Sunday, December 31, 2017

10 Things I Learned in New York -- Front Desk Clerk

Part 2 -- Front Desk Clerk

The hotels--and buildings in New York--were a lot different from what I expected.  For one, they're super compact.  The elevator in our hotel even had a sign announcing it is "consolidated": fancy word meaning 2 people will physically fit there, even if the sign reads "limit 7."  That saying "packed like sardines in a can," well, it must've come from New York!
     In the cheap hotel we picked, people plastered themselves against the wall just to let others pass by.  And my husband, a man of average height yet exceptionally broad shoulders, only had a couple inches of clearance on each side of him in the hallway.  
    Anyway, after arriving at the hotel, the front desk clerk looked at me strangely as I continued waving at him until he gave me his full attention.  "Ummm, can you?" he asked.
    "I just wanted to see how your day's going."
    "Well, it's average...."
    "Average?!  Are you kidding me?  You work in New York.  You, my friend, you're livin' the dream."
    At this point, Mike (my husband) chuckled. I remind him daily--he got into this marriage voluntarily!
    "This isn't the dream, ma'am."
    I set my suitcase (which would hardly fit through the teensy hallway) next to Mike.  My feet sprinted over to the front desk clerk and then I faced the same direction as him.  "You see out that door?"
    He nodded warily.
    "Out there is so much excitement.  It's just waiting for YOU!"
    The man snorted and couldn't help smiling.
    "You're not from here, are you?"
     "You from Texas?"  
     "No--I'm from Idaho!"
     "And, you, lady from Idaho?  Are you livin' the dream?" he asked.
     "We all are."  I grinned.  "It happens when you simply realize it.  Life can get so messy, so miserable, so hard.  But it can also be amazing...if we embrace it.  We're still alive aren't we--it's a good time to act like it!"
     He quieted and instead of looking patronizing, his eyes studied me and then he nodded.  "Okay." He looked from me to Mike and laughed.
    "Goodnight," Mike said in his low voice.
    "Have a good one," the front desk clerk said.
    As we waited for our tiny elevator, I heard another tourist ask the desk clerk how he was doing, I couldn't help grinning when he told them he was "livin' the dream."

What I learned from him: people can be in the best place ever--the land of opportunity--and not even realize how amazing that is.      
    Sometimes we all need a reminder that life can be crap, but it can also be the best thing ever.  

Perspective has the power to change the quality of our lives.

Signing Off for Today,
EC Stilson 

To read Part 1 of this series, please click HERE.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

10 Things I Learned in New York -- The Taxi Driver

Part 1 -- A Taxi Driver

Mike and I arrived in New York while darkness ate even the stars.  Lights shone brightly from looming buildings, and even though I felt like an ant, I couldn't wait to see everything and meet everyone!
    A taxi driver pulled to the curb at the airport.  Mike had called him shortly after we landed, so we didn't have to flag anyone down.  The drive to the hotel was a bit crazy--and long; cars jerked back and forth; the driving lanes seemed much smaller than the kind we have in Idaho.
    After a while, the driver asked us where we're from.  
    "Idaho," Mike said.
    "Are the freeways different over there?"
   "Oh, yeah!" Mike said.
    I laughed so hard--I nearly choked.  "Idaho...doesn't have rush hour.  Idaho has mostly two-lane freeways.  We don't have traffic--we have potatoes.  Potatoes and deer."
    The driver glanced at us in the rearview mirror and smiled.  "So, what brought you to The City?"
    "He bought me a ticket to New York for Christmas.  I have a kind of strange bucket list--and one of the items on it is playing my violin on the streets of New York."
    "You're too young to have a bucket list," he said.
    "Not in this traffic!" I said.
    "The violin, huh?  You're in a band."
    "A huh," I said.  "And you play something too?!" I could tell by how he gripped the wheel. Years of playing an instrument, well that changes how people hold things. 
    "The drums," he said.  "I used to be in a band--thought we'd go somewhere.  But I'm too old now, so I quit."
    "You're never too old." It was a stark rebuttal--but I meant it.
    Mike and I held hands in the back seat, and I smiled at my sexy Italian.  I couldn't believe I married a man who gives me my dreams for Christmas.
    "So," I finally said to the cabbie, "if you could give us one piece of advice--one thing for us to remember from this ride--what would you tell us?"
    He thought for a minute before responding. "Well.... I've been married for almost 30 years.  My wife, she might be opinionated, and I might have to give in...a lot, but Heaven brought that woman to me.  When I was young, I had more women than I wanted.  I'd go out in this crazy city--and girls would just find me.  And then I started getting older...and it's strange what time can do to a man. Once I couldn't have enough women.  Then I started wanting something different.  Just one, you know?
    "So I tried giving my ex a call.  Was gonna tell her I wanted to settle down.  But I dialed one wrong number.  You know we didn't have cell phones, or even those cordless ones. It was one of them rotary phones.  Well, I dialed the wrong number and a girl answered.  I married that girl a while later and now it's been almost thirty years."
     I could see his eyes; he stared out the windshield nostalgically, probably thinking about all the years with his wife.  "Sometimes in life you might think you got the wrong number, but you actually got the right one.  People think they should: go back and make other choices, change things, be different. If we accept mistakes, they can make our lives better than before.  You remember that--it's coming from a has-been musician who drives cabs to put his daughters through college!"
    As he pulled up to our hotel, I thought of that saying: God doesn't always give us what we want. He gives us what we need."
    "Thank you," Mike and I both told as we got out of the cab. 
    "I'll never forget what you said." I waved.  "And I want you to remember something from me too--you're not too old to play the drums.  Maybe you met us so we could hear your story, and then I could tell you to pick your drums back up again!"
    "Okay," he smiled fondly.  "Have a great time in New York." 
    We shut the door, and he sped off between those mammoth buildings.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

I Am Scared to Die. Are you?

    Last night I woke up with the strangest sensation--something I haven't felt in over 15 years.  I woke up, scared to die.
    Woody Allen once said, "I'm not afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens."  That's how I've felt for quite some time...until last night.
    You see, yesterday was my angel baby's birthday.  He would have been 15.  And while it doesn't hurt like it used to, I still miss him.  Yesterday, Mike took me to lunch to cheer me up.  I'm remarried and Mike never met Zeke.  I don't tell him too much about my angel baby, but for some reason yesterday I did.  I told him how the doctors knew Zeke might not make it, so they had me deliver him in a room directly connected to the NICU by a window. When he was born they whisked him through the window and put him on life support.  They ended up taking me to a recovery room and told me I couldn't move for a while.  Well, those schmucks were wrong--it would take a lot more than THAT to keep me from my baby.  I hijacked a wheelchair when no one was lookin' and several minutes later one of the nurses found me struggling down the hall.  She took pity on me, and even though she wasn't supposed to, she brought me to see my baby. 
   After sharing all of that, I searched Mike's eyes.  We were sitting in the middle of a diner, eating soup and salad. I suddenly felt my face warm from the tears I tried to keep at bay.  My lips trembled, and I raised a fist to cover my face.  "Nothing could keep me from my baby: not doctors, not stupid rules...  The only thing that kept me from him was death."  Then I cried and cried, on his 15th birthday, right in the middle of that damn restaurant in Pocatello, Idaho.
    A few people looked at me sympathetically.  I didn't want to cry anymore, so I whispered to Mike, "I feel bad for you--they probably think you're breaking up with me over something stupid."
    He held my hand, squeezing it like he'd never let me go, then he smiled. 

    I normally think about death as a reunion, a reward after patiently waiting to reconnect with those we love.  I could see my baby, my family who has passed on (especially my grandparents), my best friend who died 2 years ago....
    But last night was different. I thought of death as one thinks of stepping in front of a train.  It's so final, so gloomy, so quick.  You can't have someone hold your hand.  You go all alone into the unknown.  And good luck listening to advice from everyone else--everybody has a different spin on death.
    As I sat up in bed last night, my blanket clutched to my neck, I suddenly thought of how many funerals I've played the violin at.  Hell, I've even played for people right before they died in the hospital.  And the look of peace on their they didn't give a damn about the final adventure; they were simply ready.
    Maybe I shouldn't be scared. Life could be like pregnancy?  I didn't want to go through labor--I wanted to see my babies (all 5 of them), but I NEVER wanted to go through labor.  'Cept at the point your skin is stretched to oblivion, you can't even bend over to tie your shoes (let alone shave your legs) AND you feel like you're starring in a sequel to aliens....  At THAT point, labor sounds easy.  
   Maybe death will sound easy when I'm ready.  But right now, going into the unknown alone...even if I will get to see God (and He doesn't give me the smack-down), traveling alone to the afterlife does NOT sound fun.
    Moral of the story, I guess I'll stick around.  I can live with that!

    Have you ever felt like this?

A very much happy-to-be-alive,

P.S. Silly moment of the day--I googled "I am scared to die," and one of the most popular searches is currently "I am scared to die on a treadmill."  Treadmills--now, maybe that's what I should actually be scared of! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Zombie and Some Bullies

We all know kids can be cruel, but when my 8-year-old son came home and told me a story, I was shocked...
    "Mom, I was at recess and the popular boys were picking on Jeremy."
    "What did they do?" I asked.
    "Kicked him, and punched him.  It got really bad because they even picked him up and swung him into a pole."
    I blinked, completely speechless.  
    After a minute, the Zombie continued.  "It was really hard, Mom, but I stood up to them.  I didn't know if they'd start beating me up too...  Or calling me mean names like they have in the past.  Plus, there were a lot of them."
    The Zombie is really big for his age, but he's the sweetest kid.  I wondered where this story would go, or if any of them would really mess with my boy because he looks so intimidating.
    "I finally went right in the middle of them and yelled," he said.  "I asked why they were hurting him.  Carter said it's 'cause he's a wimp... Because he's a pansy, and he's different from the rest of us."  The Zombie took a deep breath, and looked down.  "I got so mad, Mom.  They looked like they would start hurting him again, so I stood between him and them.  I was so angry—I couldn't believe they threw him into a pole just because he's different! And for some reason, I screamed, 'HE'S SENSITIVE! SO WHAT?!'"
    We both sat, silent for a while.  I digested his words; he'd gotten to the heart of the matter in just a few seconds.  We ALL should be treated with respect—and appreciated for our differences—thank, God, my boy was brave enough to stand up for little Jeremy. "Did they stop after that?" I asked.
    "Yeah, they kinda seemed surprised.  So I brought Jeremy into the classroom for the rest of recess and the teacher let us hang out there.  We stayed in the classroom for lunch and ate together too."
    "You're a good kid," I said.  "I'm so proud of you, Zombie.  Did you tell your teacher?"
    "No!" he said.  "I'm no tattle-tale!  I stood up for him, and it wasn't a big deal.  
    Then he sighed.  "You know, I beat everyone in the long jump last week? I was 7% popular, now I'm back down to 0% again."
    "I just know it’ll all work out,” I said. “You did the right thing.  That's worth a lot more than almost anything."

Update: The Zombie had a much better week last week.  He said it's crazy how fast the boys forgot.      
    "I think I have a new friend," he said.  "Jeremy is great at building things AND he's nice.  Who knows, maybe we'll be friends for a long time."
    "Maybe." I smiled.
    "I'm not back to being 7% popular, but I'm probably at 6%."
    "Oh?" I asked.  "How do you know?"
    "'Cause a cute girl told me I smell nice.  I think it's my breath, and because I used that bottle Mike has on his dresser."
    Mike's cologne....  I swear, you never know what will happen around this place!
     So all in all May has been a good month: the Zombie was a hero; plus, he got new a friend  and maybe even a girlfriend; and me, well, I'm excited for school to get out!
Have a great day.
Signing Off,

Friday, April 21, 2017

Why is Society So Cruel

Guestpost from my twelve-year-old, The Hippie
Why is Society So Cruel?

I feel like sometimes people don't realize what they say when they say something... one word can ruin, or make someone's day. You can make a difference between somebody's life or death... you may not know it but you affect everyone with your mood, actions, and thoughts. 
    Some people are going through stuff that you cannot even imagine. So why do you have to put them down? It's not funny to mess with someone's emotions, to mess with their feelings, to mess with their pain or their happiness. So why do people still do it? 
Why is society so cruel that they can't realize that one action, one word, one glare, one smirk, one laugh can end a life? Can end a story that never got a chance to start. 
    I have seen so much negativity being passed around. So much cruel language, so many rude thoughts, so much negative energy that I don't even know what is happening to people. 
    Society acts like emotions are a joke, like they don't even matter. But would they matter if they were yours? If you got pulled into that person's position? Society puts people down. They keep building negative thoughts over and over again. Until finally you crack... you're done... and that's when they realize their mistake... 
    I have an amazing family, amazing parents, and an amazing life. I'm not saying that any of this is representing me, because it's not, but I just want to make everyone aware that people are becoming so negative. And the saddest part of all is that nobody is realizing it.     
    I was looking through old family pictures, looking at old friends, and that's when it hit me.. why have I become so negative? Why has everyone become so negative? All I've figured out is what the problem is... but unfortunately I haven't found a solution.... 

- A Concerned Soul
The Hippie

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A True Example of God's Kindness--and I Didn't Deserve That At All

    On Sunday, let's face it, I was a jerk. I'm still not sure why, but I went into full-on beast mode with my husband (and not in a good way).  So, yesterday, Monday, when I got home from work, I expected for him to treat me the same way....  I was almost ready to be "on the fight."
    Instead, he'd made a crock-pot dinner, and cleaned the house and garage.
    I was so stunned.  "Why?" my voice nearly choked on the word.  "Why are you so kind to me?"
    Instead of yelling, or being rude, he gave me a huge hug and said how much he loves me.  "Elisa," he said, "you're stressed. I figured you needed my help.  Maybe you'll feel a little bit better now."
    He went to work and I just thought about how he'd responded to my own actions. 
    "Wanna play Yahtzee?" the Hippie asked.
    "What are you thinking about?" she finally asked, after rolling yet another full house.
    "Just how I need to be a better person sometimes. I was so mean to Mike on Sunday, and look at everything he did to help me today."
   "You weren't that bad, Mom.  But I know what you mean.  He's a good guy."  She handed me the cup with the dice in it  "Today I asked him what he would do if he won a million dollars.  You know what he said--without even thinking about it?"
    "What?" I asked.
    "He said, you'd be able to be a stay-at-home mom, and you could write.  He thought about what we would want--instead of himself."
    I couldn't even shake the dice because I felt guilty. "I can be so spicy," I said.  "But he doesn't feed the fire.  He'll just cross his arms and ask if I'm done yet."
    She laughed.  "I think that drives you crazy."
    "It does!  But he's good for me; it's not very fun fighting with a brick wall.  You know what's so strange about all of this?" I asked.
    The Hippie shook her head, her bright, blue eyes shining.
    "Mike doesn't believe in God, but he's one of the biggest examples of God's kindness in my life.  That's pretty ironic, huh?"
    "I know what you mean," she said.  "He's been really good to me too.  He came into our lives right when we needed him."
    "I should be a better person," I said, thinking how strange life is, and how miracles are around us every day.  His actions not only made me feel better, they made me want to rise to the occasion.
    I rolled my dice, smiled, and got absolutely nothing except a score of 23 for "chance."  I love rolling for my "chance" score--it's the best part of that game.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Saying Goodbye to a Friend Taken Too Soon

    When I was at the darkest time of my life, you reached out to me; we hadn't talked for years, yet somehow you knew I needed help.
    You called every night after that.  I was a single mom, working grave shifts; you just wanted to make sure I'd made it safely into the building.
    You were there, and even became my best friend through those terrible times, because I knew you had my back, like I had yours.
    We even told each other things: The terrible secrets of what we'd been through.  I shared your terrors and your triumphs as your shared mine.  I was always proud of you, always there to cheer you on...until you fell farther than I could reach. 
    Dear friend, I should have held on, but some weights are more than any human can carry for someone else.  Those are the weights we must carry ourselves, and throw off.  And like a person descending to the depths of the deepest ocean, I could no longer help.
    I wish I could change the past. Be stronger.  Somehow fight fate, and prevent your untimely death.  We all know you left this world too early.
    I always thought we'd reconnect, after circumstances no longer threatened to drown you.  After you had fought the fight...and won.
    You will never call and check up on me again.
    Never be there through the good or bad times.
    Never play chess and drink coffee with me, making even the burnt taste unnoticeable because we were laughing so hard about how you always killed my queen.  But no one kills my queen now.  I don't play chess anymore.
    I miss you, friend, your kind words, wit, and laughter.
    I hope they have chess in Heaven.

 Until we meet again,

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Feeling Like Giving Up

Have you ever felt like you had a purpose, but no real way to get there: a traveler without a destination, a road without an end, a passenger blindly wishing for the guide's control?  I'm on this path, reaching for a lifeline.
    I knew I was a writer at age nine, when I wrote an amateurish ninety-page story that later ended up in the trash.  A teacher told me I wasn't meant to be a writer...she really taught me something--to try harder.
    When I was ten, I ripped the top from a big rectangular box and told myself to sit there and write. I'd stay box-bound for hours each day, reading, penning stories, and dreaming.  I did that for weeks, until finding a spider in a dark corner of the cardboard, and disavowing writing nooks forever.
    I've grown up now, and I don't need to make myself write anymore.  The words just come--like a monster begging to be released from a host.  These are words from stories, not fully discovered yet.     
    A dear friend of mine says every person has a least one book in them. One day she said I must have dozens; I wish she would've known, so she could tell me.  Then I could stop wondering over my literary purpose and just know exactly. 
    I love writing almost more than I love breathing.  But more than that, I NEED to write.  It's been said that over 350 billion people have lived since Adam.  How does that make you feel?  350 BILLION.  That's why I need my damn writing.  It's part of my ignition, what makes me feel valid, special, like my voice amongst billions, matters....  As if God will take notice, to a nothing like me.
    But lately I feel like I should stop writing, stop dreaming.  It's a sad thing when doubt quenches who we are, and a once raging fire begins dying out.  One day, several years ago, I'd hiked to the base of a waterfall. I sat by myself and wrote about my journey up the mountain. I remember traipsing down that trail, notebook in hand, thinking I'd rarely been part of such a beautiful moment, with just me, God, nature, a story...and that was enough.
    When did writing become more to me?  That I longed to be society's definition of a "real" author?  That I hoped for it so bad my heart physically hurt because another "author" had been snobby, or a local bookstore owner said I wasn't popular enough to have a signing in his small store.  After that, I wanted the damn respect.  I wanted to be read more than ever. I envied writers who made a living with their stories--and could afford more than dollar items at McDonald's, like I could. 
    Instead of enjoying writing at the base of a waterfall, it turned into something I despise AND love.
    Truth is, we each win little battles every day.  Sometimes it's the little battles with big wins that make the difference: the buoy of a dying soul.
    I keep struggling, like we all do.  Yet today, I'm really doubting myself.  For just a moment I'm tired of fighting, hoping, wishing and dreaming.  This let-down about writing has made me think about so many other things.  My last book took over 3 years to write, over 3,000 hours of sweat and carpal-tunnel aches from my keyboard-fingers.
    I'm not soliciting sympathy; don't get me wrong.  I just wanted to say that I'm doubting myself today--guts out.  I don't know if my writing will every truly go "anywhere."  I just need to have faith that it's gone where it needs to, and will continue to.  After all, I've had so many odd successes--met strangers who have read my books, discovered I had the stamina to keep trying even after one-hundred queries returned to me as rejections instead of offers. 
    And through this, it's still hard to contain the words inside, even when some people have told me maybe it's time to stop....
    So, today I did what I can't avoid--despite some people's advice. I started on something that's been haunting me, a memory...clinging to my hair, my clothes, my skin, like a sickeningly-sweet smell of an old lover, or an abandoned room I never want to revisit again.  The smell of iodine from a dying person's room.  The taste of whiskey after the ultimate betrayal.  Hatred burned from a soul, because the pity was too strong.  And that's what I feel today, pity for myself, for lost dreams, for the fact that today...I am sad. 
    We can have dreams, 1 out of 350 billion, but if everyone got their exact dreams, maybe they wouldn't be quite so valuable after all....

A very uncharacteristic,

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Scribe's Mama and a Baseball

"I'm not like anyone in this family," she said.
    I smiled, remembering something I did in fifth grade.  "Oh yes you are.  I was always hatching crazy schemes."
    "You were?"
    "Yep.  Do you want to hear a story about how I tricked the boys into letting me play baseball with them?"
    She wiped her tears and nodded.
    "All right, well one day . . ."

    I never thought the story was anything special--not until the Scribe heard it.

    I was a dorky twig, far better at playing sports than playing dolls.  I knew I'd be a star on the boys' team if they just let me play, but those jerks were too good for me--a girl.  
    "We don't let girls play with us. Girls are bad luck."  
    That just proved it; they were idiots.  The only time girls are unlucky is when you make them mad!


    I started practicing baseball then, every day after school, until the sun went down.  I got pretty good.  My mom, dad and brother all taught me how to hit and pitch.  I went through training--no kidding.  If those boys would just say 'yes,' they wouldn't know what hit 'em.  
    But the idiots kept saying 'NO!'  
    My dream almost ended.  I could have stayed friendless and sad.  Or I could've stooped to ultimate evilness and played dolls with Wendy Smith and her posse of girlie girls!  That wasn't for me though.  Too bad I hate giving up easily AND dressing dolls.
    I watched the boys' whole setup one day after they said 'no' . . . again.  The leader (Jeff) always brought the ball and the bat.  He'd put it out in the hall during class, then at recess, all the boys would go and play.
    Stealing that ball was easier than taking candy from a baby-brat.  I still remember it.  I raised my hand and told the teacher I needed to use the bathroom.  That was a lie--a terribly sweet lie.  I ran into the hall, looked back and forth, then stole Jeff's ball, not even thinkin' it was sinful to steal from an idiot.  The prize fit great with my stuff in the hallway and no one even saw me!  I wanted to give thanks to God, for helping me steal, so I went and used the bathroom since that's what I'd told the teacher.  Maybe I didn't really have to go, but I sure tried anyway.  It wouldn't be good to lie AND steal on the same damn day.
    Well, when the recess bell rang, those boys scrambled and hooted.  Everyone got out to the field.  For once I stayed back, just watching.  Jeff came out last.  He explained something to the boys who looked awfully mad.  They were just about to leave the field when I walked closer.
    "Who would-a thunk he'd leave the ball home?" a kid whined.
    I threw the ball up and down.  Not to brag, but I caught the sucker every time.  "Funny thing," I said to the boys.  "I brought a ball today.  What are the odds?"  I tried spitting but I'd never done it before and the stuff turned to spittle.  I wiped it away fast and cursed all those old movies for making spitting look easy.
    "Give us the ball!" a boy screamed--good thing I didn't marry that dictator!
    "Sure," I pulled it away, "on one condition."
    "Name it," Jeff said.  He walked closer.
    "That you let me play."
    All the idiots groaned, apparently idiots are great at whining and groaning.  "But that's bad luck to play with a girl."
    "Is it better to not play at all?" I asked and they FINALLY let me play.
    I'd like to say I got a home run, even though I didn't.  But I will say that I proved myself and they seemed really impressed.  Jeff walked with me after last recess and smiled.  "You know, this ball looks an awful lot like the one I bring."
    I had to think fast.  I looked up at him.  My face couldn't charm him--too bad for the 'ugly phase.'  But at least I could win him over with my wit.  "You're pretty good at ball."  I paused.  "Well, so am I.  Does it really surprise you that we both have such good taste?"
    He laughed and hit me on the back.  "You're all right, Stilson.  You're all right."  It was the first time someone called me by my last name and the first time a fellow classmate hit me on the back--it WAS epic.
    The next day when Jeff's ball showed up by his stuff in the hall, he didn't even seem surprised.  I went and stood by the field, a bit sad that I'd never get to play again.  Maybe I should have just reconciled to playing dolls with Wendy Smith . . . forever.
    I sat down on the grass and prepared to watch the boys forming their teams.  It was time for the captains to pick their star players.  John 'the cherry picker' went first--don't even ask how he got his nickname, let's just say no one wanted to shake HIS hand.  When it was Jeff's turn, he smiled right at me and pointed.  "Stilson, for first pick because that girl really knows how to hit a ball.  And because she didn't give up."
    I stood by him and beamed.  "Isn't it funny how my ball just showed up today?" he whispered.
    "Yeah," I nodded. "What are the odds?"

    "So, that's how I started playing baseball with the boys," I told the Scribe.
    "It sounds like something I would do!  Mama," she said seriously, "you're all right."
    "You too."  I smiled, then patted her on the back and thought I just might start calling her by our last name.  She's always doing crazy things like scaring children and holding fundraisers FOR HERSELF, but she's one hilarious child.  She makes life fun.  I'm thankful for her and her siblings every day.

For another post about the Scribe, please go here:  The Scribe and a Scheme

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Someday I'll See Him Again--Beneath a Golden Sky

We're walking along a beach.  I find myself holding his hand even though we haven't seen each other in years.  I keep gazing up at him and smiling.  "I've dreamed about this," I say, tears in my eyes.
    "So have I."
    We keep walking, for miles and miles.  My hair is well past my shoulders.  It flutters as we walk.  A bit of sand gets between my toes, and I would have giggled, but this moment calls for quiet--for peace.  A chill runs through my body and I use my free hand to pull a shawl closer to my shoulders.  I should have fastened it with both hands, but I'd rather die than lose contact with him now.
    After we've traveled a while, we both turn to the sunset.  "It's beautiful," I say.
    "And it brings a memory with it," he says, knowing more about me than any living person.
    "Will you tell me?" he asks, like a child.
    I can't help but say yes; he holds my heart. "Once, when I was very young, when colors seemed more important than a career, and playing the violin in a nearby cave was more desirable than anything, I said a prayer."
    He smiles.  "And what did you pray?"
    I look out at the waves tumbling from miles away.  "I asked God to give me a sign that He still loved me."
    We remain quiet.  I bathe in our silence and will the moment to never end.
    "Did you doubt His love so much?" he asks.
    "I guess I did."
    I paused, wondering over the small moments that make up our lives. "Well, nothing happened for the entire day that I prayed.  I painted and drew.  I went to my cave and played my violin.  At one point, I knelt next to a rock and so much sadness overcame me.  'God, don't you love me anymore?' I asked.
    "The voice seemed still, small. I didn't hear it at first because it was just a nudge. But before long the words filled my very being and I FELT them.  'Of course,' a voice replied and the air smelled of incense.  'Look,' the voice said.
    "I looked at the sunset and my breath stopped.  It was unlike anything I'd ever seen in that area.  The clouds stretched orange and gold.  They were amazing and beautiful. They were my favorite color, chosen as my favorite not because of its hue but because of its representation."
    "What does orange represent, to you?" he asks.
    "Eternity." It's a simple reply, yet I know he understands. It tells more about me--about the desires of my heart--than almost anything.
    "How interesting; eternity is what you long for more than anything," he says.  "Some wish only for fame, fortune, or even death after years on Earth--you . . . You, seek eternal life." He pauses, still holding my hand gently. "And you knew God loved you . . . Because of the beautiful, orange sky?  You thought he answered your prayer?"
    "Yes," I said.  "I knew He answered it.  In some way, it made me realize how He painted the sky for me . . . for each of us, every single day.  His love shines everywhere, through almost everything."
    "And that's what you hold onto whenever bad things happen in your life?"  He studies a shell by our feet and I don't say a word.  "You remembered that, even when I died . . ."
    I don't want to talk about his death, not when he's standing beside me. I need to answer his question though. He deserves the truth. "Not at first, but yes.  I remembered that sky.  I knew how much God loved me, and all of us. I couldn't lose sight of His answer to my prayer or the gifts God has given me each day of my life."
    Zeke--MY son just nods. I can tell he's thinking hard about something before he breaks the silence.  "I'm glad God picked you to be my mom."
    His words hit me like a hot iron, shaking my very core--they're something I always longed for, but never thought I'd hear, even in my dreams.
    "But we will see each other again," he continues.  "Orange is my favorite color now, too, a reminder that someday we'll be together in eternity."
    Tears fill my eyes. He's so strong and healthy, much different from the infant who died after two and a half months of being in the hospital.
    He did love me.  He WAS proud, although I let him go and pulled the plug.  I remember how hard he fought to live--even as he took his last breath in my arms.
    "I'm so proud you're my son. You never gave up on life. You never would have given up on me." I try acting brave in that moment, so my pain, guilt and regrets can't hurt him. "I've done everything I can so people will know you; your life won't be forgotten.  I can't make up for the past, but I'm trying my best for the future.  Every day I spent putting my journal--the moments from your life--into the computer . . . Every moment brought pain, but with it, you came back, just like today."
    My eyes close and a deep part of myself starts fading. A heart once full, seems a bit empty, and my fingers close on themselves because HE's no longer holding my hand.
    I breathe slowly, willing peace to come again. 
    It's okay, though. The warmth of his touch stays on my skin like perfume, and somehow it will never leave. "Please know I won't forget you," my voice drifts away just like my son did.
    I look back, but Zeke really is gone, washed away with the wind and the waves.
    As I turn to the crazy ocean, I don't feel quite as sad or alone anymore because the setting sun proves I'll see Zeke again.
    I let go of my shawl and the wind carries it away along with my regrets and pain. My hands fold as if in prayer since the warmth of his touch still lingers.
    "Zeke, I love you.  Always will."  My heartbeat slows and I speak the one question that always plagues me.  "Do you still love me?" I ask although he's gone and he's been dead for years.
    Then, I feel something--it's just a nudge at first, but so much peace comes as I hear his words.  "Of course, I love you, Mama," says a still, small voice. "Look."
    My eyes turn forward.  The sunset is so warm and vibrant, those colors wrap around me, giving me new reasons to live. I no longer simply long for eternity, but I realize the truth in its meaning--eternity is part of right now, just like my memories and my dreams.

    My spirit wakes up and the moment ends. For some reason, I'll never forget it; I saw Zeke as a healthy man--everything I wanted him to become. Plus, he made a promise and I know that kid wouldn't break his word. Someday we'll see each other again, someday beneath a golden sky.

To read more about the book I wrote for Zeke, please click here:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mike Sings Sponge Bob Square Pants

Mike and I decided to start a page for our silly videos.  
Here's the link to that page: Me & Mike
And here's our first video--I hope you'll love it as much as I do.  
I love my family :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

How to Make the Best of Things: My Kids and Some Rock Chucks

First off, I've been MIA because we had a family emergency last week.  I don't want to give the details other than to say that The Scribe and I drove from Idaho to Spokane, Washington--and back again--in a matter of three days.  As we drove home, The Scribe looked at me and said, "That was a scary thing that happened, but this trip has been good for us.  Even when we're having a hard time, I still end up having fun with you."
    "I love you, sweetheart," I said.  She's growing into such an amazing person, and has changed so much in the last year.  In fact, her statement reminded me of an experience we had last spring, when things were quite different....
     The kids were really going stir-crazy after I got home from work.  Mike was working the swing shift, and I struggled thinking of something fun the kids and I could do.
    "I want to hang out with friends," The Scribe said.
    "I want us to spend time together today....  Why don't we go to the park!" I suddenly interjected.
    The Hippie, Zombie, and Dr. Jones were all very excited, but The Scribe folded her arms.  "Fine. But I'm not gonna have fun."
    We drove to the park, and I kept hoping something epic would happen so The Scribe would remember how fun our family is.  As we drove to the park, we went under a huge bridge, past a rail yard, and then next to a field where an entire army of rock chucks rested on the grass, sleeping in the sun.  Ya know, our state is so strange--only in our little town in Idaho would you come home from work to find deer bedded down in your front yard, and see a field of rock chucks, sleeping out in the open for days.  
    Anyway, about a half-mile past the sunning rock chucks, we arrived at the park.  The Scribe still insisted this was the worst idea ever, saying, "I'm too old for this. Parks are for little kids.  Why are we here? The slide is whimpy."  
    Even though my other kids had a ball, I wanted EVERYONE to have fun. I was about to give up on "family time" when a thought hit me.  I could make this fun--I just had to.   
    "Hey kids."  I called everyone closer.  My three youngest bounded over, and The Scribe lumbered forward.  "I want to go on a top-secret mission."  Their eyes widened, and even The Scribe seemed a little less bored.  "But if we're going to do this, I need everyone to be as quiet as possible."
    "Okay?" The Hippie said.  "What are we doing, Mom?"
    "You'll see.  Now follow me--but be quiet!"
    So we went a half-mile up the road.  I made it really silly, running to hide behind trees, humming the "Missions Impossible Theme Song," constantly motioning to the kids as if we were spies.
    They had no idea what we were about to do, until we arrived at the edge of some trees.  We peered around the largest tree and studied the field where the rock chucks sunned, still sleeping contently.
    "Okay, kids.  If we're gonna pull this off, we need to be super quiet.  Step softly.  Don't even breathe loud.  And for crying out loud, no sneezing!  I want us to all tip-toe into the very middle of those rock chucks, and on the count of three, we're going to scream like we're dying."
    At this point, all of the kids lit with excitement--even The Scribe.
    "Mama?" Dr. Jones, who was six at the time, said.  "Won't we wake them up before we get over there?"
    "Not if we're very, very quiet!  Look how tired they are."
    So we tip-toed.  And I should've known they'd be good at this--all the times they've sneaked candy from the pantry had paid off!  
    We made it in, weaving amongst dozens of sleeping rock chucks. One must have heard us because it rolled over slightly and kicked its leg high in the air.
    We all held our breath.  I've never been in a ambush before, but it's crazy-awesome!!!  Just thinking that if even one of them sounded their squeaky alarm, the plan would be a bust!
    But after careful navigation, and all of us holding hands in a trail of stealth, we made it to the center.
    "On three," I mouthed to my four kids, holding up one finger.  
    A rock chuck on the hill must have finally heard us because he began rolling the rubbing his eyes with his furry, little paws.  
    "One, two, three."  I held up three fingers, and we all took a deep breath. 
    We screamed so loud then.  "Ahhhhhh!!!!"  Birds flew from the trees, the whistle from a nearby train sounded like northin', and all of our faces were Christmas--red.    
    That's when the rock chucks began freaking out.  They jumped up, looking around with wide eyes, and vibrating noses.  They ran into each other.  They tripped on twigs.  They squeaked and squealed.  One, looking behind itself, almost ran into my leg--and I freaked out.  I'd wanted to scare the chucks, not have one touch me!
    In a matter of moments, the rock chucks had cleared the field, and we had no idea where all of them were hiding. 
    We sauntered back to the park, all of us laughing and smiling.  The rest of the day was gravy, and we had the most amazing time back at the park, talking about different things we'd noticed about the rock chucks, and how scared all of us had been while standing in the middle of them.
    "I thought they might attack," The Scribe said, laughing.  "And when that one almost touched you, Mom--that was the best!"
    "And I thought we'd wake them up for sure before we screamed," The Hippie said.
    "And I almost stepped on one!" Dr. Jones said.
    "Me too." My Zombie nodded, very seriously.  "That was terrifying.  I saw it later.  It had big yellow teeth!"
    The next day on the way to the grocery store, the kids and I took the desolate back road, and passed the rock chuck field again.  They were all out sunning again, but this time I spotted three guards, sitting--watching in case a mother and her four kids decided to stop by and scream in the center of them, just for fun.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Should I Do? I Heard Them Gossiping About Me

    Yesterday I was so happy.  Mike had to tie a string around my feet, worried I might float away from pure joy.  Okay, not really, BUT close.
    Anyway, The Hippie had just made some fried potatoes--which are about the best thing ever--and we sat talking about how A STRANGER'S KINDNESS just came out.  I told her if she really wants to write a book, she should go for it!  That's when my phone buzzed, with a voicemail.
    "That's weird," I said.  "I didn't even hear it ring."
    I hit zero, and smiled, listening to the beginning of the message.  "This is Veronica...and Chester."  I hope those are good cover names.  I don't want to out anyone with this post.  "We are so proud of you.  You're an inspiration.  We saw you on TV--and oh my gosh you're amazing!  Love you, girl."  
    Then apparently Veronica and Chester had thought they hung up. But. They. Hadn't.
    "She is so NOT amazing," Veronica practically spat, still on the voicemail.  "She thinks she's so neat.  Talk about conceited.  Anyone can write a book." She breathed hard.  "Anyone can go tell other people that they should look on thebright side.  Anyone can--"  I deleted the message after that, and wanted to cry into my potatoes.  
    "What's wrong?" The Hippie asked.
    And after I told her, all she said was, "Woah. What a jerk."
    The thing is that I ALWAYS assume the best of people.  So, when I've assumed someone can be taken at face value, it really sucks to find out they can't.
    After listening to that message, I'm in a dilema.
The way I see it, I have three options.

#1--I can cry, making an Alice in Wonderland river that is SO big, SO wide, we will never have a drought again.

#2--I can never talk to Veronica again.  She'll call, and I won't answer.  I'll see her in the grocery store, and practically dive into the next aisle, just to avoid, seeing her judgmental eyes.

#3--I'll call her and tell her everything.  (Unfortunately, THIS is my style.)  But whenever I've done this before people have denied it with: You misunderstood me.  That wasn't about you. Or...extremely nervous giggling.

What would  YOU do?  I'm at a loss here.  This couple wants to be friends with me and Mike.  I just don't think we should be anymore.  It's unfortunate that Veronica doesn't really know me. I'm as down to earth as they come.  And unless someone does something unforgivable, I have my friend's backs for life.

I keep replaying her words in my head. Seriously, I hope I'm nothing like she thinks.  If I am, please throw some cold water in my face, or something!  Thank you.


Today is the last day to download Bible Girl and/or The Golden Sky for FREE

 Today is also the last day to enter to win the Kindle Fire. For that giveaway, please click here:  

Monday, February 27, 2017

A STRANGER'S KINDNESS by EC Stilson Has Been Released

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This book can be purchased in paperback: HERE
Or as an eBook: HERE

    Last night, I prayed to God, thanking Him for the good fortune I've had with my writing.  I was suddenly so overwhelmed with gratitude for God's kindness,and for the generosity of so many people along the way.
    From the first store that let me book a signing....  I didn't have much of a following, and the kind store-owner of The Read Cat, let me sign and play my violin there.

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     Because I got that initial signing, I began gaining more followers.  I ended up getting a signing at Barnes and Noble.
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Some elementary schools took interest in what I had to say, encouraging young writers to chase their dreams.  During that time, I spoke at dozens of elementary schools, using the violin to teach kids the elements of music AND writing a strong story.
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After that, I was able to go to Eastern Utah, be interviewed on the radio and have my most successful signing--all because of family, friend, and many kind readers who kept encouraging me.
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After my success in Eastern Utah, with more signing and several more radio interviews, I was able to go on TV twice in the last 4 years.  (Man, that sounds like a long time--just writing that!)

"The Golden Sky" TV Interview here: Dealing With Loss
My Latest Interview here: Life's Biggest Challenge  

I've been writing for fifteen years--pursuing this for eight years. And, through all of this, I still have moments where I want to give up.  Some people haven't been as nice as others (is that a good way to put it? lol), maybe trying to take me down a notch, but, most people have been so kind it's astounding! I'm still gaining speed, even if it's hard work the whole way.  
    You know, writing hasn't paid off financially, but the memories I've made are worth more than anything I could ever buy.  And the books are being read.  My heart always warms knowing that my book about Zeke is still out there, and his memory will never truly fade.

All of this to say thank you: for your support, your kindness, your encouragement...  Without that encouragement, I wouldn't have the strength to keep pursuing my dreams.  I wish you that very same thing today--the strength you need to pursue YOUR dreams :)  If I can do it--anyone can!

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Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or still FREE today, 2/27/17. 

  If you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Was On TV: Studio 5 A Stranger's Kindness

What an amazing experience!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Stranger's Kindness by E.C. Stilson

A Stranger's Kindness

by E.C. Stilson

Giveaway ends March 10, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I Have a Big Book Signing Today in Salt Lake City

This is gonna be busy! The kids and I are loading into the truck at 6am for a book signing that's a few hours away. I'm so excited though. 
    THE GOLDEN SKY has started selling again. I don't make very much per copy, but it feels amazing knowing that Zeke's memory is living on with even more people. What an amazing gift THAT is.   
    Just look, yesterday it made it to #1 for women's memoir.

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    So, the signing is at:

Anyway, the signing today (2/25/17) will be at:
The Salt Lake Roasting Company
320 E. 400 S. 
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
from 10am - noon 
If you're in the area, I'll be ready to visit,
 while enjoying some good coffee! :) 
Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or FREE until Monday. 

  If you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Strange Coincidence and the Fantastic Fox

Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or FREE until Monday. 

  If you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Now, onto the story of the day: 
A Strange Coincidence and the Fantastic Fox
One of the stories fom A STRANGER'S KINDNESS that really happened, and is still relevant today.

    "Baby, what's wrong? Talk to me," I said to The Scribe.
    "You'd never understand."
    We drove in our dilapidated van, up a dusty road on Antelope Island.  The kids were having a hard time with the divorce, and this was my way of trying to make things better.
    "This place sucks. It's dead!" The Scribe practically spat the words at me.
    The Zombie, my son, rallied to my side. "Don't be mean to Mama! You know they had to get divorced. They weren't happy when they were together. It was bad for everybody, and you know it. Mama is trying to have fun with us right now."
    "I know this is hard," I said. "But you never know what great surprises are waiting in the future for us.  Even in a place like this.  Just open your heart to accept the good in things."
    The Scribe refused to concede or look at any of us for that matter. Instead, she remained glued to the passenger-side window, and none of my four kids said another word for a while. 
    I curved to the right, following the bumpy road, moving quite slowly despite my eagerness to reach the salty beach. "Look hard, kids. You might see some deer, antelope, maybe a buffalo."
    "We won't!" The Scribe said. "We won't see any—"
    Then the van was screeching to a halt, and my hands tightened against the wheel. A blur of brown had jumped high in front of my van. My heart raced, my teeth gritted, and I involuntarily threw my right hand out and pushed The Scribe hard into the front passenger seat.
    "Oh. My. Gosh!" The Scribe whispered, breathlessly looking ahead.
    Dust swirled around the van, as if the five of us had been taken up with Dorothy in her Kansas cyclone. The Zombie and Dr. Jones quickly unbuckled themselves, stood, and stared out the front windows, waiting for the dust to clear.  The Hippie smiled with pure wonder.
    When the dirt dissipated, all three of us gasped. In front of the van—right in the middle of the road—stood the largest brown and orange fox I'd ever imagined. Its ears eternally perked; he eyed us at an angle and then studied us straight-on. He stayed there, breathing deeply, and it wasn't until moments had passed that I realized he wasn't looking at me or my three youngest kids; he was staring directly at The Scribe. I glanced at her and tears had brimmed her eyes. "Wow," she said. "Who would have thought we'd see him, in a crappy place like this."
    I couldn't help but smile. The fox whipped his tail high, turned his head, and jumped into the brush, leaving our sight forever.
Almost two years passed from this moment, 
until we shared this story 
with anyone else....
    "You two better not make me cry," Kara, my best friend said to my kids as we got ready the morning of my wedding. Then she followed-up with another thought. "Do you really think we'll see some wildlife while we're out there?"
    "Of course, we will," The Zombie said. "The last time we went to Antelope Island, we saw a fox!"
    "A fox! You lucky kid." Kara winked at him.
    "Why did you decide to get married at Antelope Island anyway?" she asked, pinning a stray hair back into Dr. Jones' half-bun.

    The Scribe cleared her throat and turned to Kara. "One of the last times we were there, it was just me, the other kids, and Mom. I'd had a bad day, and I didn't want to be at Antelope Island—everything seemed dead there. But Mom kept talking about how amazing things can happen when we least expect them. That's when we saw a fox." She paused and smiled out the front window.  "The fox is like Mike. When we were going through a hard time, he just sort of showed up.  We needed him...  That's why when Mom asked us to help her pick a place, we all picked Antelope Island."

 And now present day,
the fox story has come up again....

    The book about how I fell in love with Mike is complete, and ready for the release date on Monday 2/27.  I'd just written a press release that ended up being shared on the very front page of an eNews site.  I'd also heard back from a TV station, saying they would like to interview me on Studio 5 in Utah!
    As I drove home from work, I tapped the wheel to some music, and just thought about how strange life is.  I have worked so hard in the past to promote my writing; working, but never going anywhere.  Yet now, all of these things are falling into place.
    I sang loud, took a sip of my coffee, and turned right on a connector that takes me from the nice side of town to the country part that we live in.  I was just about to reach for my coffee again, when a blur of brown jumped high in front of the truck. 
    I swerved to a stop, watching as a majestic fox ran to the side of the road, then turned, sat down, and just stared regally at me.  It stayed forever, until I was actually the one to leave.  The whole time, it had looked at me like it knew me--to the very deepest part of my soul.  An overwelming feeling of gratitude flooded my heart.  Not only have I been very fortunate, but to see a wild fox again...that was amazing! 
    I know we all have special moments like this. But, for me, life is sort of magical right now.  I'm not totally sure why so many miracles seem to be happening all of the sudden, more easily than before.  I'm just going to embrace this while it lasts.  I'm so happy--I just want to share this feeling with everyone :)
    Some people would say the fox doesn't mean anything.  What do you think? 

    The TV interview will be aired in Utah at 11am today.  I'll post a link if they send me the video afterward.  Wish me luck! I hope the advice I shared will hope someone--and I also hope it'll interest people in the book!

How We Fell In Love...Or Not

Mike and I decided to talk about how we fell in love--and it took a turn for the worse. 
    This was to celebrate the release of my newest book, A STRANGER'S KINDNESS, which is the fictional story based on how we met.

    This video was actually pretty fun to make though--we might have to try it more often!
     Anyway, "A Stranger's Kindness" will be out on Monday; you can read a press release about that here: E-News -- EC Stilson, Previously Known For Her Memoirs, Has Now Written a Fictional Romance.

Don't forget about the awesome books that are either featured, or FREE until Monday.   

Lastly, if you're visiting my site for the Kindle Fire Giveaway, please click here: Kindle Fire Entry

Have an AMAZING day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to Keep Your Romance Alive

    Meet Mike:
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Mike is a goofball.
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And When I met him, he was the ultimate bachelor. I mean seriously.... He owned not just one--but TWO kegs.  
He flaunted a pool table.  
Women would leave THEIR WALLETS at his house, 
just so they'd have an excuse to see him the next day.
He would throw parties, and by the end of the night, 
end up looking like this:
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 But for some reason, when Mike met me and my army of children, he went from this:
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To This:
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From This (yes, those are barrels of rum!):
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To This:
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Meet Me:
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I am also a goofball:
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And even though, I was happy being a single mom, 
and I thought I'd never find romantic love again... 
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I did.
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Through all of this, I truly believe the key to keeping your romance alive is to really appreciate 
every moment you have with each other--
and to have fun. 
Whether you're working on the yard:
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Or on an adventure:
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Just remember, life is short--enjoy the time you have together.
And if you haven't met the right person yet, don't lose hope.
I never thought I would....
BUT I did.
What keeps your romance alive?