Self Confidence

My dad taught me that everyone is just as afraid to meet you as you are them.  

The sidewalk loomed long and narrow . The three blocks looked as long as the mile she could normally ride on her horse.  But she knew it only led to the classroom full of strangers and that was the problem.  She didn’t know anyone.  Yesterday grandpa took her, but today she insisted she could do it herself.  She was not a baby.  The babies were all at home back on the farm.  She was so homesick but she would never admit that.

Determination makes her walk down the sidewalk towards her catechism classes in this town of strangers.

Her eyes widen when she sees the little girl pass her.  With her perfect blonde hair smooth and glinting in the sunlight and her perfect fitting pink dress – the girl looks new and beautiful. The girl’s  bike is pink also,  with pink and white fringes hanging from the handle-bars. She knows her, but she doesn’t.  Maureen is in her catechism class. She saw Maureen when Sister Sarah made everyone introduce themselves.

Girl sharing ice cream cone with dog

“Hi.  Don’t you have a bike to ride?” Maureen stops.

She shakes her head nervously, eyes dropping to the ground.  Even Maureen’s voice is pretty.  Light, airy and sweet.  She hates her own gruff, deep voice.  No, she doesn’t own a bike.  Her mommy and daddy can’t afford a bike.  She doesn’t know whether to be jealous or not.  Does she want a bike? She feels Maureen is about to laugh at her.  Her chin tilts and she looks up, glaring at Maureen.

“I have a horse.  Do you have a horse?”  Maybe her voice is gruff but she is ready to defend herself as she decides a horse is much better than a bike. She pulls her ‘too big’ sweater, worn and baggy, closer around her crooked homemade dress.  And pushes her own wild blonde hair off her face.

“Oh you are lucky. You have a real horse?”  Maureen smiles and dismounts from her shiny new bike. “Do you want to ride my bike?”

She smiles back and nods.  Climbing on the bike, she peddles the bike.  It is fun – but not nearly so much as riding a horse.

“Thank you. When you come visit me you can ride my horse.”  She dismounts and hands Maureen back her bike.  This day she realizes all is not as she fears.  This day she makes a new friend.

The Red Stallion

Life Changing Days – Lazy, Hazy days of summer.

I always think of August as the tired month.  The sun is mostly too hot and it shines so long.  Unless we went to a beach (rarely) there wasn’t much relief.  Like everything – we learned to tough it out.  I am amazed now when I hear children complain about the weather.  To us, it is just that – the weather.  Complaining never makes it better. Complaining is never encouraged by mom and dad.

Odd Shaped Tree Trunk

The wonder of a tree’s shade on a hot lazy day.

I would often put my bathing suit on and ride my horse through the sloughs just to be splashed with water.  I was never bold enough to go swimming in the sloughs.  My memories of the two older brothers and how they were covered with ‘the itch’ – itchy bumps from the insects biting them –  nesting in the grasses and reeds surrounding the sloughs – kept me from doing the same.  It looked painful and they would yell and complain when mom patiently put calamine lotion on their bites.

And when it rained, if it did in August it is so much fun.  Again donning our bathing suits we would run out in the rain and splash and play in the puddles.  We aren’t reprimanded for getting filthy dirty.  We are just washed off.  I still ride my horse almost every day.  Sometimes I feel tired and my horse is covered in sweat.  So I stop by a tree and fall asleep beneath the welcomed shade.  It is truly lazy, hazy days of summer.  Because we have a radio – we can listen to that song and understand exactly what it means.

My birthday is in August.  But we don’t celebrate birthdays with gifts.  Mom makes us a special birthday cake –  it is filled with nickles, dimes and pennies.  And one button.  If you get the button it means you will be a bachelor or spinster forever. I am very disappointed to know – that isn’t true.  It was just another fairy-tale.  But there is laughter and playing. And that day – it’s usually possible my siblings don’t fight with me.  It is still my special day.

By the time August rolls around, I am getting bored. Mom and dad tease me because I am always ‘boring’.    I spend more times now drawing and writing.  I write stories every bit as exciting as Zane Grey.  There is always a bad guy intent on destroying what the hard-working ranchers and farmers are trying to build.  There is always a need for a nice, strong hero to defend them. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to go out and create the scenario so instead I write about it.  It is nearly as exciting.  I get boring again – so I go outside and sitting in the shade I painstakingly make my horse stand so I can draw each part perfectly.  I am glad he humors me.  But like writing, it never reaches perfection to my satisfaction. But I always know – one day…

And there is an anticipation that soon I will again see my school-friends again, every day during the week.

Seraphim - cover

My nearly perfect horse.

Life Changing Days – When spring arrives

A thin layer of ice crusts the water of a melting slough or river. As the sun climbs overhead, surrounded by fluffy clouds, ice and snow melts causing astounding sights of rushing water.  We hear from the big old house, those crashing, cracking booms like thunder.  Drawn to the sight we clamor across the melting snowbanks to watch the spectacular  scene of water showing its’ awesome power. The coulee, normally a trickle of water has become a raging river of broken ice and jammed chunks.  The water is relentless in its’ push for freedom.

Mountain sceneThis is a dangerous time of year – we are all taught this.  Beneath piled, melting snow could be slough or dip, now filled and deep.  The ice, so thick all winter, can crack beneath the weight of a child.

We often tempted this advice.  We would skate on ice sometimes because it was smooth and not rippled by the wind. We didn’t have to shovel off piles of snow to make a rink.  Once my foot fell through and went right up my leg.  I wasn’t touching bottom.  I was stuck.  My two older brothers carefully got me out and reprimanded me for going to that area – they told me to stay away from.  But instead of letting me go to the house to dry out, they ordered me to sit on the grass and dry out.  I was so young – I didn’t know – it would be they, not me, who would have gotten the brunt of punishment.  I just knew I didn’t ever tattle on my brothers without consequences.

Both the snow and the ice are deceptive at hiding dangers.  We can sink down into a snowbank that was once as tall as a telephone post.  This is the time of the year we ride a horse to go to school.  The cutter can sink down as well as a horse and even though a horse may be strong, he can’t get himself and the cutter out if it’s all jammed up.

But I love this time of year.  The air is still crisp, but so much warmer.  And I get to ride a horse to school.  Some of us love riding, some of us hate it.  My sister who is two years older than me – appears to be terrified of horses. Being quick of mind, I pick on this very fast and very young.  I make the mistake of teasing her.  It is a mistake I pay for.  I, superior being that I am, get to ride in the front, controlling the horse. I deliberately set him galloping, even though she begs me not to.  It is fun to hear my sister scream and cling to me. That is, until she slides from the horses back, bringing me with her.

A horse by the waterfall

I have never lost my love for horses.

The horse we are riding is very tall. To a child he is gigantic.  We have no saddle or often no place to crawl up and back onto his back.  My sister then sweetly asks me to boost her up first – which I do. Terrified of horses or not, she is still bigger than I am. After I boost her up is when I realize I have no where to mount.  My sister enjoys the comfortable walk over a mile home, while I struggle, leading the horse at a leisurely pace. I am exhausted when I get home.

My sister is always my champion, protecting me against others, but she is afraid of so much I am not.  But after a time – I learn to respect her for who she is and discover she gives me the same respect in return.  I learn it is not fun or even wise to mock another’s fears.

It became a lesson somewhat like ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ for often – making fun of others can backfire.  My family had a phrase or saying for nearly every aspect of life.  I am still amazed at how accurate they can be.

Nola and Mary

Sisters and friends forever.

Life Changing Days – Lessons of Winter

Across three miles of snow piled roads we trek to our school.  Or if the banks are hard enough we cut across the fields which is a little shorter.  Inside a closed in sleigh we call a cutter – we have no heat, but are sheltered from the wind.  I think we were more fortunate than our horse.  He is outside, struggling to conquer the snow drifts. Snow piles in front of cutter.  He hesitates, then with supreme effort continues to plow through. It is slow going. This is how we go to school.  We don’t know there are other ways to go.  All the children in the neighborhood travel in this manner.  We do know that our family has the longest way to go. But cold is cold whether you are outside for fifteen minutes or over an hour. Some walked and that would be so much more difficult I think.  I am grateful we have horses.Horse in the winter

Sometimes, my parents keeps us home if it is storming or too cold.  We miss many days of school some winters. But what we learn at home is very important too.

When we travel we wear fur coats and do not think we are harming animals like I sometimes hear now. We have blankets to bundle beneath in the cutter. When only the younger ones are going to school – if we are too late – our dad meets us.  If a storm is brewing or it is getting too dark, he meets us.

Sometimes wolves follow us if the horse flounders too much in the snowbanks.  We don’t realize we should be scared.  We aren’t ever told to be scared.  We are taught to keep the horse moving and stay inside.  I peek out the front small window and watch the lean, dark forms running along side the sleigh.  I find wolves fascinating, with glinting eyes and shaggy, silky fur.  So long as the horse is moving, they do not come close.  They look like beautiful dogs.  But I know they aren’t.

 
Gray Wolf in SnowLater I learn my mother’s fear of sending her babies out into the cold.  I see where once again she never let us know of her fear.  Once we no longer go out into the winter’s freezing temperatures, we learn that our skin can freeze after a moment or two in the temperatures we endure.  Since we don’t know this I guess –  we don’t get frost-bit going to school.  Although we do know one of our uncles once lost the tip of his ear from frost-bite.  It teaches us caution, but never the idea we can’t do it.  We must – it is how we go to school.

 
bare tree in winterI also learn to question all that is said or written by others.  Some people find this facet annoying.  But truth is an important part of life.  I learn anyone can say anything they want – true or not. I do enjoy fiction stories including writing them. But the difference between fiction and reality is important to me.

A Writer’s Tool – The Wind

Rare Pheonomen - Fire lights

Wind in the skies.

Wind has the ability to clear my thoughts and get rid of aches in my head.  Those aches I am now aware are caused by the stress of every day living. It’s not a headache – it’s just a niggling pain inside.

 

Strathmore Parade - Horses

 

I have always loved the wind even as a child and teen.  Often I  still have an urge to feel the wind. When I was young I often combined the feeling of the wind with riding my horse.  When I felt  the urge for wind and there was none, I rode my horse. I no longer have a horse – so instead I use my vehicle, windows rolled down and speeding down a lonely road.

Prairie Storms

A storm brews in the winds on the prairies.

When I am confused and uptight whether in my writing or in my life, I seek the comfort of the wind.  I find the wind to be one of the greatest writing tools I have.

Rainbow at Victoria Ferries

Amidst the hustle of everyday living – the wind and storm create beauty and cleared my mind.

Seraphim – by Mary M. Forbes

This story is not a romance although there are romantic elements in the book.  It is a story of abuse and overcoming grief.  It is a fiction work in progress.

My goal is to help women understand there is always hope and peace at the end of a dark tunnel, provided we are willing to take control of our own lives.  I understand the obstacles including financial or low self-esteem that make this seem impossible.  Everyone deserves happiness in their life.

“Every tomorrow has two handles.  We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”

–          Henry Ward Beecher

In the winds of time, the past is abstract, as though incidents long ago are a dream.  But sometimes in the darkness of fear, the past feels like yesterday, tangible and rift with raw  emotions.

Today, the past is the present for Delaney Salem.

The fear and confusion she experienced thirteen years ago comes back intensified a hundred-fold.  Why would God, if there was a God, do this to her?  For a short time, in her childhood, she had believed that good could conquer evil.  It was fleeting thought, wafted away in the winds.  She has only experienced the power of evil with no relief.

Delaney Salem wants to escape her marriage, but she fears her husband’s power as a Sheriff. She feels abandoned by her religion considering the hardships she is faced with for no apparent reason. She has no money, no skills and no one to help.

The unthinkable  happens when her daughter is violated by the same monster abusing her. Delaney knows she has no other choice but to run. She accepts there is no God and there are no Guardian Angels. She must leave using only her own questionable ingenuity.

A white, mystical horse named Seraphim comes to her when all seems lost. Delaney is confused, believing she is insane like so many people say. Is Seraphim her Guardian Angel or a figment of her imagination? Does she dare believe?

Follow Delaney’s struggle to find hope and happiness in her bleak world.

Seraphim – Coming in the spring of 2013

The name seraphim clearly indicates their ceaseless and eternal revolution about Divine Principles, their heat and keenness, the exuberance of their intense, perpetual, tireless activity, and their elevative and energetic assimilation of those below, kindling them and firing them to their own heat, and wholly purifying them by a burning and all-consuming flame; and by the unhidden, unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power, dispelling and destroying the shadows of darkness”  

                      ……….Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

To feel: – freedom/wind

When I was young I used to feel the most free when I was galloping in the wind.  Wind would actually blow all thoughts from my mind and I just felt the wind.  When I moved into the city it was different.  I couldn’t just step out my back door and mount a horse.  I had other things to concern myself with, children, family, a job and a house to maintain.  I wasn’t so free.

  A painting of my beloved horses I painted.

Now I take my grandson and we go ‘cruising’.  We roll the windows down, have the radio blasting and we sing at the top of our lungs.  He’s only seven, but he loves it including the country tunes I listen to.

A mountain waterfall – by Malibu Dreams Photography

Raging water also gives me a feeling of freedom.  There are so many rules and regulations someone has insisted the government put on our freedom.  When I look at the water and consider weather in general – I know that there are things that can’t be controlled – things that are completely free – and hopefully always will be.

To feel: – Happiness/Love

Usually people feel love is between a couple and if you haven’t found your ‘true love’ you are missing out.  As a romance writer I, of course, need to understand that type of love. I don’t feel this is the love of happiness.  Often this type of love creates a myriad of emotions and happiness is not necessarily part of it.

I am talking about the love you feel towards anyone or anything.  This is the love when a family member or friend might do something for you that creates a feeling inside – a substantial feeling of love.  Or it might be seeing the joy on their own faces, revealing their feelings.  Love might be for an animal, for a scene or sound.  I love the sounds of waves lapping on the shore.  It makes me happy.  I love the sights the sky gives me. I love the way my grandson brings me a letter he has printed and signed himself, it makes me happy.  I love when my sister calls me and we chat as though we were together.  It makes me happy.

My horse once stepped on my foot when I was young.  I sat on a rock and cried it hurt so much.  Suddenly the horse put his head on my shoulder.  His eyes were so sad.  A feeling of love flooded me and the hurt started dissipating.

I was driving in Calgary with my youngest son.  He suddenly said in the silence,  ‘mom, if Jesus is the son, then God must be the moon.’   He was about five at the time.  It lifted my spirits and made me laugh.  He was considering the knowledge he was learning.

Everyone can feel the love of happiness.  There are no exceptions.  It is not the love between a couple – that type of love can create fear, sadness, anxiety and anticipation.  It is not the love of happiness.  But it can create the love of happiness as well.

Freedom

As a child horses symbolized freedom to me.  The wind seemed to blow all worries and problems away until there was nothing left inside except a feeling of exhilaration and enjoyment.  Thinking of this I recall writing a poem – from a horses’ point of view. I found the poem and wanted to share it with you. It brings back memories of a time when life was carefree and problems easily solved thanks to my horse.

Freedom

I love the feel of the wind, whistling through my mane.

I love the sound of my hooves, go pounding down the lane.

I love the feeling of freedom, that only my heart must know.

I love the call of the wild, this feeling I must show.

On a high mountain crag, in a valley so low.

No man on earth can catch me.  The whole world I show.

The last rays of sunlight, sink over the deserted sands.

I’ll take my very last gallop, over across the lands.

TO WRITE WHAT YOU LOVE

From the time I was a child I loved country living, country life and especially cowboys and horses.  Even as a teen I was upset when my mother moved into a small town after my father passed away.  I longed for the freedom of roaming outdoors in spaces only imagined to some – but a  definitive reality to keep me focused and sane.

I was forced to move to cities in order to work.  I continued to dream of the freedom I knew when I was young.  I married an ‘asphalt’ cowboy (a long-haul truck driver) and often I remained at home raising our children.  But sometimes I went with him and travelling became a form of freedom again.

When I lived in Calgary I discovered many ways to escape –  from going to Fish Creek Park to visiting  forts in the near regions of the city.  There were many options to listen to and enjoy my lovely country music as well.  The Calgary Stampede, although crowded, offered me the thrill of watching cowboys, bucking bronco’s and races.  In all my travels Calgary became my city of choice – followed by San Antonio in Texas.

As I dreamed I discovered another fascinating concept.  I could write my dreams down – and escape into that world I loved so much.  I was often at home and my children were now in school.  So my writing career began. I took courses, joined groups, attended conventions and edited/critiqued other works.  Now, I can escape into my perfect world, regardless of where I am.  I can create an atmosphere and relieve stress by becoming involved with my characters.

Forever an optimist with hope in my heart, I love creating stories with happy endings and overcoming severe conflicts to obtain that end.  I have written three historical romances, set in the colorful, little known Canadian West which makes Hawk’s Gift, (Canada’s Civil War) Alberta Wild Rose (fabled Lost Lemon Gold Mine in Crowsnest Pass)  and Paradise on the Horizon (homesteading in the wilderness) true romance stories, using a unique setting. My latest published romance is a contemporary romance and set in the cowboy atmosphere of Calgary, Alberta. They are all available in Soft Cover as well as e-books at Amazon.com or Amazon.ca Kindle and other bookstores on the internet.

I am presently working on a romance suspense “Angels Among Us” which I hope to have available in the fall of 2012.