Is it too soon for a picture like this? Well, was there ever a year that couldn’t end fast enough? Yeah, 2020 will be that year for lots of folks. Our family is so eager to get to the end, we put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving!
Not that we haven’t found joy along the way this year—in our house, anyway. Yes, we’re staying home as much as possible, taking as few risks as possible. My SIL is a cop who interacts with people every day, but he’s masked and does his level best to distance. The older kids have fast-food jobs and mask. We order our groceries for pick up. The kids are online students. We make no unnecessary trips, except for the rare trip to the flea market! We are doing our part. I hope and pray everyone else does, too, so we make it through the end of this horrendous year.
And you’d think that all this self-isolation would have meant greater productivity for this hermit author—but noooo! I spend more time with family, doing family things, helping kids with homework, my dd with housework and dishes. We binge-watch TV series together. At present, we’re watching Yellowstone and The Boys.
December will be the worst for distractions. Our “Elves on the Shelf” made their appearance this weekend, so they’ll be moving all around the house every night. We have advent calendars to load nightly with goodies, and “Kriskindelnacht” coming up this weekend. Kriskindelnacht is a celebration our family adopted after two tours in Germany. On the night of the 5th, the kids put their shoes out for Santa to fill with coal if they were naughty or something cool if they were good. My dd says Santa told her that the biggest kid in the house has to leave out a shoe this year, too! 🙂 (I’m beyond thrilled!!)
Of course, there’s editing and writing to do this month, but I think I’m not going to be very ambitious. I want to enjoy this holiday season like no other because we’ll likely never have this chance to be so together again. Silver linings, folks.
So, I shared our family’s Kriskindelnacht tradition. What traditions do you observe? Share for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
One of my earliest Christmas memories was my aunt’s gingerbread cookies. I was born and raised in Hawaii, but there were a number of Thanksgivings and Christmas Holidays that were spent in California. My father was the baby of six children, and four of them lived in Southern California. Aunty Dot is a great baker, and her gingerbread makes the whole house smell like heaven. I may or may not have snuck a few extra cookies and eaten them on the sly. (Guilty)
They really made that Christmas holiday a memorable one, and since that time, thoughts of Christmas bring to mind the taste of those cookies.
When I decided to write Gingerbear Christmas, it was because of two reasons. 1) I had the most amazing cover image of a tall, gorgeous, ginger model (can’t turn that down); and 2), since it was a shifter, “gingerbear” popped up in my head because… yummm.
What is one of your most enduring Christmas Memories? I’d love to know!
In the chilly Christmas Season, a Bear Shifter is the perfect thing to keep her warm…
If there was one simple truth about the town of Allaway, it was that they took care of their own. Bear shifter, Clancy Rhodes, couldn’t remember his parents, but he remembered all of the kindness shown to him by the other residents in the valley and up in the mountains. He’d never wanted for a roof over his head or food in his stomach, and when he was old enough, they’d helped him build a house of his own. This fall he built an extra room onto the original structure with his own hands. Why? He really didn’t know, except his bear had thought it a good idea.
Haley Woodward hated being alone in the big city. She had friends, but no one too close and instead of being stuck in a cubicle all day, she longed to spend more time on her art. When she found herself the recipient of an artist-in-residence grant in the small town of Allaway, she jumped at the chance. The woman who arranged her trip had also arranged her lodging, in a tidy cottage with the largest and sexiest man Haley had ever seen.
Even with the heavy snows in Allaway, Haley didn’t find herself in need of a fire to keep herself warm, but would this seemingly effortless relationship continue beyond her time in the valley? She had a life she was supposed to return to in the city. Right?
Clancy had never had any intention of finding a mate. The community of the town was small. Small enough for him to know that no one there was the one to complete his soul, both halves of it. And yet Haley had made her mark on him in so many ways and before it was her time to leave, he had to make her see that what they had together would carry on for the rest of their lives, not just Christmas.
My family keeps me locked down tight. I don’t leave the house except on rare occasions. I’ve been to one dentist appointment, the ER (when I fell and injured my hand), the ortho doctor’s office, and physical therapy twice. That’s it since March—except for one “treat” they allow me every couple of months—a trip to our local flea market.
I arrive there beyond thrilled. It’s a large warehouse building with high ceilings and industrial fans running through it. Everyone’s masked. We made a trip right before Thanksgiving and there were only two cars outside, so yippee! We pretty much had the place to ourselves. We inspected every single stall searching for hidden treasure. Sometimes, I come away with maybe one item. This last trip, I found so many! Here’s the proof. And hold your eyerolls until I tell you what we found. 🙂
The stamps on the left were brand new, unused, and super cheap ($1 apiece), so I’m adding them to my considerable collection of art stamps. The handmade leather journal is brand new. The pages inside are a thick art paper—perfect for use as an art journal and just $9! I bought the crappy old leather wallet for a dollar because I intend to clean the outside and paint it with acrylic paint. Just a fun project I may toss, but an experiment for me.
More treasures! See the lidded swan jar? Well, I collect antique glass powder jars, in particular, those with animals on the lids. So, yes, I paid too much ($20), but I had to have it!!!! The praying boy is collectible Fenton glass for my dd ($8). Fenton’s hard to find here locally because everyone grabs it, but we got to this one first! See the little English double-decker bus tin? It was $1, but I plan to cut out the “windows” and use them for earrings. The biggest treasure? See those dishes? It’s 10 pieces of antique Wedgwood dinnerware, that we paid $8 for! We could sell individual pieces for more, so we’re still deciding whether to build out the collection for our own use or to sell it on Ebay. We came away totally stoked!
So, see? You can still have adventures—treasure hunts—in the midst of a pandemic!
Solve the puzzle then choose one item that interests you for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
A big Thank You to Delilah for the opportunity to write a guest blog!
I write about spirituality – some of it deeply traditional and some of it in the practical context of everyday life. Since we’re in the season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a story about GRATITUDE and how this simple practice worked some serious magic in my life.
George Lucas – the creator of Star Wars – referred to professor and spiritual guru Joseph Campbell as his “Yoda”. Campbell remains a favorite among the intellectual literati in spiritual circles, and his best-known one-liner is probably this one: “follow your bliss”.
This mantra sounds great when we’re stuck in a miserable place, but the truth about how it works is a bit more nuanced. Let’s start with the full quote by Campbell:
“Follow your bliss, and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls”.
There is perhaps no better context for this quote than when we seem to be stuck in a miserable job.
“That’s it!” we tell ourselves. “I need to get out of this awful place and do something that brings me joy – I’m going to follow my bliss!“
I know a number of people who have left a job to “follow their bliss” only to find themselves in a place of regret. I have learned that it’s a bit more complicated than just doing what feels good, which is – unfortunately – how Campbell’s quote is often interpreted.
Like most spiritual wisdom, the statement is at the same time complex and simple. To illustrate what I mean, I’ll share my experience with the concept.
A few years back, I left a position with a tech start-up to go into a much more traditional position in a government agency. I took a pay cut, went from working at home to driving into an office 5-days a week, and turned in the corporate Gold card and business class travel options. Some people thought I was crazy, but I had my reasons, and knew it was the right thing to do.
About a year and a half into this position, I was miserable with a capital M. The culture was old school bureaucracy, and there were many long-time employees whose favorite game was creating conflict. Many days it felt like the Hatfield & McCoy feud, and it was the place where I learned what the term “gaslighting” meant because I experienced it almost daily.
I was ready to admit that this career move had been a HUGE mistake and began to make plans to find a new position – ANY position away from these mean and spiteful people…except it wasn’t that simple.
One of the reasons I had come to this organization was to capitalize on my military time, and I had planned to at least stay long enough to secure my pension. Things had gotten so bad that I wasn’t sure I could even do that; but before I walked away, I decided to apply some of the spiritual tools I was writing about and teaching to others. If those didn’t work, another job was always an option.
In the darkest days, I found very little to appreciate, but I kept looking and doing my spiritual work. Finally, I settled on the fact that the store on the installation had fresh, cut-up fruit available every day. I was working on eating healthier and this little treat was a $2.17 way for me to stay on track – and it didn’t require me to do any food prep or remember to grab something from my fridge on the way out the door.
Each day on my break I looked forward to the strawberries, cantaloupe or grapes that I would find in the store and I focused my appreciation on this small piece of sanity during the workweek.
Soon after shifting my focus to appreciating the fruit, I realized that the culture – while still leaving a lot to be desired – at least encouraged people to walk at work. The campus is a lovely, suburban one where walking in decent weather is not only feasible but pleasant.
I kept my focus on being grateful for these 2 things, not letting myself descend into the misery that seemed to be all around me. I also discovered that the commute, while aggravating at times, was perfect for listening to audiobooks. Another plus!
My mood began to soften, and I decided one day to make a list of the people at this job who were positive additions to the experience, and I quickly had a fairly long list.
Now almost halfway into my 7th year in this job, I have achieved multiple awards, career recognition, and a stability in my position that I could have never foreseen in the depths of that darkness. Indeed, the Universe had opened doors where I once saw only walls.
The “bliss” I followed was not running off in a huff when things were going badly. I found it in small islands of good that I discovered when I opened myself to the possibility that they existed – even there.
While it is lovely to be able to walk into stores and see some of our favorite spiritual quotes emblazoned on t-shirts, coffee mugs, throw pillows, and more; we must take care to remember that these teachings are MUCH deeper than cute one-liners.
I did follow my bliss, and the Universe absolutely opened doors where there were once only walls – but it didn’t happen with me throwing up my hands and quitting in a dramatic, made-for-TV resignation. It happened when I spent time in quiet meditation, which helped me to see the great value in staying and securing my pension. It happened when I practiced the pivot, moving my energy and attention to all the positive aspects of the position and letting go of the negative ones. It happened when I focused on being grateful for the small things that were all around me.
Following our bliss is not a magic spell we can cast to transport ourselves from a tough situation to sipping cocktails on a white-sand beach. It is a process we can use to, one step at a time, transform the formidable walls in our path into doors that open to better experiences, happiness, and peace.
Wishing everyone a bountiful & blissful Thanksgiving weekend!
About the Author
Rebecca Harmon is a mother, grandmother, US Navy veteran, and keeper of cats who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A healthcare professional and educator, she maintains a blog on spirituality and enjoys speaking in front of large groups of people! She has self-published 2 non-fiction books about careers and the workplace: Discover Your Path – a map to job happiness and 7 Simple Steps – job satisfaction, any place, any time – both available on Amazon – and would love it if you dropped by her blog for a read, a Like, a Follow or a Share!
Follow Rebecca’s blog: A Practitioner’s Path Follow her on Twitter: @Practitioner2Be Instagram: PractitionersPath
Follow her professional journey on LinkedIn
The “Devlins” are up early today. There’s so much work to do to be ready for our Thanksgiving feast! We’ll eat early this evening when my SIL finishes his shift at the local PD. My dd and I spent yesterday cooking all the dishes we could in advance for our family of seven. I say I helped, but mostly I was “dishes-cleanup” girl, and I used my new Dash egg cooker to boil a ton of eggs. No one trusts me to actually cook anything! Due to COVID, our gathering is much smaller than in past years—just the folks who occupy this house. We’re staying safe though we will miss our extended family. We’d rather miss them this day rather than forever. I hope you all plan safe gatherings, too.
We have pies, deviled eggs, and a cheesy hedgehog ready. Today, we’re baking the turkey and ham, the stuffing, the candied yams. Yum. The house will be alive with music. Yesterday, we jammed to Aretha and CCR in the kitchen. So joyous! I hope everyone out there jams to great music, dances with the kids, and shares a meal to remember always. Find the joy, y’all—in being together and holding your loved ones close!
My new release is a real scorcher. When the idea for this novella started forming in my mind, the story unfolded in quick bursts. Then I panicked. It was way over the top.
So I shelved it. Over a couple of years, I’d go back and do what writers do, pick at it, think about it. Then the ending became clear, and that pulled it back from the danger zone.
It’s still an edgy story and for those of you with trigger issues, please note that the story involves initial dubious consent.
Allison is an independent woman with strong ideas about what her life should be. Her relationship with Dane is steady and comfortable for them both. I can’t say much more without giving away too much of the story – it’s full of surprises.
MMF romance has always been hard for me to imagine. Men aren’t generally comfortable with same-sex experimentation. Most menage a trois involves one man and two women. But that’s not what women like to imagine. The idea of two men touching you is, well, pretty damn hot!
Him & Her…and Him
Christmas Eve. Iced in at her boyfriend Dane’s business, Allison Spears mouths off to a man working there, daring him to, well, take her by force, if she has to be blunt about it. Next thing she knows, he has her backed up to the wall, his eyes glinting with lewd intent. And damn it, he’s taking her breath away.
Where is Dane? Why won’t this stud Hank back off? She knows there are ways to force him, but things are getting heated and maybe… Maybe she doesn’t want him to quit.
What begins as a rough and tumble encounter turns into something completely unexpected as Hank reveals what Dane had asked him to do. Next thing Allison knows, she and Hank and Dane are connecting in ways she never imagined. Her secrets aren’t the only ones popping up around here.
Excerpt from Him & Her…and Him
“Do you want me, little girl?” Hank said, his lips curling into a sardonic grin.
Was this his game, some kind of fucking ego trip where she was supposed to beg?
“No, hell no,” she snapped, trying to gain control. If she could get her knee in position… “I don’t even know you. And I’m not a ‘little girl,’ you sick pervert.”
He barked a laugh that echoed off the walls. “I noticed. And sure you do. I’m the guy you think about when you’re lying in bed all alone and touch yourself.”
“Of all the… I don’t…”
“Don’t lie to me, sweetness. You get punished for lying.”
In a half-hearted attempt to free herself, she shoved against his hard chest. He didn’t move a centimeter. Instead, he laughed again. Fear spiked up her throat. What if…
Then a darker emotion swept down her belly where it coiled and waited like a low-lying reptile, a most degrading sensation. Her desire for him to force her doubled, tripled. Take her right there on the cold concrete garage floor. An image of being bent over his knees, her naked buttocks stinging under his big palm as blow after blow slapped her—her thighs squeezed together at the thought.
“Yes,” she said breathlessly.
“Yes, I touch myself.”
“Fuck.” He stepped back, his glittering eyes raking her up and down until she felt stripped bare. She straightened her clothes with short jerky motions, trying to regain control.
Novella of 22,200 words: MMF erotica romance
Only 99 cents!
Some of you who loved my Stepbrothers Stepping Out series of erotic short stories especially enjoyed my With His SEAL Team series within the series and nagged, er, encouraged me to write the final sequel—Sara’s and Hunter’s wedding! Well, I finally wrote it! I hope you enjoy it! It’s short, so the perfect read when you’re taking a break from all that holiday preparation! Plus, it’s only $0.99—and FREE in Kindle Unlimited. It’s packed full of naughty goodness. Sara is after all the luckiest girl in the world. 🙂
With His SEAL Team, Part 6
Tomorrow at sunrise, I’m marrying my steplover, Hunter. At long last, I’m marrying the man I’ve loved since we first met when our parents married–a dream come true.
However, one pesky question remains unanswered. I don’t know what happens after we say, “I do.” Is tonight the last time Hunter will share me with his friends, my dearly beloved playmates?
Note: This 6,400-word short story is the sixth installment of the short story series, With His SEAL Team.