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For Valentine’s Day: Love Yourself

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Happy Valentine’s Day, my Lovelies! Though I know Valentine’s Day is dedicated to romance and lovers, I am officially rededicating it to self-love — and I don’t mean just … you know … ‘Self Love,’ though that certainly can be a part of it. Very sadly, and unfairly, Valentines day has often been a day when people who are One, rather than Two Together (The words single or alone, or worst of all singleton, have such bad connotations — especially on Valentine’s day, and reclaiming them is a major undertaking, but a topic for another time) I was One for a very long time before Raymond and I became Two Together, and for a very long time, I found Valentine’s Day traumatic with all the hoop-la and commercial hype all aimed at couples. It was only when I learned to be happy as One that I discovered I could celebrate myself and show love for myself ALL BY MYSELF! I didn’t need someone to do it for me. In fact, strangely enough, I discovered until I could be happy being One, I didn’t really have much to offer in a relationship of Two Together.

Celebrate One-ness:

Be Physical: Go for a walk, go for a run, go to the gym, bike, hike, climb, row, swim. Make yourself sweat. Now I’m all for doing this with a vibe or yummy sex toys, but do something for the rest of you as well. We are a Whole, not just a mind with a body attached like extra baggage. Love your Body! Always remember, it’s your Body that gets you there! Wherever there might be. Sadly, it’s also our Bodies that so often get neglected, ignored and often abused; and yet our Body is, and will be until our dying day, the vessel that gets us through the physical world, the conduit for all sensuality, all pleasure, all emotion, and all physical challenges. Why shouldn’t we love it, appreciate it and say thanks by showing a little self-love.

Enjoy some bubbles: And I don’t mean Prosecco, although there’s certainly room for some of that too. Bathing and cleansing rituals have long been rituals for preparation — a preparing for new beginnings, for ceremony, for something challenging.  What a lovely way to tell our Bodies we love them, and we’re ready for whatever new challenges they allow us to experience. Scented bubbles, a few candles, and yes, a glass of Prosecco or your favourite beverage. Add a little bit of your fave music in the background and indulge. Be mindful of the senses, be mindful of all that’s wonderful about being you, cuz, I promise, it’s so very much!

Do Something Totally Decadent: This is the best bit! Your choice! Totally decadent. Spend the morning (afternoon too if you like) in bed with a good … maybe even filthily book. Eat your very fave dessert, BUT eat it very, VERY slowly to savour the texture, the tastes, the feel, the smell. The richer the dessert, the slower you should eat it. The slower you eat it, the more delicious it’ll be. Oooh! Making myself hungry here. Go to a film, watch that Box Set you’ve been wanting to watch, Buy yourself that something you’ve had your eye on for awhile, go to a museum or a gallery. These are just ideas. The main thing is that whatever you do, it should be totally and completely for you — no guilt, no angst, just pleasure.

Do Something New: There’s an old proverb that every time you have a new experience, you add anotherSleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_b day onto your life. Certainly it feels like new life has been breathed into me when I step outside my comfort zone and do something new. Take that local sight-seeing tour you’ve always promised yourself, but never done because … well you know … it’s local. Sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to take, but never quite gotten around to. Learning something new is always life-enhancing and one of the very best ways of loving oneself. Cook a new recipe, plant some herbs, raise your own salad sprouts in a jar, knit, embroidery, draw, paint, take up kettle bells — whatever works for you! Whatever you feel the urge to do. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Now then, you might have seen that this list applies whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, because honestly, we’re all still One, and we need to take care of that One even when we’re Two Together. Good things are always good things. Seeing ourselves as worthy of good things, worthy of love and adoration and a little self-worship for being the gods and goddesses we are, helps us understand that circumstances are just that — circumstances. What we do with those circumstances can truly be the gift we give back to ourselves.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! Whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, go out and enjoy some seriously decadent self love! 

 

Here’s a little Valentine’s Day Self-Love giftie just for you from my novel, The Pet Shop, now a part of The Collared Collection, which teams  Kay Jaybee’s The Voyeur with my Pet Shop. Enjoy! Preferably in bed with your fave beverage of some chocolate or toy or Other Half of Two Together … in a bath might be a bit on the wild side and scary for your computer 😉

 

The Pet Shop Chapter 9

It wasn’t Stella’s first time in the States, or the Northwest. She considered it a very good omen that her first trip for Strigida was to such a lovely place. In a lot of ways, the Western part of Oregon was like a primordial England that had been picked up by each of its corners and stretched and tugged and expanded. Then after it had been given a hearty shake to rid it of too many people, it was snapped like a puzzle piece in between Washington and California to glisten in the veil dance of wet Northwest sunlight.

There was plenty of talk about nature and the great outdoors with Vanguard. Stella had done all the appropriate research, brilliant research even, but the internet could only take her so far. On the last day of her visit, Vanguard sent her on an impromptu field trip with Bob Paris, the resident biologist, so she could actually see the site that was to be reclaimed.

She rattled down the road hermetically sealed in Bob’s muddy Vanguard Land Rover. She thought it Collared bundle - Copymight have been green, but she wasn’t willing to wipe away the grime and risk muddying her mauve pencil skirt and matching jacket to find out. The need for clothes more suited for outdoor life had not been something she had thought about when she came to work with Strigida, but she was beginning to see the wisdom in a pair of good walking boots and clothes that could withstand the rigors of the natural world. Her lack of such attire and the fact that there had been substantial rain the night before meant it would be a drive-through sort of tour, with Bob hitting the highlights of reclamation and pointing out a few of the local birds and a couple of deer browsing at the edge of a clear-cut.

‘The clear-cut will grow back on its own given time,’ Bob was saying as he pulled the Land Rover to the edge of the rutted excuse for a logging road and stopped so she could look. ‘Erosion is our main concern here.’ He nodded to the dark patch of heavy forest next to it. Tall conifers drapes in moss and spiked with mistletoe looked like giant, pre-decorated Christmas trees. ‘That patch would have met the same fate had it not been for Vincent Evanston.’

If Bob hadn’t before, he certainly had her full attention now. ‘Vincent Evanston? You know him?’

‘Yep.’ He laughed under his heavy mustache. ‘Always preferred to spend his time with the birds and the beasties rather than with humans. Guess I’m a bit like that too, but then I wasn’t born richer than God like Vincent. He’s a strange one.’

‘Then he lives around here?’

‘Has all his life. Right on the other side of those trees there. Speak of the devil.’ Bob raised the pair of binoculars that permanently hung around his neck, then gave a confident nod. ‘That’s the Birdman there. He spends a lot of time in these woods when he’s home.’

She fumbled with the spare pare of binoculars Vanguard had lent her, giving herself a hearty knock on the nose before she managed to get them focused. Her stomach did a flip-flop, then a pirouette. Even with her unsteady hand and the thud-thud of her heart making the scene tremble in front of her eyes, she knew she was looking at Tino, who was looking right back at her. She caught her breath ‘You’re sure that’s Vincent Evanston?’

‘Of course I’m sure. I’ve worked with the man often enough. Helluva naturalist.’

The butterfly dance in her stomach had moved up into her chest to do a mad mambo with her heart and suddenly she had to know. ‘Excuse me.’ She threw open the door. ‘I’m sorry but I have to go. I really need to talk to him.’

‘Wait! You can’t get out there dressed like that.’

She slammed the door on Bob’s objections and went slip-sliding across the road toward the man in the wood. Her kitten heels sunk in the pale mud with each step she took. On the other side of the road she found herself faced with a ditch full of fast-moving rainwater. It wasn’t that wide, she could have jumped it easily enough in trainers, but she wasn’t in trainers. She found purchase on a mossy rock and struggled to balance on the ball of her foot, but the rock slipped and turned beneath her sending her teetering with arms flailing before she sat down hard in the middle of the icy flow.

7401867966b49d9e25e799def0c09dae            The gasp for breath and the high pitched yelp barely passed her lips before he was on her, grabbing her beneath the armpits and pulling her to her feet with a heavy slurp and splorsh from her skirt, which seemed to be acting like a sponge. He half-dragged, half carried her to dry ground and plopped her down unceremoniously on a mossy log. His curled fingers lifted her chin until her eyes met Tino’s dark gaze. ‘You scared the hell out of me. Are you alright?’ Tino speaking would have been shocking enough but Tino speaking with an American accent just seemed wrong somehow. She nodded, unable to reply.

He already had his Blackberry out. ‘Bob, yes she’s fine. No, don’t worry, I’ll take care of her. Go on back to the hide.’ He slapped the blackberry back in his pocket and turned his full attention on Stella. This time it was not concern that filled his eyes.

‘What the hell were you thinking, out in the woods dressed like that?’

She was already shivering from the cold and the wet. ‘Guess the Great Outdoors isn’t my forte.’ She offered an apologetic smile.

‘Come on.’ He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. ‘My pack’s under those trees. Let’s get you into something dry before hypothermia sets in.’ But when she stumbled and nearly twisted her ankle in her now filthy mauve shoes, he cursed under his breath and lifted her as though she were weightless, causing her to gasp surprise as he turned on his heels and headed back toward the pack.

She threw her arms around his neck and hung on tight, smelling wood smoke in his hair and on his plaid shirt, a smell that made her pussy tighten at thoughts of making love to him in the light of a campfire. They didn’t have far to go, just in the protection of the trees. There he eased her down on huge stump and thrust a steaming cup of cocoa into her hand from a flask he’d dug out of a rucksack big enough that he could have used it for a tent. ‘Drink this. It’ll help warm you till I can sort out something dry for you to wear.’ He turned his broad back to her and began to dig through the pack.

She was trembling hard enough that is was an effort not to spill the cocoa. ‘You’re Tino, aren’t you?’ She spoke between chattering teeth.

His back stiffened slightly, then relaxed again as he continued to dig. ‘I’m Vincent.’

She sat the cup down next to her and hugged her arms around her shivering body. ‘I know you’re Vincent, Vincent Evanston, but you’re Tino. I mean he’s you, isn’t he?’

He turned on her, grabbing her shoulders so quickly that she feared he would shake her. Instead, he began to chafe her arms, his dark eyes locked on hers. ‘I told you, Tino’s not here.’

‘But I — ’

He swallowed up her words in an open-mouth kiss, taking her breath away, taking away her ability to think with the heat of it, the expressive depth of it. He bit her lip as he pulled back, still holding her gaze. S6304604‘Tino’s not here,’ he repeated. His voice held the tiniest edge of warning. Then, as though it were business as usual, he bent and removed her shoes. ‘You’re lucky you didn’t break an ankle in these.’ He tossed them onto the ground and wiped his muddy hands on his trousers. ‘Afraid I don’t have an extra pair of shoes with me. Now lift your butt.’

‘What?’

He nodded to a non-descript wad of clothing now sharing her stump. ‘It’s not elegant, but it’s dry, now lift your butt. Or,’ the weight of his gaze was nearly physical, causing her heart to hammer and jerk like it was trying to get closer to him, or maybe run away from him, ‘if you’d rather I can turn my back and let you do it.’

She released her breath slowly and lifted her arse off the stump, an act, that in itself seemed lewd. He pushed open her jacket with warm hands and shoved up the edge of her silk blouse to unzip her skirt, exposing a swath of her belly just above her navel. Then he curled his fingers around the waist of the skirt, catching the elastic of her knickers as well, and shimmied both down over her hips. His hands skimmed the lacy tops of her hold ups, and for a second, she forgot about the cold. She reached out and raked her fingers through his unruly hair.

His breath caught in his chest, and he lowered his head to plant a warm kiss just below her navel, lips burning on her icy skin. Then he pulled away all businesslike. You’ll get hypothermia. You’re cold.’ The rush of his hot breath brushed her belly, causing goose flesh to tiptoe up her spine.

She had little control over the trembling that gripped her body from the cold, and yet her insides squirmed with want as he inched the skirt down over her thighs leaving her hold-ups in place. ‘Please,’ she gasped between chattering teeth. How could she be so damn cold and so hot at the same time. ‘I need…I need.’

‘I know what you need.’ His voice was tight, accented by the heavy drag of his breath, much heavier than the expended efforts demanded. His dark eyes were clouded with a cocktail of emotions too complex for her to translate in her discomfort, but there had to be some anger and maybe some concern in the mix. The second kiss chased the descent of her skirt, lighting fast and humid on the apex of her gash searing hot against the damp chill of goose flesh, just above the place where her clit roused itself from beneath its hood. The delicious steamy shock of it unbalanced her and she dropped back onto the stump, her bottom settling into soft moss and her elbow sending the cocoa cup clattering into the fragrant pine straw.

He dragged her skirt down and shoved at it as though it had offended him somehow until it was in a heap around her ankles. Then he eased her left leg free, lifted it so her foot rested on his shoulder splaying her crotch for his hungry gaze. ‘I’m wet,’ she sighed.

‘You fell in a ditch.’ His fingers traced a ticklish path up the inside of her thigh above the hold-ups.ThePetShop

She squirmed and arched her back. ‘That’s not what I mean.’

‘I know what you mean.’ Hi words were short, clipped. He slid a thick finger between her heavy folds causing a sharp intake of breath. Then he rose to take her mouth again, forcing her leg forward, knee bent to press her thigh against her breasts making her pussy gape like a begging bird, making her bare down into the pillow of moss. ‘Please,’ she gasped. ‘I need … ’

He held her in his weighty gaze. ‘I know what you need,’ he repeated. With his free hand, he fought his trousers like they were the enemy until they were down around his hips, and in her peripheral vision she could just make out his heavy penis straining toward her before he pushed into her with a grunt sending shock waves up through her at the sudden invasion that filled her too full for comfort, yet felt way too good to be pain.

He gathered her to him and began to thrust. There was no preamble, no foreplay, just driving hungry need. She hooked her legs around him and held on for dear life, growling and grinding, feeling like she would split in two with the each pounding. And yet she wanted nothing more than to live for the next thrust. It was as though her whole world contacted to thrusting and shoving and trembling. She was freezing and burning and grasping, and he was pushing her, more quickly than she would have ever imagined, to complete overload.

The Pistoning of his body raked the swell of her clit raw as he drew nearer his release. And when at last he overwhelmed her, she threw back her head and howled as her orgasm raged like fire melting ice. Only a split second later he convulsed and jerked on top of her.

For a few minutes they lay sprawled on the stump together catching their breath. Then, at last he pulled out, and it was as though nothing had happened. Avoiding her gaze, he cleaned them both with the large america-artist-art-paintings-prints-note-cards-by-howard-chandler-christy-nude-women-reading-approximate-original-size-18x16
blue bandana he’d been wearing around his neck, then he tossed her a pair of grey track suit bottoms with a draw string. ‘Put these on. We need to get you someplace warm.’ He packed up his rucksack while she struggled into the bottoms, then he threw her a hooded sweatshirt. He tossed her
muddy shoes into a waterproof bag and shoved it in the top of rucksack, just before he hoisted it onto his back. Then he lifted her in his arms again.

‘What are you doing?’ She breathed. ‘You can’t carry me to your house.’

He nodded behind him as a dark blue Jeep pulled up and parked inconspicuously by the side of the road, not far from where she had tried to cross. ‘I have no intention of carrying you to my house. George will take you back to your hotel.’

 

Serial Fun: All Good Things have to Come to an End … Or Do They?

Friday will be the final episode of In The Flesh. It’s been a great experience for me to have shared the Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777writing and unfolding of a whole novel on my blog — often finishing up the week’s episode only a few minutes before I was due to post it. I had no real idea where the story would lead when I began it almost a year ago. I thought perhaps a novella, but I never dreamed that in the end it would be an entire novel of 93,000 words! Nor did I imagine it would become a part of my Big Project, The Medusa Chronicles. That wasn’t planned. Not only has what started out as a short story ended up to be a full-length novel, that belongs to Magda Gardener’s world, but it inspired a sequel as well. You’ll hear more about that at the end of Friday’s episode.

 

In the Flesh began life as a 5000 word story called “God’s Wife.” It went through several reincarnations as a short story – all of which I felt a lot of energy for, none of which felt complete. My goal in sharing the extended version on my blog was to see if I could write the completed story, and to find out for myself exactly what the ending really was. I was delighted when Michael burst onto the scene. I’d never written an angel before, and there’s a lot more about him still to be told. I was even more delighted to discover that he worked for Magda Gardener, that he was a part of her Consortium. And I was absolutely over the moon when Magda involved Alonso Darlington and his people – all of whom have stories of 431px-Medusa_Mascaron_(New_York,_NY)their own. (Can’t wait to write Talia’s story!) The biggest surprise and delight of all for me, though, was Susan’s choice and her wonderful scheming plan to save Michael’s life and imprison The Guardian so he could do no more harm. In drawing Alonso into her plan, as she did, she blew the doors off of what I saw as the completion of the story, and made it clear that there was so much more of her tale yet to be told.

 

When I’m writing a novel for a publisher, I seldom experience the level of immediacy, of fluidity I did while writing ITF as a serial. There’s usually a much more concrete plan – though within it there’s a lot of wiggle room. But when I’m approaching each week as an experience that’s happening for me only a few days, at most, before my readers experience it, anything – absolutely anything – can happen.

 

Magda Gardener’s world is huge, and her Consortium includes people, monsters and beings I never would have expected. Her own story — she’s a lot more protective of, (Though I have every intention of wheedling it out of her) but she shares the stories of her people with her Scribes, among which I have the dubious pleasure of being counted – though fortunately I didn’t have to go through quite what poor Susan did to get the job.

 

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nBlind-sided, the other half of Susan’s story, is definitely slated for the telling. But first, Magda has to meet a man with a very large dog in Vegas, to hunt down an elusive Siren. More about that next week.
As for more stories on the blog … well I’ve gotten quite addicted to sharing my writing experience with you every week. When In The Flesh is done, you can expect to see some shorter pieces, probably more typical of KDG. And I will be taking requests, if anyone would like a specific erotic or romantic theme.

 

In the meantime, after Friday, In the Flesh will be up on my blog, in its entirety, for you reading pleasure. It will also be up on Wattpad for a couple more weeks as well. Enjoy! As always, your feedback is very much appreciated.

 

Five Non-writing Ways Writers Can Write Better

Dreams image 2IMG_0351I’m an obsessive person. Most writers are and often to the detriment of their health. For most writers I know, balanced is not their natural state. For many of us complete and total tunnel-visioned obsession is more the norm. After coming off a very challenging year in which I’ve been forced to find a more balanced way to live, I’ve discovered that while balanced may not be my natural, writerly state, the more balanced my life is, the better I write, and the more productive I am. As counterintuitive as it sounds, I’ve discovered that for me to be the best writer I can be, there are some non-writing things that I need to incorporate into my routine. Every writer has a different list, I’m sure, but these are my top five.

 

Read More for Pleasure. Okay, we writers all know that reading is a great way to improve our P1000885
writing, and I would be the first to give a hearty nod to reading in order to write better. BUT this is not that! This has nothing to do with anything but enjoying yourself. It doesn’t matter what you read, read it for pleasure, read it with your feet up and a nice hot cuppa or a good glass of wine at hand; read it while munching some seriously decadent chocolate. Read it in a boat. Read it with a goat. Read it greedily and obsessively and leisurely, and totally and completely do it for the sheer delight of it. You won’t regret it.

 

kettle bellsBe More Physical. We writers tend to forget that beyond the fabulous world where our imagination meets the written word, beyond the characters with which we eat, breathe, and sleep 24/7, beyond the WIP and the plot problems solved and the scenes unfolding in our head, we are flesh and blood. We’re often flesh and blood with carpal tunnel, stiff necks, horrible posture and bad backs because about as physical as we get when we’re on a roll, when the Muse is with us, when we’re chasing a deadline, is to move our fingers across the keyboard at blinding speed. Physical bodies were meant to be … well … physical. It doesn’t matter so much what we do, but that we move – pilates, zumba, kettle bells, dance, walk, run, bike, row, swim, but move! It can hardly come as a surprise to learn that the Muse likes a fit body as much as we like to write about one.

 

Eat Better: Never mind the notorious one-handed read, most writers could tell you a thing or two Harvest 25 AugIMG00569-20130825-1722about the one-handed write. It happens when we’re in the zone, in happens when we’re facing a deadline. We manage the keyboard with one had while we shove something quick and dirty into our
mouths with the other – pizza, M&Ms, a bag of chips, cookies, donuts, any kind of take-out. We need to eat and we don’t want to take the time to do it properly. But a one-handed write doesn’t have to be an unhealthy one. We can make the choices good for us. It’s amazing how easily fruit lends itself to the one-handed write. I’m a notorious grape-popper. Or even better yet, I have been known from time to time to actually walk away, take a break, fix myself a real meal – something healthy. You’d be amazed how many yummy, healthy things you can fix for yourself in just a few minutes. There are a gazillion recipes out there all over the internet. AND, the great side effect is that when I give myself a break; I come back refreshed and more focused, and I actually write better.


Be Seen in Public:
I tend to be a hermit whenever I can get away with it. I tend to be even more of a hermit when I’m chasing a deadline or when I’m in the zone with a new novel. But, we humans, even the IMG_3633reclusive hermits among us, are social animals and being with other people feeds the Muse. Plus the occasional honing of social skills helps to insure that we don’t forget how to use them. The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing more inspiring than watching and listening to people. People are where the stories come from, and our stories are almost all about people! That being the case, it might be wise to spend some time with a few real ones and not just the imaginary ones in our heads.

 

Pamper yourself: As often as I can, I try to do something for myself that’s deliciously decadent and Sleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_bjust flat out feels good – so good, in fact, that it makes me happy – possibly even makes me feel guilty for being so indulgent. What’s a writer without a little self-imposed guilt? I love long baths with nice bubbles. I love to read in bed – there, you see, I’m actually multi-tasking when I do that. It helps assuage the guilt J What are your guilty pleasures? Be sure to indulge in them regularly. They’re good for your writing. Your Muse will be pleased.

 

I’ve discovered that good writing involves more than just writing. Good writing often involves not writing at all. But as all writers know, even when we’re not writing, we’re still writing, so lets practice a little self-indulgent, decadent, pleasurable, physical, fun non-writing from time to time. Our Muse will be glad we did.

 

Dubrovnik Show and Tell

Most of you know that Mr. Grace and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a great Christmas escape to Dubrovnik, Croatia. If I’ve not written about what a fantastic week it was, what an excellent way to spend Christmas, it’s probably because I’m still trying to get my head around the experience. This was a return visit for us because when we went last year, I tore a meniscus in my knee our second full day there and had to depend on tour buses and taxis, missing out on the best part of any place, which is the walking. Well, we most definitely made up for it this year with miles and miles of fabulous walks. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I decided to make today’s post a Show and Tell, and I’m going to share a bit of what we learned about Dubrovnik. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Dubrovnik this trip meant warmth and sunshine.

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Dubrovnik was a medieval walled city-state that rivaled Venice, and it was independent until Napoleon invaded. That glorious wall still surrounds the city, and you can actually walk on top of it around the whole of old town.

 

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Dubrovnik is build on some serious hills

 

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Dubrovnik has a cool fort.

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Cats like Dubrovnik, and apparently, Dubrovnik likes cats.

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Two words Adriatic Sea!

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The Adriatic Sea means fab fresh seafood. Cat’s like that.

 
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Great statuary!

 

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Some mythological

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Some churchy

 

IMG_4890 Some very naughty

 

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Some practical

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Some in Grave yards

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Some just fun

 

The local holiday cuisine can be enjoyed at kiosks in the sunshine. I did mention the sunshine, didn’t I?

 

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The party’s all in Old Town on Christmas Eve. Party till midnight, then go to mass.

 

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The sunny days mean clear, moonlit nights.

 

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Clear moonlit nights mean a view of Venus on the horizon in the morning and  … more sunshine!

 

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And coffee! On the balcony! In the sunshine!

 

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Dalmatian wine! Just saying … on the balcony in the evening!

 

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Lots ofCroatian Beer. Has to happen. (It was sunny and hot)

 

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More Great Coffee!

 

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Great walking!

 

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Fabulous architecture!

 

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Waking up to sunshine! Again!

 

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More great walking … in the sunshine! Ain’t no map for this!

 

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Great views!

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Lots of inspiration for future stories.

 

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Ha! That was the short version! We both came home rested, happy, inspired and down a couple of pounds from all the delicious walking. Now THAT’s a great anniversary and Christmas gift!

 

 

Predictions from a Muddy Walk

IMG00118-20111113-1422“Lets take the route through the woods,” I said. “It’ll be safer, less muddy,” I said. Gawd, am I glad I’m married to a man who isn’t into ‘I told you so,’ cuz Wow! I think I actually came home with mud in my ears yesterday after our annual New Years Day walk. Although having said that, the downpour that we walked in the last third of the walk might have washed the mud out of my ears as while. It did wash most of the ten pounds of extra weight off my boots en route. Nice, easy cleanup that way.

As we got closer to finishing our walk — and we did manage a little over eight miles — I got to thinking that if I were a fortuneteller, I might consider how the first walk of the year goes to be an indication of what’s to come in the year ahead. And, actually, as a fortuneteller, I might do okay in this respect. Here’s what I figure.

 

Prediction One: Sometimes things won’t go according to plan

We approached the walk with enthusiasm, chatting about which route to take, because living in Surrey, as we do, we’re spoiled for choice. However England in the winter means LOTS OF RAIN and many of the paths turn into mud baths from December through to April. Prediction: Like every new year, like every new beginning, we approach with enthusiasm, we plan and scheme and take into account as many variables as possible, but there will be times in 2016, things just aren’t going to go according to plan. My logic for the choice of paths we took was sound. It made perfect sense to both of us to take a flatter path rather than a steeper, more treacherous one. We might have been safer, but we worked four times as hard just to stay on our feet. Never mind! We managed with lots of laughing and joking and a minimal amount of blue language from yours truly.

 

St Martha's Hill 2 23 novPrediction Two: Sometimes things will get messy

Prediction Two is very closely tied to prediction number one. Things will get messy. It’s a given. Might as well get used to it now and not let it get under my skin. I always let it get under my skin. I like things to go according to plan. I like to keep the mud off my boots, so to speak. So here is the warning sigh for the muddy bits. Be prepared K D! Take a couple of deep breaths, think peaceful thoughts because you know, as sure as you’re sitting here pounding out a blog post, that things will get messy.

 

Prediction Three: This too shall pass

Eventually, we came out of the woods onto solid ground – a paved road, actually, a part of a route we’d not walked in a while. We abandoned our original plan in favour of just getting out of the mud and then we remembered why we had enjoyed this particular forgotten route so much. There were great views of the Downs and solid footing – even a bit of cover by the trees when the rain properly set in. Our ordeal in the mud had put us in a reminiscing sort of mood, remembering all the walks that we’d had in which the weather or the circumstances were less than ideal and yet, when we ended up at the pub at the end of the day celebrating over a pint, some of those walks were the best ever. We decided we could write a book about those walks that went wrong and then turned glorious. Which leads me to prediction four for
2016.

 

raindrops 3Prediction Four: 2016 will result in new war stories

The best walking war stories we have are the ones from the most difficult walks. We never get tired of talking about them, and we always laugh and smile when we do. The best walking stories come from the most difficult walks because the most difficult walks challenge us and test us; some have made us really dig deep to see what we’re made of. Those are the ones that make us earn our pint. That goes with most of the challenges we face every year, and this year will be no exception. I have war stories from 2015; I’ll have them for 2016 as well. In fact, the very first one is a walking in the mud story from January 1st! Nietzsche might have said ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” but I say what doesn’t kill us will be worth a good laugh about over a pint when we get through it.

 

 

Prediction Five: Even if it gets messy, it’s gonna be good!

I’m basing that little prediction on the track record of the past … well … whole bunch of years of my life. I have to admit, I can be a bit of a ‘glass half empty’ sort of a girl from time to time. Fortunately I’m married to a ‘glass half full’ sort of guy so we balance each other out, and it’s good! Even at times when I’m up to me ears in the mud and the rain, it’s all good. That’s more than just taking into account that this too shall pass and that there’ll be beer or coffee or both waiting at the end of the tunnel. That’s the fact that all things being equal, I expect lessons along the way, and I also expect that some of them I’m not going to like very much. Usually those are the ones that I learn the most from. I don’t come out unscathed. I always come out with a few new battle scars and war stories, and I always find myself, at the end of the year, astounded that I made it through at all! What are the chances? I mean really? What are the chances of any of us really being here, and yet we are, and we laugh and we cry and we love and we fight and we squirm and we angst and we struggle through the mud, and we get there and we shine, at least a little, and that’s what we remember. That’s what matters. I have to say, I’m with Edna on this one!

 

 

 

Sun through trees NDW Nov 2011

 

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night,

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May there always be a nice pub and a pint at the end of your muddy walks in 2016.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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