Thursday, May 14, 2015

I'm The People of Walmart

See, there are the ‘normal’ people who visit upstanding establishments like Harris Teeter and Publix and Target. They live in houses with manicured lawns and pay HOA dues. They walk their dogs twice a day like clockwork. They do play groups and attend storytime at the library. They bathe each day and use a dishwasher and have indoor plumbing and... hot water. They arrive at work at 9am and leave at 5:30PM. They have a gym membership. They are remodelling their kitchen that’s a bit dated. They’re fencing their backyard so it can be more private. Because nobody actually wants to SEE other people living.

And then there is this whole group of people that visit Walmart who wear weird things in public like pajama pants or lingerie, or are too fat for those shorts or tights, who have weird hair, who wear what appears to be a Halloween costume in May, who have children who go with them to Walmart at midnight when they should really be in bed because that’s what RESPONSIBLE parents do, who buy their wedding bands on Rollback for ten bucks. They ride carts around the store for fun. There’s an entire facebook and website dedicated to these people of Walmart and their strange ways. We sneak pictures of them to share and point our fingers and laugh at those silly people. They frustrate us though. Why do they have to stand out like that and make us uncomfortable? What on EARTH is going through their head? It’s like they don’t realize we live in a civilized society.

You know what I realized today?

I AM one of these People of Walmart.

And it’s not because this is often my ‘yard’:
My view, literally, from my window as I write.


It’s because in the past few months of travelling and living full time in my RV on the road, I feel very much like a social deviant. I feel and see the literal and metaphorical fingers being pointed at me as I go about what has become ‘normal’ for me. We get stared at a LOT driving our RV around, and people are unbelievably impatient around RVs on the road. They just move a feeeew seconds too slow.  So they LAY on their horn as if they can't believe we choose to move like the lumbering 30 foot monstrosity that we are. WHY are we even on the road?!? And more staring... when I get in and out of it, when my kids get out to play nearby. People behave as if they’ve never seen one before. As if I’m misusing it. RVs belong in RV parks… everyone knows THAT. So I get stared at. Especially if we drive it in a place you don’t typically see RVs. Today it was the airport. A lot of time it’s downtown somewhere. The bank. The print shop. The art store. The post office. The library. The book store. The restaurant.

And we are never welcome. People see an RV parked in their lot and FREAK THE HECK OUT. Never mind that it’s the middle of the business day and we actually have STUFF to take care of. Never mind that we’ve only been parked for fifteen minutes. An hour? Forget about it. You WILL see the cops, who, by the way, always have to apologize for bothering us… “It’s just that when we get a call we are obligated to check it out, but no, you’re not actually doing anything wrong…”

I’m not entirely sure what it is people imagine we’re going to do, but it must be something just awful. Maybe they think we’re about to build a camp fire in the parking lot, set up our awning, and have a barbecue. Perhaps, if we like it, we might even decide to take up permanent residence. Come to think of it, we ARE shopping for a new lot to give our kids a more stable parking lot environment...

And please oh PLEASE do not actually SLEEP in your RV in the parking lot, in the rest area, in the open air lot that you PAY to park in, by the public park. Only heathens do that. Only homeless people. Only those strange, gypsy swindlers who will take over your precious piece of asphalt and use it for their own sinister devices. And yes, sadly, even the Temple (which is gated at night so you can’t possible park overnight anyway), would prefer you to park in the street, because each patron is only allowed one spot, thankyouverymuch. (Okay, so the temple president apologized to me for the lot security chasing me down INTO the temple to tell me that, but I’m just tryin’ to make a point about our culture, yo.)

So isn’t it funny or ironic or fitting or whatever you want to call it that the ONE place across America I can count on my RV being accepted is in a Walmart parking lot? The place the civilized people make fun of and complain about and trash for letting in all the riff raff?

Our privileged First World Minds have been conditioned. Led to believe that the people who choose to live outside of commonly accepted social practices are of a baser sort. And by getting this, I’m finally starting to grasp this idea of privilege. It’s the privilege enjoyed by the majority. The race majority. The people who live in homes majority. The middle class majority. The educated majority. The religious majority. The problem seems to be that the majority just doesn’t realize that they are the majority and how their actions as the majority translate to the minority, infecting the way they behave in instinctual and often unpreconceived and unrecognized ways. The people who can’t believe I would have the nerve to park my RV in their lot are simply conditioned to believe that people who live in RVs are more likely to be up to no good, freeloaders, drifters, what have you. It’s probably a perfectly legitimate concern. But it’s wrong. And it’s wrong to pass that kind of blanket judgment. And it’s not that you have a vendetta against people in RVs. You’re just trying to protect yourself. It’s not that the woman who passes to the other side of the street when approaching two black men hates black people. It’s that she’s made an assessment about the most likely scenario based on how she has been educated.

I’m not black. I'm not wearing a burka. I'm not holding hands with my lesbian girlfriend in church. I will never know exactly what it's like to be any of those things. But I'm getting a pretty good glimpse. I am in a very small minority. Every day I spend time I don’t even realize trying to fit my RV life into a society that lives so differently. How I drive, how I think, where I park… If I step out of my RV in someone’s eyeshot, they’re looking at me. I’m subject to the scoffs and hushed conversations of people who can’t understand why I would choose to live like this, why I'm not where the rest of my kind are--at Walmart. They just don’t know me of course. So are they allowed to be concerned about my presence in their lot? Sure. The root of the problem lies in failing to acknowledge how society caters to their more accepted lifestyle. They are privileged because they are the MAJORITY. They have a duty to recognize this. To remember this. And when people finally do, THAT is when perceptions and knee-jerk reactions will change.

I’m one of the people of Walmart. And that's okay with me. Is it okay with you?

Monday, March 16, 2015

I am not chasing my dreams.

Brad informed me the other day that he believes a large number of people we know do NOT know that we live in an RV with our 4 kids, travelling the country to promote my books, and that we plan to do it for the next 2 years. I think I had just assumed that word would get around via facebook and other forms of interaction and eventually everyone would know without me having to tell people individually.
There she is! A 30 foot class A motorhome we call home, named RVEnterprise, but lovingly referred to as "Bessie."
Our paid-off car. Our only one, and we sold it in order to afford the RV.

Brad may be right though. So let me be the first to tell you. In December of 2014, we rented out our home in North Dakota, sold our furniture to pay for 42 conventions, and bought an RV.



The night we bought Bessie. It was that moment that Brad and I realized how deep in it we were. Totally surreal.


We are currently over 3 months into this thing and I have now noticed another trend: people believe I have done all these things to chase my dream to become a famous author.

This is incorrect.


If this were what I was doing, I would have already quit. Actually, I never would have left North Dakota. I cannot speak for Brad because travelling in an RV and talking to people around the country is… well, his dream, (that, and being president of the United States, but I digress). Me though? No, my dream is to lock myself in a quiet room with a carton of cold coconut water and some toffee and almond chocolate while listening to my favorite Pandora station and banging out a story that helps me understand the world. My dream is to wake up to the North Dakota landscape after a heavy frost and feel my heart catch in poignant wonder at the outlines of crystalline-coated fields and trees against a cobalt sky. My dream is to walk outside to an endless expanse of North Dakota nothing and revel in the freedom brought by just standing there and seeing myself as a tiny dot against the endless backdrop of the prairie.
Be still, my beating heart. I love North Dakota, like so, SO much.

My dream is silence in the wee hours of the morning, looking into the darkness outside my window and imagining with a thrill that the only other people within a five hundred mile radius are people like me, those who know that creation speaks its secrets the loudest when everything is quiet, when the space we occupy gets a break from the churning force of humanity. My dream is the ease of insignificance, the music of my own head never to be drowned out by the cacophony of the world.


Hey look, I love talking to hundreds of people while wearing spandex.  It's me in my element. NOT!

Heaven happened here on a regular basis.



In case you were wondering, none of these things happens when you live the life I’m currently living. Furthermore, if the Colorworld Book Tour (#CWBT) results in the infamy of my novels, the aftermath will involve a lot of stuff that my dreams are NOT made of: more people, more talking, more crowds, more travelling, more deadlines, more demands, more hard decisions (of a different kind), and LESS of the aloneness I crave. There is nothing, I mean NOTHING that compares to the thrill I get from being alone. (Except maybe my Sunday night massages) But I swear I can just sit in a quiet, empty room in a comfy chair and smile at how big I scored and how lucky I am to be sitting there all by myself. Throw my laptop into that mix with a word processor and I really don’t know why anyone cares about heaven. It’s right there with me.

Now that you know who I am, why on earth would I put myself through these continually challenging  circumstances that include all of the things I find the most difficult?

The answer is simple.

My Heavenly Father has been abundantly clear and explicit that this is what I am supposed to be doing. And see, I owe Him for giving me writing. He gave me writing at a time when I was the most unhappy with who I was. He rescued me and made me love life and people again. The moment I wrote the very first paragraph of Colorworld, I was forever changed. It’s exactly like that very first conversation I had with Brad in which I knew I needed him in my life forever. I knew I needed writing in that same way. These are the two moments that have been the most transformative in the shortest amount of time. The stories surrounding both of those circumstances (meeting/marrying Brad and sitting down to write the first paragraph of a story) are rife with miracles that still humble me to tears when I think of them even though so much time has passed.

My driver. My biggest fan. My tireless promoter. My social media expert. My kid-wrangler. My problem-solver. My mechanic. My logistics. My inspiration. My marketer. My salesman. My husband. My lover. My masseuse. My best friend. MY GUY.
I don’t know what the end of this tour looks like. But not a day goes by that I have not felt the whisper of God’s encouragement. I ask, “Is this really what You want?” and I always get the same answer. And believe me, I have asked repeatedly because I am so tired I could cry. Really. If I sat here long enough and pinpointed how little I have slept and how much I still need to do, I would just cry. Another thing I ask is, “How long?” I’ve asked that one so often that it’s become a repeating mantra in my head.

I haven’t gotten the answer to that one yet. But it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I am moving by a power that is not my own. I am moving by a WILL that’s not my own. Sometimes when I meet some quietude at night after the kids are sleeping, I ask myself what I, Rachel E Kelly, want. If I had a choice, what would I want out of my life now?
At the base of the St. Louis arch a couple months ago, early in our tour. Brad had dragged us down there about a mile through the bitter cold (no close parking due to construction and being in an RV), just to take this picture. As he took the photo I felt a mixture of irritation and acceptance because I hadn't wanted to go there in the first place, but I love Brad, so I went, even giving up my coat to Beya because the kids were underdressed for the long walk. I just think my expression encompasses my feelings about this whole #CWBT so well.

And I'm boggled that I seriously don’t know. I am no longer operating on “what Rachel wants.” I don’t even know how to do that anymore (except when Brad asks me if I will work the emails that came in or post something on Twitter, then the answer is a definite NO, I do NOT want to do that.) But if we’re talking about long-term stuff, I have zero desires. I have only what I know, which is that I need to do this. It’s a senseless, illogical thing that I can’t think about for long without my head getting in a twist.

So there you go. I don’t know what I’m doing, except that what I’m doing is what I am supposed to be doing. I’m not chasing my dreams. I’m repaying someone for a gift that was priceless. And one day, when these moments are behind me, if I ever find that quiet room utterly by myself, with coconut water, chocolate, and a laptop, I’ll tell you more about what it’s like to stop clocking in and out of “life,” and what it’s like to stop chasing YOUR dreams and instead chase the dreams of Someone Else whom you love more than anyone or anything else.

This picture is a powerful reminder to me of why I am doing this. I was broken down on the side of the road with our first RV last October (another long story), and still hadn't gone "all in" yet. There was still the option to turn back, but ironically, it was during the hours I spent at this mile marker waiting for a tow, unsure of the outcome, that I understood the moment had been orchestrated to be this way for a purpose, that I should not look to circumstances to tell me whether or not I was in the right or wrong path. So I knew I was in for it in this endeavor. But I also knew I should cling to the ship and not be afraid. I have been frustrated, angry, tired, confused, but I am NOT afraid.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hard.

I consider myself an extremely resilient person. I’m not easily excitable and I’m not easily deterred, especially when I know I’m on the right track. I’m self-motivated, and I believe that I can accomplish anything with my own two hands if I want it bad enough.

I’m good at telling you about my struggles after I have come to terms with them.

I am NOT good at telling you my struggles as they are happening. Probably because I believe every good story needs closure. It needs an ending. I like to start writing and then wrap everything up in a nice neat bow using moving words and fancy metaphors. I like things to make sense. And nobody likes a whiner. I don’t want to be a whiner. In fact, in our home (RV), we have “The Three Things” which are:
Life is not fair.
Life is about waiting.
Life is hard.

Whenever one of our kids lodge a complaint about our or their situation, we invariably require them to recite the three things. They all know them by heart.

I’m going to break my rule of no complaining this time and tell you something that is really really hard for me right now. We have suffered deprivations and circumstances many people can’t properly appreciate unless they’ve been where we are. One day I’ll sit down and write the whole story out, telling you about each and every one. I’ve muscled through a lot of things that people consider uncivilized, dangerous, deal-breakers, or just plain annoying. And I’m happy to continue to do so. But there is still one thing, and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t “get used to it”:

I want to be self-sufficient, and I’m not.

As the months and weeks have worn on, I have been humbled over and over again by the huge outpouring of love and support people have offered. Money in my pocket. Food in my pantry. I’m not talking about “I’m thinking of you” gestures. I’m talking about the stuff that sustains life. I cannot afford to feed myself. I cannot afford to wash my laundry. Sometimes, like now, I can’t even afford gas. I cannot afford to stay in a hotel, even when it is below zero outside at night. I starve myself so that my kids can eat. I take Keshet to bed with me on really cold nights even though I sleep terribly. And having kids in a 30 foot RV takes a special kind of endurance. My sanity and patience is tried by the minute.

And I’m okay with all of this deprivation. I know how to do it and do it well. I can even do it while smiling and being genuinely happy to continue. This life of travel really does suit me. Until even all those sacrifices are not enough. And then I NEED people again. And I’ve been doing it for many many months. At first it was bothersome, but I got through it with a cheerful heart, telling myself that needing help would only be temporary. I was determined to stay humble. And I have learned a lot, and my faith is stronger than it has ever been. People continue to surprise me with their generosity and support. People say all the time that they’ve lost hope in humanity. Not me. I believe in it more every day.

God bless all of you who have been God’s tender mercies in my life. We are always provided for. Always. When crap happens over and over, I face it with peace in my heart, knowing that it’s going to work out, even if I can’t see hide or hair of a solution. Over and over my faith has proven itself up to the task. And God sends me messages daily that I’m on the right track. But this track is taking a hell of a lot more pushing from behind than any regular person ought to need.

It’s been months and months and months of needing other people to pick up the slack. I’m sick in my heart over it. It’s one thing to accept help when you see light on the horizon. Knowing your circumstances are temporary allows you to take the help without too much angst. But sometimes you don’t know anything about the future. Sometimes the necessity for other people’s charity wears out its welcome. It goes on far past comfort. When you wake up in the morning and realize your bank account is overdrawn because of a tithing check, for goodness sake, leaving you no money for gas to get to your next destination, it becomes necessary to ask for help.

And I’m angry.

I’m all harrowed up inside. I’m tired of this thing where I need people. Of all the things I’ve endured, am I not humble enough already? When can I stop feeling mad for needing help AGAIN? And what if I don’t feel disgruntled over it? If it finally becomes easy, does that make me an official “mooch”?

When Brad prays, he asks for people to “feel for our story” and help us.

To me the words sound like chalk-board scratching, and they taste like vinegar. And I just beg God to help me get through the trial of being dependent. Because if I am STILL being forced to accept help, if the cycle is repeating, what lesson am I not learning?

No closure here. Just me. Telling you the thing that hangs over my head daily more than anything else. I don't know. But I needed to tell you. I think, after all you have done, you deserve to know it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

People of Williston: Audrey

*Brad didn't pick this one. I asked him to give me a person but he never got back to me, so I made a random selection, and Audrey was the winner!

We were at church not long after we had moved back to Williston from Culbertson, and we got there late, which meant we sat aaaaaaaall the way in the back, in the gym, because our ward was (and still is) so huge. Audrey and her then-husband Christian sat behind us with their little girl Kali. Beya had been asking all morning before arriving if we could have someone over for dinner that night (Beya loves dinner guests). We told her she could pick someone to invite, so as soon as sacrament meeting was over, she asked Audrey and Christian, despite the fact that we didn’t yet know their names. It was the first time we had ever seen them as well. I was wearing pants to church that day, and I only remember this because Audrey told me later that this was one of the first things she noticed and she automatically wanted to know me. I think this fact sort of symbolizes what it is that draws me to her—our shared desire to see the Gospel work in any kind of person in any kind of life.

I don’t remember a whole lot about that dinner except that Audrey seemed a little uncomfortable, and Christian asked if my book was a chick book. Funny what you remember about first meetings.

Audrey and I didn’t see each other a whole lot after that because I was in primary, and it was months later when I saw her sitting in Sacrament meeting, and she happened to have some open seats next to her. I learned she’d been going through quite a rough time. She and Christian were separated, and while “divorced single mother” does not encompass who Audrey is, it was that moment, seeing her in church with little Kali on her lap, determined to be there no matter what stigma may follow, that my “amazing person radar” went off I told myself I was going to make more of an effort to know her.

That particular time in my life was pretty hard for me. I was only at church because I didn’t yet have a good enough reason not to be. So I guess you could say I was always looking for reasons to keep staying. Audrey was one of those reasons. I think we all have those people, right? The ones that we say, “If they can do it, so can I.” And then you keep your eye on them, because you need their example.

That’s how I learned that Audrey is not often idle. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say “I don’t have time…” and I have thought to myself, “You don’t know what that really means.” But I think Audrey does. I am continually impressed with what she manages to get done as a working single mother. She teaches 5th grade AND manages the school district’s website, and some other technical thingies that I don’t know a whole lot about. She works away from home. She works AT home. She works a LOT. And she is also super crafty and has an amazing eye for interior design.

In all the time I was in Williston, “Lunch with Audrey” was always on my to-do list, and I am sad to say I never got to. (It’s STILL on my to-do list though!) But I did get to talk to her for more than a couple minutes from time to time, and I was able to glean a lot about her during those times. Audrey is a smiley person. That’s just the way her face naturally falls, it seems. And she laughs a lot. She laughs no matter what she’s feeling, but if you know her well enough, you can tell the difference, and you know what each laugh means. Some people wear their emotions on their face. Audrey wears them in her laugh. I don’t know if she would hide her emotions if she could, but I’m glad she doesn’t.

The longer I have known Audrey, the more I have WANTED to know her. She doesn’t fit a mold, and you know how you can meet a person and think, “This person reminds me of such and such a friend”? Well I can’t think of anyone Audrey reminds me of. I love her uniqueness. And I love the things that come out of her mouth when it comes to the Gospel. They are the words of someone who has put a great deal of thought into how the Gospel fits into her life. She actively engages herself at church. Having spent many months disenfranchised with Sunday meetings, it was people like Audrey that helped rekindle my love for it. Audrey came to help me fold the Clark’s laundry while they were with Chase in the hospital even though I know Audrey is one of the few people that can honestly say, “I don’t have time.” Sometimes small acts speak even more than big ones. When you know what someone sacrifices in order to serve, it makes it that much more meaningful.

I don’t have extended family that are members of my church. This means that I cannot lean on them for my testimony, for my conversion. I can’t “do as they do” because we don’t rely on the same principles. This means that I have to pick and choose who will fill that place for me, who will be that example. It wasn’t something I consciously did after I was baptized, but it happened. Sometimes I “pick” them because they have obvious struggles or because they are so drastically different from me and it intrigues me. Sometimes I “pick” them because we have similar ideologies. These people are those whose opinions and whose actions I care about the most because they strengthen me the most. Audrey is all of these things. I find her inspiring in every way. She just… TRIES. And it’s evident in all that she does. Her life, like mine, is this beautiful mess. I consider it the best kind of life, the most inspiring kind. She might struggle to stay on top of things, and her head may barely be above water, but it's far better than wading. I know from experience the kind of faith that takes, and the kind of growth that engenders. She's an active participant in her own life. It’s kind of addicting to watch her push onward no matter what. You just want to keep cheering for people like her. And you want to BE someone like her.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

People of Williston: Kay

I like Kay because I can’t tell what age she is. Sure, she has a sprinkling of grey hair, has a few wrinkles, and wears glasses, but when you speak to her for any extended period of time, you’re left with the impression that she is neither old nor young. She can giggle with the girls or shake her head with the old biddies. He stories are twenty years old, but her childlike exuberance has stayed with her through the years. Kay is friends with everyone. Or maybe it just seems that way because she seems to fit in with any group. But she gives great hugs that are full of honest affection. I like hugging Kay, and you know I’m not a hugger.

Kay works in the library at church, and before I knew her beyond her calling, she gave me chalk and made copies for my primary class. But Kay and I really began to know each other through my books, which she asked me if she could purchase while giving me chalk in the library one day. She asked like she and I were already friends and I was embarrassed to say that I wasn’t confident enough to address her by her name because I wasn’t 100% sure it was Kay at that time. It took some investigation to verify it,  but looking back, Kay knowing who I was and taking an interest in me and my life’s work when she barely knew me is her MO. She knows how to make friends because she is genuinely interested in people. That sounds like a simple thing, but if you think about it, most people aren’t good at doing  that so organically (including me).

This is my favorite picture of her. She used to have really long hair that she wore in a ponytail or braid down her back. She recently got it cut and I am now more confused than ever about her age. :-)


Some other interesting things I know about Kay:

Kay keeps chickens. Her interest in chickens goes beyond simply egg production, and she reminds me of my sister in that way, because she really enjoys having them.

Kay works as a home care nurse for a family in our ward (church congregation) with a daughter who is in a partial coma (another amazing story for another post!).

Kay works the nightshift. My kind of gal. She’s knows the nighttime is where it’s at.
Kay is a voracious reader. Of all kinds of things.

Kay is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as of only a couple years ago, I believe. And yes, I am biased toward converts. Go figure. :-)


Monday, December 15, 2014

People of Williston: Shaleena

Williston, North Dakota, is home. I wasn’t born there. My childhood was not spent there. But I dug the roots of my heart deep into the North Dakota prairie sod in November of 2011. The good earth of that place gave nourishment and my heart grew through so many sizes that I’ve lost count. 

On December 8th, 2014, I left home in my Durango with my husband, 4 kids, and pulling a 4x8 foot Uhaul trailer. The last time I left a place with so few possessions, I was on my way to college. This time, however, I’ve replaced the items I used to cart from place to place with things far more useful, like iron will, untiring hands, courage that defies my understanding, unwavering drive, and faith—the kind that may just let me walk on water pretty soon. :-)

I also carry people with me.

My heart is so chock-full of them that they’re leaking out of my eyes. When something fills me up so much, there is only one thing to do: get that thing on paper.
So I'm going to start a "People of Williston" blog series.  I’m going to get every single one of them on a piece of virtual paper all tidy-like. Watch out though. These people are so incredible that by reading this, your own heart might get too full. And then what will you do?

Move to North Dakota probably. :-)

Because there are so many people in my North Dakota family, and because I can’t possibly decide which one to do first, I’m going to let Brad decide. He picks the name. I write.




For my very first post, Brad has picked a gal we know named Shaleena.

My first “real” conversation with Shaleena was at this year’s Chokecherry festival. We’d been facebook friends for a while, and she saw me post a picture of my office fridge, which is full of energy drinks.

Anyway, Shaleena messaged me after seeing that picture and asked me if I’d be interested in trying an energy drink that she sells. I said sure, because I’m willing to try just about any energy drink.  So at the Chokecherry festival a day or two later, we talked about this drink she sells, and she was pushing her son and new baby girl in a stroller. Her son N was looking lively that day. Of course, N always looks lively to me. N is disabled, and I’m not sure how exactly, but I think he was born prematurely, resulting in being  wheelchair-bound and unable to talk (that I’m aware of). But he’s full of personality. When I taught primary, his class was two rows in front of me during sharing time. He can use his arms quite well, and I’d often watch him slowly inch forward during singing or sharing time. He’d scoot forward little by little and then his teacher would pull him back. I’m certain N just wanted to be the center of attention at the front of the room like most other 3-4 year-old boys.

I don’t like think about people in terms of their hardships, but the great thing about a story like Shaleena's is knowing some of a person’s struggles without them having to tell you. Shaleena has a weary but determined look about her--which I can relate to. The last 6 months of my life have felt that way. She reminds me of this gal I knew in Claremont, CA who had twin girls who were colicky non-sleepers as babies. I asked her honestly how she'd done it. She said, "You don't have a choice. You just do it." I've carried that piece of advice with me through 4 children. Shaleena has that "Just do it" attitude about her and when she speaks. And though we aren't close, I know this about her. And I draw strength from merely seeing her push her son around. She recently gave birth to a baby girl as well, and I know she's pretty athletic (which I can NOT relate to). Anyway, I think to myself, "Dang, she just does life like she owns it."

Shaleena isn’t an outspoken person and her voice is quiet. But I can tell you that beneath her meek exterior is a woman prepared for life's battles. You can see evidence of it in what she accomplishes.
These are the kinds of people you find in Williston, ND.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Investing in My Love Story

You know you like a good love story. You know you love seeing those cute little stories on facebook about such and such couple who have been married for 70 years or something and they're dolling out their marriage advice. And they're just SO. DANG. CUTE! Right?!?

About 3 months ago, my husband lost his job. Rather than wallow or take advantage of the down time, my husband threw himself (I mean FULL BODY LAUNCH) into promoting my dream--to be a professional writer. He has worked NONSTOP at marketing, building my twitter and facebook following, setting up a tour schedule, sacrificed and risked our resources to promotional materials and inventory. He did it without a thought but one:

"I believe in what my wife is doing and I want to help her."

I have something to tell you.

I have written 6 of the 7 books in the Colorworld Series, and the only reason ANY of them have made it to your hands is because my husband believed in me SO much, he would not let me hide my talents, or cower in fear of what people would think about my words. We fought and argued. Countless times I defended that "I wasn't good enough yet." "I don't do this for other people. I do this for myself." And while it's true, I am not a perfect writer, and my greatest joy has been what I have discovered about myself and the world through writing, we are not meant to hide beauty. Many times I resented him for pushing me. And if he had let that back him down, again, you would not have access to this series

Our journey, as a couple, has not been easy. Like, ever. Even now we are beset with the threat of financial ruin.

But I have never, EVER been happier. Because I finally see myself the way my husband has ALWAYS seen me. Do you know what that kind of love can do? It makes you fearless. It makes you write your guts out, open your heart up, and spill the blood on paper. And then it makes you show it to your friends and the cold harsh world. It makes you not care what ANYONE says. That one person thinks you are the most incredible person in the world and SHOWS it in everything they do. If you hear that message from them all the time, for 12 years, how can you NOT put your every effort into BEING that person?


This series was born out of my personal love story. It is not just MY child, it is Brad's, too, because HE is the one that is making sure it sees the light of day.  And he is working SO hard to promote it. And not just IT. He is promoting ME. He is shouting MY name from the rooftops. That's love, ya'll. That is friggin' real-life L.O.V.E.

I don't want to see his efforts go unrewarded. I want him to experience the validation that I have. Because I have always believed in HIM. His ability to love fearlessly, to cast caution and self-consciousness aside, to spare not a thought for himself, to put zeal into every action, and to sell like a BOSS are astounding and enviable and ought to be rewarded.

Will you help me show him that?

Below is a link to my KickStarter project. Brad's baby. ANY pledge counts and helps. And EVERY reward level gets you something. Think of KickStarter as preordering something you already will buy in the future. It's getting the funds for production up front. And we NEED this in order to keep our pace and to continue to promote Colorworld by every means available.
Thank you for investing in MY love story!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1197738127/colorworld-the-rogue-story-reimagined