Teaser Tuesday: No Captive

Actually…not Ægir’s Captive but Ægir’s Wife. I am sure that those of you who have followed this story will appreciate the changes in Kirsty. Here is the roughest draft of the opening for Chapter Nine…the rest is coming…


Lofoten VillageKirsty stared out over the relatively smooth waters of the North Sea. Even though it was after ten, the sun had still not fully set this far north. Was it prophetic somehow? When she had left all those months ago, it had been dark almost all day and night. Now at the height of summer it was just the opposite…almost constant sunlight.

It certainly felt like that. Well except for Sven’s recovery, which she more than any of them realized might be long and perhaps never fully. But they would deal with that too. Just as they had dealt with so much already. They had weathered life’s storms…and now it was sunshine once more.

Of course, she was not naïve enough to believe there would not be more storms to come but with the new resolve and the lessons they had all learned from these, she was confident that they could face those as a family. They would do what it took…whatever it took…and they would come out on the other side of those storms too.

She inhaled deeply, allowing the fresh, cool sea breeze to fill not just her lungs but her soul with its cleansing and healing power. She felt one of the twins move inside her, but before she could place a gentle hand over the tiny foot to calm her sister joined in the fray. Both girls dancing and stretching.

Bjorn was at the helm this night. She had never seen him happier. Even she had not fully realized the stress that these past few months in London had placed upon those broad shoulders. Not until she saw the light that dawned in those Kelly green eyes of his the moment they had stepped on board of Ægir’s Captive.

Captive? She was not their captive this time. Not as she had been the last time anyway. But these men had certainly captured her heart. Each of them in different ways. But each of them fully and completely. Different, unique but all with the same veracity.

Bjorn…she chuckled as she shook her head. No one would picture a man like that with someone like her. But over these past few months she had come to accept that this man loved her…just as she was. No diets. No gym. He loved her mind. He loved her heart. And yes as much as she might sometimes have trouble believing it…he loved her curves too. Running into Greta had proven that.

She smiled as she lifted her face to setting sun, absorbing its final warming rays as the breeze rustled through her hair, whipping it about her face. She would never be model thin like G but that was all right because she was so much smarter than that woman ever had been.

In some weird, warped way she owed that woman a debt of gratitude. By rejecting the life that Mikael had offered for her runways and shoots, Greta had set the course that had driven them to her…just as surely as Bjorn had set one on the boat that would take them home. No, she was the one that had reaped the harvest…the only truly good fruits that woman had ever sown. Monika, her first daughter, and Mikael were all that she could have ever imagined.

She giggled as she remembered that first night on board this ship. When given the chance, she had chosen Mikael because she had sought an alley in her plans to escape. Oh, Mikael had proven an alley all right. Her rock, the one that she could turn to for comfort, pain and understanding when Bjorn was battling his jealousy…or Sven was…being an ass.

She sighed as her hand softly rubbed the baby mound. Sven… She still was not certain how to handle that one. But she had a new powerful weapon in her arsenal. Æ ælske dæ. I love you. How could she not have known? It was not that different from ‘Jeg elsker deg.’ But she had always struggled with languages. Her ear simply had not made that all important connection.

No, she might be going back without a solid plan, but the knowledge that Sven too loved her just as his brothers did gave her faith that somehow they too would find a way…over time.

She closed her eyes and lifted her face as a gentle spray of sea water caressed her cheeks. Home. Homdling as Monika had renamed it. The one place in this world that truly felt like that word to her. Though that probably had as much to do with them as it did the place.

Mommy Monday: Priceless

Have you ever seen those silly Mastercard commercials? The ones that list out the price of things and at the end say something mushy is priceless? Well this is like that…

On Saturday, we took PanKwake to Legoland…and it was one of the best days EVER!

We got up early and took a bus to Waterloo and a train from there. We arrived just as the park opened. Cost of tickets…£96.60.

Now we always get her souvenirs first. Those are important to her because she has trouble with visual memory so she actually needs things as well as pictures to cue her memory to events. But if you wait until the end and go to a packed out shop it is just too much for her. She is already tired and not thinking well. So we tackle it while she is fresh. Cost…£25.

Then we were off…up, up and away. We began with a rafting ride in Viking land…

MyImage (3)

That’s my little flower…the rest of us got soaked because we had not worn our big yellow garbage bags with the Legoland symbol on them.

Oh…pause to shout out to Legoland for their BRILLIANT program for special needs families. They issue you ten coupons that allow you to skip to the front of the line. For those with autism for whom waiting is so difficult, it is the difference between the best day ever and meltdowns.

There were loads of other rides in there too…but I want to tell you about the Dragon’s Apprentice. It is the kiddie roller coaster that PanKwake forces me to ride. Last time I shared the horrid picture of me on it…so fair enough…here is this one…with the Cookie Monster…

Funny Face

Those pics were another £30 by the way…

But what happened when we got off…that was…PRICELE$$!!!!

PanKwake HUGGED me!

Now to most parents, the good ones anyway, that is a daily occurrence. But PanKwake because of the sensory issues associated with the autism cannot tolerate touch well. I cannot even remember the last time that my daughter hugged me. So even though it was only a couple of seconds as we exited that ride…it truly was a priceless moment for this autism Mom. I even cried. Of course, I did not dare mention it to PanKwake…or it would be even longer before I got the next one.

If that was not enough we made it through the whole day and all the way home on a packed train full of drunken rugby fans with only one tiny meltdown that was over almost before it began.

Amusement parks are a challenge for all children…and parents. Even ‘normal’ kids often have huge meltdowns by the end of the day. So for PanKwake to do this was truly remarkable.

Total cost of the trip…well I did not even include the train tickets, the huge bag of her special food and drinks that I lugged around the whole park, or her carer…so probably close to £300.

But that once every five years hug…to this autism Mom anyway…truly was worth every cent/pence…and…PRICELESS.

Thoughtful Thursday: Plague & Pestilence

Over the past few weeks, I have been sharing my Transcendentalist leanings. One of the greatest Transcendentalist writers was Henry David Thoreau. His classic work Walden Pond is the story of his musings upon escaping the city for solitude. In modern terms, the man became a survivalist. This past week, I too have escaped the city for quieter reflection. And like Thoreau, it has brought new resolve and revelations.

The greatest revelation is…people do not belong in cities.

Technically, that is not a new revelation for me, but this week has not definitely confirmed that belief. While even the place that we have taken refuge is a ‘city’, it is not a large one…certainly not London, Los Angeles or Houston. But even then, the difference is remarkable.

Do you know the biggest difference?

People smile and say hello on the street!

And they don’t look at you like you are crazy when you do.It may seem silly or inconsequential but it makes a huge difference in your mental health and stress.

As a little girl growing up in Drayton, South Carolina, I remember summer nights spent sitting on the porch for hours. After all there was only three channels on the television set and those were showing re-runs. So those long hours of dusk were spent waving at passing cars and talking with neighbors who walked past.

I have lived in the same apartment for five years next month and I do not know a single neighbor that I would carry on a REAL conversation with. All of them think I am nuts for saying ‘hi’ in the hall or on the street. And when I push it to actually discussing the British weather…well, then I have most definitely gone too far.

And heaven forbid having a conversation on the bus or train with a stranger. That was one of the first hurdles with PanKwake’s autism. She wanted to TALK to people every time wee got on the bus. At first, I tried to ‘shhsh’ her. But then I noticed something…by the time we got off all the people around us were smiling…except for that one curmudgeon who had forgotten how a quarter of a century ago (assuming he or she ever had known of course). I decided then…she had a gift that they all needed…even old curmudgeon.

But here…it is not just the air that is clearer. The mind as well…and especially the human spirit. Not that it should be surprising.

Cities have always been the centers of plague and pestilence. From the time that man began to congregate and migrate to them, they have spread disease, been the source of filth and strife. It is just that now in this age of anti-biotics and vaccines that plague has become one of the soul…extinguishing the human spirit while the body remains active. Zombies of a different kind.

This morning we return to London. It is not something which I am looking forward to. Even knowing that we shall return to this place soon is not solace enough for recompense.

But it shall simply have to do for now…until once more we return to our Walden Pond.

Walden Pond

REAL Woman Wednesday: Fitness for the Poor, Single Mom

I saw this meme on Facebook the other day and it struck a real cord with me.

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As the forever busy and broke single mother of an autistic ten year-old (and once upon a time the other now adult ones too), I understand all too well this woman’s dilemma.

While I may not always MAKE it a priority to walk the walk, with a BS in Health Education and two and a half years experience as a personal trainer with one of the largest fitness chains in America, I do have a few things to say on this matter…

Exercise:

  1. Walk! Instead of hopping into your car to drive half a mile to the store for a loaf of bread…take the time to walk there and back…one mile of exercise accomplished…and the environment saved.
  2. Crunches/sit ups/leg lifts/other core exercises. Five minutes in the morning and another five at night right before bed can make a world of difference in a matter of weeks.
  3. Cans of soup/bottles of water…make excellent weights to use at home. No expensive gym memberships or equipment to buy.
  4. Freecycle. But if you have the space and motivation, this online resource OFTEN has that equipment…for FREE. Just pick it up from people who spent the time but never made the time.
  5. Internet. As for what to do…a quick Google search of the words…at home workouts revealed “About 35,500,000 results (0.58 seconds).” Yoga, pilates, calesthenics, weights…just about anything and everything you could hope for.

Diet:

  1. Junk is EXPENSIVE! Whether it is your cigarettes, soda, chips, ice cream or cookies…that shit ain’t cheap. Just as bad…ready meals. So before you complain about the cost of eating healthy look at how much your unhealthy costs you.
  2. Batch cook. If you find yourself eating out too often just because at the end of a long day you are too tired to cook, then spend a couple of hours on the weekend making meals (and those 5 minute lunches) for the whole week. Stick them in the fridge for cooking/reheating later or the freezer.
  3. Grow your own. Herbs and lettuces at the minimum can be grown in days on the window sill. And if you have more space, well, your imagination is your limit.
  4. Buy in bulk or at farmer’s markets. If your family is not large enough to warrant it, then consider co-oping with friends in similar position to purchase and prepare food.
  5. Leftovers. That tiny piece of chicken can be chopped and with some of the lettuce from the window makes a wonderful five minute lunch for work. Or throw it in a pot with some veg and seasoning for a warm and nutritious soup.

There you go. Ten small things you can do to help your body. From a former health educator and personal trainer.

Of course, the one thing that I cannot provide is the motivation to do any of them. Hell, for the longest time I could not find that one for myself. But you know what? That has nothing to do with money or time. I cant tell you the number of clients that bought and paid for personal training sessions that they NEVER used. Even calling to remind them that they had unused sessions could not motivate them back into the gym.

Afraid that like me you will have to find that one for yourself.

Teaser Tuesday: Grand Plans

This morning I sat contemplating the rest of this year. Do you realize that we are almost half way through 2016? I had such grandiose plans…9 books this year. Score is zero for nine at this point. But to be fair I have one finished and with betas and two more 75% complete. 

Thing is…

Life Plans

And it certainly has with me this year. One that started off impossibly rough…well, spring and summer are full of glorious sunshine…in the best possible ways.

But for me, writing is never far from my mind. Whether the days are dark and gloomy or full of sunny promise. So I am revising those plans. Downsizing and upgrading them. I promise you…I will finish Ægir’s.  But today’s teaser is from one of my nearly finished manuscripts.

Nothing Done in Love is one dear to my heart. And this scene…the memorial service for the heroine’s mother is one of my favorites. I like to think I am a tiny bit like Joy Danvers…perhaps not as famous or influential but maybe one day. I certainly believe these sentiments…


Katie had thought that perhaps one or two people would have the courage to step forward, but it seemed that everyone wanted to have their say. She smiled and cried as she listened to their stories from the Hollywood executive who credited her mother with saving his ‘fourth’ marriage to the older lady down the street that her mother always took cookies to, even the homeless man whom Joy bought breakfast for had managed to take a shower and find passably decent clothes for the day, so much so that Katie had not even recognized him at first.

So what she had thought would take five or ten minutes stretched to more than half an hour that left her exhausted and elated at the same time. Then it had been the video compilation of photographs, speeches and the sprinkling of her mother’s ashes at sea. She cried and leaned against the solid steel walls that had suddenly appeared on either side of her at some point. The final shot was her mother’s last television appearance months before. She had been asked to speak after a landmark Supreme Court case on sexual freedoms.

Katie remembered that day well. They had gotten up extra early in order to make the horrendous commute into Studio City for the program. Her mother had alternated between puking into a bowl that they had brought for just such a purpose and napping between bouts of nausea. Looking at her mother’s image on the wall, she could see the pallor and fine lines that were more pronounced. But even then, her mother’s inner beauty shone through like the proverbial beacon.

She made a stark contrast to the stern, suited preacher that was her antagonist. Though his part of the interview had been edited out, Katie remembered his words about the sanctity of marriage and the family. It was her mother though who had the final word. She smiled as she nodded her head at the famous tele-evangelist, “On this we agree, sex is one of the most powerful forms of worship. Through it we commune with one another, ourselves and our gods…and goddesses,” her smile then had almost challenged the man to interfere.

“But on this we differ. I believe,” her mother paused for a moment and stared directly into the camera before continuing, “No, I know…Nothing done in love can ever be a sin. Can ever be wrong. Love is the divine power within us all. However we choose to share that is no one’s business but ours and our partners.” Katie shivered as she heard those words once more.

It was if her mother had spoken directly to her in that moment. As if the gates of heaven or whatever was out there opened and she stood beside her daughter once more. She could almost feel her mother’s gentle arms about her. She turned and looked for her then, but it was them that she saw. And somehow she knew that was right too.

As the lights came back up, Katie felt a power she never before had known. It welled inside her and when she spoke there was a new authority and power that spoke through her. “That was my mother, but in some ways she never belonged completely to me. She was love and a light in this dark world. A light that touched each of you. A flame that burns in each of you, each of us, even now.”

“My mother is not dead. Because love never dies. It perpetuates itself, it spreads faster and farther than any virus ever could. That was Joy Danvers,” she chuckled. “Sometimes I wonder if my grandparents did not have some premonition of her greatness when they choose that name for her. What name could have been more appropriate?”

She sighed as another tear began to trail down her cheek, “Know this…that Joy shall continue on in this world, lighting the way through the darkness that threatens to consume us all in greed, hubris and fanaticism.”

Mommy Monday: Bribes & Allowances

This is often a controversial subject. Some parents give their children allowances. Others believe that children should not be bribed into doing the things they are supposed to do anyway. I always like to ask them how much they like going to work for free. Me…I bribe…whenever I can.

We keep what is called a ‘goody bag’ full of little prize such as Lego figures, Barbie clothes, collectibles such as her Shopkins. Basically whatever is ‘IN’ with PanKwake at the moment. She can then earn these for doing certain things…basic positive reinforcements.

It is a strategy that proves especially helpful for major deviations from her routine such as doctor’s appointments or this week in particular trips. It REALLY works when trying to instill a new behavior.

I mentioned PanKwake’s aversion to baths the other week. And while we are still fighting the baths’ war, we have had a major success with the baby wipes. I get her to clean the ‘delicate’ areas and underarms every day now. And it really does keep the smell away. So I am counting that as a victory…at least  one battle.

For the trip and doctor’s appointments I modify the strategy a bit. I buy slightly larger/more valuable prizes such as bigger packages of her Shopkins, Barbies or the like. Sometimes I will even wrap them so that it is a surprise. Other times, I will allow her to choose her prize. I also need to give them at regular intervals, set points. When we get to the hospital. When they check your weight. When you say hello to the doctor. At the end.

I have tried other strategies such as behavior charts, but at this point PanKwake lacks the attention span to collect stars for a big prize at some far off future date. And who can blame her…many people would prefer a guaranteed raise in their salary versus waiting for a potentially larger year end bonus. So who can blame an autistic ten year-old for something forty year-olds can’t manage?

And if behavior charts are too hard then allowances are IMPOSSIBLE.  At least for now. But that will be something to work towards as she approaches adulthood and must learn to live independently.

But I do use them successfully with my teen son in America. Sometimes I am envious of money management skills as I watch his account balance rise each month. He uses less than a quarter of what I give him for everyday extras…online gaming stuff mostly. The rest he saves.

I wish someone had taught me how to manage money so well. But that is the thing…whether you use prize bags, behavior charts or allowances, the real purpose is to instill your values in your children.

For me those will always be…

Money

My kids may have that balance better than Mommy. Another thing to be proud of them all for.

 

 

Sensual Saturday: Key to Her Heart

I am always telling the ladies how to spoil him. So today I thought I would share the key to her heart with you guys. So if you have found the woman of your dreams…are you ready? It is not as complex as you think. One simple thing actually…

Forehead Kiss

Yes, it is that easy!

No, it will NOT work on spoiled little girls.

But to a REAL woman, someone who values friendship, respect, trust, honesty, communication and all the other good stuff, it is priceless. Worth more than anything you could buy her.

And trust me…

Forehead Kiss 2

And if you are worried that it makes you look weak, wimpy, whatever…trust me on this one…nothing is more masculine than loving, respecting, cherishing and protecting what is yours. That is what a forehead kiss says to a woman…

Forehead Kiss 3

Yes, even Doms do it. The good ones anyway. Nothing will make a woman more submissive. They are in fact absolutely, positively a requirement for Daddy Doms.

So whether you use it as a test to see if she is a REAL woman deserving of your love or a spoiled little girl…or to seal the deal on true love…or to keep those flames burning bright, just do it!

And do it…OFTEN!

Nothing will bring out the desire/need to please you the way a forehead kiss will.