Day 5: Underwater

This is a sketch I started last year when my husband and I were on vacation at Myrtle Beach. I know it’s not the most fantastic piece in the world, but I finished it this morning when I actually had time to draw today.

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Winds of Change (Revised Edition)

“Change is a neutral event, but how we view it turns it into a positive or negative event.” (I’m fairly certain I made this up on my own, but I never know anymore.)

Mondays suck. I think we can all agree. It’s one of the reasons why I never end up posting for “Memoir Monday.” Heck, the last time I posted on Monday was back in June. I did go back and reread it. Let me tell you, the cringe factor was real…I didn’t even make it through the whole post, so I will promptly apologize for that monstrosity. I’m sorry; I shouldn’t write personal posts when I’m emotional.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way:

Of course, I’ve currently been dealing with large amounts of change. It’s been scary; it’s been good; it’s cost some time and brainpower. Do we ever really stop changing, though? In all honesty, I would hope not. I never want to be “stuck” with an area in my life.

As a creative person, I inherently hate routine. I need that spontaneity in my life to keep me sane. Whether it’s going somewhere new on the weekends, taking a different route to work, making a meal I’ve never cooked before. I need fresh, new. It’s the sustenance I crave for the ever-fleeting inspiration.

On the other hand, I like everything to be the same. All the time. Do you see my problem?

We all know change is one of–if not the hardest–things to deal with in life. Sometimes we can easily see what awaits us on the other side, and sometimes we have to blindly stumble through opaque smoke to even get to where we need to go. Sometimes you have time to prepare; sometimes, it happens abruptly.

The abrupt change happened to me a few weeks ago. I got told I was transferring to a new store the day it was my last day. I didn’t even know that day was my last until I had been clocked in for ten minutes. Let me tell you, it sucked. I had no time to say goodbye or even process what was happening. I was completely blindsided. And you know what? It turned out to be okay. I’ve been at my new store for four weeks now, and I work in a virtually stress-free environment, which has significantly reduced my chronic migraines.

Here’s the thing, though. I could still feel sorry for myself for having been forced out of my previous store. I could be blaming people and fighting them to get back to where I once worked. I could choose to not get along with my new coworkers, but why should I? Like I said, my store change has been more than fantastic. Nerve-wracking, yeah, but I got through it. Many worse things could’ve happened. Why look the gift horse in the mouth, you know?

There’s lots of problems my husband and I have been thrust into the past couple weeks. Oh, the days have been long. However, I’m not going to ramble needlessly about them; I know everyone has their problems. They’re simply another aspect of life, but I keep thinking about how I got transferred, and it’s made me realize something:

Change is a neutral event, but how we view it turns it into a positive or negative event.

Yes, I got transferred, but I’m allowing it to have a positive impact on my life. Okay, yeah, my car is semi-broken and has been for two weeks, but I’m fixing it myself, and I’m learning more about mechanics each and every day. I’ve barely had time to work on my novel recently, but you know what, I had been pushing myself so hard for it, a break won’t kill me. I may have had a close friend push me away, but I’ve never felt so free to be myself, and it’s opened me back up to friends I had been subconsciously ignoring. Sure, my family may be moving away from me, but they’re not going that far, and they’ll be much happier in the long run. I do have some extended family that sucks, but I’ve always needed to master how to let certain things (and people) go, so here’s the perfect learning opportunity.

Change may be scary, yes, but it’s not inherently a bad thing. We say we fear change, but do we really fear the change itself? Or are we more afraid of the unknown? We don’t want our lives to change because we know our lives up until the change occurs. We are creatures who are much more comfortable knowing than not knowing. Because what will happen to us when we don’t know what will happen next? To answer honestly, we don’t know. There’s know way of knowing. But we shouldn’t let that stop us.

None of us can afford to stop living our lives because of fear. Whether it be a phobia (like my severe arachnophobia), uncertainty, lack of understanding, or fear of the unknown or change. Change will always happen. It needs to happen in order for us to grow and become better people. We would never learn anything if we were constantly stuck in the same place. We’d never get to experience new friends, cultures, places. We would never learn, and we would become severely complacent, which leads to unrest and its own stress.

Long story short, embrace the change. Face what you think is a storm head-on because it may be the much-needed rain shower to the droughts of your life. Grab on tightly to the sails and ride your boat through the waves because you may end up in an undiscovered paradise. Even when you feel like you’re sinking, you’re not lost. Just a little delayed. Make a new boat. Find a paddle. And row yourself straight to the other side of the uncertainty.

Only you can control how you react to something. Why make it bad when you can make it good? Remember: change is a neutral event, but how we view it turns it into a positive or negative event.

The Day the World Turned Orange

“Hey, Hun,” Elise called, pausing as she grabbed her keys off the counter, eyes transfixed out the window in front of her.

“Yes?” Michael responded as he popped his head out of the bathroom. He followed his wife’s gaze. Toothbrush hanging out of his mouth.

She stood unblinking. “What’s wrong with the sky? Why’s it like that?”

He moved beside her. “I don’t know. Perhaps the clouds are reflecting the sunrise. It is almost five thirty.”

“Right. Almost five thirty?” Eyes widening, she trotted down the stairs. “I’m going to be late for work. I can’t get fired!” She flung open the door leading to the garage then elbowed the button to retract the large garage door. Placed her lunchbox in the passenger seat of her bright green Jeep.

However, her pace slowed to a crawl when she caught a glimpse of the outside world as she rounded the back of the Wrangler. Yes, the sun may start rising before five thirty, but it was never this bright. Nor was the entire air tinted orange. And that’s what it seemed like. As if someone spray-painted the air itself with a transparent, faint orange color. Never had she seen such a thing in her years of life.

“Whoa,” came Michael’s response as he stood in the doorway leading back into the house. “Were we transported into a video game in our sleep or what?”

She gave a short laugh. “Well, if we did, it was Fallout, and this is just after the bombs fell. But I guess I better get going. I can spectate this on my way.” After giving her husband a quick peck on the cheek, she pulled herself into the taller vehicle. Carefully backed out into the orange haze.

Honestly, the atmosphere was eerie. She wanted to declare this was an unbelievable phenomenon, but there was something about it that made her not want to make any final decisions on it. It was too quiet. Even for this early time of the day.

There were much fewer cars on the road taking her to her hardware store job. Normally, there was average of about fifty. Today, she counted thirteen. And they all had their windows tightly rolled shut even though the weather was lovely, despite the summer season.

Elise glanced at her two windows that were rolled down. Was there something in the air she didn’t know about? Did she need to roll up her windows? She looked around at the continued orange through the top of her windshield. Were there even clouds in the sky? She couldn’t see any kind of variations.

Ah, screw it. She was keeping her windows down. As weird as the sky was, it was too nice out to not have them down. Turning up the radio, she placed an elbow out the window. Thumb tapping the steering wheel. Although, her wary gaze didn’t lose true sight of the strange orange glow.

Soon, her nostrils flared. What was that burning smell? Her arm grew hot. She looked down and gave a yell of alarm as the top layers of her flesh bubbled red. Pulling her arm back inside the Jeep, she almost crashed the vehicle during her surprising discovery.

The subtle sizzling of her skin stopped once it was out of direct contact with the orange light. Her wide eyes studied her arm. She couldn’t feel much pain, but common sense told her not to put her arm back out. In fact, she rolled both windows up.

She stared at her festering wound. Returned her attention back outside. What was this orange glow? Where did it come from? There had been no alerts, no sirens in the night. Nothing to relay a national emergency. It clearly wasn’t safe, so why hadn’t she seen anything about it on her news feed when she played on her phone before getting ready?

Was this the result of government experiments? Or was this the pollution finally coming to wipe humans out. It wasn’t a bomb since there were no sirens. Unless certain people died, and no one was able to activate the sirens. She didn’t want to think about that.

The main worry for now was what could she find that would allow her to safely go out into the orange glow? Assuming she would ever find out what caused it and what it was made of. After sending a warning text to her husband, she continued on her way. If there was something she could make to protect herself, certainly the hardware store would have it. It didn’t seem to affect cars and houses, after all.

 

*Author’s Note: Yesterday morning, I did walk into my garage and lift the door to see the air painted with a faded orange. It was an unusual phenomenon. Of course, I ran through every fictional post-apocalyptic/sci-fi scenario I could before the science side of my brain kicked in and told me the crystalized water in the very low-hanging clouds was reflecting a bright orange sunrise down instead of out across the sky. It was ominous and beautiful at the same time. And, of course, I needed to write a short story about it. 

Pen Name Change

Good afternoon, readers! I wanted to take a moment to inform you I’m changing my pen name. (Again, I know) However, it’s not just a spelling change this time. I’m officially changing my pen name from Rose Fay to Rose Taylor. Here’s why:

Of course, Rose comes from my great aunt who shared my birthday and shared my love for writing, as well as art. Some of you may remember she was taken from my family last October. It took me some time to recover from it, but I know she’s happily tending to God’s gardens while writing and drawing her experiences.

Newly, Taylor is the name of my husband’s little brother who died when he was three months old from SIDS. Even though Taylor passed away two months before I was even born, it’s been on my heart to honor him in some way. Especially since I know how much he meant to his family in the short amount of time his presence graced the earth.

Fay–or how I spelled it before, Fae–has always been nothing more than a fun reference to fairies, fantasy, fiction, and the like. It never held much meaning other than that. In all honesty, the past year or so, I’ve been contemplating a new last name. It’s not that Fay isn’t “professional,” I wanted something more significant. I’m not sure why, but it finally hit me this past Wednesday. I’ve only now how time to get around to the changing everything.

After a heart-felt discussion with my husband, he obviously approved and thought it wonderful I wanted to commemorate his family in such a way. I’ve long accepted his family as another extension of my own. Thankfully, I can say they’re not the “weird in-laws.” They go out of their way to make me feel loved, and they’ve accepted me as another granddaughter, cousin, niece, sister, etc. And I’ve accepted them as more grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, siblings, etc. My husband’s family have been more than fantastic to me, and it’s been a desire of mine to honor their loss in the way I have honored mine.

I promise this is the final time I’m changing my pen name. This will be the official one. Hopefully, you guys will be able to see it on book spines soon!

Where I Consider Home

The past couple weeks, I’ve been looking through old photos. And you know what old photos do. They bring up memories, both good and bad. Thankfully, my past photos have  reminded me of a lot of good. Reminded me of the place I still call home. I’ve also been messaging (off and on) a lifelong friend, and that’s also had me thinking.

I’ve moved around a bit. It was kind of a byproduct of my dad’s job. Every eight years, it seemed like. Until I got married three years ago, and I moved in with my husband. We’ve moved three times in those few years. Hopefully, we’ll be set for awhile. Moving is tedious and stressful.

The first eight years of my life, I lived in a little bitty town. In fact, if you Google it, it’s registered as a village. Yep. I was raised, until I was eight years old, in a village. It tickles the fantasy side of me. According to the 2016 census, the town had a population of 285 residents. Just to put it in perspective. Sometimes, I wonder if they’re numbering people or if they’re also adding farm animals with their head count.

So you could say I’m a Midwestern, corn fed kid. But that’s not the whole story. After I was eight, we moved to the suburbs. Unfortunately, I’ve been a suburbanite ever since. But to a country kid, the suburbs were city. I’ve since learned that city is much more massive than I so naively imagined. Still, I went from a place that had roughly 300 people, let’s say, to a place that had almost 22,000 residents. Quite a big jump.

Yes. I hated it. With every single fiber in my being. I grew accustomed eventually. Made a few fleeting friends. After I was sixteen, we moved again. To a city with nearly 70,000 people. Which wasn’t too big of a shock to my system. Yet, there was something that has always nagged the back of my mind.

Where did I call home? Did it matter if I had a home or not? What do I say when people ask me where I’m from? Do people even need to know where I’m from? (I’m a paranoid person.) Where was home?

After some soul-searching, I kept coming back to the little town. The “village.” That was where I wanted to call home. Then I came to the second part of my inquiry. Why was it the place I wanted to call home? Well, my favorite memories are from there. That was my childhood. What I consider the happiest part of my life. (Outside of my marriage, of course. I’m sure the husband will read this. Love you, hun.) I still have dreams about being there. I still cry when I remember how painful it was to leave. The other places? Not so much.

There’s something else. The Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. My family has vacationed there for years. I remember going there for the first time. It absolutely took my breath away. It was so green, so much of a fantasy setting. All I required was a wizard to lead me on an epic journey. I felt different there. Felt…free, so-to-speak. I could hike trails, climb along stream beds, see waterfalls. It was everything I needed to fuel my fictional mind. Everything I needed to clear my mind from stress and the mundane of everyday life.

While I do love the beach and ocean, I like to say my heart belongs to those mountains. I try to go there every year. Or, at least, every other year. It fills me with so much vigor, so much life. Reminds me of the times when I was a kid in the little town and allowed my imagination to soar. I’ve been to many places. I don’t know what it is about the Smokies, but that’s where I want to return. I feel like a piece of me has been left there since the first time I went. There’s a piece of my heart in my hometown, and you can bet your behind, there’s a piece of my heart running through the trees on the Smokey Mountains.

I plan to settle down there sometime. Maybe it’ll be when my husband retires. Maybe it’ll be if I can make money off my books. I don’t know. But I do know I will get there. One way or another, I will have my house in the middle of some of the most beautiful scenery. I will find the piece of my heart and run in the forests with it. I will find my wizard and finally go on that epic journey through the woodlands. Along with the characters I’ve created, the creatures I’ve designed, the dragons I’ve made to ride on the backs of. It’s where I can let my mind be unleashed.

It’s the same sensation I had playing in the woods around my lifelong friend’s house. We could be anything we wanted, whether it be cowboys and space rangers, secret agents, horses, or anything else our limitless, child minds could conjure. It was our sense of freedom. Our sense of belonging. The mountains feel the same way to me. They always have and always will. I can be that little kid again. I can be anything I imagine myself to be. I can be free.

Where do I call home? Well, it’s a two-fold answer. My hometown, I consider to be my past home. The Smokey Mountains, I consider to be my future home. They’re almost the same to me in importance. Both places hold pieces to my heart. And that’s okay. Because I know where I came from, and I know where I will end up.

And it’s always home.

May the Fourth Be With You

I’m going to take a step away from the fantasy worlds today and reflect. Today is International Star Wars Day! “May the Fourth Be With You.” We also can’t forget about “Revenge of the Fifth.” More importantly, it marks the two-year anniversary that I’ve been with my wonderful soulmate and life-long love. My husband is everything I could’ve asked for and more. Yes, we got married on May fourth because of Star Wars. Yes, we’re huge nerds. But we wouldn’t change a thing.

In all honesty, we haven’t had the easiest first two years of marriage. Life has been throwing more than just crap at us, but we’ve been trudging along. Together. While we may still be in the “honeymoon stage,” we’ve never taken an official honeymoon. Instead, we’ve been saving for our future. Which has been able to buy us a house and provide a new car when one broke down a few months ago. Let me tell you, we need a vacation!

We’ve already seen each other at our worst. There have been many hard days. We get stressed out from work, from the things we’ve been dealing with, and sometimes, we take it out at each other. It’s what happens to anyone who lives with another person. Thankfully, communication is one of the key things we remember, and we always end up talking things out and coming to an understanding. Said talking usually ends up leading to nerd theories and such, once we’ve made up. So many good movies! So many theories!

We’ve also seen each other at our best. We’ve gotten to celebrate many things together. He got a promotion only six months after being at his new job. I was finally able to get out of the customer service desk and work more “behind the scenes” at my job. We’ve adopted a kitten from the Humane Society. It would take more than our combined fingers and toes to count the blessings we’ve received. And it can only get better. Of that, I am certain. We work extremely well together, and we communicate about everything. I mean everything! Anything from fears to bathroom habits to money to our nightly dreams. But if we can’t be honest with each other, than who can we be honest with?

My husband has been an incredible addition to my life. He supports everything I do. Becoming a published author is very important to me, and he works his butt off at a full time job, even getting promoted, so I can remain part time. I put in my four hours a day, five days a week, then come home to work on my writing. Or drawing. Or cleaning. He made his own blog page to like the posts I put on my blog. If nobody else likes it, he always does. It’s all I need.

He also has a heart of gold. Whenever I get sick from my medicine or have such a bad migraine that I can’t get out of bed, he cooks and cleans and makes sure I’m as comfortable as I can be. He gives himself 110% and never complains about it. He does everything he can to make me happy, never asking for anything in return. Now, I know there are times when I can take that for granted, but you have no idea how thankful I am for him. He’s always there for me. Even when he’s had a bad day at work, he consistently puts my needs above his.   

There are times where he can come across as a perpetually sarcastic person, but our relationship with each other can be sarcastic. Ask the people I work with. They can tell you from the times he’s come to visit me. But we know each other better than anyone. And the best part of that? We’re still learning about each other. Every day, we’re learning more about subtle hints in expressions or tones. Every day, we’re learning to see through the mask we try to put on for the sake of the other. Every day, we have to remind ourselves that a relationship takes work from both sides of the party. We’re learning we work best as a team. And like a machine missing an important part, we’re learning just how badly we can fail without each other.

Don’t mistake me for giving relationship  or marital advice. I am very aware that two years is not a long time for a marriage. We are still young and naive about many things when it comes to “adulting.” But I also know more seasoned adults don’t have life figured out. Again, it’s a learning process. Constantly. However, I’m just glad I have someone I know I can depend on to help me through the fire. He’s right there with me, every step of the way. Even when I want to be stubborn and turn a blind eye to his presence. Pride can be a roadblock on many accounts.

I could keep going on and on, but I guess what all this is trying to say is that I am married to the most perfect man for my life. I know it’s only been two years, but we’re going for forever. We’ve been through some insanely hard times already, and we haven’t given up yet. We’ve grown closer together, and we’ve grown stronger as a team. We have stood life’s ugly head in the face and cried “Come get some!” with weapons drawn. I love my husband more than anything, and I couldn’t ask for more. Even if we were to be left with nothing, we would still have each other, whether physically or spiritually. It’s been two years, so far. Here’s to infinite more.

The Man of Mystery

The queen awoke with a dull sensation in her head. She blinked a few times and looked around the room. Everything seemed dull. Her gaze lingered in the other side of the large bed. It was empty. A smile crept across her face. That meant she could find the man in her dreams without anyone stopping her.

She went to her wardrobe and threw open the doors. What to wear? Perhaps red would be a suitable color for this excursion? The eye was more attracted to the color red. Yes. That seemed fitting. She also needed the finest silk. Her lips pursed as she pulled out a dress that she hadn’t had the courage to wear before. Until now.

After a soothing bath, she smelled of the best flowers and slipped into the form-fitting gown. A backless number with a precarious slit up the leg. Gold embroidery danced along the edges. A gold sash tied around her slim waist. She accessorized with a few gold pieces. Finishing with a gold circlet upon her head.

Then the queen headed for the royal gardens. Completely ignoring everything going on around her. Though she assumed many stared. But she was determined to find the man plaguing her dreams the past week. She strolled down the stone pathway. He had always shown up under the giant tree in the center.

Her eyes darted around. The mystery man hadn’t appeared yet. She walked under the harboring branches of the great tree. Looked up and sighed. Was it only a dream? Lifting her hands to her chest, she sighed again. Why did it have to be only a dream? With a wistful glance back up at the branches, she turned around.

The stood the man in her dreams. Tall and well-formed, he smiled with the grace of a gentleman. His long, fire-red hair flowed with the wind. Black symbols of magic tattooed his bare chest. “So it is you.”

The queen unusually adopted charmer, cocking one hip to the side. “Unless this is but another dream.”

He approached her in one easy stride. Swooped her down and stared into her eyes. “Have I ever done this in your dreams?”

“No.” She blushed a bit. “How did you know to find me here?”

His voice lowered to a rich tone. “Because you have been in my dreams, my beautiful temptress. You have been in this same exact spot all week. I had to know if you were real.”

“That’s why I’m here. I had to know if such a specimen of a man existed.”

The peculiar man flashed another grin. Until he noticed the ring on her left hand. “Will your husband mind?”

Her cool demeanor didn’t change, sliding the ring off her finger. Tossed it off to the side. Not caring where it landed. She matched his smooth tone. “What husband?”