Life, Experiences, and Everything Else

Feb. 9, 2019

 

 

A letter to someone I miss beyond words, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his passing.

 

 

 

 

Dearest Marcus Lee Micah,

Today marks twenty-five years since you were taken from me.  Twenty-five years since I looked into your hazel eyes.  Twenty-five years since you were in my arms.  A quarter of a century of grief and sorrow.  A quarter of a century of wishes.  A quarter of a century of pain.  I miss you.

I wonder what you would be like now.  Would you be a doctor now, helping me research everything my doctors tell me?  Would you be a star in the NFL, flying me to all your away games?  Would you be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company with a family of your own?  Would you be a hip-hop star with numerous platinum hits?  Would you be a famous author with numerous national and international accolades and awards?  Or would you be a stay-at-home father?  Or would you be a local hero like policeman or fire fighter?  Or would you be something equally amazing like a teacher?  I wonder these things all the time.  I still grieve your loss and always will.  However, I’m no longer crippled by it.  The reason for that is thanks to one of the books that I read, the one that’s dedicated to me.

Intimate Intuition helped me heal quite a bit.  It helped me realize that I’ve held you back from moving on, held myself back from moving on.  Thinking of you doesn’t send me into the dark void of depression for days anymore.  I can think of the joy of you and not break.  I can celebrate the beauty of my time with you and not crack.  Yet, I can still take the moments I need to grieve your loss.  This is all thanks to one book, written by my ultimate favorite author, Audrey Carlan.  It’s so momentous that I had it tattooed along with the mala prayer beads she gifted me.  Can you feel the weight that has lift off my heart and soul?  I can, especially today.

Today, I’ll take the time to cry and mourn.  Any day I need to, I’ll do the same, because I’ll always miss you and I’ll always love you.  I hope you’re proud of me and the growth I’ve made.  I hope you’re proud of the woman I’ve become. 

I’ll see you in my dreams where I can hold you again.

 

Hu guaiya hao,

Me,

Aug. 18, 2018

Beta reading.  While there are so many of us who do it, there are many more who don’t even know that it exists.  I am blessed enough to beta read for some fabulous authors.

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with someone else as well as being asked to read the third book in my friend’s series while working on others.

A few weeks ago, a “friend” on Facebook contacted me, telling me she wanted to give me the chance to safely vent about not being in the acknowledgements in a book that I beta read for an author friend.  Let’s just say that I was livid about this conversation, and it wasn’t because my name wasn’t mentioned in that book’s acknowledgements.  This “friend” felt that there are a lot of authors who do not value or appreciate their beta readers because they do not publicly thank them in any way.  She told me that she beta read for an author and all she got was a “thank you” via email.  This “friend” was not satisfied and feels that she deserves more.  Here are my personal thoughts and opinions:

©       Let’s get one thing straight: beta reading is not simply getting to read an author’s work before it’s released to the public.  There is a lot of work involved, depending on what the individual author needs and the beta reader’s life. 

 ∞      It is not a game or joke.  It’s serious work, but for many of us, it’s full of utter joy.  Do not ask or agree to do this if you are not up to or capable of doing the work.

 ∞      Being honest and respectful in feedback is imperative.  Our authors deserve nothing less.

 ∞      I put my heart and soul into providing what my authors need from me in addition what they ask me to do.  There can’t be any lackluster or half-assed attempts.  Our authors deserve the best we can give them.

 ∞      If you do not have the time or are not able to beta read a manuscript, be honest.  Give your author the chance to find someone who can.

©       Being asked to beta read a manuscript from an author is an HONOR.  These authors are taking a chance and trusting us with their work, their hearts, souls, blood, sweat, tears, hopes, and joys.

©       All the authors I know are immensely grateful for the work we do for them.  They show us in many different ways and they may not be made public. 

 ∞      If they email you or message you and say, “thank you,” that should be enough if there are no other set parameters for compensation.

 ∞      I have personal friendships with several of the authors I beta read for.  Their love and friendship are MY “compensation” and I have no need for them to acknowledge what I do for them publicly.

©       When being asked to beta read, ensure that there are no misunderstandings about what you’re being asked to do and if there is any kind of compensation for your time and work.  I say this because there are authors who pay beta readers in one way or another.

©       Releasing a book into the world is nerve-wracking and terrifying, and yet, is full of joy.  Authors stress out.  Do not add to an author’s shoulders by being ungrateful for being asked to be a part of their work.

©       Expecting public acknowledgement is foolish and disrespectful to the relationship between an author and beta reader.

©       As for being named in the acknowledgements of a book, please remember that it’s controlled by the publisher.  The author may have no say in what can go in it.  Don’t assume anything bad if you don’t see your name.

©       Be grateful that you were allowed to be part of something wonderful.

 

One more thing, love on your authors.  And I don’t mean that in a dirty way (I know how some of you think LOL).  Show them YOUR appreciation for being asked to work with them.  They deserve that, too.

 

To MY authors, you are incomparable, amazing, enchanting, rockin, wonderful, and all the good things!  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be a part of your life and work.  I am honored and blessed.

 

Until laters, beautifuls…be safe and be kind to one another.

Mar. 13, 2018

“Trust the journey.”  This is not simply a phrase in a book, or even “just” the mantra in a serial written by New York Times Best-Selling Author, Audrey Carlan.  It’s a valuable lesson, a way of life.  It’s an inspiration for those in need of it.  I, Ceej Chargualaf, needed it.  This serial led me to an amazing friendship with the incomparable author, herself.  From there, I found irreplaceable and priceless friends.  One of which, is my soul sister who was holding a piece of my heart that I had no idea I was missing. 

Tracey Wilson-Vuolo is an amazingly strong and loving woman who loves me.  She also runs this blog with me.  Like me she is an alpha-, beta-, ARC-, and pre-reader.  Luckily for us, we are the pre-reader/beta team for Audrey Carlan.  And Tracey is my best friend and sister.

What’s the point of this post?  To share how “trust the journey” changed my life for the better.

You see, I had extremely low self-esteem.  I didn’t know my own value.  I doubted my purpose in life.  Until I met Audrey, and through her, Tracey.  They’ve shown me a world of possibilities.  They’ve shown me what life is like with the kind of love that only your tribe can give you.  They showed me the beauty of our tribe. 

This past weekend was one of the most amazing of my life.  Weeks ago, Tracey’s husband, my brother-in-law, asked me if I would be willing to fly to Florida to surprise Tracey for her birthday.  He bought my ticket and sent it to me.  He paid for me to fly to Florida!  Amazing, right?  He actually told me, “I owe you big for being so willing to come here and spend time with us.  I know you’ve been sick and you’re putting it aside for us.”  Nick is such a humble and generous man.  And a stubborn one.  LOL!  Though he heard and listened to me when I said, “no, you have it all wrong.  I owe YOU.  You made it possible for me to come here to help celebrate my soul sister’s landmark birthday.  You treat me like family.  I owe YOU huge.”  And yes, in his quiet way, he still argued.  He is my bro, of course.

I won’t make this post any longer than it must be, so I’ll summarize as much as I can. 

Nick flew me in and I arrived in Orlando early Saturday morning.  This was the day of her birthday party.  I got in around 5am and he was awake and had a room ready for me.  He showed me around the house and made sure I knew that I could do and have whatever I needed or wanted.  This is huge to me.  He could have treated me like a guest.  Instead, he treated me like family.  Because to him, I am. 

We surprised Tracey by hiding me, my huge --- self, in a massive gift bag.  Her squeal was hilarious and touching!  Luckily, we got it all recorded.  Later, we had the party where I got to meet Tracey’s mom, her Aunt Sheila, her little brother Jay and his family, including his wife Mel.  I also got to meet other members of her family and their friends and laughed a lot!  The next day, we went to Disney World!  I hadn’t been to Disney since I was a little kid and it was thanks to Mel’s generosity that I was able to go. 

Disney was wonderful!  I had such a fabulous time even though I couldn’t go on any rides except the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  We went to see the princesses, Tinkerbell, AND Mickey Mouse!  We even watched the fireworks and the Once Upon A Time show on the castle!  Naturally, I got mouse ears to wear and I didn’t care if anyone thought I was too old for it.  The little girl inside me was having the time of her life!  And this was all thanks to Nick, Tracey, and Mel.

Suffice it to say that I had a weekend full of unforgettable memories with my soul sister and brother-in-law.  Because I learned to “trust the journey,” I have a soul sister and brother-in-law who mean the world to me.  Because I learned to “trust the journey,” I have memories full of love, joy, fun, and happiness.

Maybe it’s your turn to “trust the journey.”  Think about it.

Until laters beautifuls…be safe and be kind to one another.

Jan. 30, 2018

Pain.  We all experience it for one reason or another, right?  How many of us live with that glaring reminder every single minute of the day?  Now how many of us have times where the pain almost becomes unbearable and there’s nothing we can do to stop or prevent it?  If you mentally raised your hand to the last two questions, I’m so sorry.  I literally feel your pain.  My next few questions may make you think. 

Do you have a support system in place?  Do you have anyone in your life that truly understands?  I sincerely hope you do.  While they cannot take the pain away, it does make it easier to endure when you have someone on your side, cheering you on. 

On the other side of the spectrum, is there anyone in your life that makes snap judgements because they don’t know what you’re going through?  Has anyone given you half-assed advice because they have no idea what’s really happening?  Have they accused you of anything as it pertains to your pain or how you deal with it?  Now my advice may offend or shock people, maybe it won’t, but…FUCK ‘EM.  DO NOT listen to people who have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.  DO NOT listen to people who are not or have not gone through what you are.  They can have all the education in the world, but until they experience it, they have no goddamned idea.

I guess you can tell that I have a few of those people in my life.  In my low moments, I think about conforming just so people can get off my back.  But fuck that.  They don’t know what I’m going through.  They don’t know that I’m trying to live my life instead of end it even though I often think about it.  They don’t know that I fight every minute to get to the next and hold onto the hope that the pain will ease so I can move.  They don’t know that I put myself through hell because I have responsibilities.  BUT I know. 

So, I’m going to forget their unsolicited and unqualified opinions.  If you’re fighting the same or a similar fight (God, I’m so sorry) and you have people who do this to you, I ask that you think about doing the same as I am.  Do what’s right for you, nevermind what everyone else thinks.  Live your life for you.

For those that like to give unqualified advice but do so with a good heart, please remember that the person who is suffering in your life needs your support, not your advice.  Be the shoulder they need.  Be the ear they can vent to.  Give them love and kindness.  Be the one that cheers them on.  Be the one that makes them smile even when they want to sob.  Be the light in their darkness.

 

Until laters beautifuls…be safe and be kind to one another.

Jan. 8, 2018

Stubbornness isn’t always a bad thing.  Sometimes it can be a good thing.  It depends on the circumstance, but for me, in this instance, it’s bad.  I had ignored the warning signs and stubbornly insisted that I was okay even after good friends advised me to take action.  You see, if I hadn’t eventually given in, it could have cost me my life.

In the last week of December, I had noticed an issue with my calves.  I wasn’t surprised as I have had bad luck with health.  They were swelling, red, painful, and warm to the touch.  In all my experience in the healthcare field professionally and personally, I knew what that meant.  On the 30th, I let my sister and sister-in-law take me to the ER.  There, the ER doctor simply conducted tests and concluded that it was simple edema and prescribed compression and elevation.  That’s it.

I saw my primary the following Wednesday and was prescribed medication.  By that Friday, it had worsened, and my friends pressed for me to go to the ER again.  Though I felt the first ER doc was wrong and didn’t do much but get me out of there, I acquiesced and went back. 

It’s a good thing that I have friends who cared enough to insist that I get it checked.  By that evening, I was admitted.  It was determined that there was an infection that had become systemic.  For someone like me, with a weakened immune system, that would have been life-threatening, if I didn’t get the needed medication right away.

The point to this post is that while stubbornness, in the right context, can be a good thing, but you have to be careful.  My stubbornness could have cost me my life.  Luckily, or blessedly, I have five angels who cared enough to keep at me until I gave in and went to the ER.  If it has to do with your health, take it from someone who has learned her lesson.  Silence that stubborn voice and listen to those who care for you because it just may save your life.

 

Until laters beautifuls…be safe and be kind to one another.