beaten path for me, but it’s closer to where I pick her up. I pull in, see the price, and do a fist pump. It’s four cents cheaper than where I planned to fill up in the first place. See, it’s okay when life doesn’t go as planned, especially when you don’t meltdown about it. Life has a way of making up those disappointments, often times with something extra special. So be patient and stay happy.

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Stuffed Souls goes digital

If you have been holding out for my latest novel to go digital, your wish just got granted. Stuffed Souls is now available as an ebook. Come join the many readers who have discovered a twisted yet uplifting young adult story about overcoming your past to make a better future. Click on the book below for a direct link to Amazon.com. Please feel free to share the link with your friends.

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An almost daily battleground

Losing is never easy but it is an inescapable part of life. In fact, when all is said and done with whatever life you chose to lead, I can guarantee you’ll experience more losses than wins. But don’t fear this truth. Losses do not—and should not—mean the end of the world. They make our victories that much sweeter.

My youngest son has discovered the sport of tennis this summer. He’s absolutely addicted. I learned to play a little in college so I’ve become his practice partner. He’s almost eleven but I’m such an unpracticed newbie at this sport we’re pretty evenly matched. For the first few mornings, he and I just worked on trying to keep our volley return hits in the court and not over the fence. Between all the laughter and running our game improved. Finally, he told me he wanted to play a real game.

I agreed but needed to review the rules and scoring to refresh my memory. The first full game took all seven sets to decide the victor. He fought hard but I managed to squeak out the win. As his mom I knew better than to gloat, but he still wasn’t happy on the car ride home.

“We should have just stopped at the tie,” he said referring to the situation we had after the sixth set.

“No, there are no ties in tennis. Someone must win and someone must lose. Those are the rules.” I’m a big believer in not glossing over the realities of life, so I wasn’t going to do it here.

He finally sucked up his disappointment and the next morning seemed just as excited to play another game. Again, with our strengths and weaknesses so evenly matched, we ended up tied after the sixth set. The determination in his eyes as he fought to reach every shot I volleyed back was fun to watch.

It was a tight set, but he beat me fair and square in the end. He whooped for joy and jumped around—gloating like a child of almost eleven is prone to do. I didn’t mind, but if this continues, we might have to discuss the importance of being humble. 😉

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A world beyond the box you see yourself in

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the many things I’ve learned to do over the years. Now mind you, I’m not awesome at everything I can do. Okay, I’m not awesome at most things I can do but the point is, I’m more than what I thought I would be when I was a teenager.

I had a very narrow view of my life back then. I played softball and didn’t like overly girly things—like the color pink, posters of boybands, or sewing. “I can’t do that,” is something I said far too often.

I can’t exactly pinpoint when I stopped being that person, maybe because it was such a gradual change, but the words “I can’t” never leave my lips anymore. By removing these words from my life, my enjoyment of sports now goes way beyond just softball. I know my way around a sewing machine. I’ve even discovered I look good in certain shades of pink.  And my love of music, ranges from the downright classical opera to some of the hip-hopiest out there.

You can, and should, do the same. Let go of the preconceived notions you have about yourself. Jump at every opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. Live your life with the courage to truly try everything and you’ll be just as amazed as I am at how much more you can become.

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