Exposed

This might be a rant. No, it most likely is going to be a rant, though I’ll try to keep it positive. There is a light in all this violence, in all of us women stepping forward saying #metoo, in all the prejudice being shaken out from under the carpet. It’s awakening society to the things that have always been there, lurking. They are exposed and we can say, “No more.” No more gun violence. No more silence about sexual harassment, prejudice of any kind, no more steps backwards as a society.

But it’s frustrating, isn’t it? There have been marches. There have been petitions. There’s been constant dissension and chaos in our country and among our leaders. Those in power encroach upon civil rights that had been fought for and granted by the Supreme Court. Birth control, gun control, same-sex marriage… and more disgusting is the treatment of Puerto Rico. What kind of monster points a finger at debt and throws paper towels at people at a time of pure devastation?

The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

Endless lawsuits against our government have been filed. The judicial system is slow, far slower than a man in power that has signed Executive Orders that ruin our environment, cripple a struggling health care system, and who has joked about his vice president wanting to kill all gays.

I don’t understand this world. But having these issues be brought forward exposes both sides. Silence is not an option, not now.

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Labels, Sexuality, and Acceptance

 

This scares me as I write it. The fear of being unaccepted, that my personal experience isn’t valid, that because I’m not X, Y, or Z, that I’ll be judged harshly. I’m compelled to share this part of myself, regardless, hoping that it will help someone who might have experienced something similar in life and find comfort in knowing they are not alone.

Growing up, I was surrounded by many cultures and sexual orientations and never thought less of a person because of either, despite the racism presented in some of my family. It waLabels,sexuality&acceptances the ‘90s, a time when AIDS was still considered a gay man’s disease, a time when being gay or a lesbian was taboo and left unspoken, a time where the words bisexual, genderfluid, transgender, and many more of the labels we have at present, were missing from my vocabulary.

I remember being devastated as I watched And the Band Played On, realizing the hatred toward gay men for the first time, and not understanding why our government, why people, refused to help humans in need, and that the government I believed in would rather blame a sexual orientation and ignore the scientific fact the disease didn’t give a fuck who it infected. I was naïve and privileged in many ways, and I’m not denying it nor am I ashamed by it. After that, my eyes opened a little wider.

In high school, I had a male friend who liked to wear dresses. He’d show me them in private, along with painting his nails and wearing lipstick. I thought it was odd, I admit, but I also felt privileged that he would share this secret part of himself with me, that he felt he could trust me with something so personal. I heard he went on lithium. I heard he wasn’t well mentally, but by then we weren’t friends and I had no way to contact him to see for myself. Armed with things that I’ve learned and read as an adult, I see how tormented, how at war with himself he was for liking dresses and makeup, and fear that this struggle was the reason for his instability. Regretfully, I don’t know what became of him.

I went through college where I first experienced my attraction toward women. I never thought that it was wrong. I never thought I shouldn’t be attracted to a woman. I was curious and I liked the way a woman’s body felt. I never thought to tell anyone about it either. It wasn’t because I was ashamed by my attraction, I’m just a private person when it comes to my feelings (which why this is difficult to write), and didn’t feel the need to share. The term bisexual remained absent from my vocabulary. I had crushes. I had flings. I had boyfriends, but not girlfriends. Eventually I met a man who matched my sexuality, a man who didn’t care about the gender of love and attraction. We were open with each other. But back then, I never thought about it, never had a label for it. I just went with it, and we were happy.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized what I’d felt wasn’t normal. It wasn’t what my friends felt. It wasn’t what my coworkers felt. There was right and wrong, and to them, I was wrong. Like I said, I’m a private person and pretty much kept my sexuality hidden, and after hearing from the world beyond college, the professional adult world, how different my view of sexuality was, I retreated further, rarely giving anyone access to that information about me. I suffered for that. I spent more time covering up my feelings, pushing back who I was, not just because of my sexual views but because I kept trying to fit into the world, or at least my view of what it took to be accepted by this world. It’s impossible. I don’t recommend it. But it took nearly twenty years before I could admit to myself, and others, that I am bisexual, that I am, more likely pansexual, and it scares me to say it, every fucking time. But I do. I’m tired of hiding.

I will never understand what it’s like to be you, and you won’t understand what it’s like to be me, but we can empathize. We can stop berating or belittling each other and start to see that we are connected, that the labels we use are chosen to make us feel accepted, not to appease another person, not to be doubted by another. Most of us don’t live loud and proud. Most of us have enough doubt of our own and seek others for comfort and support. A label is good when it makes a person feel the acceptance and understanding from another who shares that label. I’ve gone half my life without using the labels bisexual and pansexual. I do know once I had those words in my vocabulary and identified with them, I recognized that what I’d felt through my adult life others had experienced, and it was comforting.

Today’s world feels so strange and wonderful to me. I see divisiveness everywhere. I hear labels and read criticisms faulting people for identifying with those labels, and I wonder if I had these labels when I was much younger, would they have left me feeling isolated and unaccepted, or would they have helped me, like they have as an adult?

Those who doubt bisexuality or pansexuality exist (or any label that is used to express sexuality) may not understand what we’ve endured to own those labels, to accept our sexuality, and ultimately our true self. Sometimes a dialogue will bridge that understanding. Sometimes it’s useless. But without trying, labels will continue dividing us.

 

New Publishing Deal

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve signed a deal with NineStar Press for “Waking Oisin.” The tentative release date is March 2018, and I can’t wait to share his journey with you! He’s tattooed, pierced, and struggling to find his way. Good thing he meets an older man to guide him. He loves his best friend and has tattooed his favorite Rumi quote (though its paraphrased) to remind him no matter where he’s hurting, his BFF is there for him. img_3044-1

The quote reminds me that, in pain there is growth. It’s the flower blooming between the crack in the pavement. The past couple of years, and even more so in the past three months, I’ve faced a substantial hurdle with my health. The limitations it’s presented are uncomfortable and frustrating as I’m not able to do the things I once did. Fighting the change in my body did little good. So this year, I decided to accept it and used it as an opportunity to grow. Through the process of journaling and meditation, I’ve discovered that life before the health issues wasn’t as grand as I’d thought, that my motivations were misguided and unhealthy, and worse, that I wasn’t being true to myself. Had that wound never occurred, I’d still be roaming around in the dark.

Obstacles and the pain they create are opportunities to learn, to grow, and to let the light illuminate an otherwise hidden facet of ourselves. Once we see this, we can find comfort is the most uncomfortable of situations: This is Life on Life’s terms.

THE FIRST STEPS – FLASH FICTION

#GRACEKILIANDELANEY #THEFIRSTSTEPS

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.

I have a problem. I drove around the church a few times trying to figure out where to park, eventually deciding on street parking. I fumbled with my cell phone, searching the Internet and trying to find a map of the church grounds as they were larger than I’d anticipated. Giving up, I braved the rain and walked toward the basilica not knowing where in hell Room A was. Not in the basilica, that much I figured out. Standing in there, surrounded by all the holy figures had me wondering if I’d be struck down for believing new age and yogi principles rather than Catholicism; the guilt remained ingrained somewhere in my Irish DNA. Regardless, I’d completely forgot about God being a forgiving God and left the church with my heart racing.

None of those things were my big problem.

I found a building in back of the church and entered. The business-like atmosphere of offices and a receptionist had me hoping this was the place for the meeting. I asked the woman at the desk where Room A was located.

“Take the elevator up,” she answered, motioning to the steel doors behind her.

I hated elevators more than I hated admitting I have a problem.

Reluctantly, I got into the tin box and my brain went completely stupid as I stared at the three choices on the button panel–1, 2, and B. Not rocket science, that was for certain. I had no idea what to expect at this meeting and somehow pushing that button–whichever one it was because my brain failed to remember what the receptionist had said–meant that I was a few steps closer to admitting my life had become unmanageable.

The doors closed, my memory returned, and I pressed “2.” The elevator groaned, grinding metal on metal, and I thought, That’s it. God hates me. He knows I’m a fraud and that I don’t believe in the whole Judeo-Christian system. He’s going to drop me into the basement of hell and this elevator is going to crush me to death.

Continuing its protest, the elevator brought me to the second floor and opened its doors, welcoming me to the new challenge of finding the room and not a metal-twisted hell. The second floor corridor was open, exposed to the rainy day with a row of doors to my left that were dark, ominous and certainly had nothing good behind them.

With trepidation I walked, passing rooms D, C, B, and finding A—the very last door. Taking a breath, I peered through its rectangular window and saw a large room with foldable tables set in a square with people sitting, all facing each other. I pushed on the handle. Damn thing was stuck. One of the women motioned for me to jiggle it. She appeared grandmotherly, not at all intimidating, and certainly not worthy all the anxiety I’d conjured in my mind.

The beast of a handle gave way and I stepped into the room feeling like I’d passed a threshold of rebirth; there was no turning back. I was among them. I had an unmanageable problem, just like them, and they all knew it. And didn’t that suck. Or make me feel better. I couldn’t decide. The smell of stale cigarettes and old carpet hit me as I found my place in a relatively vacant section of the tables, trying to be as invisible as I could since I’d arrived five minutes late and the meeting was underway. The faux wood designs on the table intrigued me as one of the members talked about what Al-anon is. I listened in a fugue, uncertain and questioning why I’d come…oh yeah. Unmanageable. A few more people entered, one occupying the seat next to me, ruining my illusion of being invisible.

“Today, we’ll be going over Step Two,” the grandmotherly woman who’d helped me figure out how to open the stubborn door said, “‘Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Well, hell, I’d lost my sanity. I’d let drinking take that away from me. I’d let those I loved and who drank excessively worry me. My need to fix them, to help them, had me running around in circles as I tried to manage and control their problem, making it my problem.

The Share began shortly after. As I listened to the group, I understood sharing their stories weren’t part of a contest. There was no one-upping misery, nor was there a pity-party held for those who bravely told their stories, and I felt relieved. I’d been in circumstances where it was. It’d left me feeling unworthy of seeking help here in Al-anon. It made me feel like I should just shut up because my problems were miniscule when someone else gets beaten by their husband or someone is committed to a mental hospital because the pressure to cope with their significant other’s drinking combined with raising children had pushed them to the edge.

I did belong. I was powerless over alcohol. I was powerless over the alcoholics in my family. Today, I had the power to let go and surrender to a Power greater than myself. I could find peace knowing nothing I did would ever manage the alcoholic’s behavior or fix the person. Those things were up to the person and the Power, not me.

The meeting ended with the group reciting the Lord’s Prayer. After listening to their shares I realized despite my lack of belief in their particular religion, I still belonged. What mattered is we all believed in something greater than us and had surrendered the situation. We were all learning “the wisdom to know the difference,” we were all affected by alcohol, and we “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” or working toward it.

I left the meeting understanding how important community and support is when a loved one is an alcoholic. All I had to do was take that first step.

Serenity…expanded Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction…expanded

SERENITY
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Some days these are the only words that get me through the morning, like today. Anytime there is a change in routine, a change in my life, I start with an uptake of mania, which includes lack of sleep and anger, and then fall into depression. Normal bipolar behavior does this over months. Mine is rapid-cycling. I can cycle through highs and lows in days or months. Last month was my high. Now, I’m in my low. I know my triggers, and the bigger the change, the more impact it has on my psyche. I’ve been managing it without medication, something that isn’t easy, but I’ve learned through experience the pills are ineffective and often counterproductive for I lose the sensation of who I really am: a witch, a walker of between worlds. Losing that tether doesn’t prevent the Otherworlds from contacting me; it makes it harder to discern what is and isn’t on the earthly plane. I don’t like it. Continue reading

The Way You Look Tonight

There’s something about this song written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern that I have always loved. It reminds me of how one person can change your mood, brighten up your day. I love this style of music. It’s classy. It’s romantic. And there was no auto-tune. People had to actually sing and play it…live…no edits…and in one long take. I am incredibly guilty of using edits and ProTools and admire all the musicians now and of that era who worked their craft.

Inspired by the song, I created a little flash fiction this Friday. ENJOY!

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT

flashfiction012017I STOOD OUTSIDE his door, the one I’d passed through so many times without thought, knowing my friend would be inside, playing guitar or listening to vinyl or reading poetry—cuz he was like that. This time I’d be going in there and all his stuff would be there, the things I’d taken for granted like the pictures on the walls of us doing stupid shit at college together, of us at his first solo gig, me in my scrubs, looking like I’d been put through the ringer after my first eighteen hour shift in the ER. F*cker took it right as I left. He’d been waiting by my car, wide-eyed and with a double espresso.

I unlocked it. Opening it, the familiar smell of candles and him filled my senses. I ached. He belonged on that empty sofa. He belonged in this room. I stumbled through the door, feeling like a stranger in a place I’d called my second home for years. The simple one bedroom apartment with a gold record sitting as a prized possession on the mantel. I never knew someone could get a gold record and not be famous, like really famous. But he did it. He’d joke and say he was huge in Japan and I’d say, “Of course you are. You’re six foot three.”

I wandered down the short hallway and into the bedroom where only a week ago we professed our love. He’d been braver than me that night. His show went well, a small gig at a wine pub, and sure, I’d had a few glasses just for a light buzz. We’d laughed about the old wino in the corner, the drunk guy who thought everything was funny and sang along while my friend played. The guy requested The Way You Look Tonight and couldn’t sing and gave zero f*cks. Priceless. So as we sat on the couch later that night and had a laugh, we started singing, “Someday when I’m awfully low, when the world is cold…” completely off key. We laughed harder, barely getting through the line and our eyes met. I found him looking at me with a blend of vulnerability, uncertainty and want—a look that had my heart leaping out of my chest and my head all swimmy. I never knew. Years and years and I never knew he felt that way. And now…so much had changed.

I entered the bedroom with purpose not wanting to look at the bed but not able to help myself. The sheets were a mess. I took his pillow in my arms and inhaled deeply wishing he was here, laughing, tickling, kissing, hugging, and making love to me all over again. I clung to the pillow as I rifled through his closet and found a rucksack, tossed some track pants and a few shirts in it. . .

I’ll be thinking of you and the way you look tonight…

Numb, I returned to the front door only to realize I’d carried his pillow with me. I couldn’t leave it. I clutched it tighter to my chest and exited, locking the front door and leaving the memories trapped behind it of the way he looked that night.

Blog Tour Update and Yamas

Head on over to A.M. Leibowitz’s blog http://amleibowitz.com/2016/12/16/book-review-seven-minutes-grace-kilian-delaney/ for the last stop on the Seven Mintues Blog Tour for a review and an exclusive interview. This gal gave a good grilling so you’ll learn some juicy things about the characters and my writing process.

Wow and THANK YOU readers for such a wonderful reception of Seven Minutes! And a special thanks all the wonderful reviewers and bloggers who have been a part of the Seven Minute Blog Tour. Reading what others have thought—good or bad—about the novella has been such a journey and learning experience.

A Blog with a spiritual message…

I’ve been practicing yoga for several years and have revisited the Yoga Sutras, more specifically, the yamas, which are defined by Desikatchar as “discipline[s] concerning our dealings with society and the world,” or as one of my teacher’s put it, “how not to be homicial.” This month I’ve been working with the second and third yamas: Satya and Asteya.

Satya is truth. The election brought out the worst in many people, and words, despite what our president-elect believes, do have power. What we say impacts those around us, just as what they say impacts us. Think about the last time someone complimented you. The last time someone said something hurtful to you. When we bring awareness to our words, this is satya.

The internal work of satya is the dialogue we hold with ourselves. When we judge ourselves or act in a manner that is not true to our self, we are creating harm—ahimsa, the first yama—and not living our truth. The quote below is one of my favorites:

Whenever you’re not being true to yourself, not saying what you need, making excuses, rationalizing your behavior, telling half-truth, or flat-out lying, especially to yourself, you’re giving your power away. Sacred Success, Barbara Stanny

We diminish our power and the beautiful beings that we are when we don’t live and speak our truth. That doesn’t mean we want to tell our friend that the gift she bought us is absolutely terrible, and we’re returning it—that’s ahimsa, causing harm, the first yama. Balancing truth and harm is tricky, especially during this time of year when stress is high.

Asteya, non-stealing, seems obvious in meaning. Pealing away the layers of asteya, it is more complex than I’d initially thought. We’ve been taught or blessed with the moral compass not to steal because we shouldn’t take something that belongs to another person. What if it’s something intangible, like time? Have you ever had someone make you late for something or been late for an appointment? Time was stolen then, and time is more valuable than any material thing because it cannot be replaced.

Asteya is also, according to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras, not coveting what belongs to others. This is a very heavy issue around the holidays. When so many people are in need and others get cars for gifts, it’s difficult to find balance, to not want more, to not be envious. The problem is, when we do this we are ignoring the blessings we do have, no matter how few we think there are, and passing judgment upon that person (or ourselves), which may or may not be the truth, satya.

We all have to share this planet and the best way to make it better it is to start with ourselves, watching our thoughts, words, and actions.

I wish everyone a very Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year!

Upcoming Blog Tour

Why follow me on my blog tour? You’ll get to read exclusive material, character interviews, learn some dirt about me and my bad taste in music as a kid, see what Devon thought of Stone when they first met, and by visiting these places, you’ll put a smile on my face and make the lovely bloggers who’ve agreed to help a gal out with promotion very happy!

TODAY ONLY! Get 35% off when you preorder Seven Minutes from Dreamspinner Press! That means its only $2.59, which is less than your peppermint mocha!

December 1 MM Good Book Reviews

December 6 Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter

December 8 Alpha Book Club. org

December 9 Open Skye Book Reviews

December 12 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words