Welcome…

floatinglettersWelcome to my world. On the other pages of this site you will find everything you want to know about my writing.

On this page, you will find me.

This blog is not writing-centric, but rather, where I express whatever, whenever. Sometimes there will be writing announcements, but most of the time just me. Enjoy!

Intrinsic Value of the Existential You

pennyjarSelf-worth comes from one thing—
thinking that you are worthy.
~ Wayne Dyer

Have a yard* sale and you’ll find yourself putting little tags on everything—giving reduced value to things you once thought worth much more than you’re now willing to accept for them. At the end of the day, you’ll count the change you’ve received, the crumpled bills, and the smattering of things even the scavengers didn’t want. And you’ll be richer for it. For the items traded, for the people spoken to, and for the time, entertainment and adventure you put into the day—because life is an adventure with the right attitude.

I’m turning 45 this month. And it’s been an adventure all right. While I’m usually not one to evaluate my life on every birthday or New Year, I find I am this time. I’m divorced. My kids are gone. And I’m not where I thought I would be in this lifetime…at all, on any level. For a while, those thoughts made me feel very alone in the world. So I faced it.

I woke up that way a couple weeks ago as I said goodbye to an era—alone, in a motel room, absorbing my aloneness. And I found something rather strange in the quiet. Me. I remembered not everything that breaks is broken—you have to break a glo-stick for it to glow, you have to break a fortune cookie to get the fortune. And upon breaking me, I found me. Hi world! Welcome to the second half of me.

But the alone continued to sit at the edge of my mind for some time. I felt a little lost, a little scared. The screaming had subsided and the silence was a bit too much. Then a whisper started in the darkness. “Why don’t you do this…?” “Why don’t you do that…?” And I realized I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t old. I wasn’t done. I had just finally matured to the me-portion of my life.

I don’t have kids to worry about on a daily basis. I don’t have a partner to please. I just have me. I can stay in my pj’s all day and write on the weekend if I want to. I can play with my herbs and oils, research the family lineage, read a biography, blow bubbles at WalMart, whatever. I can eat nothing but salads for a week and no one can complain. I can come and go as I please. I can go places I’m interested in without worrying about it being entertaining to others in my life. And I can enjoy myself, alone or in a crowd—with friends, with strangers, or with nobody.

In the quiet, I remembered life is a giant yard sale. Things come and go. People come and go. Sometimes you’re the seller, sometimes you’re the buyer. But you are the only one who can put value on you. No one else gives you worth, only you do. Sure, for a the first portion I was being guided by parents, and the second portion I was guiding others and not worrying about me. But eventually there’s quiet. Eventually, there was just me.

I know my worth. I’m a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague. I’m a concert-giving rockstar in the shower, a dancing queen while cooking, a 12-year old laying in the grass talking to bugs, an old woman conversing with the moon, a mermaid in the water, a gypsy, a writer, and just a girl. My value is a jar of pennies. Some are shiny, some dull. Some are new, some old.  Some worth a penny, some much more. I’ve spent a lifetime filling that jar. I don’t need to count the pennies or show them to anyone, I just need to smile and know I’ve got them. I paid my dues. I’ve earned me-time. And it’s time for the true adventures to begin…

 

*Garage sale, yard sale, rummage sale… what the heck is wrong with this country that we need 3 different way of saying “buy this crap I don’t want anymore”? And thanks to those on twitter who helped** me decide which to use.

**And by “help” I mean told. Told with force and a waving fist. #loveyamouse!

Whiteout

whiteoutIf you’re going through hell, keep going.
~Winston Churchill

Winter sucks. And by that, and what follows, I do not mean life sucks, just the winter portion. I’m sick of storms and snow and freezing rain and ice and now, this past week, you can add thunder-snow. It’s right up there with, well… it’s up there. Pretty high. Reason number one I relocated to a place that looks a lot like home, but with about four months less of winter.

And at some point during the last barrage of blizzards I had a bizarre thought. Life is a lot like winter.

Not that it is cold and heartless and never-ending. Nothing that grim. More like winter while you’re driving. Whether it’s the hypnotic snow of the image (above) or Pete-forbid “snow fog”, it can be difficult to see the road. Hard to know where you’re headed.

I find I hear my dad’s voice a lot lately, “Never follow someone’s taillights.” I respect the man who not only taught me to drive on ice, but also once made tracks through a blizzard for an ambulance—I sometimes wonder what happened to that patient. And I find his voice echoing even when I’m not driving. Because whether it’s snow, or ice, or rain, or just life, you should never follow someone taillights. Sure, they may get you where you’re going, but they may also lead you right into the ditch. Make your own path, follow the lines the best you can when you can see them, and slow your roll when you can’t.

But even when you slow your roll, keep going. Because really, what other option do you have? Pull over and wait? You can’t wait for life. You have to keep going, even if it’s just at a crawl, a snail’s pace, so slow it doesn’t register on your speedometer but fast enough not to kill you when the semi drives past and blinds you for a moment. You don’t slam on the brakes, you simply take your foot off the accelerator and coast until you can see again. Teeth gritted, breath held, but still moving forward, still coasting.

We can’t always see the road. We don’t always have a map. The future is a big scary unknown in the dark of night with questionable weather, but it’s there. Out there beyond the windshield. Around the next corner. It’s there. Waiting. And we all have a magical gas tank that doesn’t run out of fuel until the car itself is broke down on the side of the road waiting for a tow (okay, that may have been the thickest metaphor I’ve ever uttered, but you know what I’m saying).

It’s not Monday. It’s the beginning of a whole week. Another day. A mile-marker. And no matter how bad the roads are, how shitty the visibility, you have to get to the next mile-marker. You have to keep moving forward. Whether you’re driving at high speeds with the windows down and the radio up, or coasting while you squint at the edge of the road praying to see the line. Keep going.

And never follow someone else’s tracks…

Guest Blog: We Need An Apocalypse!

spicypixi…or Ten Reasons for Zombiegeddon
A Tongue-in-Cheek Plea for the Survival of Humanity
by AmyLyn Vause

*author’s note* I realize the following comes with a variety of holes, unrealistic expectations and no means to back up any argument I put forth. That’s the point.  Zombies need not worry themselves about logic, nor are they able to reason—and what they don’t know will surely benefit us!  Kick back and turn your brain off for a moment. ~A

Let’s face it, the world is overrun with humans. Just about every corner of the world has at least a trace of proof that humanity has either settled or was once settled there. We are believed to be the most advanced and dominant species known to exist on Earth. While we may be forced to remove ourselves from the planet once its resources have been grossly depleted, an apocalypse of the undead variety would surely slow things down and allow us all a moment to contemplate just where we could go and how to get there!

Reason 1: Population Control

Society has crumbled. All we have left are the skeletons of once-proud cities, towering skyscrapers, bridges that once promised a new world on the other side. Roads will have been cordoned by cars smashed and beaten, not by hordes of zombies but by hordes of stampeding humans attempting to flee from the menace of the former.

How do we escape becoming the next meal for the undead when they are wandering everywhere in the streets and shuffling about in the hallways of our empty buildings?

Zombies do not eat—at least not the same thing a living human eats. Their exotic palates give them a strong hankering for human flesh (and nonhuman flesh, depending on the type of undead we are dealing with). With little else to drive them onward, these shambling corpses will ignore any and all edible resources most commonly consumed by their living cousins, extending the planet’s resources for countless generations before the need to withdraw ever comes.

Just think, the need for oil and gas would swiftly diminish to a scant hundred families as the vast majority of humans have already been either devoured or have become part of the undead collective—I doubt the dead would have the motor skills necessary to drive a vehicle, let alone hail a taxi. Crops could be grown closer to human settlements with little worry of pesticide—who would think about pesticide during a time like this?—and wildlife, penned up or let loose to roam free in their natural habitats, could multiply for a nigh-limitless source of human sustenance.

With a majority of the human population already dead, what’s to keep the remainder of humanity from thriving?

Just…be sure to avoid the cities.

Reason 2: Suppression of Human Violence. Mostly.

During the first few days of a zombie outbreak, do not expect people to be readily organized and prepared to fight the zombie menace.  By the time this undead plague becomes a worldwide pandemic, there will be far too much confusion and speculation of its causes, leaving no time for an established procedure on zombie extermination. However, as numbers begin to dwindle and the human collective slowly succumbs to an increasing undead populace, Humanity’s will to fight the undead will begin to change to one of survival and the continuation of a—hopefully living—species.

With little choice but to get along for the sake of survival, human populations will begin banding together, putting aside their differences to survive this new crisis. After all, to kill the living would mean putting more undead on the battlefield, and who wants to be outnumbered by something that is already past its due date?

It will no doubt take multiple generations until the zombie menace can finally be eliminated from the planet. By this time, humanity will have forgotten its past transgressions against one another and will have already been instilled with the desire for a peaceful coexistence, if only to survive and prosper in a changed world.

Reason 3: World Unity and Peace

Speaking of a changed world, wouldn’t it be nice if our children and grandchildren witnessed the miracle of unity and world peace?  Much of our culture—indeed, a majority of cultures around the world—are too caught up in petty squabbles to put much thought into the heyday of love-not-war.  Who has time when there are cell phones and interwebs and television and Call of Duty?  Who wants to talk when stabbing people with rusty forks and heavy artillery is so much more fun?

Don’t get me wrong.  That shit sounds awesome.  Truth be told, whether we want it or not, peace is inevitable when you have a zombie horde equal to the population of five Chinas against maybe a few thousand (and I’m being kind) human survivors.  Unless our entire race went apeshit and decided to let the zombies have their choice pickings off what’s left of our withering flesh, we’d better put aside our differences so we can, you know, keep living.

Sure, by the time the war is over, we’ll have destroyed a majority of the planet, our population will be only a few hundred (again, I’m being kind!) and much of our government order will be down the drain—but what a winding drain of possibilities it could be.

Reason 4: A Change in Government Power

What’s a common citizen to do when their own leaders fail to protect them? Do we strike up a civilian-led revolution against the undead? A military bureaucracy? Do we elect the still-standing Statue of Liberty as our new sovereign and dwell within her hollow shell? All joking aside, it would be a safe bet that, no matter what new type of leadership we create for ourselves, it will have cleanly wiped the slate off our current Democratic-versus-Republican-versus-Communist-versus-Parliament-versus-Cthulu rules and regulations, merging as first a singular nationwide rule and, finally, coming together as a world government bent on sending those nasty deadheads back where they came from.

Even forced unity and peace, once thought impossible for all the different beliefs, age and language barriers, are two factors that would undoubtedly benefit the survival of the human race. Without it, chaos and death will claim the planet and all on it, leaving little to no hope of an eventual escape from the relentless undead. Government preparation in the event of war with the walking corpses is almost nil, most recently taken up as a widespread tongue-in-cheek concoction on the world wide web (hi). Were the zombie apocalypse to happen today, much of what we know of the American government, and governments throughout the world, would join the rest of us surprised citizens and run away, scared stupid of this seemingly impossible feat of the supernatural.

Imagine the president’s eyes when he sees long-dead soldiers of the Civil War suddenly rise from their graves, feasting on a seemingly endless supply of state representatives. Anyone with a brain would turn tail and run, and this is exactly what the government is bound to do once zombies have completely engulfed the surrounding and affiliated administrative facilities.

Without all the squabble of our current administration—and who would have time to squabble when the existence of humanity has suddenly become jeopardized?—we need not worry about the dirty politics of election season or the personal drama of our leaders.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Reason 5: Physical Health (or, Only the Fit Survive)

Darwin’s theory on evolution has it right: if hordes of the undead are banging at your front door, who do you think is more likely to survive, the lazy couch potato or the avid golf player?  Answer: neither, unless that golfer has one hell of a swing.  In all seriousness, it will require an incredible amount of energy, muscle work, and endurance to survive the zombie apocalypse.  It would make sense that a majority of those least likely to participate in physical activities would be lost in the initial wave. Those that make it will no doubt be pushing to match pace with those who were more active.

Anyone wanting to shed some weight and lose a little flab can simply walk outside and go for a run. Nothing says motivation like a giant horde of zombies ready to chase you down for a little chow time. Get those feet moving. Climb that tree. And for Pete’s sake, remember to stretch those hamstrings before you go out.

Granted all of this may not bode well if you wind up getting tackled by the newly-undead Dallas Cowboys—or your choice of sports team.  I’m more a Philadelphia Flyers girl, so I should probably stay away from icy ponds and skating rinks.  In any case, who would want to pass up the opportunity to become like a favorite sports star?  How about a super model with rock-hard abs and better-fitting pants?  Motivator and self-esteem booster all in one.

Which leads us to…

Reason 6: Mental Health

Anger issues? No problem.

Depression or anxiety? Easy.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Got it.

How about schizophrenia?

Whatever mental and emotional trauma you may have once had or currently suffer from, beating the living dead back into the ground can surely remove the heaviest burdens off your back—unless you have a zombie climbing on you, then be sure to reference reason five—in a matter of minutes.

Exercise has been a proven method of increasing serotonin—a chemical in the brain linked to a variety of mental disorders. The more serotonin pumped into your body, the better you feel. Think of it as a natural “upper”. What better exercise is there to work your muscles, keep your heart pumping, and those lungs working, than bashing a zombie in the head with a wooden club? Not only will you feel the burn, you will feel better for having rid the world of one more of the undead. Feeling useful is a good way to achieve self-confidence. Feeling confident in yourself will provide you with the vital means to survive longer and prosper in a world teeming with the risen dead.

Reason 7: Getting Back in Touch with Nature

Nature has always provided an answer to some of our most common concerns. If we are low on food, we may hunt for its meat. A full-grown buck could provide a meal for an entire family, if not more. What of water? Vegetables and fruits? Grains? Shelter? Clothing? All those things are provided for you if you just get back in touch with nature.

Just think: clean air, chemical-free food and water, the fresh smell of daises (when you can smell them over the pungent smell of dead flesh, which will surely overwhelm any highly-populated area). Face it, the less populated an area is before the zombie apocalypse, the better.

Reason 8: Geeks, Freaks and Nerds of the World – A New Breed of Hero?

No longer will muscled men with big swords and flowing hair, or amazon women with huge boobs be looked upon for the protection of humankind, nor will big guns and bombs be the solitary means for a permanent end to the undead’s rule. For once, it will be brains, not brawn, that will surely win the day.

Hours of slaughtering pixelated zombies in arcades, tirelessly watching the onslaught of hundreds of neighborhoods in a cinematic zombie onslaught was a means for our preparation to survive.

Finally!

A chance for the freaks of the world to prove they have what it takes to save the day. No longer will we be judged for our superior intelligence and eccentric tastes. On the day of a zombie apocalypse, we will be the ones the common man will be looking to for guidance. For we will be the experts on the circumstances surrounding the rise of the dead and the need for their immediate execution.

Reason 9: Medical Advancement

After years and years of fighting the zombie menace, much of what is left of the human resistance will be wondering about that supposed “cure” many of the mighty geeks have been boasting about. With the arrival of a cure to eliminate the undead—or at least something to end whatever keeps the dead from continually rising—there will no doubt be countless other discoveries in the world of medicine, also developed in musty labs throughout the world.

Imagine the world free of cancer.

Imagine a world free of heart disease and kidney failure.

Imagine a world free of morning breath and itchy scalps.

These and many other common ailments to the human race could be easily wiped out if a scientific answer to the undead’s reign can be found. If one can keep the dead from rising again, then prolonged human life is just around the corner, right?

Reason 10: Starting Over

Ah, peace at last. The world has eliminated the zombie threat through the combined forces of science and brutality. We breathe a sigh of relief as one nation, one world, and look around at the destruction wrought by our supernatural foes. And yet, we have survived. We have overcome our differences, fought alongside our in-laws, and the annoying lady with the pink poodle and long armpit hair. We’ve battled alongside our former government party opponent and gave a helping hand to that bratty rich kid who lives on 40th Street.

Together, we have won the war. Together, we will rebuild the world and make it a better, zombie-free world.

Together, we will start over and build our lives up again.


AmyLyn Vause (aka: SpicyPixi) is a writer living in Philadelphia suburbs. She is currently working on her first full-length novel, as well as a collection of short stories to be released later this year. In her downtime, she enjoys pestering her husband and napping with their rescue cat, Path.

Follow, find, stalker her on: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you, Amy =)   Interested in doing a guest blog? Contact me.

*Guest blog fine print: the opinions and ideas expressed in this, or any, guest blog, do not necessarily reflect the opinions or ideas of Kelli Owen. She merely provided a vehicle for the author of said guest blog to post their happy sexy words.

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Photos attached to my blogs are the property of their owners -- some mine, some found online. If your image is here and you want it down, let me know. If you don't mind, thank you for the borrow =)