You’re Never Too Old to Sparkle

Image courtesy of depositphotos.com

Image courtesy of depositphotos.com

I didn’t discover until the last seven years of my mother’s life that, when it came to clothing, she loved color and sparkle. It was a discovery I made quite by accident. For some gift-giving occasion I had decided to give her some tops and while shopping I found a gorgeous deep purple blouse dusted with small white flowers. The center of each flower was a sequin, giving the top a subtle but undeniable sparkle. I thought it was beautiful. However, I had never seen my mother wear anything like it, so I almost didn’t buy it. But, throwing caution to the wind, I did. After all, if she didn’t like it I could always return it, right?

Mama loved that purple top. She wore it frequently and always received compliments on it. She delighted in telling everyone that her daughter had picked it out for her. A tradition was born. For most gift-giving occasions for the remainder of her life, I bought her colorful, sparkly tops. Not all were hits, but most were. Mama found great pleasure in telling her friends “my daughter dresses me.” When mama passed away, my sisters and I made sure she was buried in a colorful outfit with a bit of sparkle. I think she would have approved.

Why did mama never choose such clothing for herself? I don’t know for sure but I have my suspicions. I’m pretty sure that topping the list was fear of reprisal from some of the more conservative members of her family. Whatever the reason, I’m glad mama had the chance to express that part of her personality for a while.

In some ways, I am like my mama. I’ve spent a good portion of my life not fully being myself for the fear of what others might think. I would like to say I have put those fears behind me and, to a large part, I have, but not completely. It’s still a struggle.

But, after years of wanting a tattoo, I got my first one in 2014; I now have five and would like more. Not everyone likes tattoos and I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t approve of mine. But, you know what? It’s not about them. My tattoos are a part of me and tell a part of my story. I wish I had gotten them earlier.

Whether we are blessed with thirty-five years on this earth or ninety, life is too short to spend it worrying about what everyone else thinks about us. So, get the tattoo or the piercing. (Or both!) Get the haircut that’s “too young” for you and finish it off with some funky colors. (FYI, there’s no such thing as a haircut or clothing style that’s “too young” or “too old.” Pay no attention to the naysayers behind the curtain who say otherwise.) Wear the big, glitzy jewelry and the glittery nail polish. We only get one chance at this gig called life so we may as well rock it.

So fire the glitter cannons and sashay away darlings. We’ve got this.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos

When I was younger, say in my twenties and thirties, I used to wonder what was up with all of the middle-aged people who complained about sleep problems. (Insert derisive noise here.) That sort of thing would never happen to me. I fell asleep easily and slept like the proverbial log. As a matter of fact, there was once a low-level earthquake in my hometown; I slept through it. I was quite disappointed. If life has taught me anything it is that I should never say never. Those middle-aged people who can’t sleep? I am one.

My problem seems to have begun in my mid-to-late thirties. My husband was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea and began using a CPAP machine at night. It was like sleeping with Darth Vader. The constant noise, even though relatively soft, kept me awake. After trying various creative methods of sleeping with my pillowcase crammed in one ear and the sheet in the other, I eventually moved onto foam earplugs, which helped. The only problem was that the earplugs would frequently come out during the night meaning that the noise would once again awaken me. Eventually I discovered silicone ear plugs which work much better. The silicone molds to my ear making it less likely to shift or fall out during the night.

At some point during all of this, I also developed an extreme sensitivity to light when I’m trying to sleep. Any sort of light will keep me awake – even the light from my bedside clock. With experimentation born of desperation, I learned that clocks with blue or green numbers produce enough light to disturb my sleep, even when on their lowest setting – and even when on my husband’s side of the bed. I eventually discovered that clocks with red numbers cause me no problems, so that is what I have been using for years. (Tip: If you can’t sleep, never ever look at the clock. It just makes it worse. Trust me.) Now if only it were as easy to find a way to block out street lights, etc. Rather than invest in room-darkening shades, I discovered that a simple sleep mask generally works well and is a lot cheaper. It took me a few attempts to find the best mask for me. (Who knew there were so many types?) But, now that I have, I keep a couple on hand – one for home and one in my travel kit.

In time, my husband replaced his CPAP with a simple mouthpiece. While he no longer sounds like Darth Vader, he does snore. And, he has developed Restless Leg Syndrome. Medication helps with the leg-twitching provided he doesn’t take it too close to bedtime. So, between his snoring and twitching there are still nights when, even with my ear plugs and sleep mask, I can’t go to sleep. Rather than stay in bed and contemplate suffocating my hubby with my pillow, I decided several years ago that it’s okay to move to another room so I can sleep. Spending the night sleeping away from my hubby doesn’t make me a bad wife – homicide would.

Now that I have several more years of life under my belt I have also realized that middle-aged people are the ones invariably trying to hold down full-time jobs while simultaneously caring for their own kids and taking on more and more of the care of their aging parents. The stress alone is more than enough to keep anyone awake.

Are you a member of the Sleepless in Middle Age club? If so, maybe we should get matching tees! What helps you fall asleep on those nights when you toss and turn?

Not a Disney Princess

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

I’m baffled by the fact that most people think of me as a Disney princess – complete with animal attendants. The first problem with this belief is that all of my animal attendants are cats and, as much as we love each other, they aren’t about to lift a paw to assist with anything as mundane as household chores.

I don’t know if I project some sort of princess aura or what. If I do, I’d love to find some way to turn it off. I’m no princess. I’m nice, yes but so are a lot of people. I’m an introvert so I tend to be quiet, especially in large gatherings whether they be at work or in social situation. I’m going to listen before expressing my opinion but am quite capable of expressing that opinion forcefully – a fact which seems to catch people off guard. Apparently, good princesses don’t speak up.

Next are my (gasp!) tattoos. I almost had to pass out smelling salts after I got my first tattoo. (I now have five for anyone who is keeping count. I’ll get a sixth as soon as I decide what I want.) Hardly a week goes by without someone being surprised/shocked by my tattoos. It seems good princesses definitely don’t get tattoos.

I’m also a nerd which is reflected by the items in the office at my day job. I have a Boba Fett helmet, a Masterchief helmet and a variety of action figures from televisions shows and video games. (For the non-nerds among you, Boba Fett is a bounty hunter from the Star Wars universe and the Masterchief is the primary character in the Halo video games. They are two of my favorite virtual men.) I will admit that my choice of office décor makes me a hit with the twenty-something guys in my organization. They think it’s awesome that I’m a gamer. It’s always thirty-somethings and older that are shocked by my non-princess-like hobbies/fandoms. I’m okay with that even if it seems that princesses shouldn’t be nerds.

But, even Disney princesses have changed over the years. So, the next time someone comments that my behavior is not as princess-like as expected, I’ll have to remind them about Leia and Merida  - they’re they type of princesses I don’t mind being associated with.

Here’s Your Sign – Part II

Regrets

Image courtesy of depositphotos.com

A few months ago I wrote a post about the times I have received a sign that some choice I have made is the right one. Since I’m not a big believer in signs and portents, I never expected to get another one so soon. But, I’m glad I did – this one brought much needed healing to my heart over two of my biggest regrets.

When going through my daddy’s things after his death, I found a smooth tear-shaped rock on the shelf of the bookcase next to his recliner. His shelves were where he kept items he used frequently and miscellaneous things  he just like to have around. This rock obviously fell into the second category. I had never seen the rock before and I don’t know why daddy had it. What was it about it that appealed to him? Was it the shape? The color? I guess I’ll never know for sure. But, I love rocks. Seriously. My hubby seems to think it’s a bit weird but I do. Maybe I should have been a geologist. Possible career choices aside, I immediately claimed the rock as my own. Since it was February and the temperatures were still cool, I stuck the rock in my pocket. I liked having it there. It was soothing, almost like a worry stone. Whenever I put my hand in my pocket, my fingers would close around the rock and I would begin soothing it with my thumb. It was a reminder of my daddy. It brought him close for a few minutes.

My daddy's rock

My daddy’s rock

However, every time I clasped the rock there was also that little voice in my head telling me that I needed to find somewhere else to keep it before it got lost. My jacket is forever getting tossed in the back seat of the car or wadded up in my lap or in the seat next to me at movies and restaurants. It was only a matter of time before something happened to it and I knew I would be devastated when/if it did. Well, the little voice was right and two or three months ago, it finally happened. The rock disappeared. I had no idea where it might have fallen out – the possibilities were limitless. I searched my closet floor and the car with no luck. Every time I put my hand in my pocket, I kicked myself for losing that small connection to my daddy. That was Regret Number Two.

What was Regret Number One? Well, the anniversary of my daddy’s death was February 16th. On the 17th, as my husband and I headed out for an overnight trip, I posted this on my personal Facebook page:

It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since my daddy died.

My biggest regret about that day is not telling daddy that I loved him. I said “I love you” every time I saw him, but not that day. Why didn’t I? I don’t know. I know without a doubt that my daddy knew that I loved him, but I still regret not telling him one last time.

The lesson I hope you take away from this is to always, always say the words: “I love you.” It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve already said it – you never know when you may not have another chance.

My sister’s comment simultaneously made me feel better and made me cry. She said:

When you got there to see him, you leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. I think that counts as much.

I have no recollection of doing that, but knowing that I did made me feel so much better. While I was still fighting back tears, we made a pit stop to get get out and stretch our legs. When we got back to the car I opened my door and there, on the floorboard on the passenger’s side of the car – where it had not been earlier – was my teardrop-shaped rock. I remember gasping out the words “My rock!” I then grabbed it, clutched it to my chest and began sobbing. This was ugly crying at it’s finest. My husband had no idea why I was sobbing so I finally managed to give him a broken explanation in between sobs and gasps for air. We then had to make another stop for tissues since I only had one in my purse and it stood no chance against waterworks of the type I was producing.

Finding my rock at any time would have made my heart happy. Having it given to me then, when my heart was aching over not telling my daddy that I loved him, was more than I would have ever dreamed. Whether it was a gift from my heavenly Father, my earthly one, or the two of them working in cahoots, it served its purpose. My heart is healed, my regret is gone. My daddy knows that I loved him and even if I didn’t say the words on that last day, I told him with actions. There is much truth to the staying that actions speak louder than words.

And yes, my rock is now in a safe place.

What has brought you healing?

If It Looks Like a Duck – Part Two

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

A while back (Southern speak for any period of time more than two weeks ago) I wrote a post about having my DNA tested. In that post I mentioned wanting to get my husband’s DNA tested. Well, we did.

All family’s have “legends” – tales about things that may or may not have happened in the past. As is true of most stories, these legends may or may not be based on facts. One of the stories in my husband’s family was that his father was of Native American descent. Some of his dad’s physical characteristics, such as his dark skin and dark hair that only had a few strands of gray at the time of his death, made that story plausible. However, there were no facts to back it up. My husband’s paternal grandfather had abandoned the family when his father was young so there is an entire chunk of their family’s history that is missing.

Following in my husband’s footsteps, the year after he gave me my DNA test kit as a Christmas gift, I gave him one. So, he provided his saliva sample, we shipped it off and waited for the results. Now, whereas my results were no big surprise, his were. His results were as follows:

45%  Great Britain

19%  Europe East

17%  Europe West

7%  Ireland/Scotland/Wales

5%  Scandanavia      (I would have never guessed that one!)

The remaining 7% consisted of results from “low confidence regions.” The Ancestry DNA website defines a low confidence region as “areas for which there’s a small amount of DNA evidence found in your sample. All ethnicities with predicted percentages of less than 4.5% appear as low confidence regions.”

Now, when you look at those results you may notice something missing. Yep, no Native American to be found. So much for that family legend. I tease my hubby and tell him that his dark skin and love of the road less traveled may be a result of some previously unknown gypsy blood flowing through his veins. (Romania is one of the many countries that make up the Europe East category.) So, while one mystery was solved, many more remain.

And, for those of you wondering about the accuracy of the tests, my brother-in-law had his DNA tested some time before my husband did. And, with nothing other than their DNA to go by (no identifying information is provided with the saliva), the DNA tests identified my brother-in-law as my husband’s sibling. I call that pretty accurate.

While I find all of this absolutely fascinating, I have been surprised by the number of people completely weirded out by these tests and the possibility of some future misuse of this data. Only time will tell if their fears are well founded. In the meantime, I’ll keep my child-like wonder at the mystery and miracle of genetics and DNA.

But, if you really want to know what weirds me out, it is devices such as Alexa, the Echo, and the Google mini. Big Brother is already watching, I don’t want him listening to everything that goes on in my house. So, while you are welcome to invite the electronic vampire to cross your threshold, I won’t be joining you.

What do you think? Is DNA testing fascinating or the stuff of nightmares?

 

Not So Happy Holidays

How I feel at the thought of putting up our large Christmas tree.

How I feel at the thought of putting up our large Christmas tree.

Once again the holidays are upon us. Here in the States, Thanksgiving is already behind us and Christmas is rapidly approaching. The holidays are an emotional roller coaster at the best of times, even more so for anyone who is grieving.

Grief has many causes, the first that comes to mind for most of us is the loss of a loved one. It can also be the result of many other life changes such as failing health, the loss of a job, moving, divorce, even the death or illness of a much loved pet. All of the firsts after a life-change event are difficult – and not just Christmas. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, and other days with no special names attached come with their own level of pain and adjustment.

But, there is something about Thanksgiving and Christmas that just seems to make everything worse. Maybe it’s the fact that the focus on family and togetherness does nothing except highlight the fact that someone, maybe even more than one someone, is missing from our festivities. The world is filled with bright lights, and excitement and yet sometimes we are on the outside looking in wondering what is wrong with us. Instead of “decking the halls” we want to run and hide and cry.

There are two important things to remember. First, there are no rules to grieving and whatever you are feeling is okay. Second, you can go from fine to sobbing with no real warning and that’s okay too. I am the perfect example of this. I began this post last week and I was in a much different place emotionally at that time. This is my first Christmas without either of my parents. (My daddy passed away last year, and my mama died this year.) Last week I was surprised at how well I seemed to be dealing with the holidays. I knew it would catch up with me at some point and it did – yesterday. My husband and I were getting out our Christmas decorations and I had Christmas music playing in the background. It wasn’t long before I felt like I had a big, achy hole in my chest. My husband held me as I cried. Plain and simple, I miss my parents.

My husband is dealing with his own holiday grief. His father died on Christmas day, 1994. His mother died November 7th of this year. Christmas always brings up memories of his dad and now his mom is gone too. He has been having a hard time today. Fortunately, we have each other and we will help each other through the hard times.

Grieving is kind of like marriage and parenthood – it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Over the years, we’ve stumbled across a few things that helped us. I’m sharing them now in the hopes that maybe they can help you too.

My father-in-law’s death would have been devastating at any time but Christmas Day? That took things to a whole new level. At the time of his death our sons were young which actually helped. It would have been easy to allow a time of celebration to become a time of mourning but we were determined to keep Christmas normal for our sons and we did. Every year we filled stockings and had visits from Santa Clause and did all of the things we did before death insinuated itself in our lives. In a classic case of fake it til you make it, pretending that everything was okay meant that gradually, it was.

Last year had a new lesson in store for me. My first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my daddy were hard. It didn’t help that daddy’s birthday was also in November. However, in the midst of my grief, I stumbled across something that made things easier: in the middle of a season all about tradition, it’s okay to change things up. We’ve always had the standard seven foot (artificial) Christmas tree and the whole family gathered to decorate it. Last year, I just couldn’t and told my husband so. He thought that after so much sadness it would be good to try to get things back to “normal.” Well, what had always been normal no longer existed and I just didn’t have it in me to pretend. Even though my hubby missed the big tree he supported me in my decision to not use it. Instead, we found a local Boy Scout troop selling Christmas trees made from wooden pallets. It was perfect. Not a single ornament was unboxed and it brought me great peace. And you know what? Much like the Grinch, not having a tree didn’t stop Christmas from coming. It came, and it was good. Yes, there were times of sadness but breaking with tradition made it easier.

Our 2016 Christmas tree. Cat shown for size. (Not)

Our 2016 Christmas tree. Cat shown for size. (Not)

I would have been perfectly content to have continued using the pallet tree indefinitely but the rest of my family missed the big tree so much that I promised them that we would have a “normal” tree this year. Although, I did tell my hubby that I didn’t want to use the big tree again but that I would be willing to put up a smaller one. Little did I know when making that statement that life was going to throw two more deaths at us. Now, none of these deaths were total surprises – both of my parents and my mother-in-law were ninety years old and in failing health. But still, no matter how much warning you do or don’t have, when the end comes, it’s hard.

Just last week I told my husband that I thought one of the reasons the holidays seemed easier than expected was because we moved this year and are living in a different house with no memories of our parents associated with it. I was even okay when I put up the new decorations purchased this year. It wasn’t until we started getting out the “old” decorations that my emotions started getting the best of me. Seriously. I can’t explain why but when my hubby was assembling the Christmas tree, I was so stressed I could hardly breathe. By the next day, I could look at the tree without hyperventilating but I still wasn’t enthused about decorating it. (As for having a smaller tree, I hadn’t been able to find one anywhere. I do have the table top fiber optic tree that my daddy had but my heart isn’t ready to use it yet. I don’t know if it ever will be.)

When our kids came over for a belated Thanksgiving dinner, the plan was to decorate the tree after the meal. However, they weren’t anymore enthused by the idea than I was and once again – that’s okay. They are older with families of their own so, it’s time for that tradition to change. This year the big tree is going back in the box; it will be replaced by the small four foot tree that I finally found. The smaller tree will be decorated simply with a few special ornaments and honestly – I can’t wait. I’m tired of stressing out over putting the garland on the tree “just so” only to have to re-do it every day because the cats “rearranged” it. I am more than ready to simplify.

And that, my friends is the next lesson that I have learned from grieving. It’s okay to not do things the way you have always done them. And you know what? You don’t even have to give a reason. But, if, like me, you feel you must a simple “I just can’t” should suffice.

Our first season of grieving we dealt with by sticking to traditions, the second and now third seasons, we have dealt with by changing things up. Neither decision was“better” than the other, but each one was what we needed at that time.

Don’t have it in you to bake the elaborate dish everyone is expecting you to bring to the office potluck? Don’t. Stop by the grocery store and pick up something premade. Not up to doing that? That’s okay too. People may be disappointed but they’ll survive. You take care of you.

Do you have any tips for getting through the holidays? If so, I’d love to hear them, just put them in the Comments so others can see them as well.

If you need someone to talk to, I’m here. I’m no counselor but I have tissues, chocolate, and a shoulder to cry on if needed. You can always reach me by leaving a comment or by emailing me at Isabella.Norse@gmail.com. We can get through this season together.

Here’s Your Sign

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

I’m not a superstitious person and, for the most part, I don’t believe in signs and portents. However, occasionally things happen that I take as sort of a divine indicator saying “Hey, that thing you’re worrying about? It’s going to be okay.” There are three times that come to mind: the purchase of our second house, the time I was admitted to the hospital during my second pregnancy with a condition that could have easily caused a miscarriage, and the purchase of our new house. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to stick to the houses and save the pregnancy problems for another time.

When our boys were 8 and 10 we decided it was time to move. Four people sharing a house that was less than one thousand square feet in size and which sported only one bathroom was getting a bit difficult. So, the search for a new domicile began. We knew we wanted a house in an older, established neighborhood with lots of mature trees. Our search eventually led us to two houses on the same street – and that’s where the difficulties began. My husband preferred one house while I liked the other. We toured both houses, had many discussions – and a few arguments – to no avail. The stalemate continued. Finally, we met with the real estate agent to take one more tour of the house my husband wanted. I thought it was a complete waste of time. However, during the tour I did something I hadn’t done before – I opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the pattern on the liner that had been used – it was different from the liner in any of the other cabinets in the house. The pattern on the liner under the sink was a cow print – white with black spots. Simply put, I adore cows; they are one of my favorite animals on the planet. As soon as I saw that print, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that even though that was not the house I wanted, it would be okay. And you know what? It was. We lived in that house for twenty years and honestly, it worked better for us than the other house would have.

Once our boys left home and we no longer had the responsibility of caring for my aging parents we could get serious about moving back to the country. My husband and I both grew up in a rural environment and we missed being surrounded by nature. Earlier this year on his way home from visiting his mom, my husband came across a house for sale that he thought might interest us. While that house wasn’t the right one for us, it did begin the house hunting process. We even made an offer on a house only to withdraw it. The more houses we looked at, the more I doubted that we would ever find something that appealed to us both. Then, I fell in love with a  house that my husband wasn’t crazy about. He finally agreed to go look at the house one more time but, on the way, we drove through a neighborhood that we had driven through months earlier and encountered another house for sale. The new house hadn’t shown up on my searches because the price was higher than the limit I had set. That price difference was enough to make me hesitate about seeing it but, since my hubby was willing to go back to the house I loved, the least I could do was see the house he wanted to see.

Wouldn’t you know it? The house I loved, which had been on the market for several months with no activity suddenly had not one but several offers on it – none of which were ours. My heart was aching a bit as we met the real estate agent to tour the house hubby wanted to see. Then, we went inside. I loved the house and everything about it. It had a very cabin/rustic vibe which is right down my alley. The house is situated on just over four acres of land and even though there are other houses nearby, they aren’t on top of each other – there is space to breathe. We spent two and a half hours walking the grounds and touring the house and, before we left, we put in an offer. The rest, as they say, is history. We moved in at the beginning of August. That said, there were times I questioned our decision. Were we nuts to be spending so much on a house? Had we made the right choice? Should we back out? In spite of loving the house, I couldn’t seem to stop the nagging doubts. And then, I got my sign.

A couple of weeks after we moved my husband asked me if I had seen the back of the door in the basement bathroom. The back of the door? No, I had not. I had looked behind the door to make sure there were no holes in the wall or anything like that but I hadn’t actually looked at the back of the door itself. To be honest, his question made me a little uneasy. The last thing I wanted was to find something that needed to be repaired or replaced. Hubby assured me that it wasn’t anything bad so I headed downstairs. Not knowing what to expect, I stepped into the bathroom, turned on the light, closed the door, looked at the back, and burst into tears. This is what is on the back of the door.

Blue Angels - edited

Why would a signed poster of the Blue Angels support plane (Fat Albert) make me cry? Well, my daddy (who passed away in February 2016) was a Navy guy. His time in the Navy is one of the things he was most proud of in his life and he was a huge fan of the Blue Angels. He also had a picture of the Blue Angels, signed by all of the pilots, which was one of his most prized possessions. So, to find this in my new house… Well, this is my sign that, once again, everything will be okay. Since finding it, my doubts have gone away. This is where we are supposed to be and, if he were alive to see it, my daddy would love this place.

How about you? What signs have you had in your life? I’d love to hear about them!

 

Faith in Humanity Restored?

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

I see a lot of posts on various social media sites titled “Faith in Humanity Restored.” I enjoy theses posts and save many of them, they highlight the many good people and actions in our world. The thing that saddens me about these posts is that so many people seem to have truly lost faith in their fellow human beings. I have not.

I don’t think of my self as an optimist or a pessimist – I consider myself a realist. I realize that terrible events occur every day and that there are genuinely bad people in the world. I also believe that there are people whose actions go beyond “bad” and enter the realm of evil. Such people have always existed and always will. But, just as these people existed, so have those who have stood against them. But, for all of the people you read about, there were countless others you don’t – their actions were small, possibly impacting only a handful of people. In those instances, the world doesn’t remember their names, but you can be assured that that handful of people did.

We live in a day of information overload – news is accessible twenty-four hours a day via our televisions and the internet. If by some chance you manage to escape that bombardment a quick glance at Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites will be more than enough to make up for it. I don’t understand why our media has decided that all news must be negative. It’s easy to get discouraged when we are constantly surrounded by negativity. But, how do you avoid it? Simple. Turn off the television. Put down your phone. Get out of the house. Take a walk. Not only does exercise release endorphins which cause feelings of well-being but walking exposes you to the real world surrounding you, not just the one you are told about.

Once out in the world, look for the good. It’s there. I saw it recently during a trip to pick up my grandson for a visit. On the return trip to my house, I came across the scene of a nasty single car accident. The accident was so recent that first responders weren’t yet on the scene. However, the occupants of the car weren’t alone. Several other drivers had pulled to the side of the road and rushed to their aid. Some people were on their phones calling for help while others comforted the injured and still others were running to their vehicles for bottles of water, etc. It did my heart good. None of these people were concerned about the color of the victims skin, or anything else – they saw fellow humans in need and responded. People are performing actions like this every day across the world in towns large and small.

I refuse to be a part of the negativity pervading our society. Not only do I write stories with a sense of humor and a happily-ever-after, I do what I can to share the actions of those doing their part to make their corner of the world a little better. How? On Pinterest I have a board named Life is Good where I pin posts about people making a difference. I’m also going to start using my Facebook page to do the same. In addition to my regular posts about my writing and other things important to me, I plan to make a daily post about someone – or something – positive. After all, the best way to to shatter the darkness is by shining a light.

Are you tired of the constant barrage of negativity? Then join me in shining the light of love and positivity. Don’t know where to start? My social media links are at the top of this page, check out my Life is Good board on Pinterest or follow me on Facebook for ideas. Together we can make a difference.

 

 

Saved by the Belle

Saved by the Belle Isabella Norse Web Last year, with the publication of Dial V for Vampire, I introduced you to the world of Kudzu Korners, a small (fictional) southern town located near Savannah, Georgia.

Today, I’m beyond excited to introduce the next entry in the Kudzu Korners series, Saved by the Belle. The events of Saved by the Belle take place before the events of Dial V for Vampire when the town of Kudzu Korners was struggling to find a new lease on life.

One of my favorite things about this story is the heroine, Dot Habersham. Dot isn’t the typical twenty or thirty something heroine, she’s middle-aged, curvy, colorful, and comfortable in her own skin. Want to know more? Read on:

Blurb:

Dot Habersham spent the first half of her life traveling the world, meeting new people, and trying to make a difference in the lives of others. Now middle-aged, she has settled in Kudzu Korners, a small town filled with Southern charm and good friends.

But the arrival of Russell Phillips, widower, father, and the spitting image of Dot’s favorite actor, stirs emotions that she hasn’t felt in many years. Could love come knocking at this point in her life—and his?

Just when their friendship begins to blossom into “more”, Russell says something that might be impossible to fix. Will the memories of those they have lost keep each of them tied to their pasts, or can their budding relationship be SAVED BY THE BELLE…

Excerpt:

“Dot, drop everything! We have a hair emergency.” The bell hanging from the handle of the door jangled as Amber pushed her way into Polka Dots hair salon.

Dot, salon owner, paused in her sweeping and looked up, eyebrows raised. “How big of a problem can it be, hon? I just cut your hair last week.”

“Oh, no. It’s not me, it’s my dad.” Amber propped the door open with her heel, leaned out, and tugged a reluctant gentleman in by the arm.

“Well, hello there, handsome.” Dot studied the newcomer with a skilled eye. “Amber, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Your dad looks fine. Better than fine, actually.” She gave the man a wink.

“Thank you,” he began, only to be interrupted.

“Fine? You call this fine?” Amber grabbed her dad by the shoulders and turned him around, gesturing toward his head. “My father has a… I can barely say it.” She took a deep breath and tried again. “My father has a ponytail.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074DJ8X7D

 

Faith. Laughter. Happily-Ever-After.

I have a confession. I’m terrible at tag lines. I love coming up with titles for my books and even writing blurbs for them. But tag lines? I seem to be incapable of describing myself or my books in a single, memorable line.

In 2014, I decided to have custom website designed but still didn’t have a tagline. So, I stuck with the basics: “Isabella Norse, Romance Author.” I requested that the designer (the amazing Ida Jansson of Amygdala Design) use light colors to reflect the fact that my stories tend to be on the humorous side and that she include cats in some fashion since they tend to show up in all of my stories. She created the image below that I have used for the past three years:

Original FB Header

It hit all the points I asked for and even met with my love of symmetry – a love that Ida didn’t even know about. Even though I was happy with the design, I still couldn’t help but long for something even more… me. S0, the search for a tag line continued.

I will admit to more than one why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moment as I came across other amazing tag lines created by other authors. I also came up with – and discarded – more than a few potential tag lines for myself. One example? Love, Laughter, Happily Ever After. But, that one seemed to be everywhere.

However, everywhere or not, I kept circling back to it. Finally, I realized that all I had to do was change one word to make it work for me. The result? Faith. Laughter. Happily-Ever-After. Perfect.

Faith: I’m a woman of faith and my faith, like my love for cats, works its way into each story.

Laughter: My stories tend to be humorous. Even on those rare occasions when they get dark, there is still humor.

Happily-Ever-After: I write romance, so this one is a given.

Once I settled on a new tag line, it was time to contact Ida to give my website an update. If you’re reading this post, you’ve already seen the results.

headn2

I love it – it is so me! The new header keeps the same colors as the old one while including the new tag line and a more subtle reference to my feline fascination. The rustic image is also exactly my style. Of course, I picked it out, so it should be, LOL!

So, here’s to the end for the search for a tag line, a new look, and everything that lies ahead. *raises chai latte in toast*

What do you think of the new look?