I Am Published!!!

It’s been a while since I wrote here, mostly because I’ve been focused on one goal:  getting published as a fiction writer!  I have been terrified to put my work out there because you never know how it will be received, and there was a big part of me that worried that no one would like my work.  But guess what?  I was so very wrong!

I wrote a romance novel.  And I love it!  I think it’s quite good, and I finally got up the courage to self-publish a digital version on Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing.  Here’s the cover:

HALF Cover

My book follows the story of the romance between Alexandra Orsini and Clayton Michaels:

Alexandra Orsini loved her life in Seattle. Owner of her own financial advisory firm, enjoying all of the spoils the city has to offer, the last place she expected to be was on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming. But when her mentor calls in a favor to ask her to help out his oldest friends save their ranch called Michaels Mob, she simply can’t say no. 

Alex was ready to help a failing business, was ready for the challenge of the mid-western countryside, but she was not ready for Clayton Michaels. An angry cowboy, and father of two, seems hellbent on saving his ranch on his own. He got his family into this mess, and he’s too proud to let anyone help him, let alone some big city accountant who knows nothing of life on a ranch. 

Urban passion meets country pride in this story of family, devotion, and love. Can the cowboy get out of his own way to let the city girl help him? Will the fire that ignites between these two burn bright enough to save the Michaels Mob, or will it burn it to the ground?

People are buying my book.  Just a few people, but that’s how it starts!  And one person even reviewed it and said:

Great story, enjoyed the characters kept me interested will be reading the others in the series!! Recommend you read this book.

And the best part is the reviewer is a complete stranger!  People are reading it as a purchased kindle download, and others are reading is as part of their Kindle Unlimited subscription.  It’s amazing!

Others have asked for an actual physical book to purchase and I’m working on that.  But at the end of the day, I have a published book!  I did it myself!  I made it happen for myself!  I stopped being afraid to put myself out there and just did it!  And so far, it’s been well received.  And most importantly, it’s invigorated me to keep writing and work hard to do whatever it takes to become a professional writer!

If you’d like to read my book, you can order it here:  Have A Little Faith

Super important breadcrumb found!

Ciao for now,

M

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Krav Maga…aka, Awesome Workout aaaaaaaand I Got to Hit Stuff!!!!!!

Ikms-logon following through with my plan to check out Krav Maga Seattle, aka KMS, I got up early, ate a healthy breakfast in plenty of time to let it digest before I headed down to the gym.  It was really easy to find, and there was plenty of free street parking.  I walked in, was instantly greeted by Ally, who helped me get set up for my free week trial (this is usually $20, but there’s a special going on right now where the trial week of unlimited classes is free!  Can ya say kismet??) and I took a seat and watched the final few minutes of Krav Maga 2 class, and holy friggin wow!  That class was no joke!  The amount of self defense, combat training, and technique going on amongst these amazing athletes blew my mind!  I decided to just watch the Krav Maga level 1 class today, but was planning on taking the KMS Bag class, which I’ll get to soon.

So, Krav Maga Level 1….yeah, not for the faint of heart!  The pre-workout, good gawd, I got sore just watching the class.  And after about 10 minutes or so, they all partnered up and started working on punches.  There was every kind of body type, fitness level, skill level, and intensity out there.  The first timers to the class were well instructed and people were so willing to help them do things correctly.  The veterans were friggin inspiring.  One chick in particular, she had dreads and a black bandana and she was a beast!  Her technique was impeccable, her focus was formidable and her intensity was inspirational!  They moved on from punches, to working on knee strikes.  They then worked on getting out of a hold if someone grabs you around the neck from the back and tries to choke you.  I just loved everything I saw, and can’t wait to take my first level 1 class.  Ally taught the class with help from a few other instructors, with the owners keeping watch and shouting out words of encouragement and inspiration throughout.  Everyone gave 110% in that class, and it was a powerful thing to watch!

An hour after that I checked in, grabbed a pair of boxing gloves from the loaner bin, and headed to the mat for my first KMS Bag class.  And Chau, one of the owners started us off.  We all grabbed a jump rope and jumped for 5 minutes.  That doesn’t seem like that long, but when you haven’t jumped rope since the 80s, yeah, it was so long!!  I instantly realized how out of shape I am, but I fought through the pain.  Fought through the burn.  And lasted the full 5 mins.  After that, we did some across the floor work, engaging our core, warming up the entire body.  I felt slow, and weak, but I pushed through.  Then, Ally took over the class and we strapped into our gloves and all grabbed a heavy bag.  And that’s when the magic happened for me!  Not only was my body already sweaty and exhausted, but it was invigorated and craving more!  And this is what I was craving!  I got to hit on the heavy bag!

Working in 2-3minute intervals on different punches, it felt so good to get back to working on a heavy bag.  My body instantly remembered the form I need for accurate, effective punches.  I heard my grandfather’s voice in my head telling me to center, engage my abs, use my hips, keep the punches at shoulder level, and exhale.  And I did.  And it felt great!  All was well until we had to drop down and do sit-ups, and that quick change of level send the first wave of nausea and dizziness.  Coming off of 65 days without sugar made it tough because my body was low on fuel!  My pace may have been a lot slower than the rest of the class, but ya know what, I didn’t quit!  I went at my pace, but I didn’t quit!

I got back up and pushed through.  More dizziness came.  More nausea.  The coaches checked on me, I slowed my pace, but I didn’t quit.  And somehow, at the end of class, I was able to complete a pyramid series of punches, roundhouse kicks, and splays and did so without puking all over the gym!  It hurt.  It burned.  My brain and muscles were screaming for me to stop.  But my heart was too far into it.  My soul was too hell bent on finishing.  I remembered that I have the word Forza, which means Strength in Italian, on my arm for a reason!  I am stronger than I’ve been lately.  I am one tough bitch when I want to be, and I was NOT going to give up!  And when I finished, not only was I so proud of myself, but all the coaches gave me high fives and congratulations!

For the first time, in a long time, I felt so welcome somewhere new.  It felt like I finally found a place I belong!  And even though my heart was pounding out of my chest, I was breathing harder than I have in a long time, and my entire body was shaking, I felt such elation, I can’t even tell you!

I am going to finish out the free week, cuz why not, but I can tell you right now, I’m already a member of KMS.  I am so stoked to workout at this place 5 days a week.  And the best part, it’s friggin walking distance from my office!  No excuses!  This was meant to be on so many levels.

I got to my car, checked in with my best friend so he would know I survived.  And then, I cried.  I cried a release of tears I didn’t know I needed to cry.  The release I got today from all the tension I have been carrying around for the past 6 years finally felt like it was letting go of me.  The weight I’ve been carrying felt lighter.  Yes, I’ve tried yoga.  Yes, I’ve tried diets.  But none of that gave me the endorphin rush, the fulfillment, and the sense of personal accomplishment that this KMS Bag class gave me today.  Some people run. Some people yoga.  Some people crossfit.  Me?  I like to hit stuff.  I like to spend an hour with a heavy bag. I like to learn to defend myself while getting fit.  I’ve found the place that is going to help me reach all my goals, both fitness wise and nutrition wise.  How’s that, you might ask?  Well, because they have a nutritionist there that I am going to work with to ensure I’m fueling and recovering properly for this level of pushing my body.

I more than found a breadcrumb today.  I found a lost piece of myself that I’d forgotten about, and was so ecstatic to find.

Ciao for now,

M sm

What Do I Do With That?!?!

Sitting around a table at a dive bar with two men, one of whom is young, and the other is a little older  than I am, the subject came around to dating, mostly discussing the young one’s dating life, because as he’s young and pretty, has the most active dating life at the table.  I made a comment about my lack of dating life, and how I’m cursed to always land in the friend zone no matter what, and this is where the unsolicited free advice started.

“I would argue that you get friend zoned because that’s where you put yourself,” said the young one.  And as I blinked at him, he added, “You’re a beautiful woman, and my guess is that you don’t believe that.”  He’s not wrong.  I don’t see myself that way.  Never have.  And again, before I could respond, he goes, “You’re really fun to be around and one of the most interesting people I’ve met, and so I think in order to not get friend zoned, you’re going to have to open yourself up more.”

As my best friend, the older, and wiser one at the table just cackled, I couldn’t help but squint at the young one, because these are almost the same verbatim words that my best friend has said to me on numerous occasions.  Additionally, getting this advice from a young man who has never even once made a pass in my direction, has no desire for anything other than friendship from me can sit there and so quickly and easily blame it all on my is a bit bizarre.

So, in finally finding my voice I say to the young one, “I agree.  You’re 100% right on all accounts.  The problem is, I have no idea how to do what you’re suggesting.”  And the quizzical look he gave me showed me he didn’t believe me.

I tried to explain to him that, the time in life that most people figure out how to maneuver dating is in high school.  That’s where you should be cutting your teeth on learning the dos and don’ts about navigating romance.  I, however, wasn’t given that option.  My mother had me programmed to never see myself as attractive.  And God help any boy who even remotely found me so, as she’d figure out a way to run them off.  Whether it was forcing me to break up with them once summer hit because, “I was too young for something that long and serious” or talking a boy into breaking up with me because “I needed to focus on school and not boys” or manipulating all of my guy friends to act as body guards to ensure that no other boy ever looked at me as anything more than a friend.  And when all of that is happening without your knowledge, you learn to see yourself as nothing more than the friend.

This has continued into my adult life.  I can be at a party, gathering, event with single men, and while they might enjoy talking to me, and might laugh at my wit, they never ask for my number before they leave.  They never want to get to know me better.  They never pursue me.  So, in explaining this to the young one, he blatantly says, “Yeah, but that’s because you don’t seem open to it.  You have a logical way of looking at the world, compartmentalizing everything into a neat little box, so you aren’t open to being pursued.”  My best friend adds, “They can see your ‘Keep Out’ sign that is tattooed on your forehead.

And I’m baffled.  What the fuck are they talking about?  I have no idea what they’re talking about.  I had no idea that’s how I am perceived.  When I meet new people, I always try to just ‘be myself’ and I’m now realizing, that in doing that, I’m some how also giving off an unavailable vibe.  And i have no idea how or why that’s happened, so with all this very honest advice that I’m getting, as I sat at that bar staring at them, all I could think was, “What do I do with that?!?  How do I fix a problem I don’t even know I have?”  It’s not that I don’t believe them.  I’m sure they’re right.  I’m sure they’re telling the truth.  But how the hell do I fix it because I don’t see it?

I have no idea how to do things differently.  I have no idea what personality traits I”m supposed to hide, or which ones to make bigger.  I have no idea how to navigate this in any way, shape or form.  Mostly because when I do meet a guy I find attractive, I do try to get to know him, but the way I do it always lands me in the friend zone, so in addition to not knowing how to be pursued, I clearly don’t know how to pursue either.

And it occurred to me.  How is this completely all on me?  How is there not a guy out there who would see past the ‘keep out sign’ that is supposedly on my forehead? Back in the day, I’ve learned since my mother died, there were quite a few guys who wanted to pursue me, but didn’t for either fear of my mother or fear of my friends.  As an adult, only two men dared try to be with me, both not giving a crap about my mother’s tactics to run them off, but i was too obedient to choose them over her once the ultimatum was thrown down by her.

It’s been almost 24 hours since all this truth was laid at my feet, and still, I have no idea how to fix this problem.  No idea how to ‘be more open’.  No clue whatsoever.  Perhaps the curse of the friend zone is my fault.  But since I don’t know how to fix it, I guess it’s just going to have to stay as it is for now.  Maybe an epiphany will come to me.  Although, it does suck that being myself isn’t enough.  It does suck that who I am, who I know myself to be, and the things I like about myself aren’t enough.  That I somehow now have to figure out some way to be more.  I don’t know that I want to do that.  But I don’t want to be alone forever, either.

No breadcrumb, this time, sadly.  Instead, I fear this conversation and the emotions and frustrations that have come from it have led me down a new path of self evaluation that is taking me further away from the life I’m meant to have.  I probably should stop this path, and just go back…but I don’t know that I can just ignore it now that it’s out there.  Truth. What do I do with that?

I have no idea….

Ciao for now,

M

What do I want?

What, Mr. Gosling, do I want?  What do I want?  This scene, from the Notebook, one of my all time favorites, not only because it’s epically romantic, but because his delivery of the line “What do you want?” that he says over and over is so perfectly acted.

“Would you stop thinking about what everyone wants.  Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want.  What do you want?  What do YOU want?  WHAT do you want?  Goddamnit, what do you want?”

I’ve watched this movie  a million times, and never before tonight have those lines rocked me to my core.  What do I want?  What do I want?  Just me.  No one else.  Not my friends.  Not my boss.  Not my coworkers.  Not my parents, more specifically, not thinking about what my mother wants is such a foreign thing to me.  But she’s not here anymore, so what she wants no longer matters.  What do I want?  What. Do. I. Want?

As I sat in my favorite spot on Cannon Beach, Oregon tonight, I watched the waves gently crash on the sand as the sun slowly dipped below the water, and I thought to myself, “What do I want?  What do I really, truly want?”

My first reaction was ‘I don’t know.’  I’m so lost, I let go of everything I wanted so many years ago, how the hell do I figure it out now.  And then I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and let the clean sea air fill my lungs, and as the tears stung my eyes and rolled down my cheeks, I let it be ok that I don’t know what I want.  I let it be ok that I’m still lost.  And in the instant I forgave myself for not having it all figured out, clarity came to me.  And here’s what I want:

  1. I want to be happy.  Which is tough, because the last time I was truly happy was so long ago, it took a few moments to summon up that feeling.  Remembering where I was when I felt true happiness and bliss.  It was on the stage of the Playhouse at UW when I sang an oversolo for Seasons of Love and brought the house to their feet.  And it was because in that moment, I was truly in a moment of being who I was supposed to be.  I was performing.  Which leads me to:
  2. I want to perform again.  With my new job, I’d let myself give up the dream of performing.  With my love of writing taking over, I’d forgotten how much I love to perform, because when I’m in a good show, with a good cast, and a good director, my soul sings, my heart is full, and I’m at peace.  Guess it’s time to dust off my monologue collection.
  3. I want to stop hurting physically.  My health is in my hands, and my hands only.  I’ve been flirting with life changes in this area, but have yet to commit.  It’s time to stop fucking around with my health, and to get serious.  There are no more obstacles to blame.  It’s all on me.  And I’m done letting me down.
  4. I need to start saying yes to more things.  No is so easy for me.  The ‘responsible’ choice has been necessity.  And now, I can afford to enjoy life more than I’ve been doing lately.  Time to start saying yes.

I want to be happy.  Dammit, I want to be happy.  I want to be happy.  I’m going to be happy.  Knowing what I want is going to help me, hopefully, find the rest of these breadcrumbs so that I can finally get to the life I’ve dreamed of for so many years.

I was sheltered and isolated for so long, so focused on someone else’s wants and needs, it’s taken me this long to realize that I’ve yet to focus on what I want.  Old habits are hard to break, but as of today, this habit is breaking.

Breadcrumb very emotionally found.

Ciao for Now,

M

Epiphany!

Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t play games.  Not at all.  I can’t play sports, I can’t play board games, I can’t play card games, and I sure as hell can’t play video games.  And this isn’t for the reason you might think.  It’s not because I’m not coordinated, because I’m very coordinated.  It’s not because I don’t know how to win, because I do.  It’s not because I suck at these things, because I don’t.  I do, however, have a chemical imbalance when it comes to games that manifests itself in the most competitive energy ever, and it’s zero fun for any who encounter it.

As a child, the competitive streak served me well as a gymnast.  My ridiculous intensity allowed me to push myself a lot hard than any coach could push.  It also helped in school.  My complete obsession with being first in my class had me making As without having to be pushed by my teachers or my mother.  And as I got older, the goal of college, and going to the best school possible kept me focused and unphased by the normal things that distract teenagers.  This intensity, however, became zero fun whenever a ‘friendly’ game of anything came into play.  I don’t do ‘friendly’ competition.  No idea how to do it.  I don’t only want to win, because the win is the goal of course, but what feeds the competitive beast inside me is the annihilating you on the way to my win.  I want to destroy my opponent at all cost.  I want you crying, bleeding on the ground before I claim my victory.  Had I been a boy, this would have served me well in sports, I think, but being a girl, it was less than attractive.  A trait often pointed out by my mother as she tried to cure me of this competitive affliction.

One of my first memories is playing red light/green light with friends around the age of 5 or 6 and being so intense, and so intent on destroying them on the way to my win, and having my mother jerk me into the house and sitting me in a corner because, if I couldn’t play nice, then I wouldn’t play.  I wasn’t phased by this.  It got worse as I quit gymnastics and tried to play school sports.  My softball team, comprised of tween girls, mostly interested in how cute they looked in their uniforms as opposed to actually winning a game. Their lack of giving 100%, as I was, made me insane.  God forbid I struck out at the plate during softball, I’d come back, throw my bat, throw my helmet, and immediately incur the wrath of my mother. She didn’t understand this wasn’t something I could control.  I didn’t understand my peers, and how they could care less whether we destroyed our opponents or not.  And it drove me insane!  I quit playing because I couldn’t take their pacifying nature.

This fixation during games continued through high school and in to my first year of college.  And when my sorority played a ‘flag’ football game against another house during a charity game, I hit a tri-delt so hard, I knocked her out.  My intensity had actually hurt someone, and it woke me up, and in that moment I vowed to not play games any longer, since I couldn’t control my intensity and my rage.

Over the years after that, friends would often try to get me to play games.  Mostly board or card games, or invite me for game nights, and I’d go, and not want to play, and that makes other people very uncomfortable.  They don’t believe me when I tell them that my playing is disastrous.  One friend in particular pushed and pushed, and i finally decided to play scrabble, and when he got a huge scoring word, I may or may not have flipped the board up and at him, Teresa Guidice style!

As an adult, this plagues me.  I want to be able to play games with people, I want to be able to  play games with friends.  I want to just enjoy a friendly game of anything for once in my life, but I am incapable, and it’s so frustrating to not understand why I’m the way I am.  I’ve talked to a shrink about this, and after careful examination, it was deemed that this is just my wiring, and the healthiest choice I can make is to not play.  So that’s what I’ve done.  But that explanation never really helped me or satiated me.

The other night, I spent the evening with my best friend and a new friend who was waxing philosophically about some advice his step-dad had given him when he was young, and said that sometimes in life you play games for the joy of the game (a concept I don’t even remotely understand) and that sometimes you play games like you’re in prison.  Because in prison, you play to survive.  And the minute those words left his mouth, it felt as if he was describing me, and I turned to my best friend and said, “And I’ve always been in prison.”  And we had a silent moment and that epiphany hit me.

And I’ve always been in prison!

My beautiful pictureMy home town, if you’ve read my earlier blog posts, you know never felt like home to me.  I’ve said my whole life that I hate that place.  I ran from it at 18 as fast as I could to get to college.  But never did I register that I was in prison in that town.  The childhood I had was full of people at my house all the time, watching my every move.  These same friends, so connected to my mother, that I couldn’t make a move without one of them ratting me out.  She was my warden.  I was rapunzel in the tower.  I was always in prison.  I was never comfortable at home.  I hated coming home to that house.  I hated the neighborhood, I hated everything, and I see that, it was a type of prison for me.

It wasn’t a malicious thing, but it was a thing, and my survival instincts to survive that incarceration was to be the best I could possibly be so that somehow, one of my talents could get me out of there!  And when I went off to college, I really wasn’t free.  I was still on probation, having to check in with the warden daily.  And when the warden got sick, I was yanked back into the tower for another six year sentence.

With no control on that environment, with feeling like my life wasn’t my own, the one thing I could control was whether I was the best at what I pursued or not.  I was always in prison.  My new friend’s words hit me like a freight train, and the honesty of it overwhelmed me.  I’ve been having dreams that my mother is not dead, and that I have to go back to the tower, and I’ve been sleeping horribly.  After this epiphany, I went home, cried an unbelievably cleansing cry and slept peacefully the whole night through and woke up lighter emotionally than I’ve ever been in my life.  It might sound overdramatic, but with those words, this person, practically a stranger to me, changed my life.  Thank you, Zak, I’ll be forever grateful!

I woke up in the morning to this horoscope:

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And even the universe was letting me know that the right words had hit my existence, and that I should trust them and move forward!

Tears are falling as I type this, but not tears of sadness.  They are tears of freedom!  I am no longer in that tower.  Rapunzel has been let out, and has not been stepped on by the giant, and now, she now controls her own life and her own destiny.  She has no obligations except to herself!

So maybe, now, just maybe, I can release my choke hold on my need to dominate in a  competitive situation, and can just play for the joy of the game…..perhaps, indeed.

Ciao for now,

M

We Can Take the Long Way!!

It’s no secret that I adore the music of one Mr. Jason Mraz, and his latest album speaks to my soul in a way I never thought possible. He’s teamed up with a wonderful band called Raining Jane for this album, and the beats are wonderful, the melodies magical, and the lyrics are absolutely moving.

They just released the official music video for one song called Long Drive, and well, it’s kind of the love dream that I have for my life all laid out in beautiful shots set to Jason’s angelic voice.

I love to go for long drives, and when you get to do that with someone you love, well hell, there’s not much that’s better than that.  A good soundtrack, a full tank of gas, and someone next to you.  Oh, how I’d like that….forever.  And this video, well, it made me a little emotional, especially the end, and got me thinking, where’s my driving partner?

I hope he finds me soon, as there are so many roads I want to explore, and I’d rather not explore them alone.  And I hope he arrives soon, cuz I’m not getting any younger!

Ciao for now,

M

Love While You Can….Please!

Love has been on my mind for quite some time, and it’s still there, but taking an interesting turn these days.  In an answer to my needy vs. not needy post, a song came across my iTunes and I’m sure I’ve heard it dozens of time before, but for whatever reason it really hit me hard today.

“Love whenever and wherever and however you should.”

This song is from a new play on Broadway called If/Then starting the great Idina Menzel and one of my favorite voices, La Chanze.  This song just slapped me in the face today, and I wanted to put it out there so I didn’t forget this feeling.  Love is friggin fantastic in all of it’s forms, so I need to stop waiting for and worrying about only the true kind, but instead, just be grateful for all the love in my life.

Take a listen….I don’t think you’ll regret it:

Ciao for now,

M