Sunday, July 21, 2013


For a while now, I have been acutely aware of a "building".  A "steeping", a gradual increase in pressure that has begun to make it hard to think clearly. Hard to see direction or feel hope ... I have felt like a flailing swimmer being caught in surf too strong for my ability.  Every time I come up for air, a wave comes crashing  down on top of me.  Churning sand, water,  seaweed current.  My lungs burn, my limbs grow heavy and my vision begins to dim. Every gasp of air includes large amounts of seawater ... All I can do is pray that the waves will soon calm or that I will have an infusion of supernatural strength that will help me swim to shore ... In the midst of all this spluttering and desperation, a welcomed break presents itself and I find myself on the shore, enjoying the playful breeze as it musses my hair and toys mischievously with the hem of my dress.  The sun is dipping below the horizon, delicately bathing the heavens in soft pastels and reflecting light off shimmering waves.  This is my favourite of places to be when I need to regroup and refresh.  Here, where the ocean's relentless song sings me to sleep at night and calls me from my rest in the mornings.  Where Sunsets look like God's masterpiece and time takes a slower measure.  It's where I return again and again ... 

Sunset on the beach



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Friends Who Inspire Me: Bernadette Ryan

One of the things I love about Facebook, is how it connects us to everyone. It gives us access to amazing stories and inspiring lives. It offers us a place to share our own journeys and beliefs. It can be a real exercise in tolerance and patience sometimes and like with everything, should be used with restraint, moderation and certainly not when you've had one too many with boys at the local.

I've been fortunate enough to have a really great group of very talented and inspiring Facebook friends and acquaintances. These folks run the gamut of being artists to just “ordinary” folks reaching for extraordinary goals. Each of their stories and accomplishments help to push me forward on my own journey in life.

One such Facebook friend is Bernadette Ryan. About two years ago, she started on this amazing journey into fitness, setting her sights on competing in figure competitions. I have watched her progress and cheered her on ever since she first appeared on my newsfeed with a motivational quote. What makes her so inspiring to me is that she is just a “regular” mom of three, with all that comes with being a mom. She has the same stresses and pressures that most of us face every day and yet she had the courage not just to start this amazing journey, but to continue on in it.

Me: Children? How many?

BR: I have three children. 21, 18 and 15

Me: Are we allowed to ask, “How old are you?”

BR: 39. I'll be 40 in April.

Me: Brothers and sisters?

BR: One of each. Lol.

Me: What are currently listening to on your iPod?

BR: Wow, so many different songs. But if I train, I usually have HUGE ear phones on. Headphones on; world off)

Me: What is your favourite track and why?

BR: “PlayHard” by David Guetta. It gives me *woema and brings out the beast in me … LOL
*woema is a South African expression meaning something akin to “oomph” or “pumped” or “drive” LOVE that she used it!

Me: What inspires you?

BR: I inspire me. Many things and people will you down and disappoint and hurt you, but you will never let yourself down.

Me: Any favourite movies or books?

BR: Favourite movie is 21 Jumpstreet. Favourite book is a journal about how a women can look after themselves.

Me: How did you get started in fitness?

BR: I moved into a new home where my bedroom is just mirrors. Being single, I was all I could see. All the fat, the bulges … everything!

Me: Did you need a trainer?

BR: At first I lost a lot of my weight so I did cardio for about six months. Only then did I get a trainer.

Me: How many times do you meet with your trainer?

BR: I started with six times a week but we have cut it down to four. So we can do different muscle groups on different days.

Me: Is it hard sticking to the dietary requirements?

BR: Yes, it is difficult. You need to buy the right foods, which can be expensive, especially if you 're doing this alone and your family still eats “normal” food in front of you. I could never stick to a proper plan, so instead I eat my food out of a small dessert bowl. That's the size of your stomach. So if  you eat in small portions you give your body the chance to digest. It's easier. For example: at dinner divide it into three. Eat one portion, wait an hour, eat the next portion. Third portion, give to the dogs! They'll love it.

Me: What is your most favourite part of your dietrary plan and what is your least favourite?

BR: There is no favourite or least favourite. In fitness it's “either/or”. There's no in-between. Just know what goes in must be used and used properly. If it's junk food, your body will have no use for it and will just store it.

Me: What does a typical work out day look like?

BR: I train in the mornings from 5am to 6am. I row on the Concept 2 machine. Then I do abs classes and some legs. Leave at 7am. Afternoons: 4:30pm I train for an hour with my trainer and I do killer abs classes. I train from Monday morning until Friday morning, then I rest the weekend.

Me: What exercises do you enjoy doing most?

BR: All exercises. I choose what I enjoy and give it my all.

Me: What exercises do you not enjoy doing?

BR: Lunges, but that is the best for bums.

Me: Do you ever have days when you feel, “Ugh! I just don't don't feel like working out today!”

BR: Yes, some afternoons, I do, but knowing my trainer is waiting for me and I lose my session, makes me put on my *takkies and just go for it!
*Takkies = a South Africanism for sneakers or trainers

Me: How do you keep yourself motivated and focused EVERYDAY?

BR: I have joined so many fitness pages on Facebook. So when I open up Facebook, it's all about fitness. Most groups are American, so when I wake up, they have come back from their evening work out and are all amped and ready to take over the world. LOL!! So, I thrive on their motivation.

Me: What has been the highlight of your journey so far?

BR: The respect I have earned. The confidence I can so easily carry. And the ability to jump up a wall or run after my children. I have the ability to play again.

Me: What have you learnt about yourself you didn't know before starting this journey?

BR: That stress we have in life is actually all imaginary. Most of it, we can't change. (In other words, if you can't change it, why stress over it) But walk in the gym, look at a weight that says “pick me up” or the row machine that says, “row me for one hour,” that's REAL stress. That is the stress we can change. When you experience that stress you will realise life is actually quite easy.

Me: Every great feat accomplished by a person, has been achieved because there are people who are encouraging and cheering the person on. Who has that been for you? And how important has that been for you through this process?

BR: My family. My friends. The people at the gym. I walk in and people, I have never seen before, take time to say, “hi!” That shows me they respect me.

Me: What do you hope to achieve in this journey?

BR: I hope to take it all the way. I want to show the world NOTHING in life has the ability to kill you but YOU, yourself.

Me: When is your first competition?

BR: I was hoping this year, but I think next year. I don't want to take steroids or growth hormones to help me get there. I will rather train for longer and do it naturally. I know people say it's impossible to win a competition if you're not on stuff but then again, when I was 28, the doctors told me I had cancer and wouldn't make it to 34!

Me: What advice would you have for folks who may want to start doing this. How should they go about it?

BR: I would say, start walking at first. At least *3kms a day. As you progress with walking, then you can start running from one lamp post to the next. Walk the next one and run the following, and so it goes. I would also recommend crunches. 4 sets of 20 reps.
*3km converts to 1.86 miles

I'd like to end this with a comment Bernadette posted the other day that really spoke to me.

“Your Body is your best friend. Your body will never let you down where everybody else might. All you got to do is be good back to your body. Feed it with good food and use your body as much as possible. After all, that's what it was given to us for. Use it.”

I wish you everything of the best in your endeavors, Bernadette. Thanks for proving that you are never too old, or been through too much to start something positive and new in your life!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lessons in Fear

Ever seem to have a recurring "theme" show up in your life.  They stay for a while, until you've accomplished/learned what it is you've needed to and then the next "theme" starts.  Almost like selecting "random" on your screen saver settings.  You just never know what image or pattern is going to emerge next!

It seems the theme for me at the moment is, "Fear: Facing It, Acknowledging It, Pushing Past It".  Notice, I didn't have an "overcoming" part in there.  In my mind, "Overcome" conjures images of great battles that are fought and then won.  The enemy defeated and rendered powerless.  I cannot say that of myself in relation to fear.

I use to think of fear as being something that should be "overcome".  My many attempts to overcome fear left me feeling even more powerless and weak.  Each failure cementing the fear more solidly within my heart and mind.  Like a big old playground bully, it would taunt me, shame me, pester me.  Mercilessly shouting out lists of things that I could never accomplish, be or do.  Like many who are bullied, I accepted It's daily appearance in my life and simply saw it as "Life According to Me."  Then something changed.  Nothing really big, just something small.  I found myself questioning the taunting tirades.  Not all at once, but simple, small statements.  One at a time. As I have written at length, it started with taking horseback riding lessons as an adult.  There was lots to push past.  I was very obese when I started.  When was the last time you saw a rotund rider jumping fences or doing dressage?  I was almost forty years of age.  My forty year old, substantial body found the optimal rider position very unnatural and would scream it's protest after every lesson.  The first lesson was the most mortifying.  Five minutes into it, my thighs were VISIBLY shaking!  I could see the instructor question the wisdom of her decision to let me take lessons.  I chose to ignore, what in my opinion, was a disapproving look and surprised her by showing up the following week for my second lesson.  Wanting to get my legs stronger and my body in better shape, I had started exercising three times a week.  A month later, my legs were much stronger, I had lost a fair amount of weight and was generally beginning to feel better about myself.  There was just this little problem with my heels.  You see in riding, it's very important to keep your heels down.  Once again, my body started rebelling, and my right ankle in particular.  It would begin hurting and sometimes be so stiff it was almost impossible to get my heels down.  My trainer spoke to me about my exercise routine and as she continued speaking, it began to feel to me like she was trying to discourage my exercise routine.  I was saddened.  Discouraged.  Normally at this point, I would let Fear's argument win out.  You're too old to be doing this.  And exercising is messing up your riding.  You're never going to be good enough and never going to succeed!  You're making a fool of yourself!   Instead, I decided to continue with both my exercise routine and my riding.  I found exercises that would help increase the flexibility in my ankles and added them to my little circuit.  My ankles still would hurt every now and then, but they were staying down, and I was getting stronger.  Then winter came with it's icy wind that froze your marrow and hurt your teeth? Huh?  That can't be right?!  I did what every mature adult does in situations like those.  I ignored the pain.  Tried to keep my mouth closed on cold morning riding lessons or hacks and hoped it would get better.  It didn't.  So finally, I had to face my next fear and head off to the dentist.  God was kind to me and had the perfect "set-up" arranged.  The young lady that use to babysit for me was working as a dental assistant for a local dentist in town.  When I had mentioned in a FB status that my mouth was hurting, she immediately responded with a "Come see us!"  I "uhmmed" and "aaaahed" and finally gave in.  The initial consult revealed things were far worse than I had imagined.  I would need a crown and a couple of fillings.  All I heard was ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching interspersed with screams and cries echoing from a medieval torture chamber.  I squared my shoulders and took it one little step and alteration at a time.  My courage was rewarded by discovering my friend's employer to be a very competent, knowledgeable and gentle dentist!  Visits to dentist have become something I look forward to now and not something I run away from. And no, I did not end up in unspeakable pain, mouth forever ruined and me relegated to hide from all polite society.  I also did not embarrass myself by screaming like a banshee either!

My daughter had her own little face off with fear the other day.  She was having her little riding lesson. She was doing well until, while practising a jump, she lost her stirrup.  I could see the I want to get off and never do this again look flash briefly across her little face.  I walked over to her, to make sure she was okay, and to make sure she knew how very proud I was that she had not lost her seat on her pony during all that.  I encouraged her to give it another go.  She looked at me and her trainer doubtfully, but urged her pony forward and redid the jump.  This time she looked like a pro!  On the way home we were talking about her lesson.  She told me that she had been scared, but when she got it right the next time over, she felt so proud of herself.  I explained to her that being brave doesn't mean you're not scared.  It means you are scared, but you choose to push past that feeling and complete the task regardless.

I've used these little lessons in Fear to help me in other aspects in my life.  I've decided not to focus on "overcoming" fear.  I choose instead, to push past it and work through it.  I am still aware of it's taunts.  I still feel it's presence depending on the situation, but I look it squarely in the eye and then push past it.  No longer do I allow it to immobilize me.  Or silence me.  I choose not to allow it to dismiss me or minimize me.  I see it.  I feel it, and then I move through it.

There will be many more battles fought against this bully, but as long as I continue to move on, it's ability to get the better of me, diminishes.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The End of Award Season

I have to confess to being an "Award Season" junkie.  I love watching the various award shows and do try to see at least a couple of the pictures up for "Best Motion Picture".  It's also the time of year I re-order and add to my Netflix movie queue.  Of course, most of the movies that have nominees won't be out on DVD for a while yet, which makes the suspense all the more delectable.

It's hard to say which ceremony is my absolute favorite.  Each one offers a little something different.  For example:  The Golden Globes has TV and movie stars all in one room.  It's a overall, more relaxed affair, and this year was memorable thanks, in part, to the wonderful job of hosting accomplished by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.   I suspect it's this "mixing" of big and little screen genres which has led to more and more movie stars showing up in television series.  Not being an actor myself, I cannot say for sure, but I have often wondered if TV actors were slightly looked down on by their Silver Screen counterparts.  If they were, I suspect that this prejudice has diminished as more and more Big Screen stars migrate to the the little screen.  There was Keira Sedgwick in The Closer, Kevin Bacon in "The Following", Alfred Molina and Ving Rhames in Monday Mornings to mention just a few.  I also suspect that it's this coming together that has begun to change how our entertainment is being delivered.  Netflix has recently started producing it's own "TV series" which it releases all at once and it's subscribers can decide if they want to watch it in marathon fashion or in installments.  Their recent offering, "House of Cards" based on an English production that ran in the '90's (I think), is riveting and stars Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey.  Well worth watching!  But I digress!

The next award show following the Golden Globes, is usually the SAG awards.  What makes this award so special to the actors is that your fellow actors vote for you.  Who doesn't like being recognized by their industry peers?!  To my mind, the SAGs are a lovely mix of the Golden Globes informality but slightly tempered by Oscar-like formality.  In between there are all the music industry award shows too.  Which brings us to the culmination of award season in the Oscars.

I have to admit to just LOVING the Oscars.  And the Red Carpet (or gauntlet) in particular.  It's those cheesy red carpet interviews that give us a glimpse into the real person behind all the wonderful characters that you have come to love and drool over in the past year (or decades).  This year was no exception.  Kristin Chenoweth's interviews were so engaging.  Choosing to steer away from the usual "what are you wearing" questions, she opted for fun and irreverent, which I think, better drew out the star's true personalities.

Seth Macfarlane did a great job of hosting and the show itself had some wonderful surprises.  I loved that the theme for this year was Celebrating the Musical.  It seems only fitting to pay homage to something that has been so integral in movies since the very beginning!  I would like to add, that I just loved the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers-esque dance number performed by Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum.  Totally dreamy!  That's not to mention the wonderful music numbers from Chicago, Dreamgirls and my new favorite musical on the silver screen, Les Meserables.  This girl was swooning and crying.  I was so inspired, I almost broke out into my "dancing elephant" routine.  It's when in my head, I am moving as gracefully as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire but in reality, I look like a Elephant in a tutu.  Sadly, all the magic of the award season is at an end now, and it seems that the entertainment world in general, is recovering from the  swath of parties and dinners and parties and soirees and parties .... and did I mention parties.  That's the only explanation I have for the sudden run of re-runs on almost all the television networks this past week.  I know it will be pointed out that in actual fact, we are gearing up for "sweeps" weeks.  However, I stand by my belief that it is networks recovering from really big hangovers from the indulgent glitz and glamor that makes up the magical award season.

A huge congratulations to all the winners!  Thanks for making 2012 a really memorable year at the movies!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Finding Courage and Impetus of Muses

I cannot remember how old I was when I first fell in love with horses. I know I was very young, because it feels as though the desire to ride horses has always been with me. Unfortunately, I didn't grow up in a family who could afford riding lessons, and my copious pleas for a equine friend, fell on semi-deaf ears. Any, and every opportunity I had to ride, I'd take. As a youngster, there were but a small handful. Eventually, I accepted that I would probably never be able to learn how to ride and jump like Gonda Betrix or Anneli Wuckerpfennig.

 Life goes on, but I never lost my love for horses or my desire to learn to ride. History has a way of repeating itself, and in my home it was no different. My little girl starting asking about riding. Inquiries were made and then something truly wonderful happened. The Olympics. And Mr Hiroshi Hoketsu. From the first moment I heard about him, I was awestruck. Mr Hoketsu was the oldest Olympian to compete. 70 years of age. He may not have placed very highly in the rankings, but the minute he entered that arena, he became a winner to me. Here was someone who defied the norms, worked hard and followed his passion. He was the epitome of, "You're never too old." He was the inspiration that gave me the courage to seek riding lessons as an adult. In the riding world, I am considered a "green" rider. Totally wet behind the ears and having to play catch up with youngsters who have been riding since birth. There are days, I admit, when I look at the teenagers my trainer works with and hear that little whisper, "what are you doing here!"

It's not for me to question why things work out the way they do.  It is for me to embrace it though.  On this journey to fulfilling a dream, I have met some wonderful people.  Some have helped me and others have inspired me as much, as Mr Hoketsu did.  One friend has been riding since she was quite young.  I love watching her work with horses.  The fluidity of her movements,  the ease with which she is able to  melt with her horse until they become a single entity.  A team.  Both learning.  Both improving.  Watching her train her animals is just as fascinating.  With seemingly very little effort she teaches her ponies or horses exactly what it is she wants them to do.  Most of the time they give it to her, without argument.  But every once in a while, they dig their heels in and an argument might ensue.  She never gives up, never loses her seat and always manages to stay calm.  Watching her work with her horses, inspires me to want to try to aspire to become better, more knowledgeable.  Then there's my trainer, Lauren Romanelli.  An amazing woman who can make me feel like a million dollars even on the days when that little whisper is nagging at me.  She patiently teaches, encourages and corrects.  All while still taking lessons herself, because a really GREAT trainer is never done learning.  They are always trying to improve their skills. Pushing themselves as hard as they push their students.  I can actually feel the difference in how I am riding now compared to when I first started.  She too started riding at a very young age.  Unlike most kids who get to  start out on ponies, my trainer had to start out on Thoroughbreds because that's all they had at the riding school she went to.  Needless to say, there were many falls.  After each one, she'd get up and determinedly get back on her mount.  In college she studied Equine Science and has gone on to make a career out of her passion while becoming an amazing Eventer.  Her love for what she does and for horses, is infectious and you can't help but feel as enthusiastic and determined when you are around her.  Both these amazing ladies have inspired me to be confident.  To try.  To never give up. To work hard.  Stay focused.  Keep practising.

Which brings me to the day I had Wednesday.  At the moment, my friend and I are taking care of a sweet Thoroughbred for another friend.  The terms of the agreement stated that I would be responsible for keeping this sweet boy socialized and exercised.    It's here that I have to digress a little.  You see, as little experience as I have had with actual riding, I have never been afraid of horses.  EVER.  I have been kicked, bucked, been run off with, reared with, lost my stirrup and come off and still, I have never been afraid of horses.  Not even the horse that may have just acted out with me.  I know that there are some "monsters" out there, but I tend to believe, probably very idealistically, that even the "monsters" can be convinced to become civil, if paired up with the right rider.

Rico (the Thoroughbred), was no stranger to me.  His owner and I use to ride together.  I had gotten on his back once, while on a lead line, to feel what a canter felt like.  On the ground, he is a real puppy dog.  Follows his owner around, will do anything for treats and likes to play.  The next time I tried to get on him, was after being away for a month.  I had not ridden and was feeling a little nervous.  Rico, being the sensitive soul that he is, picked up on my nervousness and immediately thought something must be wrong and became all twitchy, which in turn, unnerved me and thus began a vicious cycle that resulted in me getting off his back and swapping mounts with my friend.  The instant I did that, I reinforced this nervousness of this horse in my heart.  So even though I had access to ride a sweet, albeit, sensitive boy, I convinced myself, I couldn't.  Rico wasn't being ridden much, or socialized really and we were trying to find him a new home.  It's to his credit that every time someone came to look at him and ride him, he behaved well.

Still, it bothered me.  I have NEVER been so afraid that I wouldn't at least try.  This feeling of fear for a creature that I was fond of, just didn't sit well with me.  On Monday, after thinking about who I am, who I want to be as a rider and the goals I would like to achieve, I came to a decision.  I was going to get back on that horse!  It's the number one rule in riding.  If you get thrown off, fall off, dragged off, you have to get right back on and ride.  By Tuesday, a plan had formulated, and by Wednesday, I was able to summon the needed courage to go face my "monster."  I won't say there wasn't an ounce of trepidation, there was.  But courage isn't the absence of fear, it's feeling the fear and pushing past it.  I tacked him up, did a couple of rounds in the round pen first and then took a very BIG step and headed for the trail that leads to the south side of the farm.  With each step, I felt confidence return and I could feel Rico relax.  The moment of arriving on the South side was made all the more meaningful to me by having witnesses to my feat.  My friend was over on the South side exercising her horses.  As was my trainer.  They both got to witness my exercise in courage and Rico's exercise in trust.  It would be wonderful to say that Rico and I went through our paces and all was well and we lived happily every after.  It would be, but it wouldn't be true.  You see, in the horse world, Rico is considered to be a little "green".  He is still learning how to listen and respond to cues and sometimes he still gets a little mixed up.  Add a "green" rider, who is still trying to find proper form and learn how to communicate properly with her mount, and you have a recipe for mayhem.  Yet, even the mayhem taught me something.  Firstly and most importantly, I STILL have LOTS to learn and while confidence is important, it's never a substitute for correct riding technique!  Secondly, Rico is a very willing horse.  Point him at a four foot fence and he will do his best to jump it, even if you didn't mean for him to do that.  He's a great little horse to ride, but he's not my horse ... and that's okay too.

On Wednesday I learnt that life is not a journey meant to be taken alone.  It is filled with people, who in turn, inspire you to reach for things you might have thought unreachable, and who you, in turn can encourage and inspire.  Life is full of "muses." Bright souls who cause us to reach deep down inside ourselves and find treasures we had no idea we possessed.  To the muses in my life, the unfailing, sometimes, unrelenting cheerleaders, two and four-legged alike, I thank you ALL!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

HB Heinzer - More About the Author

Below is an excerpt from an interview with HB Heinzer, the author of Bent:

I’ve been reading romance novels for over 20 years now. My fascination
started with my mother’s collection of romance novels which lined half of
one wall in the master bedroom of my childhood home. After I graduated
from high school, life began to interfere with my reading and I didn’t
read nearly as often as I would like.
When my daughter was born, we decided that it would be more beneficial for
me to be a stay at home mom. To fill the income gap, I began freelance
writing for a variety of websites and print publications. From there, I
progressed to writing blogs as a way to hang on to the pieces of myself I
felt slipping away as I filled my roles as wife and mother. Blogging
slowly morphed from a creative outlet for my writing to a way to place
another egg in my work at home basket.
It wasn't until I attending a blogging conference in 2012 that I was
overcome with the need to write a book. I'd been thinking about it since I
was 15 but it was one of those “someday” dreams. There were two speakers
at that conference who convinced me I needed to do it. Just shy of a year
later, here I am!

About The Bar...
After everything changed and Micah and Julia were no longer meeting at the
diner, I needed to get them together. What better place than in a bar?
Seemed logical enough and you would think that took care of my issues with
getting them to see one another. Not so much...
Originally, it was going to be a song on the juke box that sent Julia into
hysterics. Don’t laugh, I’ve had it happen. Of course, Julia was not going
to approach the situation like I did because she knows that running to the
bathroom makes more sense than pounding three drinks in five minutes.
The thing is, as I started writing, Julia made it clear to me that she’s
not as weak and vulnerable as I was writing her. She’s actually kind of
badass and still held a lot of anger over their breakup. She made it clear
to me that she wasn’t thrilled to see Micah but she sure as hell wasn’t
weepy either.
In the end, I like the way it came together. I feel like it showed the
real emotions that someone in Julia’s position might be facing.

If you would like to stay up to date with all the latest news and projects that HB has, you can follow her on: facebook and twitter. Make sure you visit her blog too Musings from my alcove and follow her on Goodreads

For those of you who would still like grab her book:

Follow My UnEntitled Life Bent Review and Book Tour by visiting the other blogs on their day.

Feb 1st Review My UnEntitled Life 4th Tour Coupon Queen that saves the Green 5th review Safricaner 6th review Bipolar2Happiness 7th Tour Frugal Fanatics 8th Tour My Vegan Gluten Free Life 11th Tour Family Love & Other Stuff 12th Review Daydreams Book Tour 13th Review Coupons with Q 14th Review My Devotional Thoughts  


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Monday, February 4, 2013

Bent by HB Heinzer - A Review

I enjoy reading, so it's never any real hardship when a friend asks me to do a review.  Well, except if the book in question was badly written and even then, I soldier on to the end out of sheer curiosity to see if things improve or not.  Bent has no such problem.  It is well written, and the characters mesmerize you with their stories and draw you in,

The basic synopsis, without giving anything away, is as follows:

Julia moves back to Wisconsin after her life in Tennessee is totally upended.  No sooner has she arrived in Wisconsin, than she remembers that things are a little messy here too.  There are some unfinished matters that need taking care of, all them relating to one young man, Micah.  Will she be able to find the peace and healing she had looked for ....  How dramatic is that?!

It's a great little romance book.  Super easy to read, and as I have said before, perfect for curling up in front of the fire with on a cold, dreary afternoon.  Or, if you are fortunate enough to live in warmer climes, to lay on the beach with.  If you haven't yet, you can purchase Bent on Amazon.  The link gives you the Kindle edition but she does have it in old fashioned paperback too.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Virtual Book Tour For New Author HB Heinzer

A friend of a friend of mine, has just recently taking the flying leap of faith, and not only authored a WHOLE novel, but then published it!  Anyone who has ever tried writing or dreamed of writing, can appreciate just how amazing it is to complete a novel, from start to finish and then to have the courage to publish it and let it out into the world, well that's a whole different kettle of fish.

This little story is a great, light read.  Perfect for lounging on the beach, by the pool (if you had an in-door pool) or relaxing on the couch in front of a lovely fire.  If you enjoy romance stories, then I feel confident you'll enjoy this little book.

My thanks to Dina Demarest for providing the link(s) and info below for this promotion!

Bent Review and Book Tour

hb heinzer

Here's some info about HB.

"I’ve been reading romance novels for over 20 years now. My fascination
started with my mother’s collection of romance novels which lined half of
one wall in the master bedroom of my childhood home. After I graduated
from high school, life began to interfere with my reading and I didn’t
read nearly as often as I would like.
When my daughter was born, we decided that it would be more beneficial for
me to be a stay at home mom. To fill the income gap, I began freelance
writing for a variety of websites and print publications. From there, I
progressed to writing blogs as a way to hang on to the pieces of myself I
felt slipping away as I filled my roles as wife and mother. Blogging
slowly morphed from a creative outlet for my writing to a way to place
another egg in my work at home basket.
It wasn't until I attending a blogging conference in 2012 that I was
overcome with the need to write a book. I'd been thinking about it since I
was 15 but it was one of those “someday” dreams. There were two speakers
at that conference who convinced me I needed to do it. Just shy of a year
later, here I am!"

You can follow HB Heinzer on facebook and twitter. Make sure you visit her blog too Musings from my alcove and follow her on Goodreads.

My Bent Review and Book Tour, Bent gets a solid 5 stars.

Some of my other friends has enjoyed seeing HB's progress and results. It
has made them more aware of their dreams and the direction that they want
to go in their life. If you have a dream you must try to fulfill that
dream. It should be your job. These books don't write themselves and you
can give your creativity an outlet. Hopefully your book will be as well
written as HB Heinzer's and you gain some new followers and sell some

Follow my Bent Review and Book Tour by visiting the other blogs on
their day.

Feb 1st Review My UnEntitled

4th Tour Coupon
Queen that saves the Green

5th review Safricaner

6th review Bipolar2Happiness

7th Tour Frugal Fanatics

8th Tour My Vegan Gluten Free Life

11th Tour Family Love
& Other Stuff

12th Review Daydreams Book

13th Review Coupons with Q

14th Review My Devotional

Feel free to follow
my Bent Review and Book Tour and enter below to win a $15 Amazon card and
one copy of Bent.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Home - Musings from a "Scatterling"

"Home is where the heart is."  That's what the old adage says.  Lately, I don't know.  A heart has so many rooms and places.  It is able to divide itself into different pieces.  It certainly is capable of loving multiple things and people all at the same time without diminishing the intensity of the affection for each one.  In my case, that would mean my home is scattered all over the place.  A bit of me in England, Stuttgart, California, various places in South Africa and Tennessee.  This is what I was pondering while I travelled with my family to South Africa, to celebrate Christmas with loved ones there.

South Africa is the place of my birth.  She bore witness to my growing up.  Provided the soil into which tender roots first found their place.  She provided context for my life's journey and story;  the perspective that causes me to see the world through "African Eyes."  No matter how far we journeyed or roamed, whenever our aircraft would point it's nose onto "final approach" at Johannesburg, my soul would sigh and my heart would whisper, "home ...".  I would feel my context return.  No longer did I feel like a fish out of water - gasping for air and robbed of the color that made me, me.  For whatever time I had, I would relish not having to explain things like "Eish!", "Ag, lekker man!" and "How wena!".  I was back in a place were I was understood.  Where the idiosyncrasies of culture and people, made perfect sense to me.  It was with great anticipation that I looked forward to that sense of coming back to myself when I boarded the plane that would carry us "home."  Yet, when we started our decent and final approach into Johannesburg, there was more a sense of relief at being let off this noisy, infant-filled, bad-food-dispensing, flying tin can.  I put it down to the stress of traveling.  However, as our trip progressed, I realized more and more that something had changed.  While I was living my life, adjusting to my new surroundings and realities, the tendrils that had held my heart and soul so firmly in South Africa, had slowly been letting me go.  Unable to hold on to what I was, and still make sense of where I found myself now, I had let them gently slip away, till only a single tendril of Origin remained. For a while, I thought myself to be in a kind of "no-man's land".  Not possessing enough South African-ness to be truly South African,  and not yet American either.  My African perspective still frames my world, which can, sometimes, make integration into a new culture, challenging.  Maybe I'm just always going to be a mish-mash of different cultures.  Maybe that, in itself, creates something new.

I treasured every moment with every person on my trip.  For some reason, totally conscious that time is not promised to us and that "Tomorrow is another day," isn't necessarily true for everything.  Who knows when I'll be able to spend time with these special people again.  So I drank deep of their company.  Constantly aware of how I felt being with them.  Taking in every moment, conversation, setting.  Not wanting to engage in general conversation only, but attempting to really hear their hearts and feel the pulse of their souls.  Many a moment I would stop and marvel at how very blessed I am to have the friends and family I have.  These marvelous people that have all in some way or another, shaped me, challenged me, supported me, encouraged me.  All of them leaving little fingerprints on my heart and footprints on my soul.  Yet, when it came time to start thinking about coming back to Tennessee, I realized, for the first time, that it had become "home".  The realization didn't make the farewells any easier.  In fact, I found myself crying again thinking about my farewells to my parents, sisters and the their families.  Yet, in the comfort of my home, at the place that has become home, I wrap myself in warm memories and love and find solace for my aching heart, once more.

*The term "Scatterlings" was borrowed from a Johnny Clegg song, "Scatterlings of Africa".  I found the lyrics quite poignant and applicable to most emigrant/immigrant's experiences.

My Rock and Roots

Me and Patricia

My Second Family

My Inspiration :)

The Keeper of My Secrets :)

Lara and I - A friend indeed! :D

Wes, Anth and I - The one who reminds me who I am!

My cousins, sister and brother-in-law.  Without which there is no party!