More (A Poem/Short Story)

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She kept the bouquets
Given in bloom
Before reverence was a ghost
Rancid lilies
On the bedside table
Patronizing her
With their shelf-life devotion

“Never again will I love,” she proclaimed
“Never again will I give,” she explained
“Never again will I chase the chaser”
“Stroke the ego”
“Be led by reins made from frays of detachment”

She told herself
Life was brilliant, easier
When she kept her heart guarded
Though at the point of sale
She didn’t buy
What she was pushing

Yet she existed without living
Thought without reasoning
Reached for tomorrow
Inside ancient history
Plagued by its confines
As the floor met the ceiling
And the walls closed in

She took to sand and sea
Cloud gazing in the dunes
Spongy beds beneath her spine
Bursts of freckles just a sun-kiss away
As she finally came to

Her fractured fairytale
Still pierced her mind
But its jabs were brief
And its frequency was fading

Oh, but she was slow
To usher in…him
A knight without the armor 
Bold and uninvited
Extracting her from that comfy corner
Of complacency

She took his attention
With a side of suspicion
Despite emotions upending
Without permission
Blending then curving
In all directions

Ah, but it felt too good

Too rare
Too risky
Too scary
Too much
Too fast
Too soon

She charted an escape
A path to resistance
Right there for the taking

She clung to it
Bathed in it
Slept in it
Woke to it
Gorged herself on it
And wore it
Like a second skin

But damn
If he wasn’t persistent
And beautiful
And so easy to adore

But surely
Her surrender
To that exquisite ache
Adhering to her frantic pulse
Was merely a prelude
To a greater pain to come?

No
Yes

Predictions were tangled
And often convoluted
So she took a leap of fate
For this joy was worth
Every maybe

When he showed her the stars
She was infinite
When he opened his arms
She fell home
When he pulled her close
Her body remembered
What she told it to forget
Its artful formation
Both courageous and kind

When he held out his heart
She slipped it on for size
Its perfect fit
Impossible to ignore

And when she let out her crazy
He took out his scars
And when she let down her hair
He caught all her fears
And when he kept coming back
She stopped asking why
And when he loved her
She loved him more

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pixabay.com

 

 

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Feeling Stuck? So Dream ~ Then Do

LiveYourDream

“Don’t dream your life. Live your dreams.” – Author unknown

I love this quote and carry it close, referring to it often, especially when I feel myself slipping into old, destructive, or counterproductive habits. It inspires me to keep looking ahead instead of over my shoulder to where dreams get consigned to oblivion.

We all need dreams, don’t we?

They call to us, filling us with hope and a glimpse of all we are destined to be.

The problem with dreams is that for many of us, they become rooted in our minds without branching out into something tangible. While our heads may go deep in pursuit, their yen for overthinking serves as the anchor that prevents us from taking any real action.

I’m speaking metaphorically, of course.

We don’t literally dwell in stillness day after day. We’re in constant motion raising families or working, and in many cases, both.

To keep the juggling act alive without missing a beat, we bid our personal ambitions a “temporary” farewell, storing them upon a shelf somewhere in the cobwebbed recesses of our subconscious, with plans to dust ’em off and give ’em a go “someday.”

But what if someday never comes?

What if 10, 15, or 20 years from now, you reflect back on your life only to wonder where all the time went?

What if the gulf between where you are now and where you want to be just seems too daunting to cross?

Here’s the short answer:

It’s never too late to live the life you want.

If that just made you roll your eyes all over the place, I wouldn’t think less of you. I’ll admit that such “chase your dreams” statements are often conducive to an initial “yeah, whatever” response, and that’s okay.

I get it. Who has time for dreams anyway?

If you’re like me and 99% of the population, you’re super busy — possibly even burnt out. With all the continuous (and often repetitive) demands placed upon you, it’s common to get lost amid those daily obligations.

But that’s what you signed up for, isn’t it?

When you took that job. When you said your “I-dos.” When you had children. That’s the life you created by your own design. No sense investing in yourself at this point. You gave up that right when you made those other choices.

Wait. WHAT?

Okay, that was harsh. While some might not appreciate my sarcasm (my own family is still on the fence about my so-called “wit”), my intention was to draw out the ludicrousness of thinking we’re permanently nailed down by our choices and circumstances. Or that we’re not entitled to seek enrichment or to self-diversify.

That it’s wrong or even selfish to want more.

So let’s get something straight…

More is healthy.

More provides purpose.

More doesn’t mean flaking out on your responsibilities, or abandoning the people who love you, or giving your existing life the proverbial middle finger. It means you’re allowed to add something to your life that’s just for you.

Maybe you already know this.

Maybe a lifelong goal has been at the forefront of your mind for years. Maybe you were even compelled to write down a list of affirmations, create a vision board, and imagine yourself living the dream while binge-watching clips of The Secret on YouTube.

Perhaps I’ve even done some of these very things myself. Or all of them. Maybe.

Definitely.

I’m not discounting this stuff, by the way. Everything you add to your motivational toolbox has value. Yet it’s not so much the tools that will make a difference in your life, but the elbow grease behind them.

Therein lies the challenge.

What if you can’t get beyond the list-making phase? What if it seems as though the world is passing you by while your wheels keep spinning in the mud?

What if you just feel… stuck?

Stuck in the past.
Stuck in an unfulfilling job.
Stuck in your habits.
Stuck in your fear.
Stuck in your own head.

You may even decide it’s easier to live with your stuckness instead of dealing with the possible fallout of rejection and the belief (no matter how false) that maybe you’re just not good enough for the dreams you’ve conceived.

If this happens, you forgo your passion and resign yourself to a life of maintaining the status quo.

That’s not living. That’s settling.

When you settle, things may seem copacetic on the surface, but down in the underbelly of your soul, a bomb is detonating in slow motion. That’s not fair to you or the people whose lives you impact on a daily basis.

So how can you exist in alignment with your dreams when you’re forever wedging them between despondence and inertia?

1. Be Grateful

In my opinion, adopting an attitude of gratitude is by far the most important step you can take if you ever truly hope to make some headway in your personal progress. When you shift your focus from what you don’t have to what already do, you begin to see things in proper perspective and appreciate them.

Do you have a spouse? A partner? Children? A supportive family? Good friends? Do you love them beyond measure?

Are you healthy? Do you have a roof over your head? Clothes to wear? Food to eat? Water to drink?

Do you earn a regular paycheck? Does that income provide for you and/or your family?

Answering yes to some or all of these questions allows for clarity, a “lifting of the fog” so to speak, revealing a deeper cognizance of your priceless relationships and those basic human needs you never have to go without.

2. Be Optimistic

We all act like Negative Nellies on occasion. Kind of hard to avoid when circumstances can turn on a dime, sometimes in a most unfavorable direction.

Your stick-to-itiveness will be tried and tested again and again. There will be times when you’ll feel like giving up. It’s going to happen, and when it does, you’ll be tempted to blame others or slip into a convenient world-is-conspiring-against-me temperament.

But don’t give in. Don’t withdraw. Don’t hide behind passivity.

Stay true to your vision. Be a glass-half-full kind of thinker. This won’t happen overnight. It requires practice, and lots of it.

Take responsibility for your stagnancy so you can get on the other side of it.

3. Keep Your Lists Short And Sweet

Lists can be extremely helpful, but keep them brief and specific so you don’t become overwhelmed.

Composing a ten page Word document detailing all the things you want to achieve in life might seem like a good idea in theory, but then seeing it all laid out in front of you in 12pt Britannic Bold font can actually feel rather intimidating.

I suggest writing down 1-3 attainable benchmarks each day. You can even scribble them on a post-it, which is what I do. Having just a few tasks to accomplish in a 24 hour period sets you up for the successful completion of a few more tasks the next day, and the day after that, and so on and so forth.

4. Surround Yourself With The Right People

I remember when I shared my dream of becoming an author with my husband back in 2012. He was the first person I ever told. I worried that coming out with, “Hey babe, I think I’ll write romance novels for a living,” would be met with either a sour puss or insane laughter and a rebuttal along the lines of “Umm….okaaaaay. What’s next? A pink corvette and a boob job? Be sure to let me know when your midlife crisis is over.”

Of course, he would never really say such things to me, and his actual response was sincerely supportive, which quickly put my mind at ease. Knowing I had someone in my corner made all the difference in the world.

Give voice to your personal goals. It’s okay to ask for help. Tell your spouse, your partner, your parents, your kids, your best friend, or all of the above. Just be sure these people are positive influencers who will lift you up and cheer you on no matter how rocky or perceptively endless the road becomes.

By and large, I think you’ll find that people who love you will be all too happy to assist you in your personal endeavors. Let them.

A word of caution: Some people won’t want you to succeed, especially if they’re feeling stuck themselves. You know what they say… misery loves company.

People like this are toxic. You would do best to avoid them if at all possible.

5. Face Your Fears Head-On.

How many times throughout our lives have we been told to stop being afraid?

I’m thinking a gazillion sounds about right. But that’s like being told to stop laughing when The Big Bang Theory is on.

Not gonna happen.

It’s not a crime to be scared. If you weren’t then your dreams wouldn’t be important to you.

Confession: My hand shakes uncontrollably every time I press “publish” on Amazon, and I still get heart palpitations while awaiting feedback on something I’ve written.

Every. Single. Time.

I don’t think that will ever go away. Even so, I was eventually able to apply the following mantra…

Whatever happens one way or the other, I’m going to be okay.

It’s possible to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I have, and so can you.

There’s a book by Susan Jeffers called Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway (a phenomenal read that I highly recommend). The title says it all.

Even though all those things that scare you will try their damnedest to hold you back, acknowledging them will get you a lot farther in life than wasting time and energy in search of a cure.

Your fears may look something like mine:

Fear of being alone

Fear of repeating history

Fear of rejection

Fear of failure

Fear of success (Yes, you read that right. The struggle is real, folks.)

Fear of ridicule

Fears are persistent buggers. You can’t outrun them. So face them head-on, stare them down, and push past them to do what you need to do to close the distance between you and your dreams.

In case I didn’t just make it obvious, the key word here is DO. Don’t just think about doing. Take action. Otherwise, you become a slave to your fears, and they win.

Are you going to let that happen?

NO EFFING WAY.

If you hit a wall, don’t despair. It’s HARD. Cut yourself some slack when those demons get the better of you. Just remember that every day, every hour, every minute, and every second is a chance to try again.

6. Enjoy The Journey

Every step you take in the name of personal progress is cause for celebration. Fulfillment needn’t come solely from your arrival at that final destination.

Take pleasure in the learning process, honing your skills and then applying those disciplines. Instead of always thinking of the big picture, crop it into manageable increments.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get to where you want to go. As long as you keep moving, you’re already living the dream.

Have fun.

Fluctuating levels of frustration are to be expected. Trust me, if it was easy, you wouldn’t want it anyway. But if every hurdle you scale feels like pulling teeth, then what’s the freaking point? There is power in hard work and persistence. There is pride.

There is joy.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’ll finally be happy once I…”

Me too. That’s because dreamers get trapped in a mindset of delayed well-being.

But guess what? You don’t have to wait. You can be happy now.

No matter what you’re doing, whether it be taking a course, learning a trade, or meeting new people, you should be reveling in those accomplishments. Every day you get out of bed to strive for whatever it is you’re after is a life lived with purpose.

7. Become your own definition of success.

We all need that special something — a passion, a creative outlet, a career path — that will enrich our sense of self, something that can coexist with, yet is separate from, marriage and kids, etc.

We need to feel successful on a singular, personal level.

Society tries to define success in terms of job titles, padded wallets, trophy homes, fancy cars, and the like.

However, and I’m probably preaching to the choir here, true happiness has nothing to do with financial wealth or the accumulation of “stuff” or how many credentialing initials follow a person’s last name.

Nor am I saying it’s bad or wrong to want these things.

But they don’t, and won’t, reflect your worth as a human being.

So when is it safe to consider yourself a “success?”

Any damn time you want.

Are you a good person with a generous heart? Do you pay it forward? Do you give back to the community? Do you care about others? Do you give time and attention to the people who count on you?

If so, then I’d say you’ve already knocked it out of the park.

Now, get out there and make those dreams of yours a reality!

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey
This piece was first published on VoElla.com in October 2016.

 

Image source: pixabay.com

Just a Little Bit Longer

reading-book

I’ve got some good news and some not-so-ideal news.

I’ll get the not-so-ideal news out of the way first…

FILL ME IN’s book release, which was originally slated for May 25, has been slightly delayed. I know this is disappointing, and I am so sorry about that.

I will post an announcement the moment it goes live on Amazon and all other eBook retailers.

In the meantime, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series Book 1) will remain priced at a discounted 0.99 cents at U.S. eBook retailers, and my Amazon/iTunes/eNovella giveaway winners will be announced upon Fill Me In’s release. I will now be choosing four winners instead of two {please note: eligibility for participation in all giveaways is contingent on being a newsletter subscriber. If interested, you can sign up (or opt out) at any time}.

And…the good news?

Shortly after Fill Me In’s digital release, both books in The Liquid Series will also be made available in paperback format. For those of you who prefer physical books, you’ll have the option to order print copies directly from Amazon.

It had always been my intention to eventually offer print books in addition to eBooks, so now it will simply happen sooner. Much sooner.

Which brings me to other news…

Some of you have reached out to me wondering if I had plans to do any book events in the near future. I am happy to say that I’ve recently been invited to participate in events that will take place this year as well as next year, and most will include author/reader meet-n-greets and book signings — both of which I am SUPER pumped about! As each date and event timeline is confirmed, I’ll post the details on my website www.sahealey.com.

(Pssst…for any fellow New Englanders out there, I’ll be in Manchester, New Hampshire this coming October. Stay tuned for more info!)

There is so much more coming down the pike that I’m itching to share with you. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and thank you so very much for all your support.

With warmth and gratitude,
Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: flickr.com

 

 

Release Deets, A New Giveaway, & Something To Think About

FacebookBannerFillMeIn

I’m sitting in Starbucks, where lately I’ve been spending inordinate amounts of time fueling up on assorted coffee concoctions while simultaneously reaping the benefits of free wifi, electrical outlet privileges, and eclectic people-watching.

Leaving the quiet (albeit messy) solitude of my home office to write in a bustling public establishment wasn’t something I’d ever considered doing until a fellow writer friend suggested it as a way to shake things up and combat writers block.

And, guess what? It worked like a charm! Yippee!

But before I pickup the pace with my latest WIP (work in progress), there are some things I’d like to share with you, starting with…

A Book Release Announcement!

I am SOOOOO excited to relay the news that my second novel, FILL ME IN (The Liquid Series Book 2), will be available at all major eBook retailers–including Amazon, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble–beginning Thursday, May 25, 2017! Yikes, that’s in less than a month!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER

Is it acceptable to confess that I’m also nervous? Maybe even scared out of my wits? Okay, good. 🙂

So, in honor of all the nail biting I’ll be doing over the next four weeks, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series Book 1) is currently on sale for just 0.99 cents at U.S. eBook retailers (including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc.), so if you haven’t had a chance to grab a copy, this is an opportunity to get it at a significant discount before it reverts to its regular price upon Fill Me In’s release on May 25.

And, moving right along…

I’ve got another newsletter subscriber GIVEAWAY to tell you about!

This time, I will award TWO WINNERS the following:

1.) An eBook copy of my contemporary romance novella, The High Road (not available in stores)

AND

2.) A $25.00 gift card to Amazon or iTunes/iBooks (your choice)

If you’re not a newsletter subscriber and would like to sign up to get in on this giveaway, you can do so below:

SIGN UP FOR BOOKISH BUZZ

Good luck!

Oh, and something to think about…

Last week I received an email from a lovely reader who shared her regret over giving up her dream of becoming a novelist. I was saddened by her belief that it was too late to chase her passions and incorporate them into her life. Over the course of several exchanged emails, I hoped to make some headway in convincing her otherwise.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that it’s never too late. Despite dreaming of becoming a professional writer pretty much my entire life, it wasn’t until I found myself in the thick of middle age that I finally uncovered the wherewithal to do something about it.

Has it been easy? Hell to the no.

Have I contemplated throwing in the towel? Yup. More often than I care to admit.

But I stuck it out, and I am so glad I did.

If you have a dream that you’ve put on the back burner, now is the perfect time to bring it front and center.

I truly believe that dreams can alter destinies. So, I hope you keep dreaming, and I wish you every success and happiness.

With warmth and gratitude,

Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

 

Get the Bookish Buzz

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Making the shift this year from part to full-time writer has been an awesome—and at times, equally terrifying—adventure. Even with its eclectic mix of ups, downs, learning curves, and deadline-driven all-nighters, I wouldn’t trade a single second of the experience for anything. It is a gift to be able to do what I love, one that I never intend to take for granted.

The last six weeks in particular have been spent stocking up on bundles of nervous excitement as I prepare for the launch of my second novel, Fill Me In (The Liquid Series, Book 2). This book was a long time comingits story putting me in, and then dragging me through, some rather unexpected places. Though hell-bent on challenging me every step of the way, protagonists Kelsey and Mark will always sit close to my heart. And, my goodness, I sure am going to miss writing about them.

In anticipation of announcing Fill Me In’s release date later this month, and as a special thank-you to those who have supported me along my authorly journey, I am hosting a giveaway for subscribers to my newsletter, Bookish Buzz.

If you’ve been kind enough to follow my work and happen to be a fan of romance, bookish things, and freebie opportunities, then I hope you’ll consider signing up for your chance to win.

So, what exactly do you win?

Subscribers to Bookish Buzz are automatically entered to win a signed paperback copy of my debut novel, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series, Book 1), PLUS a $100 Amazon gift card.

The winner will be announced in my newsletter on or around April 6, 2017.

Sound good?

YOU CAN SIGN UP HERE.

Oh, and good luck! 🙂

~ Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey