A Fresh Start to the New Year!


Happy New Year to all who read this! Wishing you peace, joy, and fulfillment of any long-held dreams.

Making annual resolutions—which seldom last longer than a few weeks—is not my thing. Life has a way of interrupting my best planned out schedule like losing weight or being more consistent in posting blogs. One thing for sure, my followers can’t complain about me flooding their inbox with too many posts.

While I try never to make promises I can’t/won’t keep, I do have a tendency to travel the backroads of my mind remembering the footsteps which caused me to stumble and the ones where I marched ahead.

With regret, I did not finish editing my romantic suspense novel, nor did I reach 50,000 words on the next Dahlonega Sisters novel during NANOWRIMO.  I count both as stumbles since they are still works-in-progress which I’m hoping to publish in 2023.

While reviewing the positives and negatives, I was inspired to write about a mountain (okay, maybe it was a hill) I successfully climbed this year.

Fear.

It has always limited my world. I’ve never been bold or brave. Conforming to rules and expectations kept me out of trouble as a kid and for the most part, as an adult. I’m not timid, but I seldom risk venturing into the unknown, especially on my own. My husband of fifty-one year is even less adventurous. As such, the width of our world has been pretty limited.

However, we’ve often been very blessed to vacation across the United States with my brother and his wife. They skillfully and confidently take care of all the arrangements: hotel reservations, car rental, and mapping out all the sights to see. We merely get in their vehicle and enjoy the experience.

This year, my dear friend who now lives in Virginia, invited me to join her at a beach house in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. We’d talked about the possibility ever since she moved away. I’d promised to visit and to spend time at the beach with her. When the opportunity presented itself, I balked. The list of reasons why I shouldn’t go grew quickly: Hubby would be all alone. The cost of airline tickets and car rental would dent our savings. Too many commitments listed on my calendar.

Truth was, none of those things were the issue. It was fear.

Traveling alone freaked me out. I hadn’t flown in more than twelve years, hadn’t rented a car in nearly twenty, and even more important, I’d never driven for hours by myself to an unfamiliar location. I don’t even like to test drive a car when we are looking to buy it.

I’m not a “what if” person, but I sure spent a restless night praying for an answer and trying not to think of things that could go wrong.

The following morning, I woke with new-found confidence. I called my daughter, who travels frequently, and asked for her help. She selected the flight, arranged for a rental, and reassured me I could do this. Suddenly, excitement overtook the fear. I mapped out the driving route, researched the requirements and limitations for flying, and started packing.

Not once did I feel anxious or second guess my decision. There were no delays flying out, the rental car was a breeze, and my Garmin took me right to the driveway of the beach house. I felt like I’d released a new me.

We laughed. We cried. We made new memories. Then, we promised to do it again next year. And, I found a confidence that had escaped me for most of my life. Hubby survived alone. I didn’t get lost or end up in Timbuktu. I could do this!

When I got back home, still feeling pumped with confidence, I filled out applications for passports for my husband and myself. He may not ever use his, but I will. There are places I want to go to and things I want to see.

Shortly after I returned from vacation, my daughter booked for us on a Caribbean cruise which we will take in April 2023. Once I’ve gotten my feet wet on a ship and abroad, I hope to convince my husband to join me on another cruise or some other trip out of the country.

Fear is in my rearview mirror. I hope it stays there!

So here is to the start of a new year. May you face your fears and rise above them.

Blessings to all of you.

Diane

Vindictable


Vindictable

 Do not have fear, rather deep respect

for the power of the sea

My crashing waves and giant swells

demand to remain free

Don’t build your wall around my sands

I’ll crush them to the ground

I own the beaches and the shores

as others sorely found

Just when you think you have control

when everything’s divine

I’ll reach my arms around your best

“till you recognize it’s mine

 

by Diane How

Her Lifeline


Most of my posts are passionately lighthearted. Even the most humorous writers have a serious moment now and then. A tissue may be required.

Her Lifeline

 

It was a foolish dream, tucked in the corner of her heart for more than thirty years, still it had survived, even kept her moving forward during difficult times, until today.

Rose Ellen stared into the mirror and assessed the changes since she had last seen him. A little sagging, a few more greys, but not too bad she decided. Life had been good to her. No need for a walker, no hearing aids, no serious medical issues, her memory still intact. Yes, she had been blessed in so many ways, yet the longing for something more was always there.

Anticipation accompanied Rose on the walk to the beach. It was the good kind. The kind that made her feel like a young woman again. She took off her sandals and let the ocean splash over her feet as she strolled along the shore, lost in the memory of his warm embrace and passionate kiss. It brought unexpected flutters in her belly, just like the first time. The delicious scent of his woodsy aftershave lingered in the air and she wondered if it was her imagination or someone walking past.

She glanced around and found no one in sight. Her thoughts drifted again and she smiled to herself, picturing him standing on a beach in cargo shorts and t-shirt. His well-toned body and dimpled smile had drawn her attention, but she’d been enamored by his kindred spirit and passion for life. In between work discussions, he’d asked about her dreams and encouraged her, even showed her, how those dreams could be reached. `Dreams don’t just come true, you need a plan. And a plan B` he always said.

He never focused on his own accomplishments, which were significant, rather, he built her self-esteem by recognizing her knowledge and abilities. He urged her to return to school to finish her degree. Their friendship grew as the years passed. They shared childhood memories and family stories that brought laughter and tears. Often they discussed values and strong beliefs, as if testing each other. She never met a man so willing to help others, expecting nothing in return.

He was a man of character and she ached to tell him how deeply she loved him. She knew she’d never summon the courage to say the words that pressed on her lips with every encounter.

A small child squealed nearby and stirred Rose back to the present. The sun beat on her uncovered head and made her sway. She decided to rest for a little while on a bench under a towering palm tree. The glare from the water penetrated through her sunglasses and she closed her eyes, drifting off again.

The intense heat reminded her of the day that changed everything in her life. It started with such a simple conversation.

“I’m leaving early to mark the trail in Ste. Genevieve for my club’s next 10K walk.” Rose’s voice did not reflect her normal enthusiasm.

“What’s up? You seem bothered by something.”

“Oh, it’s nothing, really. My co-chair can’t make it, so I’m going alone. I’m just a little apprehensive about being in an unfamiliar rural area.”

“I’ll take you.”

“Don’t be silly. You don’t need to waste vacation time on me. I’ll be fine.”

“Consider it done. I’ll clear it with the boss and meet you by my car at noon.”

A smile formed on Rose’s face as she shook her head side to side. “You’re something else. Is there anything you wouldn’t do for someone?”

His dimple surfaced as a grin spread across his face. “For you, no.” He turned and walked into his boss’ office.

Rose tried not to read too much into his response, but excitement and nervous energy made the morning pass quickly. Rose felt her heart pound, like a smitten teenager, during the hour drive to the location. Each time their eyes met she looked away, afraid that he could read her mind. How foolish she’d feel if she blurted it out. She wanted to believe that he held similar feelings for her, but she buried the thought.

***

They finished marking the trail, ending in a park near a lake. The temperature neared 100 degrees as they stood and admired the tranquil waters.

“We could just jump in and cool off.” He laughed as he skipped a stone across the still lake.

“I love the water. It always make me feel at peace.” Rose wiped sweat from her brow with the sleeve of her blouse. “Guess we’d better be going. We’ll both be stuck in traffic if we wait much longer.” Rose tightened the cap on her bottle of water and turned to walk away.

He reached out and took her free hand, pulling her close. “I love you.”

Rose didn’t resist his embrace. She let the tears stream down her face without any effort to conceal them. His lips met hers with an urgent, passionate force. He offered a second, softer kiss that took her breath away.

“I love you too.” He kissed her again. She looked into his deep blue eyes and released a heavy sigh. “I thought those words would follow me to the grave, without ever telling you.”

Neither spoke much on the drive back to the office. He reached across the console and squeezed her hand, a mixture of joy and pain in his eyes. Their unspoken words hung in the air. Both knew that nothing more would come of the revelation. The price to their families would be too great. An occasional, discreet kiss in the parking lot, an especially long squeeze of the hand when no one was looking, silent gestures that only the two of them understood, would have to be enough. An affair of the heart, that’s what they had called it.

Before summer’s end, a job transfer took him overseas. They remained in touch, often corresponding by mail. Cautious to never reveal the depth of their love, each read between the lines. The distance between them probably saved their marriages. The temptation to be together would have been too much.

“That’s why God made oceans,” he once wrote her. It was then that their dream took form. A lifeline they shared. An unrealistic plan that neither controlled. Should both spouses pass before they did, they would meet in Maui on the beach. Many years had passed before they reconnected. Today they’d share another passionate kiss without the guilt of hurting someone else.

The scent of his aftershave, stronger, closer this time, stirred Rose from her nap. She cupped her hand over her eyes, blocking the sun. There he stood, looking just as she remembered. The sandy brown hair showed no hints of grey. His sturdy, toned body much too fit for someone his age. She closed her eyes again, unable to accept the reality of the vision before her.

“Rose.”

She forced herself to look again, then looked away, the pain too much to handle. “When?” The word choked from her dry throat.

“Last week. I’m so sorry.” The young man’s eyes grew moist as he stepped closer and placed an arm around her shoulder.

“You look just like your dad.”

“I hear that all the time. It’s a compliment.”

Rose nodded in agreement. “How did you know I’d be here?”

“He asked me to come, just before he passed.” The younger version of her true love held her as she wept. When she stilled, he continued talking. “Dad loved you very much. He told me after Mom died, but I knew that from the first time I saw you together. Remember the time we all went to the ballgame together?”

She nodded. “I remember.”

“I respected him for not cheating on my mother. And you too.”

The handsome man pulled something from the pocket of his shorts and handed it to Rose.

“He carried this with him wherever he traveled. He said it was his way of keeping you near.”

The gold, four-leaf clover still shined like the day she gave it to the love of her life.

“He said he’d see you on the other side.”

“Always have plan B.” Rose forced a smile and clutched the treasure to her chest.

 

This story won first place in the Saturday Writers July,  2016 “The Sense of Scents” contest.

An Invitation


Summer’s winding down, but the memories made will linger. Come with me and revisit your favorite  island getaway, if only in your mind.

An Invitation

Come walk with me on sifted sands

Along my island shores

Come find the peace within yourself

That leaves you wanting more

The gentle swells, the rolling waves

Will mesmerize your heart

The azure skies, the silent breeze

You’ll never want to part

The moon will rise to greet you there

To cleanse your weary soul

The lofty palms will wave to you

And whisper ‘please don’t go’

by Diane M How

Where is your favorite beach? I’d love to hear from you. 

This poem received an honorable mention in a 2014 contest. An Invitation and two short stories, Love Revealed and Autumn’s Predicament, are published in Writing Sense-Ably is Saturday Writer’s 2016 Anthology