Trip Around the Sun

Today I begin my 53rd trip around the sun, and boy is it hot out there!! In conjunction with my birthday, I also celebrate the Anniversary of my Blog.  It has been 13 years since I started this blog! When I was turning the big 4-0, I was feeling like time was slipping away and I needed to do something new. So, I decided to start a blog.  At the time, “Mommy Blogs” were gaining popularity so that is what my focus was, since I was a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my kids.  But soooo much has changed in these 13 years!

I never got a huge blog following, but my blog became my own little space, like a favorite room I could go into and spend some me time.  Even though it was neglected often with the absence of my presence, it has always been here for me all these years. During this time, I have found my voice as a fictional writer, became a published author and met many dear friends in the blogsphere.

Finding my voice as a creative writer came at the same time that I found my voice in my life.  It became clear to me the reason why my “Mommy Blog” never took off; I was struggling as a wife and mother and kept silent. Even though my blog was something just for me, the posts I wrote were shared with my husband before they were published.  This was under the guise of being supportive, but in reality, it was a way of being controlled.  Not in a forceful, I must read anything before you publish way, but in everything that I did, in my mind it was framed by the opinion of what my husband would think, and if he would approve. As I wrote articles in the beginning, they were really more so in his voice, not mine.  But that all changed by the time I had posted my first short story in April of 2015, I was actively seeking counseling and it was confirmed I was in a mentally abusive marriage. That was the beginning of finding myself.  Finally writing my own thoughts and ideas was so liberating.  Once that door was opened, I never wanted to go back. No longer did I need his approval.  It would be several years before I worked through my healing and go through the process of divorce. I still struggle from time to time with trusting my gut and not second guessing myself, but old habits are hard to die, as this was a 27-year marriage.  During that time my blog was quiet. Not only because it was a very stressful time, but I was also building my bookkeeping business so I would have a way to support myself and my kids. My divorce was finalized the beginning of March 2020. I was so ready for this new chapter of my life! I decided to reclaim my maiden name so that I could truly walk in who I am.  But then the pandemic hit and sidelined my newfound freedom. Thankfully, I built a work-from-home business, so I was able to continue working, only losing a few clients.  It has truly been a blessing and I am so grateful to be able to provide for my family by doing something I love.  Though bookkeeping can be mentally draining, which depletes any creative thinking, it has been my first priority and my writing has taken a back seat once again.  But just like any back seat driver, it continues to remind me it is still there, nudging my thoughts with the occasional you really should be writing.

What I have learned through all this is that no matter how impossible things may seem, there is always a better day. You are never too old to follow your dreams or make a drastic change in your life. I just wanted to share my journey in hopes of encouraging someone, especially those in difficult marriages.

So, as I enjoyed my coffee this morning, and looked back at my life, this is where my thoughts had taken me. It took a while to get to where I am at, but I am excited for my future. I received my second vaccine shot on Friday, and things seem to be opening up again. The pandemic was not nice to my physical wellbeing and decided to leave me with a few extra pounds, having me feel every bit of my 53-year-old self. This has been a challenge for me since I have never actively exercised and didn’t have to worry about my weight.  But I have purchased a treadmill and take walks outside and I am determined to get in better shape, so I have more energy, and that I don’t fall victim to heart disease that runs in my family.  I am so excited that my kids gave me a new Cruiser bike and a Samsung Active Smartwatch to track my progress.  My focus for this year, is better health and a better work/life balance so that I can return to my passion for writing. I have good intentions, but we all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We also know that no matter how hard we plan, life likes to throw you a curve ball, just to keep it interesting. I plan to take it one day at a time and celebrate my small victories.

The Reason for the Season

My childhood memories of Christmas include decorating the house, baking cookies with my mom and siblings, and Christmas parties with friends. When we were younger, we did the whole Santa and reindeer thing as well, but the highlight for me was Midnight Mass. We would spend Christmas Eve at my grandmas with my mom’s brothers and sister and all of our cousins, visiting and opening presents.  Then we would go home for a while and try to rest before we went to Mass.  It was actually at midnight, which I’m not sure if many churches do that anymore.  I just remember the excitement, maybe it was just because I got to stay up late, but as I remember it now, there just seemed to be an aura of peace and joy that night.  I would be wearing a new dress, and most everyone at church would be dressed up too.  I loved walking into the church and seeing all the decorations, the huge brightly lit Christmas Trees, the wreaths draped with red bows, and the large nativity that was empty through the advent season up until this night.  People greeted each other with genuine smiles and well wishes.  Then the choir would sing all those beautiful Christmas carols, and for this one night they would add drums and a trumpet.  Even though it was the same Mass we sat through Sunday after Sunday, this night, it was different. . . special.  At the end of Mass, the choir’s finale was a resounding “Joy to the World,” that you could feel deep in your soul. At its very last note everyone could not help but applaud, which was unheard of back then in a Catholic church. . . but this night was different. . . special.  We would go out into the still night air, and it would be freezing outside, but you felt warm on the inside, and those occasions when snow would be falling, just made it complete.  I knew then that Christmas wasn’t about the fancy decorations, or the presents, or the celebrating with friends and family.  It was about the birth of Jesus and having faith in God no matter what the New Year would bring.

How ever you choose to celebrate this year, it is still the same holiday, and holds all the magic and promise of a brighter tomorrow. This year is definitely different, but each one of us can still make it special.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas Eve!!

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cheer

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!!

So excited to share the projects my sons have been working on.

Here is Elijah’s animated Christmas song. Like and subscribe to his You Tube channel for more animated fun.

Josh is one of the owner/founders of Broke Boy Media. This year has been a rough one for them as they had great plans for 2020 like we all did. But so glad they kept their creative juices flowing and did what they could. Looking forward to great things for this company.

Like and subscribe to their YouTube channel, and/or follow them on Instagram @brokeboymedia to follow their journey.

To Catch a Fish

Missing my dad today. It’s been 8 years since his passing and I miss him all the time. Thought I would share one of my favorite stories I had written about him.

 To Catch a Fish

This is a story about a little girl, a little girl who just wanted to catch a fish. This is my story, that little girl was me.

Growing up in a small town that rests on the edge of Lake Michigan, along with several other smaller lakes within its borders, one was sure to find the perfect fishing spot. My dad was an avid fisherman and taught us all how to fish. My childhood memories are ones of warm evenings spent with my whole family, fishing at the channel, which at one time connected the smaller Wolf Lake to Lake Michigan.

I’m not sure if my sister and mom actually fished when we went, but they were there nonetheless, probably reading a book or a magazine. Being the youngest after my two brothers, I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, getting caught up playing the things that they enjoyed. So, when it came time to fish with my dad and brothers, I was all in. Well, as all in as I could be at the age of six. I watched in awe as my brothers cast out their lines with those fancy rods and reels of theirs. It was a true art form, and took practice, with just the right movements to send that bobber out into the lake at the perfect spot. It was all in the timing, you pulled back, pressed the button to release the line with a flick of the wrist, you heard the whizzing sound of the line as it would sail through the air. You knew it was a perfect cast, when you heard the ever so slight plop of the bobber as it breached the surface of the glass-like lake, with only a few ripples; your worm on its hook settling in the murky water to wait. Then there was my experience, with my cane pole, and red and white bobber. No skill really needed, I just flung it out into the drink and hoped for the best. My dad always taught us about safety, reminding us how sharp and pointy the hook was, and that you needed to be careful as you cast your line out, so that the hook wouldn’t snag you in the back of the head. Even though I was a tomboy, I was still a little girl, and putting a worm on a hook, was not for me. That was my dad’s job, and I was fine with that, and it was key in this little charade he called fishing.

So, there I sat, with my cane pole and my red and white bobber just sitting there. We didn’t talk much, if we did it was quiet conversation, as to “not wake the fish.” Even when one of us got a hit, we didn’t get overly excited. It was a simple, “I got one.” As we manned our poles yet watched the dance between the fish and the fisherman as it was brought to shore. Sure enough as I heard the ‘got one’ on my left, there was two more on my right. Holding on to my trusty pole, just knowing I had to be next, needing to be ready, yet I couldn’t help but turn my attention to my brothers reeling in their catch. Once the excitement wore off, we sat. Then sat some more. . .waiting. As the sun set and the breeze began to cool, you could hear the gentle lapping of the lake on the shore, and a small voice innocently question, “Hey Dad. . .why haven’t I caught a fish yet.” Which was always answered with some wise fish tale, that only a six-year old could believe.

Then there was the one evening, as I was growing bored with the whole not catching a fish thing, I started looking through my dad’s tackle box. I found a round tin, with the letters SKOAL on it, not sure what it was, I was bent on finding out, and tried to open it. It was a struggle for my small hands, but I figured out that I had to push the top and bottom together real hard and twist to open it. With my fierce determination, I got it opened and the contents of the tin burst out and covered my entire chest. As I looked down, I was coated in what looked like saw dust, and little, tiny, squirmy, white. . .WORMS!! I’m not sure if anyone else heard the scream like I did in my head. Maybe I actually held it in, as to not wake the fish, but I was totally freaking out. Just as quickly as it happened, it was over as my dad rushed over, brushed everything off of me and saved me from the Bee Moths! Or just maybe he saved the Bee Moths from me. With those wormy-like things back in their little home, I went back to my cane pole, and sat. . .waiting. . .and sat some more. This was so much better than being eaten alive by Bee Moth Larvae. Or was it? You see, everyone, except me, knew that there was never a worm on my hook! Honestly, I’m not sure there was even a hook!

But then one day it happened. My dad, knowing he couldn’t keep up this ruse forever, decided that just him and I would go fishing, early one morning. We got out to the channel just as the sun was rising over the horizon. My dad grabbed two rods and reels from the trunk, and his tackle box. With my eyes wide, I realized the cane pole stayed behind. Is it possible? I got a quick lesson on how to cast out. My first few tries landed my bobber with a ker-plunk in the water not 3 feet from where I was standing. Try again. With my dad’s help, I was able to cast out. Proudly holding on to my precious rod and reel, I sat, waiting. . .this time with a smile on my face. It’s going to happen today!! Sure enough, I felt that little tug, and then “Dad. . .I got one!” We both stood, and he coached me as the fish tried to run with the bait in his mouth, “Let him go for a little bit, then reel him in.” I did that a few times, excitement pounding in my ears, mixed in with the whirling sound of the reel as I brought my catch to shore. My dad grabbed the line and pulled it out of the water. There on the end, frantically flipping, was my first catch, a nice little Perch. I finally did it!!

OK. . .so I totally exercised my artistic license on that last paragraph. I really don’t remember actually fishing that day, but I do remember taking this picture, and I’m sure I actually caught this particular fish. I am smiling so broadly not because I was proud of my catch, but those things are slippery little suckers, and it was hard to hold on to.

As we got older, my brothers moved on, and lost interest in fishing. I totally lost interest, and set my sights on gaining some fashion sense, thank God. (Either my dad dressed me that morning, or these were hopefully my ‘fishin’ clothes.’) My dad went on to bigger and better fishing opportunities. Fishing with his buddies on their boats, or going out alone and fishing off the shore of Lake Michigan, which earned him the Indiana State Record in 1983 by catching the largest Brown Trout weighing in at 22 lbs. 8 oz.  A title he held on to for several years.

Today, you probably couldn’t pay me to go fishing. I’ve put my time in, thank you very much. But I’m grateful for the time spent with my family and the memories I have. However, just like any good fish story, the details are subject to over-exaggeration with each telling.

© Carrie Ann 2016

100 Years Ago

Hello Everyone! It seems time is flying by, yet some days it seems to stand still as we anticipate when our lives will be back to normal as we catch glimpses of hope navigating through this pandemic.  Hope everyone is safe and well!

Some of you may know that I started writing and posting to my blog when I participated in Blogbattle.  Through the Blogbattle community I was introduced to different genres from the other writers.  I would leave comments like I could NEVER write a historical fiction, or a western.  Well that prompted a challenge from our host Rachael, she challenged me to write a western.  I didn’t do it right away, but I eventually did it, and actually enjoyed it.  Though I still stood on the belief that I couldn’t do a historical or period piece.  Well low and behold, the Blogbattle guidelines were revamped and a not only was a word prompt provided, but a genre as well. So, the day arrived when the genre was Historical Fiction, and I gave it a shot. I said all this to say. . .

I would like to share with you my one and only Historical Fiction story.

I am reposting this story because on August 26th Women’s Equality Day is celebrated in the US to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote, and this year marks the 100th Anniversary. This story was originally written in February 2017, as we settled in after a memorable election year with our first Woman Nominated for President and on the ballot.  So, at that time I thought it fitting to do a historical fiction about the Suffrage Movement. And here we stand on the edge of history again, as our first woman of color has been nominated for Vice President. We’ve come a long way! #girlpower

When I did a search for my research for this story, a woman named Carrie Chapman Catt came up. She was a suffragist, peace activist and feminist leader who led the women’s rights movement for more than 25 years culminating in the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. That is the point in history I decided to write about.  Carrie Chapman Catt married a wealthy engineer named George Catt, which allowed her to spend a good part of each year on the road campaigning for women’s suffrage.  At this point in history, Carrie was much older than I depicted in the story, so that is what makes it historical fiction 😉. I hope you enjoy my fictional story, about a real historical figure. The word prompt given for this Story/Blogbattle was “Adore.”

1920’s Lingo:

Bushwa:  bullshit

Bearcat: a lively, spirited woman, possibly with a fiery streak

 

For Suffrage’s Sake

Henry walks into George’s office early Monday morning like he has done for the past ten years.  Being longtime friends and then business partners, they discuss business first and then catch up as friends do.

“We’ve missed you down at the club.” Henry takes a seat in front of George’s desk.

“I’ll get back there soon, been busy.”

“Been busy throwing good money after bad, helping your wife fight the good fight?” Henry not holding back on the sarcasm.

George glares over the top rims of his glasses. “Be careful Henry.”

“Well the talk is, that if that bearcat of a wife of yours had children to take care of she wouldn’t have time to stir up trouble.” Henry leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees.

George removes his glasses and sits back. “Frankly, it is no one’s business what my wife and I decide to do or not do.”

Pointing with his glasses still in hand. “Henry, it is that kind of thinking that will not move this country forward.  Look what the women have done for our business, while our men were out fighting the war.  Where would we be, if it weren’t for them?  I’ll tell you where we wouldn’t be, we wouldn’t be sitting in a lush country club spouting off bushwa.”

Henry leans back in his chair, hands raised in surrender, “I’m just letting you know what’s been said.  Can’t say that I agree with it all, can’t say I disagree on some.  I personally feel a woman’s place is in the home, where she can care for the children, and take care of the little things I don’t have to be bothered with.  Leave the important things to the men, like working and voting.  What does a woman know about government, or politics?  My wife has no interest in that sort of thing, how could she possibly make an educated choice when voting?”

George raises his voice slightly. “She can’t, Henry! Because you won’t let her.”

He sets his glasses down and folds his hands in front of him calming himself.  “I admire what my wife is doing, she is bright, resilient and she speaks up for those women who can’t.  Yes, women are great keepers of the home, and it’s that expertise in maintaining the home and nurturing the family that would improve politics and our society.  When the good Lord created Eve, he used the rib for a reason.  She was not taken from his feet to be under him, but from his side to stand beside him and support him, just as we are to support them.”

Henry mumbles under his breath. “Yes and look how well that turned out.”

Just then the whistle blows as a sign of the changing of the shift on the factory floor.  Henry’s cue to get to his own office to start his day.  George puts the conversation out of his mind and doesn’t give it another thought as the demands of his day are upon him.  He doesn’t fault Henry his opinions, he knows some people will never change.

~ ♥~

George arrives home and is greeted by his wife.  Carrie has had a busy day herself, but looks forward to the time they spend talking about their day. Even after all these years when he sees his wife he is awestruck at her beauty.  It’s like he is looking at her for the first time.  “How was your day Mr. Catt?” Looking at him with a playful grin.

Before he answers he walks up to her, holds her face in his hands, and kisses her like they have been away from each other for days.

“Hello my love. Well, it seems that it is a public scandal the way I adore you.”

“Whatever do you mean Georgie?” Laughing and using the pet name she has given him.

He takes her by the hand and leads her to the parlor to sit comfortably on the sofa.  He sits first, and as she is about to take the seat next to him; he pulls her towards him so that she sits on his lap.  With a giggle of delight, she settles in to hear what he has to say.  Oh, how she loves this part of the day.

He recounts the conversation he had with Henry that morning.  She listens to every word he says, nodding occasionally, as he subconsciously laces his fingers with hers, or plays with the lace on her collar.

“It’s such a shame there are small minded people such as Henry, still, to this day, even after all we have accomplished thus far.”

“Well my dear, it is hard for some people to change their minds even when the change is happening right before their eyes.”

“Oh Georgie, we are so close to gaining the voting rights for all women in this country.  The sacrifices some of the women have made is truly extraordinary.  It has been an honor to be a part of something so momentous.”

He pushes a loose strand of hair behind her ear, “You, my darling, are extraordinary, and all that you have sacrificed and accomplished makes me adore you even more.  This Women’s Right Movement will propel this country to greatness.”

Carrie listens yet in her mind she visualizes what things will be like in 10 or 20 years. When she thinks even further in the future, her eyes widen, and she sits up straight.  “Oh George, dare I dream that one day there may be a Woman President?”

He rubs his thumb along her cheek. “My love, the American dream belongs to all of us.”

Her eyes sparkling, she gives him a kiss.  “Can you imagine what this country will be like in 100 years?”

“My dearest Carrie, I am certain it will be a sight to behold.”

 

© 2017 – Revised 2020  Carrie Ann Alexis

“It is a public scandal the way I adore you” – Oscar Wilde

“The American dream belongs to all of us” – Kamala Harris