Monday, February 22, 2016

Dancing in the Sun

I am a 35-year-old woman. Mother of three. Wife to one. And most of my life, I have felt like none of the above. In fact, most of my life, I’ve felt like nothing.

I took my first round of SAT testing when I was twelve. I enrolled in my first college class at the tender age of sixteen. I graduated with an Animal and Veterinary Science degree—and a business minor.

I have a waiting list for both editing and tax clients—and yet, for months of the year, I feel like an utter failure.

When the leaves fall and the sun turns in early, my heart shrivels a little inside. By Thanksgiving, I’m gripping my pillow at night, staring at the walls and wishing for sleep. When Christmas comes, I see only disappointment in the mirror. I fight for my children to feel happy—and more than likely, overcompensate for my own sorrow.

But the longest night, the scariest hour is the night of my birthday in January. More years than I care to admit, I’ve been on the edge of sanity, my toes creeping over the ledge. The temptation to jump pulling at my legs.

A proper diagnosis, therapy and medication has lifted the darkness a bit, exposing only a dense fog instead of the unending night. But if I glance over my shoulder, I still see the cloud.

Instead of hiding my mood disorder, I’ve begun confiding in friends (who’ve become family). One of which is a doctor living just a few blocks away. On my birthday, she offered a present with a smile—a flower that dances in the sun.

It was a small gesture, but that little flower keeps me in the light. It’s funny what we’ll do to see a dance, even if we can’t hear the music.

Friday, February 19, 2016


To every action there is an opposite and equal reaction...
Forget about Newton's third law of motion, this entry applies to the third law of emotion. Where there is peace, there is pain.
My family lives in the southern tip of California’s San Joaquin Valley, a county completely opposite of the rest of the state. Instead of glitz and glamour we have acres of orchards and cow ridden fields. 

My backyard (of an acre) is bordered by an equestrian easement, a trail connecting my property to several hundred acres of trails. We have two dozen fruit and nut trees, and a garden that could feed a small army (literally). 
My children wake up to feed three dogs, four cats and forty chickens—and collect eggs to sell to their customers.
It’s idyllic. Perfect.
But where there’s peace, there’s also chaos.
Lovey, more than her sisters, holds each chicken, pets each dog and cradles each cat. Just as the sun goes down, she tucks her feathered and furry friends into bed. 
But one night, she forgot to check the gate.

At six the next morning Hermione ran inside, sobbing hysterically. She struggled to breathe before yelling, “the chickens!”
Damon and I ran to the outer yard and froze. Feathers everywhere. Feathers upon feathers. The chickens were scattered, most of them dead, their carcasses in pieces. Many were missing most of their feathers—others were missing vital organs.
All three dogs walked beside us, wagging their tails proudly. The older shepherd kept pointing to a large pile of dead chickens. In an attempt to keep the chickens alive, the dogs spent the night herding the chickens into a pile—killing them in the process.
Hermione was the first witness to the carnage. Followed by Lovey and Laura. There wasn’t enough hugs to dry their tears or bond their broken hearts. They’d spent the last year raising their herd from day old chicks to full grown, producing chickens. They used their egg money to buy flowers and cookies for their teachers (who were also their favorite customers). Every morning, every night they nurtured their little farm. It took only one night, one moment.

And one little girl who can’t forget why it all disappeared—little Lovey couldn’t stop crying. I drove the hour to the nearest hatchery and snagged forty chicks. 

It’s not the same, and the love is a little hesitant but slowly, ever so slowly the girls are cuddling the little chicks. And slowly…we’ll be in a place of peace.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Come, join us

For the first time in my life, I was recognized on the street for writing—and critiquing. A young woman read my blog about writing and asked how I began and how I keep going. I told her the following…

I coordinate and create critique groups for Writers of Kern, the local branch of CWC. Nestled between oil and agriculture, the San Joaquin Valley has produced a new generation of writers, and critique members.

Writers of Kern is the only professional club in the nation who offer its members the quality and quantity of critique groups—complimentary to all members.
Each group meets in person (or via skype) where each writer’s work is discussed, dissected and then heralded.

No other club holds club sanctioned critiques with each group consisting of vetted writers at an appropriate level of skill. No other club supports the critique leaders with biannual instruction. No other club holds an advanced group for that final polish before submitting to agents and editors.

Between blog challenges, writer contests and conferences—Writers of Kern wants nothing but your success. Come, join us in our ambitious adventure to change the way we write, the way we critique and the way we support each other.