Saturday Night Serenade–Left Asking Why

It was a rough week.  We lost two creative souls to the private demons we had no idea they battled.

Kate Spade created, among other things, handbags I’ve always admired and been too poor to own.  She always seemed hip and funky and carefree.  Who knew that she suffered from bipolar disorder and depression?

I’ve been a fan of Anthony Bourdain for a long time.  In fact, one of my characters mentions him in my first novel, Luke & Bella.  In the book, they create a travel program very loosely based on Bourdain’s Travel Channel show, No Reservations.  He always seemed to be an asshole, frankly, greeting the world on his own terms.  But he always conveyed a deep respect for the people and cultures he visited.  To hear that he’s gone, and by his own hand, is simply shocking.

We’re left with the inevitable question, why?  Why did two people who seemed to have everything just quit?  The fact that they each left a young daughter behind is heartbreaking.  That’s not something you get over.

Which brings us to this point: We have to start a conversation about mental illness.  Not talking about it is toxic.  It’s not some dirty, shameful secret.  Struggling does not make you defective, it makes you human.  Talk to someone.  Tell them what’s going on.  Seek professional help.

If you had heart disease or diabetes, you’d see a doctor.  Illness is illness, physical or mental.  There are those who will criticize.  Fuck’em.  Take care of yourself.

If you or someone you love needs help, please call this number.  I’ve been through some shit in my life.  But the thing I’ve noticed is that the sun still comes up every morning.  It’s a sure sign that you are loved, you have value, and you have hope.

I needed a little Sweet Baby James tonight.  I hope you enjoy.  Be sure to hug those you love this weekend.

Happy Saturday night!

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Royal Romance

Because who doesn’t love a
modern-day adult fairy tale?

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Have you enjoyed the royal wedding as much as I have?  It’s so romantic, right?  Every girl’s fantasy!

And now that you’re in the mood, CHASING ORDINARY is my modern-day adult fairy tale.  Here’s what it’s all about.

Sculptor Petey Cavanaugh is too busy with her art and her work on the family sheep ranch in Montana to pay attention to celebrity gossip.  Which is why, when she meets the crown prince of Beruvia one rainy Manhattan night, she has no idea who he really is.  As far as she knows, he’s just Nik, wealthy Eurpoean businessman.

Nik is enchanted with her from the start.  She’s smart, funny, gorgeous, and she treats him like a regular person.  Petey’s his first ever taste of ordinary, everything he ever wanted.  If he doesn’t blow it.

How about a little teaser?

The moment Petey closed the apartment door behind herself, she burst into hot tears. Jules, who had been relaxing in the living room with her Kindle, immediately jumped up and came over to her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, reaching for her hand.

“I’m just so…fucking stupid,” Petey growled through her tears.

“But what happened?” Jules frowned deeply. “Did Nik hurt you? Because I will kick his ass!”

Petey was crying too hard to answer, so Jules put an arm around her and led her to the kitchen counter. While Petey settled onto a stool and continued to sob, Jules poured them both a shot of Cuervo Silver. “Here,” she said, handing a glass to Petey, “suck this down and tell me exactly what happened.”

Sniffling, Petey tossed back the tequila and coughed as it hit her throat. Jules downed hers quickly, and repoured for both of them. “So talk,” she urged her friend.

“H-he lied to me,” Petey stuttered, trying to calm her voice.

Jules gasped. “He’s married! That son of a bitch.”

Petey shook her head miserably. “No. That’s not it. He told me he was in international business.”

“And he’s not?” Jules asked.

“No! He’s the fucking prince of Beruvia!” Petey’s tears started anew.

Jules blinked. “He’s the prince of Beruvia? Nik?” She shook her head. “Pete, that doesn’t even make sense. The prince of Beruvia is Prince Stefan. He’s all over the tabloids all the time. Here, I’ll show you.”
Cueing up Google Images on her phone, she chose a headshot of a handsome blonde man with stormy blue eyes, and she held it up to Petey.

“Hon, this is Prince Stefan of Beruvia.”

Petey peered at the image and bawled anew. “I know! He lied to me!”

Realization began to dawn on Jules. “This? This is your Nik?” Her eyes widened. “You fucked the prince of Beruvia in my guest room?”

She watched as Petey crossed her arms on the counter and rested her head on them, her back shuddering with sobs. Jules rubbed her back soothingly. “Petey, seriously, how did you not know he was a prince? I mean, everybody knows who he is. He’s like, Europe’s most eligible divorcé.”

Petey raised up her head slightly to scowl at Jules. “Well, thanks, because I wasn’t feeling stupid enough already.”

Jules shook her head and gazed out over the living room. “Geez, Pete, he’s always in the tabloids and on the gossip shows.”

“I live on a sheep ranch. In my spare time, which is precious little, I work on my sculptures. I don’t have time or patience for stupid celebrity gossip.”

“So how did you find out?” Jules wondered.

Petey, calmer now, sat up and swiped at her face with her hands. “We were jumped by a bunch of photographers outside of Paddy’s. Nik’s-” She paused, scowling. “Whoever’s people, they pushed us into a car and drove us away.”

“Paparazzi?” Jules glanced at Petey. “You realize you’re probably online right now.”

“Stop it!” Petey gasped.

Pushing away from the kitchen counter, Jules padded into her bedroom and retrieved her laptop. She returned to the counter and fired up the device. “Let’s see,” she murmured.

Watching over her friend’s shoulder, Petey watched as Jules entered Prince Stefan into the search bar. Immediately images of the man who’d introduced himself as ‘Nik’ filled the screen. Jules refined the search to ‘most recent’ and there she was, Petey Cavanaugh, gaping wide-eyed as she and Nik were pushed into the back of a black Mercedes.

“Motherfucker,” Petey breathed.

From deep within her purse, her phone began to ring. Jules glanced at her. “Are you going to get that?”

Petey shook her head. “It’s probably him.”

The ringing continued. Jules pursed her lips. “I think you should get it.”

“I’m not answering,” Petey said, crossing her arms defiantly.

“Then I’m going to get it.” Grasping Petey’s bag from the floor where she’d dropped it, Jules rooted around until she found the device. She showed Nik’s image to Petey before swiping to unlock the phone. “Hello?”

“Oh, thank God, Petey, I’m so sorry. Please allow me to explain,” pleaded a deep voice with a British accent.

“No, this isn’t Petey, this is Jules. Petey’s very upset. She doesn’t feel up to talking right now.” Quietly, Jules pressed the button for ‘speaker’.

“I beg your pardon,” replied the voice. “I know she’s upset, and I know she feels that I deceived her, but I need to explain everything. Is there any way she’ll talk to me?”

Jules looked to Petey, who flashed double middle fingers and mouthed a silent, “Fuck you!”

She frowned into the phone, “Yeah, Nik, that’s not looking too good right now. Tell you what, give me a few minutes and I’ll see what I can do.”

CHASING ORDINARY is a 5-STAR reviewed contemporary fairy tale for grown-ups.

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Live the fairy tale!

Get CHASING ORDINARY
at your favorite online bookseller.

Saturday Night Serenade–Happy Mother’s Day!

So many moms are on my mind this weekend.

Obviously my mom, who raised me, taught me right from wrong, and continues to love me to this day.

And I’m the mom of two tall, red-haired men, one who recently fulfilled his commitment to the U.S. Air Force, and the other, happily married and working for a software company.

I think of my friend Jan, the single mom of three, including a teenager with profound autism.  I call her the most bad-ass mom I know, and she is.  I don’t know how she does it.

Then there’s Lynn, whose son died on her sofa from a drug overdose a year ago to the day.  I can’t imagine her pain as she continues to mourn.  I don’t think you ever recover from that.

I believe our friend Eric qualifies.  His wife died after a courageous battle with breast cancer when their daughter was three.  Eric stepped into shoes too big for anyone to fill.  He deserves Mother’s Day AND Father’s Day.

Our good friends Susan and Lori just adopted a beautiful baby boy.  We had lunch with them recently, and they recounted the story of how Freddie became theirs.  They’d adjusted their expectations, looking forward to adopting an older child, when fate intervened, bringing them this gorgeous blondie with huge blue eyes.  It will be a happy Mother’s Day at their house.

And my niece Lauren just had a beautiful baby girl, Riley.  Which is crazy, I remember Lauren was born.  Now she’s planning a wedding for herself and her fiance in the next year.

Families come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  I think the defining factor is love.  Which we need more of in this world.  So it’s good to celebrate mothers.

Tonight’s serenade is Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion.  It’s meant to be a romantic love song, really.  But I’ve heard it in the context of Mother’s Day, and I think it fits.  I’ve included the lyrics below, and full disclosure, I changed a couple of babys to Mamas.   So sue me.  Not really, I’m poor.  All you’ll get is a mountain of debt and a floppy-eared German shepherd.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love, especially all the mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

“Because You Loved Me”

For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I’ll be forever thankful Mama,
You’re the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You’re the one who saw me through through it allYou were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ’cause you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved meOoh, Mama

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand, I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love, I had it all
I’m grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don’t know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ’cause you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love into my life
You’ve been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ’cause you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
(My voice.)
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ’cause you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

 

Saturday Night Serenade–Something That We Do

I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I traveled through Nashville countless times on my way to visit relatives in Kentucky.  But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I first stayed there for a couple of nights.

Nashville is a cool town, with lots to see and do.  We stayed downtown, and walked all over the place.  We got a little rowdy in a huge bar called the Wildhorse Saloon, and we didn’t miss the opportunity to stop by the Ryman Auditorium, the sacred cathedral of country music.

The Grand Ole Opry started out as a live radio show in 1925, and was housed in the Ryman starting in 1943 and remained there until 1974, when it moved to its current, larger location.  In the center of the new stage, there’s a six-foot circle of oak that came from the Ryman stage, symbolically and literally the heart of the theatre.

Even if you’re not a country music fan, the Grand Ole Opry is a sight to behold.  It’s still a live radio show, every Saturday night.  It also airs on television.  But to be there is an experience.

Because unbeknownst to listeners, the Opry stage is like a three-ring circus, with something always happening.  While someone is performing, someone who just finished is still out there breaking down, and the next act up is busy getting set up.  Groups of tourists enter and leave the stage, snapping photos and getting autographs if they’re lucky.

In addition to being a show and a venue, the Opry is something of a Hall of Fame as well.  Performers who are deemed worthy are invited to join, and it’s a huge honor.  It’s also a commitment–Opry members are required to perform there a certain number of times per year.

There is a set schedule every week, so when you purchase your tickets, you know who you’ll be seeing.  BUT…  Performers who have a little time available often pop in unannounced, the better to get some of their annual obligation out of the way.

And so it happened that the night we went to the Grand Ole Opry, we were treated to a performance we didn’t expect.  As one act was finishing up, we noticed an increased level of excitement at the side of the stage.

As soon as that performer left the stage, Clint Black and his co-writer Skip Ewing walked out, each carrying an acoustic guitar and a stool.  Sitting on the apron of the stage, they began to play Something That We Do.  The entire place went dark, with only a spotlight on the pair, and for the first time all night, a hush fell over the room, all of us spellbound by this beautiful song.

I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe the words we said
Forever will ring true
Love is certain, love is kind
Love is yours and love is mine
But it isn’t something that we find
It’s something that we do
It’s holding tight, lettin’ go
It’s flying high and laying low
Let your strongest feelings show
And your weakness, too
It’s a little and a lot to ask
An endless and a welcome task
Love isn’t something that we have
It’s something that we do
We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can’t tell where I end and where you start
It gives me heart remembering how
We started with a simple vow
There’s so much to look back on now
Still it feels brand-new
We’re on a road that has no end
And each day we begin again
Love’s not just something that we’re in
It’s something that we do
We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can’t tell where I end and where you start
Love is wide, love is long
Love is deep and love is strong
Love is why I love this song
And I hope you love it too
I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
Love isn’t just those words we said
It’s something that we do
There’s no request too big or small
We give ourselves, we give our all
Love isn’t someplace that we fall
It’s something that we do

It’s a moment I’ll never forget.  And I can’t shake the message of the song, that love isn’t somewhere we fall, or something we find, it’s something we do.  Every day.  Every moment.

I hope this evening finds you well, and surrounded by those you love.  Be sure to give them a hug.

Happy Saturday night!

PS–I’m adding another beautiful Clint Black song, this one a duet with his wife, Lisa.  ❤

Saturday Night Serenade–Standing Outside the Fire

Need a little inspiration tonight?

I spent a few hours today with some of the most amazing people.  Horses That Help is an organization right in my own neighborhood that puts special needs kids on horses every first Saturday of the month.

Mr. R has been a volunteer with them for a while, but today was my first time.  I usually spend Saturday working, but they were short on ‘side walkers’ this time, so I agreed to go.

They’ve been doing these monthly events for years, and they have it down to a science.  While an experienced horse person leads each horse, two side walkers stand on either side of the rider, ensuring that he or she doesn’t fall off.

I’ve heard it said before, and today, I witnessed it for myself–there is a transformation that occurs when you put a kid on horse.  I did three 25-minute rounds, and met three great kids.  HTH doesn’t make a big deal about pointing out specific disabilities, but I’m guessing my new friends were on the ‘spectrum’.  Without exception, once these kids were perched in the saddle, their faces lit up, and they chatted easily about everything under the sun.

One kid screamed and thrashed around as the adults put him on a Shetland pony called Icee.  But once they got moving, the boy’s screams turned to infectious giggles.  It was amazing.

Better yet, the transformations I saw weren’t just the kids.  The parents lit up,  too, watching their special needs kids smiling and laughing and having a great time.  They waved and took photos and videos as we passed by.  I imagine those moments are few and far between in those homes.  What a treat to be able to relax, and for half an hour let someone else care for your child in a loving, judgement-free place.

Tonight’s serenade is Standing Outside the Fire by Garth Brooks.  The theme of the song is that if you never really put yourself out there, break out of your comfort zone, you never really live.   The staff of HTH and the families who take advantage of their free program know exactly what it is to dance within the flame.  They do it everyday.

I’m exhausted.  We must have walked miles around and around the enclosure.  My right arm is stiff from holding onto the saddle to keep the kids from sliding off.  It was close to 90 degrees and the sun was relentless.

But I know where I’ll be May 5.

Maybe you know what it is to dance withing the flame yourself.  If not, it might be the right time to give it a whirl.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

AND…
I’m including the link to HTH’s website.
Check it out.
There’s even a picture of Icee.
And there’s a place to donate if you feel so led.
I know they’d really appreciate it.

Horses That Help

Saturday Night Serenade–Happy Easter!

It’s the end of March, the weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer.  And it’s finally Spring.  Hopefully, it feels that way where you are.

Happy Easter!  It’s a time of renewal and rebirth, a time for peace.  For this week’s serenade, I have a couple of classics from Cat Stevens, or, if you prefer, Yusuf Islam as he’s now known.  I imagine his new name stirs up some feelings for some people.  Who am I to judge?  I call myself Pandora Spocks, for corn’s sake.  😉

What I know is that Morning Has Broken is a sweet reminder of mercies that are new every morning.  And for that, I’m grateful.

And as long as we’re talking Cat Stevens, I couldn’t resist this performance of Peace Train from the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  I saw the whole show, and this was the surprise highlight.

This Easter, suppose we embraced peace.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family, no matter what holiday you celebrate.  Be sure to hug the ones you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Heroes

Tonight’s song is two great tastes that taste great together.  The Foo Fighters join my hero Joan Jett for two of her most iconic songs, Bad Reputation and I Love Rock & Roll.  These classic punk tunes came out in the early 80s, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.

I’ve always said that when I grow up, I want to be Joan Jett.  She was revolutionary, decades ago challenging the notion that women couldn’t be bad-ass rockers.  And she never gave a damn about her bad reputation.  How amazing to free yourself from the concern over what other people think!

That attitude is really the very heartbeat of rock & roll.

It’s also the heartbeat of the new heroes, teenagers who, in the face of tragedy, terror, and abuse from adults who happen to disagree with them, continue to sound off, to call out the hypocrisy they see, and to call for change to make the world a better place.

They don’t give a damn about their bad reputation either.  They just want to feel safe.  And they’re not going away anytime soon.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!