Invisibility

The hardship I am most thankful for is the accident that changed my life in 2011. I know that probably seems a little predictable for me to choose that night when discussing hardships, but I’m not thankful for the reasons you might expect.

Sure, I learned that life can change in an instant. I learned just how precious and fleeting life can really be, and I learned how very important it is to always say “I love you” because you may never get another chance. I’m so thankful for the change in perspective I got that night. I mean, it should have been a ten-minute drive to the church and back. I’d done it every Tuesday night for years, and there was no reason to expect that this particular Tuesday night was going to be any different.

I’m not thankful for the four and a half-years of constant pain, or the downward spiral of job loss, divorce, depression, eviction, betrayal, and . . . where was I going with this?

Right. Being thankful for hardship.

I learned that life is too short to keep pushing my dreams to the back burner with the excuse that there will be time later. No, there may not be time later. Time is finite, and life can end with something as simple as driving past a maple tree in a thunderstorm.

If I hadn’t broken my neck that night, I don’t know if I ever would have gotten around to writing anything. My little romance novels may never sell well or make any kind of bestseller list, but they mean the world to me because they represent my lifelong dream of writing. I did it. I made it come true, something I may never have accomplished if not for life hitting me upside the head with a tree.

I wish life had been a bit more subtle, but it is what it is.

Still, none of this is what makes me so very thankful for everything that happened that night. That part is a little harder to explain.

Sometimes in life, I feel invisible. I’ve always been sort of average. I’m the kind of person who tends to blend in with the wallpaper if I’m not careful. In high school, I once missed two weeks of school and discovered that not one of my teachers had even marked me absent. No one noticed that I wasn’t there.

I’ve never felt important. Never been elected into office, never been anyone’s boss, never been much of a leader. Someone’s mom, someone’s wife, someone’s sister, but never the Someone  that is anyone else’s point of reference.

The night of my accident, I saw the look on the fire chief’s face when he recognized me. I watched the color drain out of his face and I heard the emotion in his voice when he kept saying, “Oh, no. Oh, no, no.” I saw the way no one else would look me in the eye.

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At the emergency room, it took a while for the x-rays and CT scan to show that I was beyond anything they could do for me at our little hospital. As they were wheeling me back out to the ambulance, I remember someone saying that there were some people in the hallway who wanted to see me.

I couldn’t see much because I was immobilized by the C-collar and backboard, but I remember faces. Lots of faces, leaning over to speak to me. Some were crying; one of my husband’s friends leaned over to kiss my cheek and I was surprised to feel his tears against my skin.

I thought at first that one of the firefighters had been injured as well. I figured the crowd in the hallway was there for him, and I panicked until my husband assured me that no, there were all there for me.

It’s been four and a half years, and I’ve never forgotten the way I felt at that moment when I realized they were there for me.

Me. Not someone’s wife, someone’s mom, someone’s sister. Me.

In the days and weeks that followed, I was amazed by the flood of cards and phone calls, of people stopping by to bring food and Diet Coke, or just to visit. People who came to clean my refrigerator or drive my silly butt to the Sav-A-Lot because I was going stir-crazy at home with nothing but my neck brace and a whole  lot of self-pity.

It’s been four and a half years now. I have a lot of bad days, especially since I seem to be going through a pretty rocky stretch of bad luck with things like cars, housing, and money. But at the end of the day, no matter how bad it’s been, I can look back on that moment and draw strength from it.

You see, that was the moment I understood that I matter. Sort of my own personal “George Bailey” moment, like in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, when George realizes that he’s really had an impact on the people around him.

I’m thankful for the accident because it showed me that I  am loved. That I matter.  That I’m not invisible.

 

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “The hardship I’m most thankful for…” Hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee, Reta of  Calculated Chaos and Vidya of Collecting Smiles

 

 

Cover Reveal (sort of)

When I first published Her House Divided, I made my own cover. It was really artsy-fartsy, and I was really proud of it.

Of course,  I realize now that it was awful. Just like my formatting was awful. And my spacing. And some of the punctuation. And the fact that I called my main character by the wrong name every once in a while. And . . . well, let’s just be kind and say that my first foray into self-publishing was a learning experience. And oh, boy, did I have a lot to learn.

People have been really nice about helping me. I just can’t get over the number of wonderful authors, artists, and other publishing professionals who have reached out to offer the kind of guidance I have really needed throughout the process.

One of the first to help me was cover artist Jessica Richardson with CoverBistro. She offered me a great deal and made up a new cover for me that really gave my book a much more professional look. There was no question about my going back to her when I needed a cover for His Heart Aflame — and yes, she will be designing the cover for Their Love Rekindled.

I recently turned to Jessica again with some questions about updating my covers to tie them together and make them look more like a series, and I am thrilled with the results. I want to show them off and get some feedback. Tell me, what do you think of the changes?

Old Cover
Old Cover
New Cover
New Cover

But wait, there’s more!

Old Cover
Old Cover
New cover
New cover

Subtle changes, but gorgeous, right?

Happy Memorial Day

Ah, Memorial Day in America. There are a few things that can be counted on every year.

  • It’s going to rain.
  • Some folks are going to cook out, drink too much, and go to parades anyway.
  • Some people are going to gripe that others aren’t showing the proper respect for the holiday.
  • Lots of people aren’t going to show the proper respect for the holiday.
  • Tomorrow, we all go back to work and school, and life will go on.

It’s a solemn day, especially as I look around at the kids graduating with my daughter next week and realize just how many of them are going into the military in the weeks after that.

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It’s a day to look at my family and think of just how many of my loved ones have served over the years.. It’s a day to look at my Uncle Don’s flag in its display case and wonder, for the thousandth time, what it would have been like to know my father’s twin brother.

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It’s a day to think about my Uncle Butch and remember his smart-ass grin. To think about his kids who barely remember him, and the grandchildren – and great-grandchildren!- who never had the chance to meet him.

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I think it’s safe to say that Uncle Butch would have been as proud of them as they are of him for his service.  They drive out here every year to honor him.

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It’s a day to look at the flag and see it as more than just a bunch of stripes and a handful of stars.

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It’s a day for memories, but it’s not a day for sadness. It’s a day when kids dodge into the streets to grab candy thrown by beauty queens perched on floats, while high school marching bands play and firetrucks creep past with their sirens wailing.

There is some silliness going on, too.

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Along with some general grumpiness.

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And overall? It’s a day for family and friends, and fun.

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Life will indeed go on tomorrow, when we go back to work and school. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll go back with a little bit of something else. Maybe a hint of patriotism? Or at the very least, a little bit of understanding, a sense of appreciation for all of the men and women we are honoring on this day.

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Happy Memorial Day, America!

Thanks!

Well, I survived my first real book-signing and had a fabulous time!

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Everyone was so sweet and asked such wonderful questions that the time flew by much faster than I expected.  I talked a bit about my background and why I write what I write, shared a few opinions, and probably babbled a little more than I intended. Then the librarian asked me to read a couple of her favorite bits from Have a Goode One, and it was so rewarding to hear the chuckles and giggles from everyone. After that, it was time to answer questions and sign some books.

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One of the highlights was seeing a couple of fellow local authors who came out to support me. For such a small town, we seem to have an awful lot of artsy people.  Maybe something in the water?

Look! It's Connie Myres!
Look! It’s Connie Myres!

Afterward, I was asked to help put together a local writers’ group. I’m nervous about taking on that responsibility, but I’m thrilled at the prospect. I guess there’s no point in complaining about the lack of a support group if I’m not willing to start one myself!

My biggest fan: my sister!
My biggest fan: my sister! (It’s okay; I’m HER biggest fan, too!)

All in all, it was one of those experiences that I’m going to remember forever as one of the best days ever. I want to thank everyone who supported me, encouraged me, and helped push me just a little bit out of my comfort zone.

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