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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Writing Sample Saturday: City of Angels

I've been going through some of my older works and found a gem I wanted to share.
It's like a movie review with a personal touch. I wrote it for Chicken Soup For the Soul years ago and I hope you all enjoy it.
Believe in guardian angels.
Or at the very least, that someone truly is watching out for you.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I’ve always loved the idea of guardian angels watching over us. Someone to help us up when we fall, to comfort us while we grieve, to guide us down the path we choose and to guide us back when we go off track. The movie, City of Angels, strengthened my belief in angels and gave me comfort during a very tough time.
My grandparents were the most important people in my life. So, their deaths were excruciating for me. I lost them both within two years of each other. My grandmother’s death, although upsetting, wasn’t a shock. She’d been fighting Alzheimer’s most of my life so I had been able to accept, and make peace with, her death long before it happened. When Grandma died, I was sad but I was comforted by the fact Grandpa was still there.
But a couple of years later, the worst happened.
Grandpa had a stroke and was gone within days. I was out of town when he passed away so I didn’t even get to say goodbye. The way he died, without warning, took a part of me too. My soul was lost and I stayed in a fog for several years.
I moved to a different city to start fresh. I figured with new faces, new experiences, I’d be able to move past my grief. But it seemed I couldn’t get past my sadness no matter how many good things would come my way. Then one day, I went to the local dollar theatre to catch an afternoon Matinee.
I’ve always loved movies. They take you off to a different world where you can forget about your own life for a bit. We can laugh, cry, or scare ourselves silly. Or, better still, they can kick you in the rear end with reality.
The dollar theatre showed movies no longer showing in regular theatres. I always thought of them as a place to see movies cheaper – as renting them – but you got to see them on the big screen so you were still seeing the movie the way you were supposed to. That particular day, City Of Angels was playing. I shielded myself from knowing what happened in it so I’d enjoy it more.
I’m glad I did.
I never disclose details of a movie in case others haven’t seen it yet, but this movie was the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. There is no other word to describe it.
It’s just beautiful.

I was carried on a wave of emotions from the beginning where angels gathered on a beach to watch the glorious sunrise over the ocean to the ending credits rolling up with the haunting song Alanis Morrisette echoing through the tiny theater. As the lights came back on, I along with every other person there, sat weeping uncontrollably. For me, it was the first time I’d allowed myself to cry since my grandparents had passed away.
I think I was meant to see that movie at that particular point in time. I also believe my grandparents, somehow, guided me to that theatre to hear the messages in City Of Angels.
Unconditional love is always with us even if we’re only able to experience it for a little while. Or it is taken away from us suddenly. It’s what gives us strength to get up and face another day. Most important to remember is that love never dies.
The most significant message I took from the movie is a quote from Nicholas Cage’s character, which I wrote on a piece of paper and still keep in my wallet. When asked by another angel whether Cage regretted giving up what he did for Ryan’s character he answered, “I would rather have had only one day with her…to feel her love than to have lived a lifetime without it.”
Because of that movie, I finally allowed myself to grieve. I also learned, maybe, it’s not such an outrageous idea to believe we have guardian angels watching over us.

I know I do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Talk About It/Writing Prompt Wednesday: Bookiversary of Not Just Spirited

I'm so sorry that I have had to combine some of my daily posts together. We've had a lot going on around here and, well, sometimes, other things have to go on the back burner.

But they can't stay there.

Life is what we make of it. Yes, that is such a cheesy saying, and I have been told that many times, but it's true. You are what you surround yourself with. You become who you are based on those you choose to be around and you have chosen to become and influenced by. You only allow your heart to open so much due to what you've allowed to harden yourself to.

Don't allow that to happen.

Trust me. I have been there...many, many times. Allowing yourself to be consumed with negative energy, and surrounding yourself with those that have absorbed themselves in it, does nothing but make you stay in a very dark place. And that dark place is very powerful.

You have the strength to move out of that dark place and to move towards brighter things. It may not seem like it when you are in that place, but be strong enough to stand up and push through.

~ Let go of negative thoughts.
~ Let go of negative people that drag you down.
~ Don't allow anger to run your life.
~ Surround yourself with love and positive energy.
~ Do one thing every day for yourself that makes you happy.
~ Allow your body to rest, whether it is through meditation or rest.
~ If there is something in your life you are passionate about - whether it is music, poetry, writing, reading - embrace it and turn to THAT before anything else.
~ Realize that social media is a convenience and not something that should run your life, because there is a lot of negativity out there too.
~ Be the best you that you can be, when you don't think you compare to others.
~ Accept help, when it IS helpful, with grace because someone else may need you too one day.
~ Love with your whole heart, even if it can hurt sometimes.
~ Don't allow others to slam you down, hurt you or push you into a being that you weren't meant to be. It isn't always easy to recognize when it is happening, but when you do, stand up and move forward.
~ Do not allow yourself to enable someone that is capable of caring for themselves. Trust me when I say that is a downfall.
~ Don't ever allow someone to tell you that you can't do something.I tell my kids all the time that there is no such word as 'can't'. Even if the task is hard, trying is the most important part.
~When life gives you a challenge, take it head on and persevere to the best of your ability. No one on this planet is perfect, nor should anyone expect perfection.

This is the bookiversary of my memoir, 'Not Just Spirited'. These are all words I have said to my two children who are on the Spectrum and live with SPD. Both have overcome so many odds and have grown into extraordinary young people. Did I have anything to do with it?

Meh...I don't know.

What I DO know is that all I did was give them the courage and strength to keep moving forward to achieve all they could be. A girl who feared touch to the point she'd run away from people is giving hugs and has her first job. The boy who couldn't speak until he was four is a math and science genius and so sociable.

Be ALL you can be...how you can be.

Today, write about how you can be the best you, you can be.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Strength

(We are combining our 'Talk About It' and 'Writing Prompts' today as I was unable to post yesterday.)

Strength.

People's interpretation of 'strength' fascinates me. Most of us think of it in terms of the muscles or buffness you show or how much you can lift or how hard you can hit someone. But it is so much more than that.

Strength is mostly inside of us, which is something most of us don't realize. We need it to fight off health struggles we never asked for. We need it to fight against invisible disorders others often judge us for, but don't realize we are trying to deal with. We need it to bring up courage to face adversities we are faced with, without our permission. We need it to overcome the most severe times in our lives, and to keep moving us forward.

I chose this quote because Ghandi was an amazing human being who had to be one of the strongest people I have come to known. He gave his life to fight for what he truly believed in, and his body was small and weak but he wasn't.

He was strong. And he was right...struggles develop your strengths. Don't let those struggles drag you down. Use them to give you the motive to lift you up. Trust me when I say if I allowed my struggles to drag me down, I wouldn't still be here.

As he said, do not surrender.

Your writing prompt today is to reflect on a time when you were faced with issues that made you want to give up...to quit...to say, 'no, I can't'...and how you overcame it.

We all have that inner strength.

We just need to learn how to tap into it, draw it out and draw from it to keep life moving.

Happy writing!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Music Mantra Monday: Josh Groban - You Raise Me Up



Okay, with everything going on lately, I thought we needed a little inspiration to keep us moving forward.

I know so many people who are in pain right now.,,suffering from illness, from money issues, from not feeling good enough to get through it all. But we all have that one person in our lives that gives us the courage and strength to move forward. You need that. It helps to surround yourself with people who you aspire to be, trust me, but at the same time there are precious few that are truly there when times are the roughest and when we need that extra boost...that push to keep moving.

I know.

This song aspires everything that I am trying to achieve right now. I have kids with physical, emotional and mental issues; I am dealing with 'stuff' too. I am sure there are many of you out there who are too. But you have to remember that as bad as things can be, as low as you can go and you can't find a way out, you always have someone who has those strong shoulders who can pull you through.

Just remember to always turn to them. Those strong shoulders are the ones that will always be there when you need them the most, even when you don't ask them to be, or even when you don't realize you need them. Don't turn them away.

Embrace them.
Hold on to them as tight as you need to.
Accept that, in your time of weakness, those shoulders are there for you.

It has taken me a very long time to accept help, love and assistance from others, and it came at a huge cost. Don't let that happen to you. Enjoy what comes to you when it comes to you.

Have a happy Monday and enjoy this song. Keep it in your heart.

I know I always have.




Sunday, October 16, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Crispy Fried Tofu w/Peanut sauce (It's Better than it sounds)

Alright, I know that it's Sunday but we've missed our regular posts this weekend so I thought I'd share a vegetarian dish today, for our vegetarian followers.

I am what you'd call a 'disgruntled vegetarian/vegan' in that I don't mind meat but it doesn't like me very much. But it's very important to ensure to get all the appropriate intake of protein, iron and other vitamins that you may miss from not consuming meat.

If you find the right recipes, you'll be amazed to find out how you can create dishes that actually either taste like meat, or don't make you miss it as much. This was one of them for me.

I've had to alter this recipe slightly, simply because we are a nut-free home and there are peanuts included. I will include my alterations for fellow nut-free families out there, which are bolded.

Crispy Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce

1 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 red chili pepper, in strips (I use chili flakes)
2 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped
1/2 cup oil (I use veggie oil, but you can use one with a higher smoke point)
7 oz of firm tofu, cut into cubes (this would be one of those tofu bricks)
Juice of one lemon (lemon juice from the bottle works too)
2 green onions
1/2 tbsp ketjap manis (this is Indoneasian sweet soy sauce, but normal stuff works or bean sauce, depending on whether you want just a sweet flavour or sweet/salty)
2 tbsp palm or soft brown sugar
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (peanut butter or peabutter, which I use, are options)

~ Place onion, garlic, chilli pepper and lemongrass in a food processor and grind to a puree, or pound the ingredients using a mortar and pestle.
~ Heat the oil in a wok (or another larger pan). Add the tofu, handfuls at a time if need be, and deep fry until golden brown. Allow to lay on a papertowel to allow excess oil to be removed. Sprinkle with salt. (Basically, you cook the tofu the way you would cook fresh cut french fries)
~ Once tofu is ready, fry half of the spice paste in another pan until the aromas are released. After a few minutes, stir in the lemon juice, and then the blocks of tofu.
~ Sprinkle the green onion, then your soy sauce. Allow to cool to room temperature.
~ Heat 1 tbsp of oil in your pan, then add the rest of the spice paste. Add your sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and stir in the peanuts (usually at this point I add in my peabutter instead of the peanuts). Heat gently until the sauce thickens.
~ Either add the tofu mixture with the peanut sauce as a dish on it's own, or mix the tofu in with the sauce and serve with rice or noodles.

DELISH, and enjoy!

Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!


Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRr-vJ8W7YA