Love Will Break Your Heart

What’s wrong with the world is the romantic comedies, Aida thought.

She’d watched Moonstruck a million times. She loved when Ronnie said, “Love don’t make things nice. It breaks your heart. It ruins everything.” Because that’s what Aida thought about love. Of course, in the movie Ronnie and Loretta ended up together. It wasn’t like that in real life. Aida knew that much was true.

Gabe died on a Monday eighteen months before. He had been sick for years. And yet, Aida still thought about him all the time. In the shower, she washed her hair and had conversations with him. Shampoo. Gabe, I miss you, why’d you leave me? Rinse. Gabe’s answer: I didn’t have a choice. Conditioner. Come back to me. Rinse. Gabe’s answer: I can’t. Love will break your heart.

For a while, Aida thought she had gone crazy. And for a while, she thought maybe she was talking to herself. Then she started reading about telepathy. She and Gabe were connected by a string. String theory, she’d never learned that in college, but knew it didn’t involve talking to your dead boyfriend through your mind. Could you really have telepathy with someone who had already left the earth? Aida wasn’t so sure.

On a Friday night, she sat on her couch with a bowl of homemade popcorn, watching Moonstruck for the thousandth time.

“What I need is to break the connection,” she said aloud to her cat, Ringo, to the ghost of Gabe, and to Loretta on the T.V. screen.

In bed that night, she stared at the popcorn ceilings. She thought about how much Gabe hated those popcorn ceilings. We should smooth those down, he said. I don’t want a big project, she had said. Now his scorn of the popcorn ceilings blossomed in her heart. She thought of his face, the feel of his hands on her body, before he had left her. She imagined a silvery blue string, and she cut the string. She imagined him flying into outer space as if he were an astronaut free falling away from the spaceship, floating further and further into oblivion. As his face disappeared, she sobbed and cried herself to sleep.

She woke up looking at the popcorn ceilings, and promptly threw up, just barely making it to the bathroom in time. The scum on the toilet haunted her, but she didn’t have the energy to clean it. She crawled back into bed cocooning herself in the warmth of the comforter. Sometimes she thought she could smell Gave in the comforter still. Once she came across one of his half-eaten candy bars, hidden in the top of the kitchen cabinet, and she bit into it as if eating it could bring him back to her. That was when she first thought she was crazy.

She stayed in bed for three days, calling into work and working through delirium mixed with hysteria with a touch of vomit. On the fourth day, she woke up, showered, put on clothes, and pulled a brush through the rat’s nest that had become her hair. She drove over to the Home Depot on 51st Street and walked in. At first she didn’t know why she had driven there. It seemed as if some invisible force had led her to the Home-Do-It center.

“Hi, I’m Bryan, how can I help you?”

Bryan had sandy blonde hair, and blue eyes. He had a smile like Ronnie in Moonstruck. Aida smiled back at him.

“I need to get rid of my popcorn ceilings. Can you help me?”

“Sure, come with me.”

Aida opened her eyes and stared at the white expanse of smooth ceiling above her head. She turned over in her bed and put her arms around Bryan’s waist. He turned toward her, and he kissed her lips.

Thanks Gabe, for showing me how to wipe the slate clean, she thought, as she snuggled against Bryan and fell back into the arms of sleep.

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I Held Your Heart Once

Here’s a short story (748 words) I wrote for Chuck Wendig’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below:

I Held Your Heart Once

“I told you this was a bad idea!” he shouted.

Yeah, as if the entire idea had been mine. We sat in the house on the gray floor, my fingers almost completely numb. I wanted to shove a knife under his ribs. I plastered a faux smile on my face.

“You start the fire then.”

“Fine,” he said, grabbing the stick and the stone from me.

I studied El’s face as the light in the windows began to recede and the bitter wind howled. His cheeks were gaunt. When we’d left they’d been full of meat. Now, we both looked like shadow people; skinnier than we ever should have been. The lines of dirt on his cheekbones would have made him look like a football player if he were bigger. But now they accentuated the emaciated look of his face.

I tried to blow the blue out of my fingers.

El shouted at the stick as if it had ears.

I went to the door.

“What the fuck are you going to do, Mare?”

“Going somewhere else. I mean we’ll freeze to death in here.”

“It’s safe and it’s warm.”

“It’s not warm.”

“It’s warmer than out there.”

I looked out the window. The ferocious snow fell barricading us into this desolate place. We were stuck, and it was my bad idea that had brought us up here. I thought there’d be food, maybe canned goods. But when we opened the door a vacuous wasteland of dust greeted us. The back window had a crack letting in a constant stream of cold air and snow. No wood, except for wet, snow-bound logs sitting on the crumbling front porch. I could feel El’s hostility aimed at me like an arrow.

“I mean who the fuck goes up the mountain. We should have been going down.”

My heart felt like a worn stone in my chest. I stood by the door, not opening it, with my back to him. He struck the rock against the stick. Heat remained aloof. There was friction in the air but not enough to start a fire.

“My hands are numb,” I said. I turned toward him.

He put the rock and stick down and looked at me. I could see his old face hidden in his new one. The old face I’d fallen in love with. His eyes which had looked cold softened and his face crinkled into a smile. His smile warmed me up, and I felt the once familiar spark. The one that had been missing for awhile now, the one that reminded me that I’d held his heart once.

“Come here.”

I stood still.

He stood up and walked toward me, measured steps through the dust of the room. He pulled my shirt off before I could say no. His hands on my breast warmed me up. Body heat, the natural generator. He took off his shirt and grabbed my hands. He warmed them with his, rubbing them together like the stick and the stone. He placed my hands on his chest.

He slid down my pants then pulled down his. I shivered, and he wrapped his arms around me. We were like two unlit pieces of coal trying to catch an elusive spark. I felt him enter me and shivered again. We had not made love in ages.

“I don’t have a condom.”

“It’s okay.” It wasn’t.

Our bodies moved together filling the cabin with warmth. I imagined soft lights. I imagined a rope bed with a soft mattress, blankets covering us. I imagined the smell of chicken cooking in the oven. I imagined our children.

When I blinked, I felt his hip bone against my inner thigh. I’d never felt his hip bone before. The barrenness of the cabin stole my fantasy. He moaned and I squeezed my arms around him trying to find the heat in what should have been passion. I didn’t want the fantasy of what we once had to end. But he pushed hard, climaxed, and rolled off of me. The frigid air pierced my sweat-smothered skin. El sat with his back to me and took up the stone and stick again.

I had been wrong to come here. He’d held my heart once but it has since shattered like an icicle.

A sudden spark rose from the stick. El lit the wood then turned to look at me with fire in his eyes.

The smoke was blue and grey and smelled like a promise.

Snow Mountain

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Failing At Life

Last year, Hubs and I went on a vacation to Mexico. We try to do vacations on our own at least once a year. I’m a travel fiend, and I also think it’s good for a marriage to have time to reconnect with each other without children being present.

We drove to a Cenote one day to rappel into (scariest but most amazing day of my life), and on the way back to the resort we drove through some small Mexican villages.

Descending into the Cenote

Our tour guide said, “I know you look at this and see poverty. I know you look at this and feel sorry for these people. Please don’t. This is the way they live. They have a simple way of life, and they are happy. They have everything they need: food, shelter, water, and love.” In essence, those people who look to us like they have nothing actually have their priorities straight.

We have gotten a lot of things wrong in the United States over the last few decades. We have also gotten a lot of things right. I love our country but sometimes I think we tend to focus on the unimportant things. To feel fulfilled and nurtured, we need social connection.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been failing at life. But, honestly, I think it’s our way of life that is failing me. It’s not meeting my needs. It’s making me feel far away from people. It’s literally making me lonely. I think we all need to step back and take a good, hard look at our lives and realize what’s really important in the end: love and family. Because we shouldn’t only feel connected to one another on vacation.

iPhones were invented as a way to help people connect socially, but they achieved the exact opposite. Now, we use our iPhones to shut one another out. How many people do you see every day walking around staring at a screen instead of what’s around them? I do this too. I come home from work every day, and my children are glued to their screens. We make them put them down for dinner, and lately, only because I needed and wanted a change in our family dynamic I’ve been doing other things with them at night to show them my love. Children thrive off of attention. When they don’t get it, they turn to electronics thinking it will feed their deep biological need for love and nurturing BUT IT DOESN’T!  Our families feel further apart than ever as we partake in technology, loving our electronics more than the living breathing people who should feel like they are the most important part of our lives.

And schedules. Work has become the driving force of America. That’s what happens in a capitalist economy where everything revolves around how many THINGS one person can buy. No thing will make you happy. People, with their cellphones, can now be reached 24 hours a day. They don’t know how to put their work away and truly relax. They are always available. This creates needless stress to them and to their families. Because while they might be available to work they are not emotionally available at home. It’s very hard to maintain a true presence while having one foot in the work-world and one foot in the domestic-world. Neither gets your full attention. Mistakes are made at work, and at home families suffer from lack of enough quality time with one another.

Parents, including me, over-schedule their kids and run ourselves ragged trying to get them everywhere, even as they juggle a job and their own social life.

Yesterday, I took Darling Daughter to OT at 2 PM (feeling bad I was missing work–trapped between two worlds that demand so much of me), came home for about an hour, did homework with the kids, took Son Number One to tutoring, and then met Hubby at the soccer field to pick up Son Number Two and Darling Daughter so we could eat and see a friend play. I didn’t get home until 9 PM, and by that time I was so riled up that I’d made myself angry. I shouted at my Hubby because I over-scheduled my day and felt worn ragged.

I wonder what kind of effect our always-on-the-go-no-down-time lifestyle is having on our kids. There’s no time to sit and reflect on life. Kids are bored without electronics. They need to be constantly entertained and so many of them don’t know how to have a real-life conversation unless they’re doing it through FaceTime. It’s no wonder people feel isolated and alone. It’s no wonder mental illness is on the rise.

We can learn something from that small Mexican village. What’s most important in life is meeting basic needs and LOVE. We are social creatures, and we thrive off of interaction with each other. Babies have failure to thrive if they are not treated with love, touched, hugged, and cared for. Why is it so hard for us to understand this lesson and bring it into our Western way of life?

Lauren and Hubs Ek Balam

Hubs and me at Ek Balam

When was the last time you stopped and enjoyed the little things? When was the last time you looked up from your phone to experience a moment of awe (the sun rising, the moon glowing, the waves crashing on the beach?)? When was the last time you sat down with your family, put away all the electronics, and really enjoyed one another? 

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Finished

I wrote this for Terribleminds again. But I did have an agenda having to do with the Orlando shooting. Originally, I was just going to post this as a reconciliation story. In fact, I’d written something completely different. But in the light of what happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, I wanted to humanize the tragedy. I think so often, we aren’t able to see the human component of death and tragedy, because we are so desensitized by the media and the violence we see on television.


Finished – 836 words

Pounding. Like my head. I twist around in the sweaty sheets and stare at the numbers on the clock: 3:00 AM. The pounding continues. I try to grasp my bearings. I have no idea where I am. I switch on the light to see the impersonalization of a lonely hotel room.

Feet on soft carpet, but all I can think of is the grime of others feet before me. I realize when I’m almost to the door I’m completely naked. I turn around and walk over the sea of germs to the bed, pulling the sheet off and wrapping it around me like a toga.

When I get back to the door I look through the peep hole, but I can’t see anything. There’s something wrong with it—a little crack in the glass maybe—and so I open the door. And he’s standing there. I put my hands up to stop him from coming in but he stumbles forward, pushing back with both of his hands into my chest. I’m scared but it’s a silly feeling because I know he’s not going to hurt me.

He sinks on to the bed like it’s a sponge and puts his face into his hands. And he sobs. Giant ragged cries and inhuman noises escape his throat. They are noises no one should have to hear. And in a stunned moment I drop the sheet, standing naked in the middle of the hotel room with the door wide open. I slam it shut and gather the sheet bunching it up ineffectively under one of my arms so one breast is still visible, but I do not care.

As I cross the hotel room to him, I feel like I’m traveling a million miles and still unsure whether I’ll reach him. His sobs are becoming louder, and I feel a pit of sorrow lodge in my stomach even though I don’t know what’s wrong. I drop to my feet in front of him, placing my hands on the rough fabric of his jeans. His arms wrap around me and he leans his head down onto my shoulder. I can feel the ocean of his tears swimming down my back as his breaths become less jagged.

Finally he takes a deep breath and sits up straight. His hair falls in front of his eyes, and he pushes it back the way he always does with two fingers. I pull back and away from him and feel vulnerable and exposed, sitting naked in front of him.

“How’d you find me?” I ask. “And 3 in the morning?”

“One of your friends told me where you were,” he says.

“Lowell—”

“Shh.” His fingers are on my lips. Soft and inviting.

I hadn’t seen him in a month. Walked out. And as far as I knew he’d gone on with his life. The tears seemed too little too late. He wraps his arms around me again. I feel comfortable in his arms. Our bodies fit together as cliché as it sounds. I was never one of those people who believe in that hokey nonsense of we complete each other or soulmates.

When Lowell and I were together we laughed at each other’s jokes even when they weren’t funny. We didn’t resent each other. We argued and fought and found solutions. And I thought everything was as perfect as it could be for two tragically flawed human beings in love. But I’d been wrong. Because things fall apart. And our relationship began to unravel like an old quilt. One day, I left. I changed my number and walked out. I stayed with my friend for a few weeks. And about a week ago, I convinced my boss to put me up in temporary housing at an extended stay. After all, the reason I live in Orlando is for my job. I would have never moved here if it weren’t for Disney.

Lowell’s fingers slide into my hair. His lips are pressing against my forehead. And we kiss. He undresses and we make love with our bodies wrapped together and entwined like we have never been broken apart. Afterwards, we stare at each other. The soft pads of his fingertips trace the lines on my cheeks as if he is memorizing every part of my face. He starts crying too feeling lost and alone in his arms.

“The shooting last night,” Lowell begins. He seems to choke on the words. “Luis was there. Dad called me and told me today he couldn’t get a hold of him. He asked me to go by his apartment and check on him. He wasn’t there.”

My world sinks. It becomes dark. The hotel room looks concave. I want to faint. Lowell grabs my hands and pulls me closer to him. Skin on skin. Warmth. Love. We hold each other. The tears travel down my face.

“And he’s in the hospital?” I can hear the false lilt of hope in my voice.

“He’s not answering his phone.”

The world as I knew it crumbles into little pieces and breaks apart. I feel like I’m floating. Lowell pulls me closer and the ugly sobs of earlier return. We hold each other, and I try to comfort him. But I can’t.


How do you comfort someone who loses a loved one to a hate crime? There are ways to fix this problem, but we as Americans have to take action. We have to say no to the people who won’t compromise. Does the American public really need access to AK-47s and other assault weapons? The answer is no. Having fair gun control is not banning all guns. It doesn’t even affect your 2nd Amendment right. It simply makes it harder for people to gain access to guns they can use to exercise hate and small mindedness. These types of guns were created for the military, not for civilian use.

Unfortunately, the Orlando shooting has divided a lot of people instead of uniting us. But our brothers and sisters in the LBGTQ community have been affected. We need to use this as a reminder to teach our children that hate is wrong. We need to teach them love and acceptance. In the light of this shooting, it’s hard for me to understand how people are attacking Muslims. This spreads more hate against a minority group of people within our country. Not all Muslims are radicalized terrorists. In fact, the majority of them aren’t. When are we going to learn that judging others by the color of their skin, their race, their gender, and their religious beliefs is simply not productive?  If you think that way then you might want to look in the mirror, because studies shows white extremists have killed more people in the U.S. than Jidhadists since 9/11. The only thing you’re doing by spreading that false information is creating more hate, which leads to more crime and violence. Don’t we want a world in which our children can grow up safe and accepted? It’s time to stop the blame and create a solution. Enough is enough.


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Love, Not Hate

Enough Gun Violence

I debated blogging about Orlando. More because I couldn’t face having to blog about another senseless tragedy yet again. My children are growing up in a world where anyone can purchase guns with the intent of committing mass murder. Nothing is stopping them from doing this. They’re able to get a hold of guns easily. They’re able to take innocent human lives. The brothers, sisters, sons, daughters of someone.

The news media is blaming ISIS. An American who had been twice-investigated by the FBI purchased two guns to commit this horrible hate crime. He pledged allegiance to ISIS. But if he hadn’t have been able to purchase those guns in the first place, because of a background check then the violence on this scale would never have happened.  The US lacks a system that can stop the scale of gun-related violence and death. In 2015, 12,942 people were killed in gun homicide (*Statistic from The Trace).  We need gun control reform, pure and simple. And while that’s a hot issue, it needs to be addressed. Innocent people will keep being killed if there aren’t reforms put into place to monitor who guns are sold to and what types of guns are sold. Why do assault weapons need to be sold to the general public when their whole intention is to kill other human beings? Americans throw up their hands and mourn, but we fail to do anything to fix the problem.

I can tell you that hate is never going to be eradicated. Terrorists are never going to cease to exist. They’ve existed from the beginning of time. It’s human nature to fight, be aggressive, and to hate. The way to get to the route of this problem is to institute a fair system for purchasing guns. I’m all for hunting rifles. And yes, there will still be accidents and killings with hunting rifles, but I can tell you if guns are harder to get the level of mass shootings that take place will drop dramatically.

I have a lot of friends who are part of the LGBTQ community. And I can tell you, their hearts are breaking. I’m not gay, but I can’t even imagine having to live with the level of discrimination they receive every day. Some people defend their discrimination as Christian, but do you think Jesus Christ would really be happy with you spreading hate instead of acceptance?

Religion Hate

I know this post is rambling and not cohesive, but I’m just so mad. The LGBTQ community has fought so hard for legislation to become accepted in this country. I’m hoping this coward’s action will solidify the love for the LGBTQ community instead of spur more hate. I’m hoping it will spur gun reform, but I know that’s not realistic because of all the money the NRA has in politicians’ hands.

As a regular citizen, we’re capable of doing a few things:

  • Show outrage that people were killed.
  • Vote in politicians who want gun control reform.
  • Write to your senators, or anyone in politics who might listen.
  • Throw Your Support Behind Gun Control
  • Teach your children to be accepting of people, even if they’re different from you.
  • Hate starts at home. Treat your children and others the way you’d want to be treated to eliminate hate.
  • Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Think about how you’d feel if you were always called derogatory names, targeted for hate crimes, and excluded from churches based on who you loved.

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School Girl Crush

Yesterday, I wrote a scene for a work in progress about a childhood crush. In this yet-to-be-named novel I’m writing, the man had a childhood crush on a girl who spent the summers with him in Cape Cod. At a certain point, she never comes back. He spends his life tracking her down, and then stalking her until they meet again under strange circumstances on the METRO in Washington D.C. This scene had me thinking about my own crushes through my lifetime.

When I turned 12, which was a lifetime ago, my dad decided he wanted us to have family time by learning how to SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Yes, I had a privileged youth. I remember the nights we spent in the pool, learning how to breathe underwater. I also remember the book I was handed to study up on SCUBA, because all SCUBA divers have to pass a written test, even the twelve year olds.

Lauren SCUBA

That book with its blue cover sat by my bedside as I simultaneously thought of boys and played with Barbies. I had entered that time in my life where my body was changing and I was going through puberty, but I still loved my dolls. I straddled the line between childhood and adulthood, not sure where I belonged yet. As an aside, I also wore a heck of a lot of Laura Ashley jumpers. Twelve year olds today do not dress the way we did in the early 1990’s that’s for sure.

When the test day came I stared at the problems, and they looked like gobbly-gook. In all truth, I think there was a whole lot of Algebra. Math wasn’t my forte, and I hadn’t even started Algebra yet. (Now they seem to start it in Kindergarten, but then they didn’t).

And so, Phil, a tall, buff, blonde dive-pro at the shop sat next to me and gave me hints. He knew I knew the rules and how to dive. He just needed to give me a little bit of encouragement, so I could pass. And pass I did, with his help.

I’m sure dive-pro Phil knew I was in love with him. I made it blatantly obvious. I followed him around like a puppy-dog. I asked for him to be my dive partner on numerous occasions. I thought, me, a twelve year old child had a chance with this grown-up twenty-five year old man.

And Phil, knowing I was a child, dealt with it in such a nice way. He was kind. He didn’t blow me off. He never belittled me or was condescending. I’ll never forget, on one of our dive trips—I can’t remember if this was in Florida or in the Cayman’s—my mom burst her eardrum. I wanted to go back out in the water, because I was looking for sand dollars. So Phil went out with me, and he dragged his knife through the sand so we could find our way back to the boat, and took me out to a whole colony of sand dollars. This meant so much to my twelve-year old heart. He dealt with my school-girl crush with such grace, but he also gave me no allusions that he reciprocated (thank God—I was just a child).

Now I’m a grown-up, and I know the crush on dive-pro Phil was an adolescent awakening to the world of love and romance for me. It’s funny thinking back on those days and remembering how young and naïve I was. I had many more crushes after that, and I’m sure people had crushes on me. That’s just the way it goes. But the thing that makes crushes feel so poignant is the impossibility involved that doesn’t exist in a loving relationship. A crush is just that, a crush, and if it never moves forward it wanes and dies and both parties move on with their lives.

I don’t remember how I felt when I heard dive-pro Phil was getting married. I remember thinking it was logical, because he was an adult. But being only twelve or thirteen years old, it didn’t hit me the same way as other crushes who rejected me, who went on to get married, who left me when I felt like I needed them the most, or who moved on when they should have for the benefit of us both.

The thing about crushes, as illustrated in this story, is that they can teach you about love. Dive-pro Phil looked at me as a child, someone he could help teach to dive. He mentored me, and taught me about kindness, which is such a huge aspect of love. And he did it in a way that was appropriate, even knowing that I had a school-girl crush on him. I’ve learned a lot from all the crushes I’ve had, because pain also brings insight. I moved on and I learned how to apply that knowledge to my relationships, and now to my marriage.

Interestingly enough, another Phil came along when I was in college, and I thought I loved him so much. I put him on a pedestal, and I didn’t walk away even when he hurt me. I didn’t walk away even when I started hurting him. He was my best friend, my confidante, but the truth is a relationship wouldn’t have worked between us because we didn’t know how to communicate our deepest feelings with one another. It made the time we had together thrilling and fun, but it also made it hurtful, confusing, and frustrating. It took me a long time to move on from Phil2, and my relationship with my now-husband suffered because of my grief associated with losing my friendship with Phil2 and the possibility of what could have been between us. Once I processed all those heavy emotions, my relationship with my husband grew.

Crushes crush. They’re intense, yes, but they’re meant to end. Relationships bring a whole new level of love to your life, one that grows and changes with time. A crush is fleeting and not meant to last forever, but a lesson for how to love in your true and meaningful relationships.

Who was your first crush?

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Forgiveness

Maybe I’m just sappy and sentimental, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my life this past week or two and how much I’ve grown this year as a person. My life has not always been easy, and I’m sure those of you who know me personally know how much I’ve struggled in the past few years. I’ve struggled to find myself. I’ve struggled in my marriage. I’ve struggled in my relationships. I’ve struggled with the ugly “D” word: depression.

Today as I drove to work I felt happy and fulfilled as I reflected back on my year. And I realized the reason I felt happy was because I intentionally chose happiness.  As I lay in bed last night, talking to my husband, I said, “I love myself so much. And if you can’t love yourself then you can can’t love anyone else, right?” “Right,” he said. He’s not much of a talker. But I’m sure his mind was thinking something like, here she goes “self-philosophizing Lauren again.” But it’s true. It takes self-love in order to make yourself happy and in order to be able to give back to others.

A couple of days ago I posted on a few boards I’m a member of asking people to state the theme of their year. The answers were insightful, interesting, painful, sad, tragic, funny, happy—all rolled into one. And it made me think about how all of those adjectives describe life and are what make it worth living.

My theme of the year was forgiveness. First I forgave myself.  Then I forgave my husband, my parents, my siblings, my friends, and anyone who I have ever perceived as doing me wrong. But it started with ME. I forgave myself for all my faults. I forgave myself for feelings of love I can’t control. I forgave myself for living in the past too often. I forgave myself for yelling at the kids, having a short fuse, not saying no enough, being too busy, not reaching my goals when I wrote, and for failing to clean my bathroom often enough. I forgave myself all those little strings of self-hate that build up inside of us and make us unhappy with ourselves. And it was hard. Self-doubt crept in. Guilt crept in. Sadness lay sickly sweet right below the surface of my skin.  It was a process—much like grieving and moving on. I back slid. I fell into depression, but I realized where the depression came from, worked through it, and didn’t let it trap me.

I wrote with a vengeance for the first time in years. I soaked up everything I’ve learned in my meager 36 years and put it on paper. I made new friends. I lost a few friends. I missed old friends. I reconnected with old friends. I grieved relationships whose seasons had expired but found happiness in the temporariness of those relationships as well.  And through it all, I realized forgiveness is key. Letting go of the need to control. Losing expectations of others while maintaining expectations of yourself. Making yourself happy and choosing to live in a way that’s giving to other people without feeling the need for reciprocation. Telling myself that I’m doing the best I can and loving myself for it. That was my lesson for 2015.

What is forgiveness you may ask?

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.

I don’t want to be a victim of myself anymore. I don’t want to blame others for the mistakes I’ve made. I don’t want to not pursue my dreams because pursuing them is hard. I want to be able to let go of the negativity and stop living in a permanent state of self-hatred. I want to love myself for who I am and realize that flaws are what make us beautiful as humans. I want to love other people, all of their flaws and scars and human-stuff and realize the only person I can control is myself and be okay with that.

This year, I decided to stop feeling guilty for my own feelings. Instead of embracing guilt, hate, and anger this year I chose to embrace love and it changed my whole perspective on life.

If you can’t forgive yourself then you can’t forgive others. We all have baggage. We have all been hurt by the people we’re closest to. We can use hate, guilt, and ugliness to drive stakes into our own hearts, our marriages, the lives of our children, or we can turn it around and be compassionate, loving, and we can give to others even when it’s so hard to do. This is forgiveness.

Live your life with love and you’ll be rewarded with love. Live your life with hate and all you’ll get back is hate.


 

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Write What You Want

Today, I had the pleasure of reading What We Most Want by William Kenower. It seemed like a sign for me to have stumbled upon this article, because I had no idea what I wanted to write this morning. And until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know I wanted to write Southern Literature either.

I dabbled in many genres. I wrote No Turning Back, a woman’s fiction, love triangle, with an unexpected ending. After writing that book, I wrote The Devil Within in about two weeks. After finishing The Devil Within, I felt like I couldn’t finish anything else. I wrote a Southern psychological thriller or coming-of-age or who-knows-what-genre-it-falls-into-because-I-hate-classification called Little Birdhouses. Then I toyed around with a story about swingers (I’ve since shelved this–thank God!). I started several nondescript manuscripts, but I couldn’t put myself into any of them and I didn’t know why.

About a week before I attended Midwest Writer’s, Anna Kate’s voice invaded my head and told me to write her story–the one I’ve been holding on to for fifteen years and is set in rural Alabama in the 1920’s. I finally felt ready to do her story justice–even though it’s truly a labor of love, with tons of research, because let’s face it: I’ve never been a tenant farmer’s daughter. At Midwest Writer’s, someone asked me what I wrote, and I had a sudden realization it was Southern Literature or Southern fiction, or whatever you want to call it. And it makes sense. Because it’s who I am and it’s what I want to write. We all know I love to write tragic stories and what better fodder for stories than the tumultuous South! I started writing what I wanted, and the words started flowing. Writing Southern fiction makes me happy and it made me LOVE my work, just like William Kenower said in his article. Be true to yourself.

About once a week, with my Writing Wenches, someone brings up that we should all just write about falling in love with your stepbrother, because these books do well. It’s tongue-in-cheek, because none of us are ready to sell out. The point being, you might make a ton of money doing that (doubtful, because writing to trend when you don’t love what you’re doing can make you burn out quickly), but you wouldn’t be happy. If you don’t write what you love then the words are just symbols on a page with no meaning. Your reader can pick up on your enthusiasm in your writing from the feeling and emotion that the words tend to take when you’re writing something you love. If you love writing step-brother romances then I say go for it!

As for me, I’ll take the inspiration I received from reading The Sound and the Fury, Cold Sassy Tree, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and To Kill A Mockingbird (among thousands of other Southern novels I read), and I’ll write what I love. 

What do you think? Do you write what you love? When you read a book, can you tell if the author was truly inspired and loved what he/she was doing?


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Devil Within by Lauren Greene

The Devil Within

by Lauren Greene

Giveaway ends August 31, 2015.

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H is for Hughie

Being a parent is hard. I should know. I have three little kids. Kids don’t live up to their parents’ expectations. They’re not born to fulfill their parents’ lost dreams or to make their parents’ lives better.  They’re born to live their OWN lives. They need to be guided and loved and accepted for who they are. For a long time, after I realized my oldest son functioned differently, I felt lost. I didn’t want life to be harder for him. And sometimes–a lot of times–HE makes his life harder.  All I can do is show him love, support, and get him the help he needs when he needs it.  Kids need to feel like they’re loved for who they are, unconditionally. Parents need to be able to set aside any misgivings they have to achieve that properly. And I bet you’re wondering how this relates to “Hughie.”

Well today, I wrote for Microbookends about Hughie, whose father can’t or won’t accept her for what she is.  It’s a sad tale, but someone in Hughie’s family (probably his mother) obviously accepts her for who she is, as witnessed by the objects in her room. The bookends were “play” and “boy.”


Born a Boy
@laurenegreene
109 words

“Play ball, Hughie,” Dad said.

The metal bat crashed against the innocent heads of the dolls. Porcelain shards littered the room like a murder scene: one eye, half a smile, and a broken nose.

Hughie, in her princess bed, grasped her bunny lovey as she pulled the covers up to her chin.

The acrid smell of alcohol stung her nostrils as Dad stumbled toward her.

He yanked the bunny out of her arms and threw the window open. Hughie and Dad watched as the bunny fluttered like a feather then landed on a rock below.

He spat the words. “I’ll never call you Lily. You were born a boy.”


I know my kids will go through that period where they hate me, and they blame me for every mistake in their life. I’m okay with that, as long as they know I love them and that I’ll accept them.

Here’s a picture of my three little monsters. You can so get a hint of their personalities from this. Oldest is in the stage where he won’t smile. Middle is silly. Little is sweet (and she has a sweet in her mouth too!)

IMG_2565

Frayne’s Sacrifice

What else could F be for but Flash Fiction? Today’s story was done for Finish That Thought and for Mid-Week Blues-Buster. I killed two birds with one stone. Both of these were difficult for me today. The song on MWBB didn’t really inspire me, and I don’t consider myself a sci-fi writer at all, so using an alien protagonist for Finish That Thought was difficult for me.

Frayne’s Sacrifice
@laurenegreene
490 words

It was the night of a blood red moon. His fourth trip to Earth to look for Basha. Frayne hated this place. Last time he’d come, he landed right in a drone path. Took all his power to steer his ship to safety. He couldn’t understand a whole world intent on killing each other.

He stumbled around in the dark, staring up at the moon. The last of four blood red moons from 2014 to 2015. He knew the Christians of the earth thought this was religiously significant. Frayne laughed at that, shaking his head at their lack of astronomical knowledge.  They’d been using Christianity to explain natural phenomena for centuries. He didn’t know what Basha saw in these earth people, and he was sick of looking for her. She needed to take her rightful place next to him on the throne of Planet Bingo, where they would rule and reproduce as necessary, and then their little spawn would take over after their time was up.  Until he found her, their duty could not be fulfilled and he would feel incomplete.

The red barn stood at the edge of the field.  The farmhouse was in the distance, lights dancing in the windows. He snuck up to the house, and folded down upon himself until his knees were touching the grass. He placed his hands on the edge of the window frame and peeked into the house.

Basha was in the kitchen, making a meal. She was moving as he’d never seen anyone move before, swaying her hips. The human man walked up behind her, and what was he holding? Was that a baby human? Frayne saw the paleness of the baby’s skin and the truth hit him like a penny falling from a hundred foot building. Basha had reproduced with this earthling. He glanced back through the window, and as he was about to turn and walk away the screen door opened.

“Frayne—come out from behind there. I can sense your presence, you know.”

Frayne unfolded his seven foot body and stomped over to Basha.

“We were to be married. You could have had this on Bingo.”

She shook her head, and he noticed she was holding the half-earthling, its little fists waving in the air.

“I could never have this, Frayne. The earthlings believe in family. There’s is a love so eternal; I can feel it in my core.”

“You’ve seen the wars, same as I have.”

“They fight because they’re so passionate. It is something you could never understand, unless you let yourself live as one. They love as no others love.”

“I don’t understand this thing you call love.”

“It’s a feeling—something you can’t touch.”

“I’ll tell the council you died,” Frayne said.

“You’ll do that for me?”

“It’s what you want.”

She walked back toward the dim light of the farmhouse, but turned around to look at Frayne one more time.

“That’s love, Frayne.”