Saturday Night Serenade–Stepping Stone

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. R was hit by a car in the Publix parking lot. He’s fine, he wasn’t hurt, really, but the most remarkable thing about it is that combined with all the other setbacks we’ve had recently, getting hit by a car wasn’t all that remarkable.

Over the past couple of years, the real estate business has kicked us in the teeth repeatedly. From the couple who was ready to sell their house then ‘2-more-weeks’ed us for TEN MONTHS, to they guy who has had signed contracts on 5 different houses and BACKED OUT OF EVERY ONE, and every wishy-washy client in between, we’ve grown increasingly behind in our financial obligations.

Then there’s the delightful person who tried to use our debit card in Miami. Lucky for us, they could’t guess the correct zip code. And both our cats died within two days.

To try to help make ends meet, in addition to writing, I’ve been teaching online for nearly a year. Mr. R has been using our only car, a lease, to drive Uber.

In a desperate attempt to save our home from foreclosure, we hired an attorney to help us file bankruptcy. Again, the day we signed the paperwork, that was the absolute least stressful part of that day. The leased car is due to be returned in August. The lawyer said not to worry about the final two payments, she’s rolling it into the bankruptcy. So we’ve blown way past the mileage limit driving it for Uber. It was a relief to think of no car payments.

Then the battery died. Long story short, we borrowed a battery charger from a friend and Mr. R stayed out all night driving Uber to earn enough money to replace a $120 battery on a car we’re giving back.

What we’ve realized, though, is that if we follow through with the bankruptcy, we’ll be chaining ourselves to an outrageously high mortgage payment for the next five years. Sure we can come up with the payment this month. But what about next month? And the month after that?

It just doesn’t make sense. What we’re realizing is that we have to get out from under the house. And Mr. R is planning to go back to television news while doing real estate part-time. Somewhere, there’s a new adventure waiting. And it doesn’t involve the level of stress we’ve lived with for the last two years.

So our house is on the market. Priced to sell quickly. We even have an Open House today.

Where are we going? I have no idea. But tonight’s song touches my soul. This ain’t no stumbling block. It’s just a stepping stone.

I hope you’re enjoying this fine summer weekend. Try to stay cool. And be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–Dreamers

If it’s summer, it’s time for my lazy-days guilty pleasure, America’s Got Talent. I know. We shouldn’t love this show. The title isn’t even grammatically correct.

And do we really need to watch dudes getting shot out of cannons, dudes using their nipples to pull tractor-trailers, creepy contortionists, and mediocre magicians. I would say yes, because among all the rabble you find diamonds in the rough, dreamers, many of whom have put their dreams on hold while they got ‘real’ jobs and watched time go by.

One such contestant was Chris Klafford who appeared last week. His unique take on Imagine held the audience and judges spellbound. See what you think.

I think part of the show’s popularity is that most of us root for the underdog who gets a second chance. Because if a large Swede with skinny jeans and the voice of an angel gets his shot at his dreams, maybe there’s hope for the rest of us, too.

I hope you’re enjoying these ‘dog days’ of summer. Be sure to hug those you love. And maybe dare to dream a little.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Going Home

I’m a happy girl.

I’m the mom of two incredible young men. Life hasn’t always been what it should be, and we’ve been through some hard times, not the least of which was living with a controlling narcissist, and dealing with the aftermath of divorce.

Each of us emerged damaged in our own ways. and we’ve worked to move forward. But it’s been a struggle, and my older son has had a hard time of it. Following high school, he drifted, finally ending up in the Air Force for a time. Full of anger and bitterness, he stayed away, refusing to keep in contact. In fact, I haven’t seen him in eight years.

Until three days ago.

Out of the blue, he responded to a Facebook message I sent him a month ago. He and his girlfriend were visiting her aunt in Tampa and it wasn’t going well. Naturally, I invited them to come here.

When I hugged him (maybe I squeezed him just a little too hard), he was shaking. I think he was afraid of how he’d be received. He’d convinced himself that I hated him.

A mom always loves her kids, no matter what. And we’ve had the nicest three days I’m had in a long time. Who says you can’t go home?

They’re leaving tonight for the 24-hour drive back to western Missouri. But we have plans to get together again soon. And I have his phone number. Like I said, I’m a happy girl

Be sure to hug those you love. Let them know you love them.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–This is Me

June is Pride Month. I could endeavor to explain the meaning, but I’d rather defer to a source that can do it so much more succinctly than I ever could.

June is Pride Month, a month to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and asexual people, plus all other sexual orientations and genders.  The month is celebrated in June in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, which kicked off the first major demonstrations for gay rights in America. On June 28, 1969 police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village, but bar patrons — gay men and drag queens — fought back, a spontaneous incident which is now marked as the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States. Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist, organized a march and other events to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the riots and is known as the “Mother of Pride.” Today, Pride Month features marches around the country, educational and awareness events, and parties to celebrate gay pride!

NationalToday.com

While I am not gay, I have a number of friends who are. My step-daughter is. And I support them 100%. I can’t imagine living in a world where I could not be my authentic self, where I had to pretend to be just like everyone else out of fear of rejection or worse.

There’s been a story in the news in the last couple of days about a lesbian couple who were attacked on a bus in London. It seems a gang of troglodites were goading them to kiss, and when they refused, the women were beaten. What the hell? How is it that people aren’t left alone to live their lives?

Our good friends Susan and Lori have been married for years, and they adopted a little boy a couple of years ago. There has never been a child more doted on in the history of time. Together, they are a beautiful family.

But times are getting scary. There’s what seems to be a global movement to restrict the rights of people who don’t look or act or believe the way those in power do. Make no mistake about it–LBGTQ rights are human rights. To marginalize groups of people is to dehumanize them. And when you dehumanize people, you can treat them any way you like. Ask the Nazis.

Tonight’s serenade is a triumphant celebration of being exactly who you were created to be. I hope it find you and yours well. Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Need a Do-Over?

In golf, it’s called a Mulligan. It’s a do-over, a chance to fix a mistake, an opportunity to do something better.

Thank goodness life often presents the chance to begin again. Where I am right now isn’t where I have to be a year from now. There are so many options.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I’m a huge fan of Norah Jones. I’m thrilled that she has a brand new album out. Tonight’s serenade is the title track from Begin Again. There may or may not be a subtle political thought in this jazz-inspired song.

I don’t know in what situation you find yourself, but if you’ve ever wished for a chance to start over, I would just say that as long as you’re on this side of the dirt, it’s not too late. If life is what you make it, why not make it happy. A mistake is not the end of the line, it’s the beginning of you learning what you didn’t know before.

I hope you’re enjoying this weekend. Sunday is Mothers’ Day, so remember to tell your mom how much you love her.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Sometimes Stories DO Write Themselves

Since February when my most recent book was published, I’ve been hard at work on the follow-up, the second book in the Redheads & Ranchers series, a novel called HUNTER’S PRIDE.

This week as I worked on a scene in which the hero of the story walks into a small-town bar, I wanted to set the mood of the place. As I imagined Hunter McFall walking into the North Star, this song, Gimme Three Steps by Lynyrd Skynyrd began playing in my head.

Writing experts will tell you there are two types of fiction writers: planners and pantsers. Planners create a detailed outline of their entire story before they ever write a single word. Pantsers (as in fly by the seat of) jump right into the deep end and begin writing the story.

I think of myself as more of a plantser. I don’t outline anything, but I do know where the story begins, where it ends, and the major events that happen in between. I keep a notebook wherein I scribble basics like main characters, their names, descriptions, and details, other characters in their orbit, various significant plot points, and setting details. Mind you, these items are added in a haphazard, stream-of-consciousness sort of way. I even sketch out important places so I can get the details right. My notebook more resembles a madman’s manifesto than a novel outline.

But the cool thing about doing it that way is that often the story unfolds for me in much the same way as I hope it does for the reader. And I end up with moments like when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gimme Three Steps comes forward and says, ‘I belong here.’

I’m a Southern girl. I grew up in Tennessee, and I’ve always loved Southern rock. So it’s not really surprising that some of those songs are the ones that present themselves to me. I suppose it all goes to a writer’s voice.

So for tonight’s serenade, I hope you enjoy this oldie.
Fun Fact: My mom’s name is Linda Lou.
Could this song be about her? Hmmm… 😉

Be sure to hug those you love. Have a happy Saturday night!

By the way, if you’re interested,
JENNY’S VOICE
is Redheads & Ranchers Book 1,
and it’s available now
wherever you buy digital books.
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Saturday Night Serenade–Easter Thoughts

Happy Easter!
Don’t you just love a long holiday weekend?  And the chance to get together with friends and loved ones to share customs, traditions, and a nice big dinner?

Easter is really a tale of two holidays–one all about hidden eggs, colorful baskets, and fun treats, the other about something a bit deeper.

Mr. R and I consider ourselves to be more spiritual rather than religious.  To my way of thinking, spirituality is more about being grateful for your blessings and wanting to pay it forward, and less about following a rigid set of regulations and judging others who don’t quite measure up.

I love Joan Osbourne’s One of Us.  It poses an interesting question: What if God was one of us?  What if that homeless person asking for spare change was God?  What if that person on Facebook with different politics was God?

Would we treat them differently?  Would we be more kind, more compassionate?  When Jesus was actually on earth, we weren’t especially kind.  Something to think about, anyway.

For Easter, I also want to share my favorite song of the holiday.  It’s a moldy oldie by the late Keith Green.  When I was a teenager, his music meant a lot to me.  Sadly, he died in a plane crash in 1982 at the age of 29.

Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover, I hope this holiday weekend finds you surrounded by loved ones.  Be sure to tell them how much they mean to you.

Happy Saturday night!