Author: karenbalch

Trials of Life

Trials of Life

16 March 2018

I don’t consider myself a religious person; I’m agnostic. However, I do believe a higher power exists. I spent most of last year asking how much more are you going to throw at me? Knowing the answer would be I’m giving you all that I know you can handle. And, yet, here I am again asking the question again.

I love my dog to pieces. He’s been the best thing getting through life’s upset last year, and I was so thankful to have him; still am. He really has been my little rock. But now, it’s my turn to be there for him. I think the universe is telling me that I will go through the next transition of my life, sometime in July when I have to move again, without him, and my heart is breaking into tiny little pieces.

Our pets are part of our families. They are our family. For some of us who have never had children (not something I wanted anyways), our little furballs offer the best love there is-unconditional, and it’s a priceless gift. I can walk in the door at any minute and no matter what kind of a day I’ve had, Duke is there wagging his tail, so happy to see me, and I him. Everything melts away as I lean down to pet his forehead and give him a big hug.

He’s been my one constant through everything over the past year. Even when my phone no longer rang, texts no longer came through and Google Hangouts didn’t beep at me─as if the world went completely silent…which kind of did─I had Duke to talk to, to pet, to hug, to walk with (and we did a ton of walking!); and he was always by the couch side as I read three or more books on Mondays and Tuesdays for class (more over the weekends); did my writing from the couch and on the patio. He wasn’t comfortable being near me at all in the entertainment room, where my desk was, so I compromised. It’s always been a comfort knowing he’s always there for me.

And now it’s my turn to be there for him. He was sick in January and February. Over the past six days, I had to take him to a specialist, and he had a CT scan on Wednesday. Although the vet suspected the worst, he didn’t want to confirm anything until the radiologists had time to look at his scans. His brain and heart are fine, but my heart is breaking. The call came in today and cancer is confirmed. He doesn’t display some of the normal signs, so I’m hoping we’ve caught it early, but goddamn it, he’s supposed to be with me a little bit longer.

I’m doing all I can to give him the best. The next step is a biopsy to know how bad it is and what the next step will be. Still, my heart is breaking knowing the clock is ticking and I have a new reality approaching.  A Woman and Her Dog. What a story, but not one I can write at this time, and I do have stories. I can’t mention how many times he’s rescued me from the patio at 4:00 a.m. He makes the house seem less quiet. I know I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but we both noticed the absence of white noise after the ex left. We created our own white noise. We both like music to keep us company, and he continues to find ways to be near me. He has quite the personality, and I can’t help but laugh at times.

And, of course I spoil him!  How can I not!?! He’s adorable, lovable, and simply the best companion and friend a woman can ask for. He gets his own cut of filet mignon every so often; not all at once, but in small pieces to complement his food bowl. He gets some great treats; pulled and grilled chicken breast that I process separately from my food; purified water (in gallon jugs) because I lost Sadie to cancer, and I thought the local water was partially to blame. He’s never climbed on furniture, gnawed on my shoes, gone to the bathroom anywhere but outside (unless the medicine was the catalyst and he couldn’t help it); he doesn’t bark but only when he wants to be heard or wants to “tell” me he does not approve of something I’m doing or trying (like getting him to go through a dog door or walking up a new ramp to get into the car); he listens to me -I love the way he cocks his head (always) to the left as if trying to understand new words, yet occasionally tries to test me; I can walk him off the leash and he won’t go very far. He thinks skunks are menaces like cats, yet chooses to wrestle with a skunk (in the middle of the night, I might add) and has been ignoring cats as of late…probably because he thinks a cat is a skunk. HAHA

As a rescue dog, he’s a really good dog. Everyone loves him, and he’s quite the social butterfly. Yet, I recognize moments where I know he’s observing, watching to make sure nothing happens to me. I know in a moment’s notice the little love bug would attack anyone who attempted to bring harm to me.

Once he’s gone, I can’t help but think how quiet and lonely it’s going to be around the house and at nights in the room. I don’t see myself as a lonely person, but you can never be lonely when you have a pet as great as Duke. I’ll have to create a new white noise. I’ll have to keep even busier than I have been.

This also means I’ll be throwing myself deep into writing and back in the gym working out to process. I’ve been trying to process since Wednesday. I’m aware “The voice” is talking, and I’m listening.

I’m willing to spend a little more money to see what’s next. This also means that it’s also time to get my freelance writing going, to get those queries out for my short stories that are polished and ready to go. The time for all things writing is now. My business is officially established; I only need to get the new website up. My to-do list seems lengthy. I believe it’s good that I have something else I can focus on while I’m there for my dog.

The big question I’ve been asked…will I get a new dog.  No. I didn’t have plans to replace him. I want to travel, have a little bit of freedom without having to worry about a pet sitter or boarding him. There will be more living options, and I won’t necessarily have to look for a place to accommodate a pet…these thoughts sadden me.

But this is all in the future and I am not making any plans right now but to be with him, give him all sorts of love and hugs; try to take him on some walks where I know he can handle them; let the students give him even more love, and spend as much time as I can with him. No, spend even more time with him as long as I can. Sadie told me when it was her time; I know Duke will do the same.

It’s funny how pets can change our world, and how our interdependency is not complicated. In fact, it’s cozy. I grew up with dogs. Never thought I would own one because my allergies are so bad. I also know I’m not alone in this next journey; my heart isn’t the only one breaking; friends and family are also feeling this ripple effect. I’m in this alone when it comes down to the final hour, but the critical component is knowing I will reach out to friends who understand and will share my tears.

The writing has already begun to spill. I had to distance myself from him to write this, so I’m back in a Hemingway-style mentality to get this out before I go home. Aside from writing, and the business of writing, I will attempt to create a salad garden in containers. I already know how this one is going to go…not well, and it will be well documented. LOL I have more boxes to unpack and repack; boxes to toss out and relabel; a dresser to attempt to build, and a few other things. It’s going to be a busy weekend for Duke and I. There are more walks to be had. We’ll do a coffee run at some point over the weekend when I need to return a few things to the hardware store. Over the last six months, we’ve been taking more car rides together. He’s been to the dog park in Abq twice in the last six days! I think the last time he was there was in 2008??

Yep, lots to do, and I’m going to make sure I’m there for him as much as I can be for as long as it takes. Because in the end, he’s my family, my “perpetual 2 year old,” he’s all I have, and I am blessed he’s been in my life this long. I’m not going to stop spoiling him. He knows, as a dog being rescued nearly 11 years ago, that he’s in a good home and even he is grateful. He knows where he’s been, and happier where he’s at now.

It’s hard to resist the grin of a happy dog. It’s hard to not smile when the tail is wagging and there isn’t anyone else in the world as happy to see you as a dog. There’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend. We’ve got each other right now and that simply makes everything right in this complicated world. There is a dog story buried deep in me…


a-happy-duke.jpgDuke and I

A New Piece of Life

A New Piece of Life

1 March 2018

I spent 17 ½ very long hours finishing the final chapter of a book that I closed at 5 a.m. The last pieces of my life in boxes, garbage bags, totes, and removed from one place to be on display in a garage at my new home.

Home. That sounds so nice. I have a home here. I go “home” where my family still resides.

I have a strong work ethic. Growing up I had to help on my grandparents farm over the summer; weed the garden before I could go to the local firemen’s field days with my friends or cousins; there was house work, but I had to defend myself to get my mother to reassign dusting to one of my other siblings because of my allergies; we had a couple of cats, cycled through dogs (mostly due to illness or running out in the road, getting hit by fishermen who sped down a country road), and a rabbit we had the longest time. I learned to work hard, and later in life took it upon myself to play harder.

In preparation for winter, we had to put wood in the house. I think it was my mother who built a wood chute so we could toss it inside. Taking turns, someone was inside stacking the logs. We also had to do it for my grandmother.  Before wood, we also helped with coal, but that was easier because my grandfather built a window for the coal to be dumped. During the summers, the concrete structure was empty. To the right were stairs that led into the house, and before the door was a chalkboard we used all the time. Their house was unique, and I didn’t know until my freshman year of high school, when talking to my then-boyfriend, that it was called the green and white striped house.

I was in the backyard working yesterday, cleaning up piles of tree branches, finding logs that my ex-husband left, and piling them into large totes, a bucket and a garbage can; cutting up and gathering wood for the summer. A far opposite of what I grew up doing. As sleet began to fall, I worked faster to get everything cut, piled and ready to be moved later in the evening. I was thankful for my gloves as I handled the piles. While working, these thoughts of my youth came to the forefront. I also laughed because I could only imagine what my parents would say, and my response would be, “What? Warmer weather is coming, and I need wood for the firepit.”

Writing took a significant hiatus this week as I was in the last days of moving. It feels good to be out writing tonight. I can’t write around the disorganization that currently exists. I’m looking forward to everything over the next four months. I am looking at a new book with a fresh start and new beginnings. Duke seems to enjoy the new place and has been finding new places to sleep. The one difference in this new place is that I now own a coffee table. Being the word nerd and bibliophile that I am, my table has a bookshelf underneath. Absolute joy. So me. But with the coffee table, Duke squeezes into the free space to be closer. He makes it challenging when I need to get up. Still, he’s my little rock and I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

This is the first time in my life I have a space of my own. This is the first time in my life I don’t have a roommate. This is the first time I have felt the whispers of freedom, and embracing the excitement to return to patio writing, writing after dinner, writing in large chunks over the weekend, spending time on the golf course, and creating new memories.

This new temporary transition is good for me. It’s going to be fun. Especially as I continue my research for my nonfiction book. These childhood memories are also a reason I’ve been working on a memoir.

Yep, 2018 is certainly going to be a bigger writing year.


Photos by Karen M. Hellinger. Cleaning up the back yard.

Run, Don’t Walk

Run, Don’t Walk

22 February 2018

The official countdown begins. The day is nearing where I can finally close a door to an old life; one that I had no choice but to exit after being harshly and suddenly abandoned, but have been soaring ever since, and I am a happier person. Have to be. I had to find pieces of myself that I lost. I am still finding a more permanent “normal,” but will find something in this temporary state.

I took some time last night, while packing a suitcase, to enjoy the peace in my new home. I’m almost there. Scraps of clutter still linger in a house I am prepared to leave. I’ve only been sleeping there these past two weeks; I’ve been eating and unpacking at my new place, and Duke has been doing the same…except the unpacking part.  I was able to enjoy watching some of the Olympics, which I haven’t been doing because I’ve been between and writing in a different spot.

With upcoming travel, I do notice how quiet it really is without Duke. He silently fills in spaces of rooms I occupy, which can be many as I move around often. Plus, he’s been sick with a sinus infection, so I’ve had to deal with his excessive urination because of the prednisone he’s been on.  Poor little guy. He’s been traveling back and forth with me, as we both adjust and he seems to like the new place. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s never returning to the house. When I pick him up after returning from travel, he will go straight to our new home. I have moved the last pieces of his things. These may seem like small steps to me, but I know it’s more like a longer stride.

While on the subject of my dog, he bounded in from outside Tuesday night, after 1:30am, running like a crazy dog, with a look on his face that told me he was trying to be friendly, but had also done a bad thing. Yep. The neighborhood skunk was in the back yard again. We’ve seen it cross the street as we’re walking some days. It’s a nuisance. As he was trying to shake himself of the smell, I flat out told him, “The skunk is not a friendly animal for you to befriend. It’s not a cat!” He cocks his head off to the side, as if discerning what I’m telling him, and knowing I’m right.

So now the house smells like a skunk. I am trying to air it out. I will have to place air fresheners all over the house and that’s going to thrill my ex-husband to no end. I don’t care. I could be a bitch and leave it for him to deal with or take the high road; something I keep doing, but I do it for me, not for him. I really have gotten to the point where I don’t care about him, don’t care about what he’s doing. I…don’t…care. It’s refreshing to say this. However, Duke and the skunk have long since parted ways and the smell is bad. I had to give him another peroxide/baking soda/Dawn bath, and follow up with shampoo. The Nexus is at the new home, so he got a Pantene shampoo. He was rather fluffy before the day was over. HAHA I know he hasn’t been thrilled about me going out every night, but I have been spending the days with him since I haven’t been working.  Between his excessive peeing all over the place and the skunk incident, I can’t yell at him or scold him. He knows he’s done wrong, but I do know he’s stressing a little. He’s seen me having numerous meltdowns over the past two weeks, and shit just gets heavy. He does come to my side when I crumble. He is still my little rock. I am so thankful to have him. He’s been a blessing.

With my new writing location, I’ve been able to knock out a couple of hours of work before social interruptions begin. I don’t mind. It’s actually part of my research, and oh what fun I am having! I am feeling a bit stuck with The Downfall. I’ve reached a point where I can really begin to move the plot forward, but trying to figure out how to do it. Because this book is so important to me, and I need to finish it as part of my healing process, I need to break away from stressing about word counts and let it all click. With travel, getting away should help. I always feel better when I’m not where I reside.

Writers are constantly creating worlds and people. We also have a pile of ideas waiting to be penned. We need to work on our platform. I’ve been doing this for a while, but extending it beginning March 1: the day I emerge from a different door. Exciting times ahead, that’s for sure! I am constantly networking personally and professionally. I do not hesitate to mention this blog and what I’m writing. When asked, “What is your book about,” I take this as another instance to practice my pitch…that I’m still trying to refine. It’s getting there.

Revisions are under way with Seeing in the Dark, my thesis-turned-novel. I have finished revisions in Manna, my sci-fi short story. Once I am settled in, I will focus on queries. It’s time. Life will become business as usual with writing every night; occasionally taking myself out to write, not every night. It’s good to mix it up.

The job hunt is still in progress. I am also speaking at a student symposium, then taking a few days to spend with family. I am tweaking my soft skills presentation, but can give the talk in my sleep and without slides.

All of this means travel writing-my favorite part of being a writer. Flying offers a chance to put my earbuds in, play music, and focus on writing or revising. There aren’t a gazillion distractions. As much as I enjoy watching movies, I have a tendency to fall asleep, so I avoid watching on planes. Once upon a time I used to sleep. That went by the wayside of the do-do bird (pardon the cliché) beginning September 2016. Now I know why; it was during a time when my ex-husband was beginning to spend more time talking to females (one in particular) while trying to control and manipulate me. It was about him. It still is. That’s what a narcissist does.

The thoughts in my head have emptied out, making room for new words that can be used in The Downfall. But first, I must finish revising my presentation, and it’s not going to morph into a machine that will do it without my help.

Have a great weekend my dear readers. Thank you for following and reading. I will return next week with 1-2 more posts. I am running towards the finish line that will give me closure. I expect my writing to flourish once again.

Duke, all clean once again. He has such a personality.


Another Transition

Another Transition

18 February 2018

It’s nice to have a space to write. My days are pre-occupied with working, packing, and moving. My nights are littered with conducting research. Writer-in-residence. This temporary space gives me everything I need: a place to sit and type, music is playing, a place to socialize, a place to stay hydrated, but more importantly, it’s a safe space.

My life isn’t in the limbo phase that I was once found myself in over the fall and early winter. Things clicked. Things fell into place. Even if it’s all still temporary. I do have a long way to go, and I’ll get…somewhere. It’s just nice having something ready, and I am excited about the next transition in my life. A new home. Another new wave in life. I’m having fun and living life. I would like to say I’m “living the dream,” but it’s so cliché. Instead I will say I am being the person I’ve always been. People here don’t know what Karen used to be like. My ex didn’t know me while we were married, he certainly didn’t know who I was before we met. That’s all behind me and is something I now tell people I really don’t want to talk about it. You can read about the bullshit that went down in this blog, get a glimpse of it in my thesis-turned-novel, or read about it in The Downfall.  The whole world is waiting for this book to come out.  It’s coming, dear readers. I promise. I work at it when I have my mandatory writing nights that I schedule 2-3 times a week; it’s all I can manage at this time. Once the move is done, I’ll continue conducting research, but only 2-3 nights a week, not 6-7, and will get back to writing full time.

The poetry book, Broken Systems, is also under way. I spend a little bit of time on that and The Downfall on writing nights. It’s a matter of organizing at this point.

With facing another fork in the road, I am noticing items are falling apart. The vacuum cleaner stopped working. Even after troubleshooting, it decided it was done. Just as well. I didn’t like it very much. I bought a new one today, along with new jeans because I’m down another size. I needed a few small pieces of furniture but didn’t have any luck finding what I was hoping to get. I did find a few pieces that will work, and they’re small enough I can pack them for the next move. Duke is stressing. He peed all over the floor when I got home last night and again this morning. I can’t get mad at him. He notices my anxiety. He stayed very close during my numerous meltdowns on Saturday.  In addition, smells I associate with no longer linger. They have moved to my place. These past two weeks have been extremely rough, with Saturday being the absolute worse; I was barely breathing. I plan to keep all of that out of this blog. It doesn’t belong here.

I’ve also been stationary for more than a month. It’s time to move and travel again. I am giving a soft skills presentation to petroleum engineering students, then spending the weekend helping a cousin celebrate his birthday. Next is a girl’s weekend trip back to wine country. I honestly don’t need any more wine. At this point I need to buy a full wall wine fridge to cellar my newest wines. But I know I’ll bring more home. I plan to return to entertaining at my house, and I have a great space (and bar) for it.

The weekend is winding down which means I’m winding up for another crazy week. But travel also means writing time…once I get my presentation built.

The next transition is almost here. I just need to survive February. If I remember to stay focused, and make sure I stick to my writing schedule, I’ll welcome March 1 with open arms. And pray the weather gets warmer. It was really cold this year, and I didn’t care for it. It bothered me a lot more than it usually does.

Speaking of winding down, it’s time to switch gears and get back to The Downfall. Have a great night!

(From Google Images)


Life in Boxes and Life for Sale

Life in Boxes and Life for Sale

13 February 2018

There is a smell in my house, and I can’t figure out where it’s coming from. It’s almost like something has died; well, yeah, but not an animal.  And because I’m packing up 16 years of possessions, it wouldn’t be hard to find something, if it is animal. However, I know it’s not.

I would say I’m overwhelmed, but it’s more of anxiety. My anxiety, exhaustion and depression are more prominent. I am hoping it will all fade into the background again once February is over. The anxiety is horrible at night, and because sleep is still like a mysterious visitor, the combination is a double whammy. So, I bumped up my therapy visits. I am not ashamed to speak about any of this. I was forced into a situation that I could no way, no how get through without a professional.

And packing…well, this is more than half the reason for the above mentioned. I am downsizing and getting rid of clutter that somehow morphed into piles of shit randomly placed around the house. I feel exposed as I am slowly getting rid of things. I’m also labeling boxes as I pack them because I know this is a temporary transition. With the next move, I will either have a company paying for the move or I hire someone.

I sold my mother’s car over the weekend. I’ve had it for 8 years (it’s hard to believe she’s been gone that long; it feels longer) and the vehicle served its purpose. I enjoyed driving the car. It had a V6 engine, and there’s nothing more exhilarating than opening up the engine on I-25 northbound. It was also dangerous in having that kind of power and speed because of moments not paying attention and discovering I was doing 90 mph. But, it was time to let the car go, and someone really needed the vehicle. “I loved this car. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have,” is what I told the woman as she backed it out of my driveway. She was so excited, and I was happy. A dresser that my parents had given me nearly 30 years ago also left the house the same day.

Life for Sale. That’s all that’s all that I see happening. I’m having one hell of a yard sale soon. I have found, once again, more bedding randomly in totes, among other things. There are dishes that I’ll never use because I am still not domesticated (I had another epic meal fail in the Instant Pot the other night. LOL). Time for that all to go, too. I feel like my life is also exposed. This upcoming move has stolen time from golfing and writing. It’s still pretty cold out (most days), and I have half of my patio furniture moved. It’s almost over, and I am really excited despite everything. It is another step forward.

I will say this. In the midst of the chaos that surrounds me, I have found a way to get back to writing. Not every day as I normally do, but in longer blocks of time, and definitely away from the house and my home (this is how I am differentiating between residences and using the same terminology to help my ridiculously smart dog with the transition). I am doing it Hemingway-style and calling myself a writer-in-residence. I think it’s funny because I’m being creative. I am in a safe place, and I get socializing time in. Meeting new people. Remember, this is Karen 4.0.

And…doing research. Some of the events that I have experienced have become research for a book I’ll write a bit later this year. I am having fun, which is about time! I won’t discuss these events in this blog because they’re perfect for the book. It will be a humorous work of nonfiction. Life is an adventure every day, that’s for sure.

My two writing projects that I have lined up for 2018 is the nonfiction book and a memoir. The memoir has been a sporadic work of progress for a couple of years, and I feel that it’s time to complete it. It’s more for my nieces and nephews, who always enjoyed hearing stories about us growing up. When speaking about it to a cousin who was also another key character in so many of the stories, he told me I had a great memory. He couldn’t remember half of it. I feel it’s important to get those stories in writing to help us all laugh and keep the memories of our loved ones alive.

Any other writing projects that come along will be welcoming. I do plan to return to patio writing once the weather warms up (it needs to be soon…I’m tired of being cold). I have travel plans in March, May and June, which also translates into writing time. I have a huge vacation planned in August/September, and I am ecstatic.

One sign I keep next to my desk, and read often, is something by Ruben Chavez of ThinkGrowProsper. “Relax and trust the timing of your life. You will figure out your career. You will find the right relationship. You will become the person you always wanted to be. Just don’t forget to appreciate who you are now.” I love, love, love this.  It’s a reminder that I need to be patient.

I know it will fall into place. And has somewhat begun to do so. I am still finding my footing, taking it one day at a time. I’m not at the place where I can do anything more. And that’s perfectly okay. As long as I remain focused, get in writing time, go to the gym, laugh and have fun, I’m doing pretty darn good.

More writing and research awaits! Have a great night.


Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem

6 January 2018
24 January 2018
6 February 2018


Happy New Year! The holidays have come and gone, as have my vacations. I only wish I could shake the last of a horrendous cold that doesn’t want to leave. The worst is over, and I’m back to the gym; although I am listening to my body, taking it easy as needed.  Plus, I’m eating soup…lots of it completely loaded with green chile. I am tired of soup, but the warm, spicy hot bowl, with a minimum of 5 different veggies, is easy to heat up and helps. Just this past week I indulged in making some garlic bread. I love bread, but I don’t eat it very often. Where the soup lacked in salt, the bread made up for it.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about everything I did in 2017. I can honestly say there wasn’t a dull moment, especially after the first 2 weeks in June.

What are you afraid of? What are the things you of you could do, but too afraid of?

Alone, solo, by yourself?

What is holding you back from your wish, dreams, something on your bucket list?

There are some of us who have been in your shoes. There have been some of us who have traveled solo, leaving behind a bitter spouse not wanting us to leave their side 24/7/365. Yet, some of us went ahead. To have a girl’s weekend with a mother, an aunt, a sister, a cousin, a sister-in-law, a friend because it was important to us. And a controlling spouse, angered by our actions, a claim for a small part of our independence we had to clutch to, went traipsing off into forests or countries with little to no cell signal.

Or, the same spouse invites themselves on a milestone birthday trip (another girls trip) because they don’t want to be left home alone; they don’t want you away from them; they don’t want you having fun. They don’t want to lose their control over you.

I wanted to go to Japan. The story, as it was told to me later, was that I said, “I didn’t want to go.” I asked time and time again. I didn’t care that I would be “holed up in a hotel” because I was finishing my degree and hotel rooms, lobbies, and patios had become my second home. It wasn’t until later that I realized this “claim” was part of another web of lies told. Another realization later was that I wasn’t wanted, wasn’t needed because there were already plans in place for my ex to hook up with his 33 year old Norwegian whore.

In moments of anger, I find channels to harness the poison that courses through my veins, and expunge it all. I do not like the word “hate,” and prefer to express a sheer disgust.

Because I faced all my fears in a foreign country, feeling extremely lonely as I walked down the sidewalk next to a then-husband who had spent 5-6 hours every morning plotting his trips with her, not realizing he was already an adulterer.

I re-discovered a part of me who used to enjoy hopping in my car and driving all over the place…alone. I had destinations in mind; some meeting up with friends, some with family, but it was the journey that I loved. Why should I let someone think they took away my happiness, my chance to enjoy life once again? I don’t. They don’t have that kind of power.

Which is why I seize moments and don’t hesitate to do something I really want to do. If I waited, I would certainly be missing out.

It will be interesting to see what 2018 has in store for me. A ton of writing. Seeking a publisher for my books. Traveling. Spending time with family and friends. This is going to be exciting.

As the last remnants of my cold are dissipating, this post is long overdue and I’m going to get it up.

Happy New Year, again, to my readers!

Dec. 31, 2017. Celebrating New Year’s Eve in style at Walt Disney World. File Feb 06, 7 25 26 PM

2018 Loading: Reflections From a Year

2018 Loading: Reflections From a Year

31 December 2017


This has been a hard month, where recollections from a little over a year ago continue to plague my thoughts, while some of the strangest dreams infiltrate my sleep…what little I still get.

I am still in a state of depression, and, recognizing this, I am persistent in keeping the exercise going and the writing flowing. I must.  Even on days when it’s been ridiculously cold by 7pm, and it’s too cold to walk Duke-puppy, I move around the house, do some yoga, and find more housework to do.

When I was discussing this with my therapist she offered sound advice. “Think about how far you’ve come.”  And she’s right.

I think back to where I was a year ago: in pieces, sitting in an airport in Chile, Santiago, in tears, no appetite, as my then husband was off “getting me coffee” which was the new translation for him talking to his whore. Often. Exhausting. And I’m still exhausted.

Then life ran away with a bullet train this December, and I swear God was testing me. After NaNoWriMo, I had to get my holiday baking extravaganza done, and got away for some much-needed family time. (That’s another post I’ll put up in 2018.) My brother survived a near-tragic accident and I am extremely thankful he is with us here today. Proof that our (my siblings and I) guardian angels were with him that day. I was ready to hop on a plane to NY immediately, but he didn’t want me there.

The holidays are extremely stressful and trying. Even as I suffer from depression, I use my outlets (talking to my “twin” cousin and close friends; writing; exercising) to get through some tough times. Recently, a cousin committed suicide, and nothing is more disheartening than someone who feels their life is not valuable. I ask you, my readers, to take care of yourselves, and encourage discussions around depression and even suicide. It’s important and help is always available. Life is too short, as I learned after the deaths of my parents and a brother, and we should all Carpe Diem!

I still have people tell me they are amazed by my strength; they’re not sure how I’m still on my feet because they couldn’t have survived what was done to me and in the manner it was done.  My sister and I refer to this time we call, “when shit hit the fan.”

I had to survive.  For so many reasons I had to. I have decided to write a memoir, and have begun the story’s beginning, but that book will be a product in 2019 or 2020.  In the meantime, watch for the 2018 publication of THE DOWNFALL (TBD) to read about one woman’s journey from the depths of hell, overcoming her worst fears from a marriage, and how she needed to stand her ground.  No woman, or man, should ever be treated the way I have; and I know so many do, and they feel stuck. What happens between four walls is not what everyone else sees, and I can tell you it is not pleasant. It’s heartbreaking, sad, and disrespectful.

I finished two novels and one poetry book in 2017. I will be in full edit mode in 2018, while I’m in the middle of packing. I have an expiration date of all sorts by early March. Please note that this pertains to dwelling and work. I am simply looking as 2018 as a new beginning for a new life.

While I am reflecting, I would also like to add how much I cannot express my gratitude to all my friends and family who have been with me during this tumultuous year. It really warms my heart with the outpouring of support, love, opportunities for gatherings as a distraction, and even shoulders (or ears) that I have cried on during my crumpled moments. I still am evaluating those who do not have my wellbeing in their best interest and have zero problems cutting the cord.

I have three hours left until 2018 arrives, and this princess is almost ready for the ball…after I wrap this post up for 2017. I really cannot wait for 2017 to join 2016 and go where it belongs-in the past. However, it’s not all bad and this is something I can’t forget. I had significant time with family and friends; I got the degree I’ve always wanted, and even made new friends from my newest alma mater (SNHU); I took trips to do my heart good; I was wrapped in love by my siblings and family back home and around the U.S.; my friends around the world have also stood by my side, and we have watched bridges burn, separating the “us” as they stood on the ledge with me, watching it fall as an opposing individual is on the other side still oblivious of what has happened.

And I am on vacation!!!!!  I am doing what I love to do: spend time with myself, learning more about what I want out of my next wave of life.  It’s been one hell of a ride, with so many interesting stories this storyteller has banked in memories.

Finally, I became an aunt for the tenth time! My nephew is absolutely adorable, and I got to spend “time” with him, his new mother (my sister), and her husband. It snowed on Christmas Eve day when I landed in Indiana, and snowed on Christmas night when my sister and I left the movies. She really wanted to see “The Last Jedi,” and I was up for watching it a second time (contemplating a 3rd while on vacation! Haha). His little face lights up every time I tell him he is “my golf and Disney buddy,” and this is not something I will waiver from. This kid will be well-versed in all things Disney by the time he’s 5 years old, and we take our first trip to both parks.

This belle is ready for a ball! No, I am dating yet, but I am going out to have a great night welcoming 2018 with open arms. Be safe if you are out tonight. I am doing the same (will let someone else drive me around safely).

So long 2017!  I am moving in one direction and that’s forward. New adventures await.

Happy New Year to my friends and readers.