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All You Need Is Love

Eiffel TowerI’ve written before about how feminine stories focus on relationships and connection, while masculine stories focus on identity and alienation. American culture in particular tends to be masculine, and to devalue feminine concerns—the kind of struggles we find in romance and women’s fiction.

Romance novels are about people who want opposite things, yet manage to come together and resolve their differences in a way that leaves them both satisfied, happy, and on the path to lasting love.

The world needs more stories like that.

The events in Paris last week are more proof that there isn’t enough love in the world. The masculine value of competition, where one person wins and another loses, has a place in business and sports. But when it comes to people, whether on an individual or international level, we need more understanding. We need to work harder to build relationships and resolve our differences amicably.

The best time to stop terrorism is before young people become radicalized, before they become so disaffected that they believe violence is the best answer. That means listening to ideas that differ from our own and incorporating them into our world view. It means tolerating things we disagree with. It means working together to find solutions that create a bigger pie, rather than trying to grab the biggest piece for ourselves.

Life isn’t a competition. We’re all in it together, and no one gets out alive. We’re happier when we celebrate and enjoy each other’s differences rather than letting them divide us.

I’ve quoted this saying before, but it bears repeating: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

What are you doing to create more love in the world?

Photo Copyright: olgacov / 123RF Stock Photo

Friends in Low Places

It’s the age old argument. Is romance real literature?

To some, no.romance

According to Washington Post writer Justin Wm. Moyer, romance is”formulaic with fill-in-the-blank qualities.” His recent comments expressed in the article about the plagiarizing case against Laura Harner sparked a firestorm of controversy in the romance community over his generalization of the genre.

Author Jenny Trout recently wrote a scathing rebuttal to the Washington Post article. Both the WP article and Jenny’s rebuttal are worth the read, as are the comments in both articles.

The truth is, romance is a billion dollar business catering mostly to women. Romance is no more formulaic than the mystery, suspense. or science fiction genres, but you rarely hear diatribes on the worthlessness of those stories. I write romance. I read romance. And I can appreciate the work behind a well-written love story. I wish everyone could.

Love makes the world go round. When people lie on their death bed, they don’t want co-workers or acquaintances around–they want their loved ones–husbands, wives, lovers, children, family, and friends. These relationships are what matters in life–all that matters in life, so I become confused when books that delve into the making of said relationships are bashed as worthless.

I suppose Justin Wm. Moyer, upon his deathbed, will feel gratified while surrounded by stacks of newsprint. May that same pile of print keep him warm at night.

What are your views of romance?

photo credit: Romance via photopin (license)

Escape

Know any young women preparing to marry?  Have you talked to them, given your counsel, any words of advice? Me?  I’m not allowed to talk to brides anymore. Nope.  Lost that privilege.

Why, you ask?  Why would an author like me who’s more than willing to share her experience with the younger crowd be banished from the discussion?

Quite simple, really. Last time someone asked my opinion, I jokingly compared marriage to eating vegetables. I am a gardener, after all.  Makes sense my analogies would run through the produce aisle.  “Marriage is easy,” I said.  “It’s like choosing your favorite vegetable—the one you want to enjoy ALL the time.”

She screwed her expression.  “There’s no vegetable I want to eat ALL the time.  I like variety in my diet!”

watermelon

So much for analogies.  I like variety in mine, too.  “Yes, but there’s more than one way to cook a tomato—healthy and raw, chopped and marinated, sizzling fried, saucy and delicious!”  Yes, well…you get the point.  Mixing it up helps prevent same-old same-old from settling in, much like we moms do with dinner.

“Potatoes, again?” the children whine.  “Can’t we have something different?”

Nope.  We married a potato, we’re having potatoes.  Period.  “Now go put your ‘right attitude cap’ on and enjoy the meal.”

Granted, marriage is more involved, but truthfully, it comes down to commitment.  And a sense of humor.

The young woman continued to peer at me, as though expecting some kind of brilliance to erupt.

woman pulling hair out_XSmall

Okay, let’s try this a different way:  Careful what you wish for—you just might get it.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of the institution.  Married for twelve years and two kids, I love marriage, but there’s one thing you need to know before you get married, if you expect any sort of success.  “Marriage is hard work.  If you accept that going in,” I told her, “you’re good to go for the long haul.”

“Oh,” she returned, somewhat discouraged.

Apparently, this wasn’t the insight she expected.  But ever the positive one, I linked my arm through my husband’s and added, “Not to worry.  Look how happy we are!”

My husband sweetly agreed.  “Yeah, what she said.”

He’s a real card, isn’t he?

The lovely young couple left us but the woman returned a short while later.  Courageous little thing.  “But is there really a difference between living together and marriage?” she asked, her tone urging better news.  Seems they’ve been living together for that last couple of years and she believed this to be key to their ultimate success.  “It can’t be that different, can it?”

Uh, oh.  She forgot the “careful what you wish for” rule.  But she asked, so I smiled again (it’s always best to deliver hard facts with a soft edge) and replied“Here’s the difference:  When you’re living together, you always have that back door – the exit door – as in, ‘if he doesn’t do this or doesn’t do that, I’m outta here.’  You can always leave if he’s not living up to your expectations.”  I leaned ever so closer.  “When you’re married, you have to close that door, lock it, and throw away the key.”

Her jaw dropped.

“It’s a shift in attitude.  You must be willing to work through the hard times, you know, like you do with family.  We all have those members with whom we don’t see eye to eye, may even go without speaking at times, but eventually, we come back together — because it’s family.  They’re not going anywhere.  You’ll see them at Christmas.”

sunflower burst

She nodded dully, but I could see this was not what she wanted to hear.  “Do you want kids?”  She shook her head to the contrary.  “Then continue dating,” I advised.  “There’s no need to change your name.”  You’ve already changed your address.

Take heart. While marriage can be tough, it does give provide reason for that romance novel addiction we have. Escape is good. Really good. Why, I’m pondering where to go for spring break this very moment!

Simple Happiness

I sit here with a blank document open, determining what to write. No words are rushing out of me, but feelings sure are.
Trust. Hope. Awe. Gratitude. Love.
Women Unplugged isn’t my own personal blog, so I haven’t been as forthcoming with more private matters as I might have from other platforms, but any who have read my posts will have picked up that I’m a single mom who’s somewhere between two and three years into life post-marriage. It’s been a process, a thorough transition, getting to where I am.
I am happy and independent, I’ve learned a bunch about myself, and about the world and people around me. I’ve established myself in varying ways, and have a solid dynamic with my two daughters, one tween and one near-tweener. Excluding a few details I expect to shake down in the next few months, life is good. My soul is content. I had already come to this conclusion.
And then I met a man.
The timing wasn’t mine. And he’s more incredible than I might have imagined for myself. It’s surreal, finding myself here, at this new place.
A place of trust. Hope. Awe. Gratitude. Love.
And it’s all good.

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program…

Last week was a whirlwind for the Hayes family. The oldest left Saturday for a mission trip (his first) in Guatemala and the youngest left Sunday for a mission trip (her first) in Tennessee. While the kids were off forging memories and helping to change lives, the hubs and I scooted away to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a late anniversary celebration.

Honeymoon Beach

Honeymoon Beach

The whole week prior as I struggled to pack both kids for very different locations, I kept thinking, “What are we doing? We should just stay home. We could get so much stuff done around the house we’ve put off. And the kids…” Thankfully, it was too late to cancel the reservations because St. John is a beautiful, mountainous island with white sand beaches, friendly people, and near perfect weather. We spent a day boating with our captain, Delbert. We hiked. We relaxed by the pool with the ocean just steps away. We went to a pristine beach and lounged under the shade of mangrove trees.

Indulgent? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely! Sometimes married folks (or those in long-term relationships) get so lost in the daily grind that they forget what brought them together in the first place. A little reminder of why you said, “I do,” before the kids and the mortgage came along never hurt anyone. Thank goodness I ignored my practical nature because after five days alone with my husband, I’m looking even more forward to the next twenty (or more) years together.

Our beach buddy. Yes, that is a rooster.

Our beach buddy. Yes, that is a rooster.

We’re home now, all of us from our adventures, and Mama’s happy to have all her chicks back under one roof. When was the last time you took the time to get away with your someone special?

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