Manual Transmission

I was driving my car the other day and had yet another revelation. I know, I have ’em all the time. But listen, I was driving and became aware of how far I’ve come with driving a car with a manual transmission.

When I first learned how to drive stick, I was of course nervous and uncomfortable. There were so many things I had to do. I really had to pay attention. How in the hell was I going to drive this thing AND pay attention the road?! My first time out, I freaked and got too nervous. I just didn’t trust myself enough, so I bought an automatic.

Then years later, I had no choice but to drive a stick because it was the only car available for me to drive.

I wasn’t used to all the coordination skill that it took. But I got in and drove.

At first, I had to constantly watch the RPM’s so that I would know when to shift and when to put the clutch in. I was a mess. I have no idea how I made it through, but I did. At certain points, I almost surrendered to public transportation. But I didn’t.

After a while, I was able to watch the road a bit more and the RPM gauge a bit less because I could now ‘hear’ when the car needed to be switched into a different gear and when I needed to downshift. It made it hard to have the music up though. I started to feel like my mother. I needed the radio down to drive the car. Hmmm. If she didn’t know where she was going, she would turn the raido down and tell me to be quiet. I never understood that.

Anyway, I noticed the other day after years of driving a stick, that I can have the radio turned up AND have my eyes in the road because now I don’t have to ‘look’ at the RPM’s and I don’t have to ‘listen’ to the RPM’s, I can now just ‘feel’ when I need to switch gears. Yes, I have become one with the car.

I just thought it was kind of funny when I noticed how far I had come and how much I had learned to trust myself when driving a manual transmission. That at first, it was scary and uncomfortable, but with time and practice, things slowly changed and I didn’t even know it. Not until, it occurred to me how at ease I am when I drive a stick shift.

I know, it may sound silly to some of you, but I could relate that experience to so many things in my life. Even in my relationships with people.

Upon meeting someone, we go by looks. Shut up! You know you do. Then after a while, we really start to listen to them as we get to know them and then we can just ‘feel’ them. 😉 Like when something’s off or out of sorts with them.

Okay, I’m going to stop while I’m ahead. This may not make any sense to some of you and for that I apologize, but ya know how I am with my revelations. I have to share them with you.

Until next time,
~Live Happy

Rip Van Winkle

What a Waste!

I’m not a sleeper. I don’t take naps, I go to bed late and wake up early. I’m too afraid I’m going to miss something.

When I’m stressed, I can’t sleep, when I’m angry, I can’t sleep and when I’m happy, I definitely can’t sleep.

I guess this is where we can also apply Road House.
“I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.” Oh how I love Sam Elliot. He’s such a sexy mother f—–.

I married a sleeper. He used to take naps after he got home from work, but not anymore. The poor guy is tired all the time.

How can you sleep? There’s so much to do, so much to see, so much to learn. Why sleep?

Okay, this is my short post. I’m off to school.

~Live Happy.


This is one of my favorite parts of character creation. As I write about a character and throw them into a situation, their quirks start to come out.

For example, I have a character who, whenever she gets nervous or bored, she breaks the split ends off her hair. One by one she sits there and grabs a strand of hair, slides her fingers to the bottom and cracks off the end.

Another one is a character who owns every color of Sharpie marker because when her shoes scuff, this is how she polishes them. She just runs her black marker over the scuff on the black shoe and wallah, the scuff is gone. She does the same when her clothes end up discolored as a result of bleach splashes.

Eating sunflower seeds to the point of knowing where the person has been because the sunflower shells are everywhere. She puts an entire hand full into her mouth and can individually split the shell with her teeth, separate the seed from the shell and spit just those two halves out. She moves the seed to one side of her mouth and starts on the next one, and does this until they are all shelled and enjoys a mouthful of seeds.

Always having to match your underwear to your shirt.

None of the food on the plate can touch.

Spending hours getting the pith off the orange.

Having to brush your teeth before you shower.

What are some crazy and unique quirks your characters have, or maybe even yourself or someone you know?

~Live Happy

Prologue: A-Z Challenge

This prologue has been posted before, but since we have an A-Z challenge going on and some new people might be stopping by, I figure I can fill the new people in on my WIP. It has also been edited since the last time it was posted.

This is a fictional work about a character named Shay, and I guess I should warn that the content is a bit rough.

What do I remember of being a teenager?

I remember parties and friends, sleeping in strange places, men with guns and women, dark alleys and projects, dirty, rat infested apartments, sex with men I barely knew, fighting, laughing, road trips, drug runs, smoking cigarettes, being high for days at a time, not going home, cops, drug dealers, car chases, being arrested, shooting galleries, ingesting a plethora of drugs that were foreign to me and over-dosing.

I would walk through dark alleys and jump into strangers’ cars, smiling and being secretly paranoid; paranoid that the cops weren’t far behind or possibly in the car. Who are these people? Do they have guns? Is this when I will be raped and murdered? Will they sell me to others for sex? These thoughts would cross my mind every time I met someone new, but I would be comforted by the sight of baggies, alcohol, mirrors, razor blades, pipes, cocaine and a multitude of pretty colored pills spread across the table.

I remember driving from gas station to gas station looking for the mini plastic roses in glass tubes or cigars encased in glass, not plastic. The items thrown onto the gas station counter were a bottle of rubbing alcohol, Chore and a glass encased rose. I had no idea what people saw when they looked at me; Five foot three, ninety pounds with blackened, blistered thumbs and fingertips, dried, cracked, blistered lips, dark circles outlining my eyes and skin so pale you would swear I was a ghost. I guess that’s what I was.

I was always the youngest one in the group and a lot of times the only female. I was very well taken care of, as much as you can be living this lifestyle. I was looked out for and protected. People gave me drugs. No one hit me or berated me, yet. No one made me feel like I was worthless, yet, and they didn’t judge me. Besides, in my mind I wasn’t that bad. It’s not like I was shooting dope or handing out blowjobs for a fix, and I wasn’t homeless, although that’s how I lived most of the time.

But I knew this was not the normal life of a teenager. I sometimes wondered what would become of me. Would I ever be a lawyer or an architect? Would I eventually change my mind about living this way? Was it possible for me to be a woman of respect and dignity? I would wonder these things while I was snorting lines of cocaine in an apartment that smelled of piss, cigarettes and sex, with torn mattresses on the floor, holes in the walls and crusty dishes strewn about the place. The only items in the fridge were alcohol, drugs and maybe an old crusty bottle of ketchup and some mayonnaise.

Sometimes I just wanted to erase everything and be someone else. I wanted to be the sweet, popular girl with the great stylish clothes and good grades. I wanted the teachers to like me. I wanted my family to like me. I wanted to be loved and understood, encouraged and supported. I wanted to be allowed to be on sports teams again, because I was a great athlete. But I was no longer welcome because for the first time, I was attending a school that excluded you if your conduct was off hand, regardless of grades, which were all right at the time. So I was left with no outlet and nothing to fill my free time. I could no longer hang out with the jocks because I wasn’t part of an athletic team. I wanted to be someone with a bright, successful future, but in spite of all this, I thought I was having the time of my life, with no clue that I was my own worst enemy, destroying my soul.

This is who I was. I didn’t know how to be someone else. I would sometimes wish that God would send and angel in disguise to save me. I would hear stories like that when I went to church with my grandpa, and I would wonder, where’s my angel? I must be important to God, right? He knows my heart, so I’ve been told. So where is He? I must be worth something to Him, but probably not. I wasn’t sure what I believed, but I wanted to believe in something. This can’t be all there is for me.

Unfotunately, my writing has been interrupted with school, but the first draft is close to finished.
My free time is filled with homework and studying, so it’s next to impossible to clear my mind enough to work on this at the moment.
Hopefully I’ll see you again, but until then,
~Live Happy

O is for Oops…A-Z Challenge

Holy Crap! I completely forgot about the A-Z challenge that I signed up for months ago. I got so busy with everything that I’m lucky I remember books in the morning for school.

I almost forgot about my daughter’s track meet the other day, this is how mushy my brain is right now. It’s filled with facts that I’m trying to retain long enough to pass exams and then hopefully some of them stick for when I actually have to go to work in the field.

Uugh. If I’ve pissed anyone off that has been busting their asses participating in this challenge, please accept my sincere apologies. I’m not a slacker, just overloaded.

Ok, onward…

Is it really April? Because when I woke up this morning, there was an inch of snow on the ground and it was 30 frickin’ degrees. If I didn’t have to go to class this morning I would have gone back to bed.

Speaking of crappy weather, I might as well fill you in on my new plans for an adventurous future. My husband and I were talking one day about moving somewhere warmer. I’ve been wanting to get out of the Arctic Tundra for years now, but my husband seems to be coming around quickly these days.

We’ve been looking at sailboats and we’ve decided that we’re going to buy one and live on it in the Gulf once I graduate. I figure I could work somewhere in Florida since they still have the death penalty. It was recently abolished here in Illinois and once I get to work, I want to work with a lawyer who specializes or works only with the death penalty.

The other choice is California. After all, San Quentin is right over there in the Bay. My husband would prefer to live on the Gulf, so I’m thinking a compromise is in order. We’ve been doing a ton of research and following some of the people who live on sailboat’s. We’re taking sailing lessons this summer, so we’ll see how it goes.

A slight hang up I have is a major fear of sharks, but I absolutely love the ocean. I’m thinking I’ll get used to it. The more I learn about it, the better I feel.

Well, short post tonight. I’ve been writing all day and I’m going to bed.

~Live Happy

Life Unfocused

Hello everybody! It has been so long since I have been able to come and post. I have so much to tell you guys. It’s great to see that people keep following and commenting regardless of my lapse between posts. Thank you. It keeps me here.

It’s funny how focused we become when we’re living life and doing new things. And then on the sidelines, things are happening that we don’t even really realize.

When I sit down and actually think about all of the changes that are going on, it’s baffling. Almost overwhelming. This is why I try to avoid really paying attention. I have a fear that once I realize, and pay attention to, and become grateful, of how wonderful my life really is, and when I realize how capable I am, I’m afraid it will all disappear. Just like that. In the blink of an eye. Ya know, kind of like peripheral vision. When you don’t stare right at it, you can see it flitting around in the open space, but as soon as you try to look directly at it and pay attention to it, it disappears.

Now don’t get me wrong, my life is not free from trials and tribulations, but when I focus on the positive and keep my eye on my goals, life is much better.

My entire life has seemed to be nothing but school for the last year. But in fact, that is not the case. This semester is coming to an end and the work that is required at the end of a semester is quite abundant, let me tell ya. When I decided to take on a new legal career, I had no idea the writing that would be involved. But it’s a different kind of writing. It’s very technical and people’s freedom and sometimes lives ride on the way you write up a document. The way you choose to word things, the placement of words, the placement of a comma, are just a few of the details that need careful consideration. But I love, love, love it and am looking so forward to my new career.

But what I would really like to tell you about is my experience with people since I have ventured back out into the world. For almost three years I was pretty isolated here in my little writing world and with my blog pals. But I needed that retreat from the world because I was better able to get to know me. I became quite jaded and intolerant of most things. But since my hiatus, and throwing myself back into the rat race, I have learned even more about myself and my realtionships with people, especially women.

When I first started going back to school it was really intimidating. Especially as a thirty-something. In my gen-ed classes I’m usually the oldest person in class, but in my law classes, there are people that are closer to my age. Needless to say, I met three wonderful women through this process and I truly don’t know what I would do without them. We all have a few common bonds, but are quite different in personality. We range in age from 27 to 43, but I couldn’t have put together a better posse if I would have written the script myself. Funny how that happens. I guess I would never expect that the four of us would have made such a great team (and friends).

Please keep in my mind, this is MY perception of the way things are. They may have a totally different take on things. I tend to get a little sentimental. Not something you would expect when meeting me in person. My husband calls me “Stands with Fist” if this gives you some better insight.

First we have M, she’s the “mom” of the group in my eyes. She is brilliant, kind and generous, but don’t mistake that for weakness, she puts up with no bullshit. She is forever running around taking care of her families needs, but she somehow always has time for us. M and her husband had a house specially built to care for family members. I won’t go into detail but she has A LOT on her plate. For the most part, she handles it with a grace that I can only hope to acquire someday. On top of this, M has two small children that she absolutely adores. She has a bachelor’s degree and was planning on going to law school, but decided against it and chose a paralegal career instead so that she could pay for her girls to go to college when they get there. She does a great job of taking care of herself as well as her family. She is not afraid and has an heir of humility about her that is simply inspiring. She makes me want to be a better woman. I am blessed to have her in my life.

Next, we have S. She’s 41 and brilliant as well. I can always count on her to tell me the truth. It’s for this reason that she will be the first to read and hopefully edit, the first complete draft of my book. She has had a great run in her previous career, but she’s decided to change it up a bit in order to pay for her children to go to college as well. S is very well mannered and never swears, which only seems to intensify my now glaring defect to say “fuck” every other word. This makes it difficult for her to put me on speaker phone when we are all on a conference call going over our case briefs or legal memo’s. She will also be the first one to tell you that she is very detail oriented. S is a realist and very grounded, which can be quite a commodity when it comes to getting things done. I don’t think she has any idea how fabulous she really is. But our wonderful S is not without her own obstacles to overcome. Herself being the biggest one. S, like many of us, has had to recover from her childhood. But she is a woman who moves forward in spite of herself. It’s amazing to me that she does this without the aid of anything but her own desire to succeed in life and to be a great example to her children. S has no idea what a beautiful woman she is, but I see it and I’m lucky to have her in my life. And if she stays in my life long enough, I will find the wild side of her.

And finally, we have J. She’s the 27 year old. She has overcome a lot in her life thus far and is still on the road to pulling herself out of the muck. She holds the most special place in my heart because she reminds me so much of myself at 27. Our lives run somewhat parallel, so we relate to each other well. She’s a mixed bag for now. She’s sad, angry, scared and confused, but so full of passion and fun. Once she figures out what she’s worth, she WILL be a force to be reckoned with. She has this hidden genius about her, and if you’re not paying attention, you won’t know she has it. As a matter of fact, I’m not quite sure she even knows she has it. She is one, that if you only pay attention to the outsides, you will miss so much.

Our greatest common bond may be that we all keep looking ahead and doing what needs to be done in order to grow, enjoy our lives and raise our children. In spite of ourselves and our pasts we keep moving ahead into the unknown.

 I am honored that these women in particular have allowed me to be a part of their journey. I have no idea how long our friendships will last, but for the time being, I am enjoying every minute. It’s not often that you can find one great woman to be friends with, but three?!

We will all graduate at different times, and I of course, will be the last. I think we should just open up our own business of freelance paralegals. 


This was not my intended post, but it’s what came out. I guess I just needed to express some gratitude because I almost lost faith in the ability of women to truly be friends. As women, we really need to encourage each other and work together. The competition between women needs to stop. It only tears us down. It’s not meant to be that way. Not to mention the fact that we are so much more attractive when we are kind and loving. And I’m not just talking about being kind to your circle of friends. I am really talking about being kind and encouraging to the women you don’t know. That’s when it really counts. It’s easy to be nice to your friends, it’s not so easy for some women to see an attractive or charismatic woman and be nice. Just remember, when you’re caddy like that, YOU’RE the one with problem. For real.

I will be back soon to catch everyone up and fill you in on all my new plans.

Until then,
~Live Happy

A dragonfly symbolizes change and transformation. It also symbolizes power, agility, poise and the ability to look beyond the surface. Dragonflies live fast and furiously in the moment, therefore they do it all.

When I first began to blog, my motives were much different than they are today. Today I am just looking to connect. I have found through this blog, that there are so many supportive, encouraging, wonderful people out there that are working towards their dreams and accomplishing goals one at a time. It feels like were trudging through together, making the tough times a bit easier for each other, and it’s nice to have people that are cheering for you and along for the ride in a cyberspace sort of way. It’s also comforting to know that I’m not alone. It has surpassed anything that I could have imagined. Honestly.

At first, I didn’t know what to expect, but what I found was some really great friendships and I know I will meet some of you someday. (We should all plan a get together somewhere for a weekend, and then we can call it a reunion when we do it every year. Food for thought).Yes, I am a dreamer and slightly delusional.

I have many great friends that I see and socialize with on a regular basis, but there’s something about getting to know people around the world and finding out that human emotion is the same everywhere. It’s nice to experience a global common bond between people. For whatever reason that’s kind of intriguing to me. Anyway, I’ll get on with my post and stop with the sappy shit.

Many of you may or may not know that I am a recovering drug addict of over ten years. This may help you to understand some of my fears and my irrational feelings of being ‘less than’ sometimes, although I’m sure that many people go through that from time to time, even if they have never been addicted to drugs.

So for those of you who have read prior posts of me struggling through school (and life), this may offer some insight as to why. I paid no attention in school when I was younger and I was always in trouble. I had gone to rehab twice during my high school days, and the school in rehab is equivalent to daycare. Upon my release from rehab, I was expelled from my “regular” high school and was sent to an academy that I was soon kicked out of. A high school and two academies later, I finally found one that I could stick with. Don’t get me wrong, I was determined to graduate and receive a high school diploma, after all I was pregnant, and how would I find a good job without a high school diploma?

Needless to say, I didn’t learn much from books throughout my school career. I have no idea how I graduated, but I went straight from that into single motherhood. Talk about hindsight… It’s somewhat comical when I look back on those years and see how absolutely dumb I was, but thought at the time that I had it all figured out.

For the last ten years, I have worked tremendously hard on changing. I was involved in a twelve step program and it was a wonderful beginning for me. It taught me many things that I missed out on growing up; coping with my own feelings, kindness, understanding, compassion, empathy, self-acceptance and many other useful principles. I also learned that it takes a long, long time to clean up the past in order to change the future, and that some of the damage cannot be undone. That is what I struggle with more than anything. My children are affected by the bad choices I’ve made in the past and suffer the consequences of my behavior.

As a result, I work double time trying to be a good example and spend quality time with them, which does take time, energy and patience; especially because they are 19 and 14 and have their own personalities, interests and lives now.

I also understand that it couldn’t be any different. I did the best that I could with what I knew. I don’t waste time wishing I would have done things differently because I couldn’t have. I just know that I do things differently now.

I have also been allowed to live the sad, dirty, dingy, chaotic side of life and come out of it alive. I was then able to experience the resiliency of the human body and mind. I have seen homeless junkies who couldn’t string a sentence together, turn their lives around and become social, happy and employable. If they can do it, anyone can.

I have learned to love the process. I know that when I am going through a rough patch, that it will eventually pass and as much as I want to know what lesson there is to be learned from a heartbreaking experience, I know that I won’t know until it’s long behind me. I have learned to accept this, but not always with grace. I wouldn’t change one experience that I’ve had even if I could, because it made me who I am today, and it makes me want to be more than I am now.

Until later,
~Live Happy