Butterflies in June 2018

On my walk around the neighborhood park, my sister and I noticed black and red caterpillars slinking across the sidewalk. We weren’t sure what kind they were until we overheard a dad say to his daughter “Look sweetie, that’s gonna be a Monarch Butterfly someday”. How impressive! Based on the little spikey critters that were out, it looked like there would be lots of Monarchs in the near future.

After some sleuthing on Google, it turns out that no, the little guys I saw on the sidewalk weren’t Monarch caterpillars. We might have an interesting group of moths or Mourning Cloak butterflies in a few months?  I also found out that the regal Monarch butterflies are possibly an endangered species. I did spot a few Monarch butterflies that day, but it was a challenge to take a photo of one.  At any rate, it was cool to see nature at work.

It’s always a treat for me to watch butterflies dance in a blue sky on a nice sunny day. Observing the caterpillars struggle across cement made me wonder how something so small (and menacing to some) could end up so light and colorful, floating off to exotic lands. The answer is metamorphosis, a change that takes time and energy. There’s a bit of a struggle and hard work too. I don’t want to impress on anyone that life always have to be rough. However, sometimes we have to push a little more, do a little extra to grow, and soar toward our goals and dreams.

So friend, I encourage you to keep pushing toward your goals.  Do a little extra whenever you can, to grow into the person you want to be. When life gets busy or hard please keep going.  We all get tired.  We all need a break from time to time. If you fall, that’s okay.  The important part though is to get back up. Pick up that pen! Get on your feet! Dust off that goal!  If you need help, reach out.  Ask questions! Butterflies don’t just pop out of their cocoons by pushing a button. The struggle is real.  Floating off to new adventures and turning your dreams into reality is real too, if you put in the work.

 

Birthday Hijinx and Shenanigans May 2018

After my last post in April about irrational fears, my sister/best friend reminded me that Grandmother Zenobia (from Gypsy Kisses and Voodoo Wishes) also has a phobia of the number twenty-three. It’s called Eikositriophobia. Google it, I dare you. I didn’t see the movie “The Number 23” starring Jim Carey when it first came out, but I remember researching the superstition about the number. When the time came for me to decide the birth date for my cursed twins David and Anton, the answer was crystal clear to me: 5/23. Born under the sign of Gemini, it would be clever that they are twins under a twin sign! Without revealing any spoilers, I threw as many weird things as I could at the boys. There were lots of strange facts that sparked my imagination, such as each parent contributes twenty-three chromosomes to their child, or that it supposedly takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate throughout the body.

This peculiar date was perfect!

In my excitement it didn’t dawn upon me that there was an even greater significance to May twenty third. What could be greater, you might ask?

It’s MY birthday.

So yea, the twins are cursed, and blessed. Blessed I say, because I love my birthday. It isn’t about receiving gifts; however, if you give me a present I will graciously accept it (wink wink). To me it’s about celebrating your personal New Year. What were the astronomical odds that you were even born? You made it this far and thank God, you’re fortunate to experience another year.

It genuinely makes me happy when someone – anyone – wishes me happy birthday. I do my best to acknowledge other people’s birthdays too, especially on social media. If we’re friends on Facebook, I will wish you all the best for your special day, even if I might be a day late.

This year I turn 298 (or something there about) so I have many fond memories of my personal New Year. My most recent, favorite birthday memory happened in 2016 on Bourbon street in New Orleans (no shocker if you know me and my love for NOLA.) I wandered into Maison Bourbon http://www.maisonbourbon.com to hear some old school jazz. There was a delightful four-piece jazz band, playing great songs to a packed bar. The band leader asked if anyone was celebrating an anniversary or a birthday. Not a soul spoke up. I was solo, and didn’t want to draw attention to myself but the band seemed disappointed that no one responded. So, I stepped out of my comfort zone. Nervously I raised my hand and said “It’s my birthday.” People applauded! The band asked for my name. I smiled and answered “Sunny,” a nickname that fits my personality when I’m not writing dark, paranormal stories. The band broke into a lively version of “Happy Birthday” and the entire bar sang along. To my delight and surprise they then sang “When the Saints Go Marching In”. My heart soared.

The next night, two of my gal pals flew in from Los Angeles and I took them back to my new favorite spot. When we walked through the door, the band remembered me. “Sunny’s back!” they exclaimed before playing “Let’s go Fly A Kite”. It was the best time ever in terms of birthday shenanigans! The memory still brings me tears of joy.

I enjoy receiving gifts and using celebratory coupons from my favorite restaurants for my birthday month. (A little known fact unless you’re one of the cool ones born under the sign of the twins: we Geminis celebrate for a minimum of a week.) However it’s the wonderful memories I get to reflect on and share with others that I treasure most.

Regardless if you are a Gemini or not, I hope you take the time to celebrate YOUR personal new year too.

Irrational fears and April Fools April 2018

One day after a grueling shift at work, I dragged myself through my front door.  As I put my belongings down, there was a very loud buzzing sound. Low and behold there was a bee in my apartment! Finding an insect, bug or spider in a living space isn’t unusual; what puzzled me is that my roommates and I live on the top floor of a multi-level apartment building.  No one was home, and all the windows had been closed all day. This situation was unusual!

Terrified, I ran for cover. The beast was not going to get me. Not today, not ever! Waiting for my roommates to come home seemed like an eternity, even if it was only 20 minutes.  As I look back at an evening filled with shrieks, boisterous laughter and a roommate armed with a trusty dusty broom and fencing mask, I realize my fear of bees is mostly, but not entirely irrational.

 It comes from moments when I was much younger, when I wore floral lotion, scents that attracted many a stray bee to land on me. “Hold still, there’s a bee on you” haunts me to this day. I remember being on Summer break, playing outside, when nefarious buzzing broke up our playful shenanigans. I was a hostage to the black and yellow monster (even if it was no bigger than a quarter). I would stand as still as a department store mannequin until the bee flew off to find a flower, or another victim.

My rational side of that fear comes from the fact that to this day (and please note that I’m approximately 297 years old) I have never been stung by a bee.  When I have had the unfortunate luck of getting drained by a mosquito, the bite area swells up and turns red. Antihistamines such as Benadryl and I are best pals. Obviously bees are different from mosquitoes, but the question does arise.  If I’m allergic to a horrendous blood sucking skeeter, how will I react to a bee sting? I don’t plan on finding out any time soon.

As a writer, I do my best to know my characters intimately.  I know their favorite colors, songs that might be played at their funeral, etc.  One way I try to make them interesting or memorable is to give them specific likes or dislikes, intense hopes and fears.  In my novel Gypsy Kisses and Voodoo Wishes, no matter how mean Queen Patia is, she will always love sweets. Another example that will be revealed in a future story is that Grandmother is deathly afraid of frogs!  

So friend, do you have any fears, rational or irrational that you’d like to share?

 

Thinking outside of the Box March 2018

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Roosevelt the Blue Crab. At my day job, we ship lots of the cranky crustaceans every morning.  Roosevelt caught my attention because A) when the crabs do escape, they are very, very angry, and freak me out (I will chat about irrational fear in next month’s blog), and B) he reminded me to appreciate freedom and to acknowledge one’s life path.

Lucky little Roosevelt managed to get free from his brothers and sisters.  Whenever challenged, he wielded his sharp claws. I was too scared to put him back in his box so I asked one of my co-workers to help me.  Jokingly, my coworker gingerly picked him up and instead of Roosevelt being returned back with the others, he found himself perched on a yellow, 10 inch wide pole.  He got to see life as I do, my view of an open space with fresh air, instead of his view in a dark, cramped, smelly box.

Eventually he was put back in his box, safe and sound (no animals were harmed!).

The moment he sat on the pole made me think about how lucky I am.  Instead of being stuck with wherever life finds me at the moment, I have the freedom to challenge myself and I can encourage other people to do the same. I can change my view. There’s no way to escape the end of our path (poor Roosevelt couldn’t change his fate that he was going to be someone’s meal), but we can try to enjoy our path while we’re here.  We can appreciate moments like enjoying great conversation with a friend over a steamy cup of coffee. We can be brave and push ourselves to learn new things instead of sitting on the couch watching negative news. Chasing our dreams and working towards our goals, while still remembering to hug loved ones, makes our paths more interesting. Instead of daily grumbling about punching a time clock, I’m inspired to create stories for Grandmother Zenobia and the characters of Carrefour County.  I savor the times I get to binge watch Supernatural or something on Netflix, rather than feel guilty that I’m not “doing” anything. I no longer complain about being bored; I get out and walk, appreciating the sun on my face and the birds that fly in the sky.

Our paths are not easy; I’m pretty sure the Universe does that on purpose.  Delightful things, heartbreaking things, sweet things, and horrible things pop up all the time. I think it’s okay to be happy or sad, angry or fearful, as long as we experience those emotions and then move through them.  Life is meant to be experienced and savored, not disregarded or ignored.

So friend, I ask what will YOU do on your path? I’d love to hear about it!  When you are freed from your box, like Roosevelt the crab, I hope you have the time of your life.

 

Love Notes – February 2018

Almost every day, I take a brisk walk.  It doesn’t matter what my schedule is like. I walk at work, I walk at the gym, I walk when I plan to lounge around at home, and I even walk when I’m on vacation. Why the daily ritual?  It’s a way for me to shake off any negative energy that might cloud my day.  The cardio gets my blood pumping (which is definitely needed after creating dark stories and peculiar characters, letting words spill from my brain through my fingers, onto a keyboard). I also walk because my mother’s neurologist recommends doing 30 mins of exercise a day, or two and a half hours a week to fight the chances of getting dementia.  I love walking outdoors because helps fuel creative ideas that simmer in my head and keep me healthy.

The other day as I was on my last lap around the employee parking lot (I call work my muggle job, because it’s a great place but lacks magic for me), a seagull flew up  and perched a few yards away from me. I stopped in my tracks because I noticed something peculiar about this bird, who I shall name Sammy the Seagull. Sammy held a folded up, yellow Post-It in its beak.  If I didn’t know any better, I swear that my new friend was delivering a note.  I wondered, could seagulls carry messages like Carrier Pigeons? Did Sammy have a message specifically for me? Is Twitter down?

Great questions but, no, no and no. Sammy dropped the Post-It once she figured out it wasn’t edible and eyed me for a few moments before I walked on my merry way.  The discarded note reminded me of my dark fiction novel GYPSY KISSES AND VOODOO WISHES when young Will Jalio sends a message to the love of his life.  It was short and sweet. In the story, the words inspire his true love to follow her heart. 

Last year my father shared with me a beautiful letter my mom had written over 10 years ago.  He discovered it when doing some spring cleaning.  In the letter, she told of how ever since high school she loved my dad. I already knew that Dad always loved Mom; he would tell my sister and I how he clearly remembers the day he stood in a sandbox as a little boy, pointed at her and declared “that is the girl I’m going to marry”.  We’ve seen the yearbook where he signed it “Love, always and forever”.  My sister and I have a high standard of what we look for in a mate, thanks to the love my parents share.

But this letter Mom wrote?  It was a surprise! Its honesty was endearing.  As of November 2017, my parents have been married for 50 years.  Today, Mom suffers from Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know what day it is, let alone who are her family members.  The heartfelt words, written years ago, gave my dad an extra spark of life.  He knows she loves him, even if she can’t say it often, and this discovery was a beautiful reminder that what they have is very real.

I should mention that all notes don’t have to be romantic.  I constantly try to remind friends (in person and through social media) that I appreciate them.  Sometimes at work I randomly leave little silly notes for a few coworkers, just to get them to laugh.  I love to torture my sister with corny Haiku poems or scribbles on napkins that say “TAG you’re it”.  It’s a treat to see how the smallest of gestures can have an impact on people.

The saying “It’s the thought that counts” means a lot to me. Communicating with others in a positive way matters because words have power and meaning.  I bet Sammy the Seagull didn’t know how it affected my day.  Thanks for the note, Sammy.  I’ll see you and your cousins on my next walk.

New Years Treat January 2018

Hello 2018! If you’re reading this, thank goodness, you’ve made it to a New Year. This January I’ve noticed people aren’t necessarily making specific New Year’s resolutions, but they are making choices to eat healthier, to be more active or to get a better hold of their finances.

It dawned upon me that these are great things to do, but some have restrictions and limitations. Considering what I was going limit myself to in 2018, a question popped in my mind. What are you going to treat yourself to, in 2018? What special thing, big or small are you going to indulge?

My treat? Beignets. Warm, fluffy, French doughnuts covered in mounds of powdered sugar where only the best of the best are found in New Orleans, Louisiana. Carbs be damned! I try to visit New Orleans often. As a matter of fact, I’ve gone to my home away from home several times to research things for my novel GYPSY KISSES AND VOODOO WISHES.

Taking a class from Chef Toya Boudy  when she was at the New Orleans School of Cooking to see how Grandmother Zenobia might prepare her gumbo was essential (and not to mention delicious). While enjoying a swamp tour, I discovered contrary to popular belief in the movies, the bayou does not stink. It is a thriving ecosystem and has a charm of its own. Visiting Marie Laveau’s resting places (yes, there is more than one) was creepy and beautiful. I’m drawn to New Orleans because I am madly in love with the food, music and culture the city offers. If you’ve been there, you know there’s nothing quite like it.

Ah, the beignets from Cafe Du Monde are literally the sugar on top of my happy place.

It seems to me that the past few years have been rough. As a country we’ve seen lots of political changes that separate us more than unite us, we’ve mourned a lot more deaths, and we’ve fought through several life altering natural disasters. Now that 2018 is upon us, I suggest you take a small moment to be nice to yourself. What one special thing are you going to treat yourself to?

Happy New Year

Well gang, we made it to another fresh and shiny New Year.  Hello 2018!

Did any of you make any New Years Resolutions?  I don’t usually make specific goals or rule, but this time around I did make an agreement with myself.  Eat better, move your body more, be kind to others and share more.

So as I sit here, munching on Blueberries instead of Hershey’s Kisses, I’m here to let you know, Dear Friend, that on or around the 20th of each month you’ll see a blog post from me.

Before dashing off to take a walk, I wish you prosperity and love.  Here’s to new adventures with laughter, surprises, new friends, and a few scary stories.