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Family Inheritance Cover Art Smaller FamilyYesterday I received my first negative review on my debut novel, Family Inheritance, that will release in October. I’m okay with the fact that somebody didn’t like the book because I don’t like every book I read. What I’m concerned about is the message in her review. Here’s part of the review:

Coming from a mental health career, the idea that these characters resolved major trauma so easily is insulting. No one opens up that easily or quickly and especially three women who haven’t seen each other in over 20 years. The dialogue was ‘cheesy’ and very predictable.

I agree, no one resolves major trauma ‘so easily’ but these women had been dealing with their individual trauma for those 20 years, and had each reached a crisis point. We’ve all gone through traumas in our lives, some of them very major, and those of us who have survived and thrived understand that there is a moment when everything changes — when our thought processes change because of something we read or something someone said, or people come into our life who help us understand that we are better than our circumstances. When those things come together, resolving past experiences and trauma can be that ‘easy’ to use the reviewer’s word.

I don’t often share private stories in public venues, but I will share one here to help make my point. I was married for the first time when I was just over 18 years old. I knew him for two years and he seemed kind and loving. But . . . two weeks after we were married, I had the audacity to talk to him while he was watching a football game and he proceeded to beat me and leave me curled up in a ball, sobbing on our bed. That was the first beating I endured, but it was far from the last. And all the while, I kept thinking it was my fault . .  . that I was saying or doing something that made him mad enough to beat me.

I stayed in that marriage for 14 years. My parents were both alcoholics so the culture I had grown up in taught me to not talk, to keep everything private, and put on a good front. And that’s what I did. No one had a clue as to what I was enduring at home, not even my parents or my own siblings. If I had a black eye, I covered it with makeup or blamed it on being clumsy. If my legs and arms were covered with bruises, I wore pants and long-sleeved blouses. I learned to cope because at that point, it’s all I knew how to do.

Then, during a coffee break at work one day, a co-worker was reading a book that caught my interest. When she finished reading it, she loaned it to me. It was Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer. His words began to open up new ways of thought, and the co-worker and I started sharing personal experiences. In that safe environment, at that time, it was ‘easy’ to open up and it happened quickly with this person because I was ready. My private hell had gotten to be too much to bear alone.

My thoughts began to shift. Then, more caring people started coming into my life telling me ‘cheesy’ things like: I was important, they cared about me, I made a difference in the world. My mindset started to change and with that new mindset came new ways of behaving and new choices. While life still had its challenges, things were ‘easy’ compared to what I had previously endured. I left the marriage, started caring about myself, surrounding myself with positive people, and making choices that created a good, safe life.

I rebel against people who want to continue the victim mindset that says things can’t feel easy and that solutions to our issues can’t be simplistic. Why can’t they be? There is a saying I use quite often in my life, “To change your life, change your mind.” I’m not sure where it originally came from, but it is one of the most powerful sayings I’ve every heard. It doesn’t mean you won’t be tempted to slide back to what you knew. What it means is that you now know a different way of being and you get to choose each day which way you’ll go.

Don’t let anybody or anything tell you that recovering from a past experience or trauma can’t get to a point where it feels easy and simplistic. That’s your choice. As for me and my life, bring on the ‘easy’ and the ‘cheesy’.

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I love Valentine’s Day because it’s a great reminder of the importance of romance in our lives and our relationships. An intimate relationship without romance is like toast without butter or jam—it can provide us with the basics of what we need, but it’s just not as tasty or inviting.

While I enjoy giving and receiving attention, cards, and gifts on Valentine’s Day, my favorite type of romance is the kind that happens everyday in an intimate relationship between two people who put each other first.

We recently had a huge snowstorm in my area of the country and my husband’s place of business was closed. I work out of my home, so no snow day for me. As I worked at my desk, I began to get a whiff of wonderful smells coming from our kitchen. To my delight, my husband, Glenn, made me breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and brought me several cups of my favorite tea during the day. To me, this is romance at its best.

Last night when he returned home from a week of training for a new job he recently started, I had a package of red licorice (his favorite) waiting for my husband on the table where he puts his car keys. His face lit up like I had just told him he won the lottery.

I will readily admit that romance is not one of my stronger suits. I’m a practical kind of gal, and while I am definitely appreciative and always take time to let the people in my life know how valuable they are to me, it takes me some thought and a lot of practice to put my gratefulness into actions. But the effort is definitely worth it. When Glenn and I reflect on memories, we seldom remember the gifts we gave each other on Valentine’s Day, but we definitely remember the fun, playful, thoughtful things we do for each other on ordinary days.

There is a wonderful Hallmark channel movie I watch whenever it’s on called The Magic of Ordinary Days. I love the story and the title because for me ordinary days become magical when we take time to add everyday romance.

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