Monday, May 22, 2017

Author's Alphabet G


G



Graphics

Graphics are an excellent way to catch people's eyes and getting your book off the shelf or the amazon store and into people's hands.

While it might be meaningful or cute do your own cover...it can bring less than wanted results. I love to design. However when it came to designing my own covers I really struggled with what I wanted and finding it, so I decided to take that control out of my hands and hand it to someone else. That was one of the best choices I made as an author.

I love graphic design and create beautiful covers for other people but for myself all I did was drive myself up walls and into corners. Only recently have I started doing covers for my own work for short stories, because I've been better able to grasp my feelings and control the outcome.

But as an author do yourself a favor and get the best graphics you can afford. It gives you a professional clean and wonderful look that helps you sell your book with confidence.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Music Muse

This is one of the voices that really grabbed me. I heard Anthony's Neely's voice one day and the quality of it gripped me, and since I am living here in Taiwan, I'll take the opportunity to introduce you to a talented American Taiwanese singer.

His voice...I love more ballad sounding songs, and he has a beautiful range, mostly simple music, and some good outright heartbreaking lyrics that make you pause and think. (I also might be a hardcore sad song sap but you know...)

Today, I am going to throw a few songs out there, one of my favorites and one sung in Chinese, where the MV is totally worth watching...it made me wish it was a Taiwanese drama...but it's not it's just a lovely song.

This first song is the one he grabbed Taiwan's attention by winning a national talent contest.





This was the first song I heard him sing.


And this is the Chinese song.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

我看見你 I see you

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go;
 I will guide thee with mine eye.

I'll be honest this verse has always puzzled me a little. 
And the other day I was reading again and I was like. "God, what does this even mean? How can you guide me with Your eyes? Because, God, I can't see where you are looking."

And then it struck me.

I do this all the time with my students.

I guide them with my eyes.

If they are misbehaving, I don't yell at them, I get really quiet and just look at them gently until I know I have their attention and then shake my head, if needed I will say something but often this communication is completely silent.

My students also communicate this way, a questioning look, and I answer with a nod...but they know the answer because they are looking at me.

So it's the same with God. If my focus on him, I'll have the answers I am searching for, I don't need to be looking towards the future and trying to figure out, I don't have to figure out what God is doing I just have to move forward keeping my eyes on Christ. No looking around, no turning this way and that trying to figure out what everyone else is doing. Just focusing on Christ and following his lead...and life will be siimpler...maybe, not easier but simpler because all I need to worry about is focusing on Christ and what He sees for my future.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Author's Alphabet F

F
Faith. It's one the hardest things to include in a book well. It's easy to squeeze in namby-pamby prayer and toss in a few scriptures and label it CHRISTIAN FICTION! I know, a lot of authors have worked very hard to create good books...but when they try to add faith to their books it feels so robotic and dead and makes me as a reader want to gag, throw things, and just put the book down.

So how do create a book where fiction and faith meet and mesh.

I think the difference is easy to find. It is this: is the story testimony...or your pulpit?

Testimony stories tend to be rich with refreshing and renewing.
Pulpit stories tend to make one feel frustrated and preached at, they are dry with material but no deep content just words that ring with hollowness.

So how do we make our books rich volumes and not hollow tombs?

First, are you living it yourself? Is this something you've learned? Is this something you've struggled through? Then you certainly have a premise and personal experience where the faith you want to bring across the realness of the subject.

I remember discovering one of my favorite authors. My mom asked me if I wanted to read a certain author's books....I refused. I was sure they were going to be another wishy-washy preachy teen book that I was going to barely gag down, needless to say, my mother followed her intuition, and they were excellent books. The author really challenged me in my faith, and that book helped me to grow. They still have a powerful impact on me today...years later. The difference? She had lived, she is an amazingly sweet, faithful Christian, who didn't use her book as her pulpit but rather as a testimony.

What are you writing? Are you writing things that are challenging you and your readers, or are you using your book as a pulpit?

Found on Pinterest I do not own.
You can purchase here

Friday, May 12, 2017

Music Muse

There is nothing like Josh Groban's voice. I think his was one of the very first voices I fell in love with. It's so beautiful and he can carry so much...

This is one of the more simple songs that JG sings, but I like the message in the lyrics mixed with the slow and cheerful melody. I love the theme of hope that keeps peeking through the lyrics...

It's just so delightful to listen to...it's so optimistic.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wording Workshop

Hello!
I am going to try and add this mini wording "workshop" on my blog.
I am using the term workshop loosely here. It's not too intense, just a little something I want to improve on in my writing and challenge my fellow writers.

You see, I sometimes struggle with writing description, so often the settings are so vivid in my head that I forget to add any embellishment for the reader.

Sorry for the blurry photo, I am trying to use things I come across in my everyday.
So, this is something I've written a description for, but I am curious how you would describe this dish....
Foreign? Traditional? Familiar?

What does it smell like?
Strong? Soft? Is there something distinct or signature about it?

How does it taste?
Savory? Salty? Bitter? Sweet? Spicy? Mild? Rich?Simple? Complex? Home-like?

What ingredients can you identify?

Are you intrigued...repulsed?

What is the environment like?

If you were to put this on a plate in front of your character how would they react?

As a foreigner, my reaction to this dish is always...
Yes, you eat part of this dish with chopsticks


Monday, May 8, 2017

The Author's Alphabet E

E

Endings

Why are we talking about endings so early on in the alphabet? Well all good things must come to and end, and knowing how your story is going to end early on is a good thing.  You want to be able to track through the story all of your threads and prevent plot holes. 

Endings...and quite endless. 
There is the traditional happily ever after, the ones that leave you wondering what on earth happened, the ones that make you close the book with a mixture of happiness and pain...perfection completed...always so hard to create.

I feel the most important thing about endings is completion...if you aren't planning on continuing the story in a sequel there should be a feeling of resolution and completion. There have been stories I read where I finished feeling empty and wanting more...only to find out that is how the author left it, there was nothing more...that was it! Those were always horrible stories that made their way onto my black list.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Music Muse

This is one of my favorite songs from an Indie singer who has been pretty made popular on youtube and writes music inspired by the books she reads...which I think is super cool.

Based on the book Cinder (which is on my to read list still...) I love the Cinderella themes in this song, and yet...there are other things here, more than just simple straight forward song, it has so much more depth and could have so many more themes than just Cinderella.

The cry to be seen, the realization that they face so much more...it's beautiful...

Could this song fit in your story? What themes do you hear in this song?

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Author’s Alphabet D

D

Draft

One of my favorite and least favorite things about writing is the amount of drafts that accumulate, Sometimes I wish I could just write it once and be DONE. However...there is a beauty not to be surpassed in drafts. The first draft will always remain the most pure and most lovely part of the story. The first draft (if it doesn't bug me to death) is always my favorite version, untainted by anything it is perfect...until we let other people read it.

Spacing drafts can be very important, letting a manuscript sit for a few weeks before turning around and overhauling it for publication is important. Like other famous things like cheese...and wine (I wouldn't actually know about that one from personal experience but you know..) things get better with age. Leaving your lovely characters to sit for a few weeks in a dark drawer or a closed document allows you to look more optimistically and clearly about your story, also this preserves you from complete burn out.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Music Muse

This song has so many themes running through it.

Love, battle, fighting, last moments, precious fleeting seconds before...

This song presents so many questions and feelings, a tumbling and tumultuous echo of the present and past culminating into one moment mixed with passion and a refusal to go lightly into the future.

If this song was in your story how would it fit? Is there any character or circumstance in your story that fits the feeling of this music?

*disclaimer this song feature rock music, for those who do not appreciate this style of music I encourage you to skip this song.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

FOR SALE FOR SALE FOR SALE!!!!

Get your cover here! 
I am running a sale on all of my ready to go covers!
Want an ebook cover for 35$ see if there is something that catches your eye here!










Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Being A Strong Woman In A Feminist World

Being a strong woman is hard.
Being a strong woman in a feminist world is even more challenging.

So how do we become strong, dependable, even independent without becoming.....a feminist?

In the words of Matthew Hussey:
Having to do everything yourself is a form of weakness. Because all it is is trying to validating yourself by showing how strong you are....
(and then I am paraphrasing this a little to put it in my own words)
The weakest woman can't do anything for herself,
A weak woman will do everything for herself,
And the strongest woman says, I know I can do it myself, but it's a lot more fun if someone else does it. (and I am not talking about the princess type or girls that blackmail, or bribe people into doing things for them.)

You see we've grown up in a society and culture that doesn't just cheat men of their manhood, it is also cheating us out of our femininity.

A few weeks ago a friend asked me..."How are you a strong woman...but not a feminist."
And this question took me back...because for years I've been a very strong woman, and I've struggled with finding a balance between my strength and being feminine.

No,  I wasn't fast, no I didn't beat up all of the boys....or anything like that. But...I'll be honest, I am as strong as a lot of boys, moving things, picking up heavy lifting, (my brother stopped picking on me when it became a fair draw...it's no fun to pick on someone when they can equal you,) people call on me. I've grown into the role of looking after people, making sure people are protected, opening doors for people...etc...but has that robbed me of my feminism? For a long time, I didn't care if I put boys off...you think you can do it? Well, I can do it too! Just watch me! One of my goals in life was to prove that you can do anything and everything in a skirt... Hike up waterfalls? Yes, Ride a horse? Yes, Climb a fence? Yes...all in a dress or a skirt and being modest about it. You bet I can.

But as I grew up, I realized...that just because you can, doesn't mean you want to...
That being strong, can also mean lonely, or eventually, make you feel taken advantage of it...that people don't expect you to be weak, and that you can just take things...over and over and over again and take it because you are strong.

So a new journey almost unconsciously began, and now...it has become more purposeful. Life is a form of art...and I am learning the art of feminism.

Now I am not talking about damsel in distress syndrome, but the simple art of living as a woman.


Don't be afraid of weakness.
Asking for help doesn't make you weak.
We aren't perfect and asking for help isn't a crime.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a good thing, and makes for a stronger and wiser person.
(After all you have nothing to fear, but fear itself...)

Just because YOU can do it yourself....doesn't mean you have to.
This is something that can be really hard. Just because I can open a door for myself doesn't mean I can't let/get a guy to do it for me...and appreciate it. (That goes a long way to keeping chivalry alive. Maybe you're saying, "Ugh! If a guy's ego can't take me opening my own door then he should get a life." Maybe, but then again he took the time and effort to get the door for you, take the time and effort to appreciate it...even if you didn't need it.)




Be a peacemaker
It's easy to pick fights, tease, and be argumentative over things...and it can be fun. However, if it is a constant lifestyle, it can maybe be too much and cause discord. Look for chances to bring peace and make win-win situations.

I don't own anything, not my pic!
Thanks, Disney! <3
I had a fun one a few weeks ago. People were arguing over if an actress was beautiful or not, and of course, there were fans and well anti-fans. When I was asked for my opinion, I gave in a few seconds to muse and answered.
"We are all made in the image of God, I think she is perfect." This...though perhaps not the answer they were looking for or technically even an opinion brought the argument to a close and peace.

Sometimes there are two parties having an argument, and you can see both sides, use this as an opportunity to help them come to a conclusion that is peaceful and practical for both.
It can be really hard if you are in situation where you can see the other person's point of view, but they can't see yours, and I am still working on making myself be understood well....it can be really hard to make people understand, but I am also learning when to "retreat", if they simply choose to not understand, sometimes you must just let them have their way, or find a delicate way to remove yourself from the situation.

And while the battle of the sexes can be funny and entertaining...realize that it can also cause harm. So if you're having banter and exchanges of sharp wit enjoy it! Also be aware of the damage it can cause. Just because men are strong it doesn't mean they are Superman, they have their own kryptonite to deal with.

Once again in the words of Matthew Hussey:
Men need women,
Women need men
Life just isn't as fun without them. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#thewriterstag

I decided to snatch up this tag from Melody's blog The Splendor Falls! Don't forget to check out her awesome blog!

1. What Genres, Styles, and Topics Do You Write About?

Genres:
Well for starters, it's hard to sort of peg down. I write what you might call fantasy, in other words, I make up my own worlds, etc.break rules, but it read more like history...and not the least bit like fantasy but it's not based on any actual facts, so...Historical fantasy? Is that even a legal genre?
With Sufficient Grace I dabbled slightly in Western, but it doesn't really FEEL like a western. I don't have any of the traditional lingo you'd expect when you pick it up like
Hitch the wagon,
Going out yonder.
Ruslin' cattle.
And all kinds of others of beloved American old west lingo that is the signature of that genre. I think I just like to break the rules.
I've toyed a little with fantasy, and am working on a possible trilogy...but we will see what comes of that.

Style:
Third person most certainly.
First person is my death SENTENCE unless it's a short story.

Topics:
Coming of age.
Finding truth
Strong but feminine
WEAPONS (pretty, pretty swords!)


How long have you been writing?
On and off starting around age 12, more serious around age 18.
So about 16 years I guess? Wow...that makes me sound...old...experienced.

Why do you write?
For a lot of reasons.
Ultimately because I love it, and because I feel that is what God called me to be. His Ready Writer.

When is the best time to write?
Well.....my favorite time to write is when inspiration is thick and sweet running like crazy but I don't always get to spend time when it is.
I also love super late nights writing (I have been guilty of writing until 5 am if the words are right.)
But really, any time of the day will do.

Parts of writing you love vs. parts you hate.
Love:
The first draft.
Getting inspiration.
Fangirling over characters
Plot twists
Character driven plots.

Hate:
Editing.
Writer's block.
Stupid characters that insist on being there.
Not enough time.

How do you overcome writer's block?
Talk to a friend.
Try a new angle.
Look at it from a new POV
Watch movies.
Read.
Shove it in a drawer.
Sulk.
Move.
Make a cup of tea.
Pinterest
Music.

Are you working on something at the moment?
YOU BET I AM!
I am working on connecting two stories together. When those are done they will finish my very very very unofficial extremely loosely linked stories. (So much so it's not even a series) but all of my countries shall soon have books, and I am not sure if there will be more to add to them later...but the basics will be out.

Tying up the loose ends of my plots for book 2&3 of the Grace trilogy. Book two I think FINALLY came together, so I'll be working on writing that, and I'll finish sketching and fleshing out characters for book 3 (and maybe a short story because you know characters are just like that.)

There is an Asian story I am working on, though how I'll publish it. I am not sure.

Writing goals this year?
Build up my platform
Finish a book up and move towards publishing another book.

WHEW! That was fun! Feeling like doing the tag? You're it! Take it on over to your blog and comment below with the link so I can check it out!


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Author’s Alphabet C

C

Creativity

An author's best friend is creativity. Finding it and keeping it can be hard, but so worth it. Pay attention to the things that make you more productive and try to make sure you are sufficiently fueling yourself with those things for maximum output.

Struggling with making things work? Consider what kind of learner you are, and try encouraging your story by stimulating your senses.

Auditory, listen to music or sounds that relate to your story, or inspire you.

Visual, search pinterest for pictures that emulate you story, or look through your story board, maybe take a break from your black and white screen, and go out into the world in search of beauty and wonder.

Sensory, step away from the computer and find something to do...a walk in some fresh air, or do a project your character might enjoy. Maybe you need to step away from the computer and change your mode of creativity, take a writing device of preference and take some paper outside or a different place in your  house and write,or interview your characters.

Being an author is wonderful, but don't forget to take the time to live and breathe just for yourself as well. Writing is a wonderful and whimsical world, but don't forget to make it lovely and beautiful for yourself as well.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Muse

There was something about this song when I first met it. It has this wonderful best friend quality to it, that is just encouraging wonderful go on with life theme.

I love the energy, and there is so many ways this song could go...

Best friends

Side-kick

Brothers at arms

Love story

Love-triangle (you know the one who is waiting for the one to notice them...)

Bromance (as much as I hate using the word I can't think of a better one, the relationship is so much more than that.)

Does it make you think of any of your stories?




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Villains Know Best...sort of...

So, you may...or may not know that I've been struggling with a novel idea for, well, years now. It has been haunting me, refusing to let me go...yet I've run into so many plot ruts and holes and twists and turns that I've found myself throwing my hands in the air going...

and a half a draft later going....


Watching another attempt just shut down the story


The other day I dragged it out again after another hatchling of inspiration peeped out.


I decided to give it another chance and looked at the cast of characters. Different characters have popped up and made parts of the story easier and took it places that I wanted it to...however it was the villain that was still giving me problems.

He's not a "terrible" villain, he's more of a Jane Austen breed of bad boy I am sure he'd love to hang out with Willoughby and Wickham...I am sure they'd gamble away a few fortunes and break a few hearts together. However, his various interests and how he originally played into the story was giving me a hard time...

So I decided to go back to the drawing board with my villain and see how he came out....
You see, he began as a medical student....and then a book later was like...what is medicine? Look MONEY!!! I WANNA RUN A BANK!!!!!


and I am going...that's not what you went to school for...
what a waste of money....


So I threw out medical school, and the schoolmate scenario and made him a family friend...
And everything fell together.
Plot holes filled.
Loops closed.
And BAM!
The story feels like it's pulled itself together.
and he's over there going....
Skip the drama...listen to me... I know best.




Just wait...next he'll want to be a hero...







Monday, April 17, 2017

The Author’s Alphabet B

Books have changed your life, now you have written or are writing your own, so what are some important things as a writer for you to have?

Beta-Readers

Beta-Readers are one of the best things that ever happened to me. I struggled to complete novels and eventually they would just die because my personal inspiration would begin to doubt itself and my determination would peter out into drivel and despair, and I'd give up, only to begin again with a new idea that would also die a slow and incomplete death.
Beta-readers changed that for me. With the encouragement and insight from my first beta-reader, I finished my first novel and many more since, because of my beta-readers...who have told me when I am doing a good job, I am out of line, or something just doesn't jam. They make me not only a better writer but a better person.

Get yourself some good beta-readers, and be a better writer.





Friday, April 14, 2017

Music Muse

Music is one of the beautiful things in life. So often it can help fuel, inspire, or even create a story.

One of my favorite pastimes is just listening to music, searching for storyful lyrics and beautiful voices. So I am going to try and do weekly posts, sharing some of my old, new, random, favorite music pieces that inspire me as a writer. I hope you'll find some entertainment for your own muse.

Note, not all of these songs will be perfect, and though I love classical, when I am searching for story music....I go into all kinds of music because there are all kinds of characters and stories....so sit back and enjoy some ear-spiration.

Grace is a common theme for my life...and the lives of my characters. As I am working on the second and third book of my Grace Trilogy, I keep being drawn back to this song.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Author's Alphabet

 A


Author
You are an author. Whether it is just a short story, a book report, a research paper, the first draft of your first novel, or if you are a published author making15.00 or 15,000 a month. You are an author. That title is yours! Don't be afraid to own it and wear it proudly.

Like hundreds of other authors, you aren't on amazon's or the New York Best Sellers list, but you are making a difference, and no one else can tell your stories the way you tell them. So go write! Share your stories with the world. Be the Author you were born to be!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Working Out

I have hated working out...since....my first workout. The peppy perfect workout girls who never got tired and said annoying things made me never want to work out. Also, I never felt very different after workouts, just tired...so I gave up.

I decided to live my life the way I wanted...which resulted in a "happy" me. I had never been comfortable with my image, and I became even more so, but I didn't know how to stop it, the things I had tried before still didn't appeal to me, and it seemed like I was lost in a vicious cycle that was rapidly getting out of control.

Hitting a breaking point, I realized that things needed to stop. I didn't want jiggling hips, fat legs, sausage fingers with pattie hands, a jelly bean shaped belly that jiggled like jello, and I wanted to stop wearing the size 3x's and hiding in hoodies just to feel comfortable with who I was.

I hadn't seen myself in a full-length mirror except in stores that were just something I tried to ignore, however moving into my room in Hualien I was happy to see a full-length mirror in my room...until I saw myself in it...this wasn't a store mirror that I could walk away from this was one that I saw every day and I realized I didn't want to remain the woman I was...so how to change?

I puzzled over it, I knew working out would be an essential change, but how much and what workouts should I do?

Browsing the internet, watched youtube videos, chatted with friends and formulated a plan.
Starting out with a simple workout on a sheet of paper that my friend sent me. 15 moves for 1 minute each. A 15-minute workout sounded perfect...and then I found it was grueling, but worth it, I struggled to complete it, and yet every day I noticed that I improved a little bit, I could hold it a bit longer, I could fit more into that tiny little minute. Things felt positive, and I saw my body making little changes.

From there I realized I needed even more of a challenge....so I started doing youtube workouts...I tried several different ones until I found an instructor that I love and adore and I feel is giving me the results I want without being an unrealistic Barbie doll.


I am still far from what I could be, but for the first time in my life I am seeing results and keeping them. I am still allowing myself junk food, chocolate binges, and chips....but I also realize at what cost and am willing to work them off. It has taken a while to learn what losing weight and being happy means to me....

I haven't stepped on a scale in a long time, I know it would be good, however, it's a number I am still not ready to face and I've gotten so discouraged from it before, steering completely clear of the three little numbers on a digital screen that I have allowed to define and label me. But I am keeping myself accountable with my mirror and friends who are encouraging even on the days I want to give up or not workout. They push me, and I am learning to push myself, now some days don't feel complete unless I work out...and I am working out more than I ever have before. It's not a chore, but I do it on my own terms and have my own reward system that pushes me forward.
If I want to watch a movie or drama I have to work out first....it's pretty compelling.

The rewards of being able to go shopping in Taiwanese stores and pull items off the shelf....of course, they are all large and oversized, etc. because an L here is like an M in the states...but I am doing stuff that I wasn't able to do a few months ago, people treat me differently, I knew being fat was hard...but I didn't know how hard it was until I started to lose the weight and the world really does treat you differently.




Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Did you know?

A few months ago I published a set of short stories.

These are older works of mine, so they aren't the best, but I certainly enjoyed writing them, and I hope you'll enjoy reading them! You can buy the ebook here! I am hoping to have the paperback published in the next week or so at a very reasonable rate.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Dear Walls,


Rough, not smooth, not even the ages have worn you down.
I walk passed you.
I wonder about your stories.
I wonder what you have seen, heard.
The ravages of war.
The secrets of soldiers.
Fears?
Hopes?
Dreams?
Plans?
Betrayal?
Love?
Secrets?
I can feel the history etched into your depths.
I wish I could speak to you.
I wish I knew the language of stone.
So you could tell me what you have seen and heard
The guardian wall that has stood around this city.
You have harbored kings and queens, soldiers and scholars, people...friends and foes.
You stood when so many other buildings fell beneath the enemies cruel hands.
History is your walls, it is in the core of your stone.
I walk by...
My fingers linger on the feeling of the wall,
The precise squares, the grout, the past.
I feel ignorant and small, like a colorful butterfly pausing on a flower in a spring breeze...
Passing, passing...only lingering for this moment.
Only touching a tiny part of something so much larger...only tasting a drop of what you have to offer.
History, beauty, riches, locked away in stony silence.
I see the brilliance of your designer.
I feel the safety he created within your walls.
You are making me hungry, hungry for knowledge for words I do not know...for the stories you will not tell.
Oh, if I could only speak to stone.
If walls could talk...
I lean against you, wishing I could hear your stony core beat with life.
You are silent.
Silent.
Holding all the secrets of the past.
Holding tightly what it has left you.
History and stories, and people long gone.
You are the keeper of secrets.
You are silent stone.

Hwaseong Fortress Korea
(found on google, not my image, I own nothing)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sweetly Single?

Single.
One.
Only.
Alone...
Lonely?
Lucky?

found on google not my  image I own nothing

There are many ways to view being single.
For years I'll admit I've been blissfully happy.
I've smile and accepted the words.
"You are so lucky!"
"Oh! What I wouldn't be to be in your shoes."
"I had it so easy when I was single."
"Man, what I wouldn't give to be sinlge again."
"You've never been in a relationship, oh you are so lucky!"
found on google, not my image, I own nothing


However...as the years have progressed and romance has eluded my life...
I find it...
Life is still satisfying, life is still good. I am still grateful to be single...but there are days where there is a gap, a hole, it feels as if part of my life is missing something...or rather someone.

The words: "You are so lucky to be single!" etc. Seem to have a bit of a bite to them.
found on google, not my image, I own nothing
I still smile, and I look into the eyes of sleepless mothers with bags under their eyes, worried and wondering how they are doing as a mother...and I realize this is a gift that I have been given and I need to be grateful, even as I am slightly jealous of their little ones calling them "Mama," knowing that the demands of being a mother is a never ending job...but still my heart aches just a little.

They say, "Being a teacher, it must make you not want kids..."
And the truth is it only makes me want them more.
I get only a breif moment with these children, to love, to cherish...to impact...to smile, to laugh, to care, to cry...and then it's goodbye.
It makes me realize no matter how exaused and how little sleep I get I still want the oppertunity to put food on the table, to tousle little heads, to sing to sleep children of every age and size, to talk with them...even if it is the never ending chatter....it is a privledge that I have not been granted.

There are days when I wake up, and I realize that I am painfully single...singleness that I am not sure if it will ever end,...or how many more days I must learn to cherish this gift and the oppertunities that it gives me.

Thank you Singleness.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Under the Black Umbrella

I am rather fond of umbrellas.

Especially yellow umbrellas, for they make me smile.

They are a spot of sunshine in a world of grey.

I own a smallish soft yellow umbrella, I chose it for that EXACT reason.

To remind me when it is grey...there will always be sunshine again.

However, today...walking home from the city.

It started to rain.

I thought if I hurried a bit more.

I could make it home...before the downpour began.

I passed two convenience stores, I paused wondering if I should stop and purchase an umbrella...but I've already purchased two...I really didn't need to buy another, and stupidly I hadn't brought either of them.

I sped homeward, I zipped up my navy blue fleece coat.

I nodded at the guard standing at the military gate.

Taxis were nearby...

For a mere 100 NT. I could be home in four minutes or less.

I waved, they passed.

I sped on...

And then it happened.

The deluge.

Slipping under the shelter of the tree by the road, I watched as the road turned into a shallow river.

Cars passed, thankfully slowing down so they didn't drench me in wave car thrown rain.

Another taxi was coming towards me. Waving vigorously for it to stop....it passed by speeding up the road.

No one, wanted to pick up a damp foreigner...

I waited, not wanting to get drenched, but also not wanting to spend the rest of my day under a star-fruit tree waiting for the rain to stop.

Weighing my options I couldn't decide if I should go forward or backwards...

Another taxi passed, ignoring my waving arms.

I stood there watching the rain fall, sipping my coffee, trying to decide, and praying for wisdom on what to do next.

Then it happened.

A white car stopped on the other side of the road, flashers blinking, they parked next to the house practically on top of the road. I couldn't see inside the dark windows.

I wondered three things, "Do they live there? Are they going to offer me a ride? Are they lost?"

Trying not to get my hopes up, I looked away, listening for the possibility of a car window rolling down. Of words in Chinese or English being spoken... "Need a ride?" or "Xiao Jei li, li, li!"

Seconds passed into a minute...

Glancing up the hill I watched for another taxi, wondering if the next one would be in just a big a hurry as the last few.

A car door opened.

A petite woman tiptoed quickly across the road, a black, closed umbrella in her hand.

"For you," she said putting it into my hand, and then tip-toed quickly back across the road before I barely had a moment to say thank you. The car door closed, I opened up the umbrella, bowing my gratefulness.

The car pulled away and disappeared up the hill.

I watched it go, glancing up at my new big black umbrella, and felt strangely like Jo March...under The Professor's big black worn umbrella. The warmth, the kindness, the thoughtfulness, the worn and used pattern on the umbrella told of it's use in rain and sunshine, of years of care...given to a complete stranger standing under a star-fruit tree in the middle of a deluge.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Always A Silver Lining

There will always be cruelty in the world.

It will sometimes strike by hands, and in places we least expect it.

Yesterday, I found it on a Facebook post written in Chinese by a coworker.
She had written something nasty about me.
Thinking I'd never see it.
Why?
I hadn't felt up to saying yes to an invitation to eat out.
I hadn't promised that I would come, I had asked for information, so I could make the best choice and said thank you, and mentioned that I was grateful for her reaching out to me, but I wasn't feeling up to it.

I had a list of reasons that could have filled up a page, but since they were mostly personal and I didn't want to worry or bother her, I simply said I was busy.

My attempt to not offend her offended her.

As I read what she said about me...

I found myself shaking.

I felt stabbed.

Gutted.

I had been trying to win her sharp personality into friendliness...but the words shattered me.

I left the office, trying to hold back the tears, shaking.

The weeks leading up to this I've been balancing on a cultural tightrope as I prepare for my family to visit me, and the group that I am working for has very strict rules about things. So trying to please every group and focus on work and doing what I came here to do has been difficult. I've been on the edge of shattering several times as I play ambassador, advocate, and try to understand and communicate with both cultures, family, and a growing ladder of bosses to make sure things sail smoothly.

As I was trying to compose myself outside, I noticed the wife of a coworker at the gate and went to let her in.
She smiled and offered me the protection of her umbrella in the light sprinkle of rain.
I was like "I am okay...."
But she insisted so kindly, pulling me under the umbrella.
I was moved by her sweetness and kindness, in a moment of bleeding vulnerability, someone made sure they were kind, even though I would have been perfectly fine in the sprinkle.

As much as I didn't want to cry, I ended up crying in my room, and my dorm mate who I've been having on and off relationships with, came and checked on me. She offered me comfort, and the next morning bought me breakfast, knowing that I hadn't gotten out of bed until the last moment.

It is the kidness of others in a cruel world that sometimes make it change for the better and help you find the goodness in the world even when it's the bleakest.