The Truth

Most of the times I hear a term like "an insider", I'm reading the back cover of a thriller novel or hearing that deep voice of the movie trailer announcer. So my brain started processing the term anew when I heard it this week about CSM Bolyard and his death in Afghanistan.

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In case you're curious, there's a weird balance maintained by military families during a time as trying as this. Morbid curiosity is a no-go...yet, we are all thinking about it. Why did it happen? How? Who of our friends are affected by such a horrible loss? 

I watch my friends cry.

I hug them, knowing their life will never be the same...because they have lost a friend, a husband, a colleague.

But I don't cry out there. I didn't know this hero. I have only heard about him secondhand or read about him online, like every one else. My tears come later, and they are for the greater loss that our country experiences every time we lose a member of our Armed Forces. They are for my husband who will be deployed again. For the Gold Star families who have already started rebuilding and moving on. 

The more I hear about CSM Bolyard... that he was 42, getting ready to retire, a family man...a true United States hero...

Killed by an insider. 

After reading that and thinking on it for a day, I finally asked my husband, "What does that mean? He was killed by one of our own?" Isn't that what insider means? Do I even want to know?

It means that someone, who our troops were there to help and train, came in and gave us the middle finger. [those aren't my husband's words; they are mine] CSM Bolyard is the 154th person killed by an insider attack since 2007.

I stared at my husband for a second and then asked, "Why are we even over there?" I know what this means now. It means that none of our soldiers are safe, ever. What 'friendly' will be the next to turn? In what month? At which Base? How can I let you go, knowing you might not come back?

"Politics." His words. "We train them. We give them arms; they take them and give them to ISIS." They don't understand the world like we do, with peace as an ending solution. They want us all dead.

"So, why are we over there?" I ask again. And he shrugs. He too struggles to understand such hate. Are we protecting innocence and freedom? Are we fighting the injustice of the world? For him, the answers are simpler. He serves his country; he demands a better life for his home and for the world. He wants women to be respected. He wants children to be loved. He wants the elderly to be honored. In every culture. And he wants peace... 

For me, the answers are wrapped up in emotions and turmoil and more questions. And tears. For my sister Army spouse, who suffers the loss. For our country, who has lost its focus and finds value in Political Correctness instead of Truth. 

And it makes me think about Truth. The truth of knowing our world will never see peace until we surrender to the God who created us all. Until every man, woman, and child knows the salvation of the cross, our world will suffer from sin.

And all we can do is get up in the morning and love one another. Be the light in a dark world. Share the burden of our loved ones. And pray. 

For Peace. For Change. For Life. 

Sending prayers for the Bolyard family. Timothy Bolyard, you and your family are in my calendar, and we will never forget. Rest in Peace.

With Love,

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Real Author Life

I hate to get on the snapshot social media of Facebook and brag. I know that seems silly...and people do like to cheer each other on, which is amazing in the world today, because we can also be so negative. Maybe that's a reason TO brag on Facebook.

However, I haven't quite made that hurdle to putting myself on center stage there without some kind of barrier, like a blog. 

 2016, Proof Pic 1

2016, Proof Pic 1

And I'm here because...it's a long story. One that involves six kids, a husband who loves to run, type 1 diabetes, and me. Me: last year. [we both look a little goofy, eh?] I hate this picture, and when it was shot, I was annoyed at the photography because I let myself believe it was the angle of the photo, right? stupid, of course. 

I must have been a good 165 pounds in that photo. Not morbidly obese, but well-overweight and on my way to worse.

Jump ahead another year. [see photo below!]

Somehow I'd managed to loose a few, and then it became that I was just so sick of myself! I eat vegetables and fruit and healthy stuff...but I hadn't quite kicked the habit of picking up the sweets as well.  During this year, I read "Big Girls Do It Running," (link goes to the authors amazon page because i can't find the book), and I related to the author whose story it was. I remember the days when the diabetic diet was more about low fat than low carb, and we were eating Angel Food Cake because it was "good for us." Times have changed, thankfully!

 2017, Proof Pic 2

2017, Proof Pic 2

And then, I made the decision to go to NYC for the ThrillerFest Convention. Late 2017, I paid my [whopping] fees, looked at myself, and asked, "Are you going to be the Fat Romance author at this event?" Which isn't very nice of me, at all. But, I was talking to myself and sometimes, you have to be a little mean with yourself, you know? I didn't want to be filling any stereotype or cliche. 

So, in January, at 158 pounds, I cut the sugars--alot. Not completely, but enough that I saw a few pounds drop right away. And then I saw an advertisement for a kickboxing class--free, at 5am. I didn't go right away. I had to get brave. What if I failed? What if it was just like the running I'd done over the years--unsuccessful and discouraging?

But I kept seeing it pop up in my FB newsfeed. So, finally...I went.

 Day 1: Cardio Kickboxing: Death

Day 1: Cardio Kickboxing: Death

All I can say about that first day is:

I could do almost an entire push up. Maybe a few sit ups. And planks? No. Just no, no, no. My shoulders burned. My body was weak. WEAK! And then I went back. I started slow with two days the first week and three the second and third, finally bumping my attendance up to 4 times a week after that. And you know what? I got stronger.

And that's when I realized that I liked being strong. More than being skinny, I wanted to be strong. So, even though I plateaued at 144 and hadn't lost a single pound in almost 2 months in June, I was okay with that, too. Because I can keep up with my kickboxing classmates. I can help the newbies learn the combinations, and I can encourage them to keep going. "Keep going," I say. "Look at me. I couldn't do a single push up 3 months ago!"

 Me!!

Me!!

Fast forward to today, almost four months since I started. I'm up to 18 push ups [PT push ups!] in a minute, 30 sit ups, and I can plank for an entire minute, almost no problem. And then I take a quick break and I plank some more. I go 5 or 6 times a week, and I love fighting. I love the combos and the sweat and the kicking. I am never bored. I am never tempted to quit...I'm not discouraged by the solitude like I was with running, but encouraged by the group of amazing people who work with me. 

This morning, I got on that stupid scale and weighed 140 pounds. I'm going to New York City a woman who will kick your ass. [haha, just kidding...sort of, don't mess with me!] And this morning I went to Kohl's to buy a new jean jacket. I tried the Medium on, knowing i'm still a bit between sizes--that 8/10 range--but nope, I had to go to the small. I'm overwhelmed and grateful. [and obviously, I've gone on way too long. blah, blah, blah] Brag, brag, brag. 

It's possible to get healthier, lose weight, and become the strong, resilient people God meant us to be. If you're struggling, come find me. I'll bring you to class, and we'll do it together. PS: When I hit 135, I'm eating a shake. :D

 Cute Guy. Will help.

Cute Guy. Will help.

Happy 2018

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2018

Do you ever feel like all you do is spend your time waiting? Waiting for the big break. Waiting for a loved one to come home. Waiting for the coffee to brew! 

Even my characters are waiting--for love, for happily-ever-after, for revenge, for justice. 

And it occurred to me, the story isn't about what happens at the end of the wait. 

No. It's what a person or character does while they are waiting. As an Army wife, I feel this strongly, especially as 2018 starts. We had two moves in two years in a row, and this will be the first year we don't move since 2015. And that's an awesome thing! But it's also means...I'm waiting.

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This hasn't been my most favorite place to live so far and that means I'm subconsciously looking forward to what's to come. Where will we go next? When? It's human nature. It's survival. But, I think it's time for me to really embrace a new routine, here. I don't have to love it here to love the people I'm with, to enjoy the good days, and invest my time in the worthwhile causes around me. 

It's time to find a niche. And you know what??

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That's being a mom. It's being a writer of my books. It's being a friend to the women I work with and share bible study with and laugh with...and even cry with. It means going above and beyond. It means writing a ton. It means going to the extra-curricular activities--the plays and sporting events and doctors appointments [without complaint]. It means learning something new and maybe visiting that one museum I still haven't made it to.

I'm not going anywhere for the next year...

So watch me fly!!

With Love,

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Don't Do It!

Bloggers are amazing, dedicated, organized people!! 

And this is why I call myself an author, a writer, a mom, a wife, a taxi driver, a coach, a book club member... so many things, but not a blogger. That being said, BLOG:

Life changes so quickly, doesn't it?

I've felt real pressure this year to solidify my purpose in life, in Georgia, in my family. I want to do right by everyone. I've learned this year that even with a solid purpose in plan, we have to be living, breathing, changing creatures. 

Every day, there should be a dialogue with yourself... what will I feed? [must I really mention the wolves?! I hate those wolves!] Where are the priorities for this day? This day only, by the way. I don't need to look too far ahead. 

Like yesterday, an opportunity came up for my son to either go to his Open House and see a performance OR for him to go to the rehearsal before the Open House. The first meant I would have to take him. The second included his amazing teacher who offered to go with him immediately following school dismissal. 

Of course, as a mom, I wrestled with not being good enough, not doing enough, and wanting to do it all and do it "right." But, in the end, I just couldn't commit to going to this Open House. I had already decided Thursday night was going to be my night to get out and work. I spend Monday through Wednesday doing the extra practice runs and going to Occupational Therapy. There had been appointments and a sibling's school and babysitting schedule to squeeze in there... So, I had to say no. I was okay saying no. 

And when I explained that to my son, he was okay with it too. 

Don't be too hard on yourself, Moms. It's a busy, ridiculous world we live in now. 

It is okay to say no!

Have a great weekend.

With Love,

Beth

PS I released Strike Force on Wednesday. :D I mean, really!!! That I should have been more on top of. ha! Don't miss it. It's raw, rough around the edges. It will make you cry, laugh, and swoon. Malcolm Daniels is my favorite. Marie is his perfect partner... Go read it now. 

A Call to Adventure

This topic has been on my mind for about four years now--almost five. See, sometimes when I meet new military wives, we chit and chat and it's inevitable that some discussion on how long and what does he do will come up. And it's not like some of the crazy wives believe in which there's a rank competition going on. Sometimes it really is just curiosity. 

But the truth is, when the women are perfect strangers, and this is the equivalent of small talk, it's easy to wave off the catch phrases, the cliches. And many times, as I've explained that my husband was an accountant--a CPA--turned soldier, a new acquaintance will smile and say, "Ahh, just looking for a little adventure?"

And, I just laugh with a wave of my hand... yeah, yeah.

But no. I think the next time this happens, I will say, "No." I may even frown a little. Because despite the fact that these women mean no harm, at all. It makes me feel like I'm betraying the truth or my husband's trust. 

My husband wanted to join the military when he was 17. His parents wouldn't sign the forms and told him, "Go to college." So he did. Which then started a different journey for him, one that included me. And eventually 5 kids. And he definitely kept looking for that opportunity to fulfill a dream. At every turning point in our life, he would take time to see what his options were for the military. But it wasn't until 2010 that he could make that a reality. And it wasn't 'adventure' or the need to 'escape' or find 'fulfillment.' No, let's be honest about an accountant husband, who quit smoking because 'it was too expensive now.' He wanted someone to pay of his substantial college loans. Yup. He might have wanted this at 17, but it was the undergraduate and post graduate loans that really pushed him into making this happen. [sorry, honey, if I'm revealing your secrets] 

My husband has found adventure at every point in his life. He has made new friends. Learned new things. Answered 'The Call of the Wild'. Taken setbacks. And grown in leaps and bounds. 

And let's talk about what adventure means anyway.

Okay?

Kay. We'll do it a very simple compare and contrast kind of way so everyone understands. Ready? Here we go...

 

1. Travelling to distant countries to stand between your loved ones and enemy fire? 

Not adventure.

2. An African Safari?

Adventure.

3. Separation from your loved ones for months at a time?

Not adventure.

4. Hiking the Denali with your lover?

Adventure.

5. 14 hour days of dealing with training, classes, people?

Not adventure.

6. 14 hours on a lake in Lavonia, Georgia with your family?

Adventure.

 

See what I'm doing there?

Let's not forget why our soldiers fight.

Duty. Honor. Loyalty.

Love of country.

Love of family.

Love of Freedom.

To be very clear. I am not and have never been offended by the assumption that my husband was "looking for adventure". If you've ever said this to me, I'm not calling you out or want to stomp on your goodwill. :) The last woman who did it just happened to be the one that caught my attention and turned the tides--no hard feelings at all. And I never would have thought anything of her response if half of a dozen people before her hadn't said the very same thing. 

But this time...I stand true to my soldier instead of letting his sacrifice seem menial.

Let's be honest!!

If he'd joined at 17, I would have accused him of giving in to the proverbial "Call to Adventure!" 

Military Moves

The Military Life

We've been lucky...blessed. Our first duty station was a four year stay. That's pretty unusual. Two years, three years tops, is normal. So, we've been blessed.

But we've also grown roots. Four years is definitely a long time, knowing a move is imminent. Too long to avoid deep friendships. Not that we do that... but let's be honest, I'm an introvert, so holing up for a couple years is not a problem for me. I like things quiet. 

It's really hard to leave Colorado Springs, though.

Because Cindy and Jennie.

Dang! Not fair! How did this happen? What will I do? Who will satisfy the minimal socializing I can handle? Who will laugh with me as we sit in Panera? Who will investigate and speculate on the guy who comes in too often--every time with a different woman, every time as if he's doing an interview?? Is it a ploy? Is he a criminal? 

Who will I make eyes at over my laptop???

I don't know...

All I know is that it's very hard to leave. Because even with Sprint 2.0 on Messenger, it will not be the same again. Not until I can get back to this place I've called home for 4 years. A place that has become home because of the people I've met.

I don't know what I'll do without Starbucks (wine and beer included) and Panera (preachers and cons included). There will be a great void for a while as I fumble around and figure out what the freak to do with myself. :(

So flexible...

When I was a kid, I was a gymnast. I could do the splits like nobody's business. Backbends and all sorts of fun, flexible maneuvers. 

I'm still flexible. I can touch my toes--from a standing position--and not fall over! But mostly, my flexibility these days is in adjusting to life's sudden changes.

Just a week ago, I was determined to get up early every morning and write from 0400 to 0600. These are the quiet hours in my house. Do you know what happened? My 19 month old decided waking up early was fun! My middle schooler couldn't get his homework done before 9pm. And there was so much going on...it was impossible to get to bed early enough for me to wake up at that hour. The household went into reject mode over my new idea of ideal. Subconsciously, it was like they all had it out for me. [not that I blame them...not really. Okay, a little]

The thing is, I have a goal. The goal is to reach the goal!! The goal is not to get there a certain way. So, I change things up. Last night, I spent the last hour of my day, working on my shit. It worked. I wrote over 500 words, and took care of a few business items on my list.

I'm going to tiptoe through this change and hope that no one, in God's name, notices that I have started something new! Because heaven help them all if I get to my deadline in May and not have a manuscript that is ready to go to the editor!!! >:( Grrr.