Sunday, November 29, 2015

Finding My Smile

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
2015 has been a rough year. The previous year, my dad had a stroke, and we spent nearly a year taking care of him and hoping he’d get better. This year, we said goodbye to him. Having never before lost anyone close to me, let alone a parent, it rattled me pretty hard. It's easy to wallow in the hard stuff, especially with the holidays here, and somewhere along the way, I'd lost my smile. I’ve had to take stock of my year and try to refocus on the good things that happened instead.

Not only did I find a lot of good in my year, thanks to modern technology, my phone kept a photographic record to remind me. Let me show you.

In January, I published my short-story collection, Transmonstrified. In March, Phoenix in My Fortune, the final book in my Monster Haven series, came out. And in July, Unfinished Muse, book one in my new Mt. Olympus Employment Agency series, released. Book two, Unamused Muse will be out before the year is over. I wanted to do more, but I've learned where my limits were, at least while dealing with grief. Still, I'm really pleased with how much I managed to get done. Four releases in a year means I'm finally getting the hang of this. But work isn't the only good that happened this year.

I love going on adventures, and this year, that was how I coped. Adventures can be grand and planned out, or they can happen in the quiet moments when you're feeling your lowest. You just have to be open to them. Here are some of mine for the year:

 One afternoon I took a long drive to clear my head. I came around a corner and found a herd of reindeer in an enclosure. Since then, I've visited them several times and come to realize they're probably just regular deer, but in my head, I found magic reindeer. No matter what they are, they were beautiful and unexpected.

My husband and I went on a drive-through safari. This zebra looked up from his grazing, made a beeline for me, and stuck his head in the car for me to scratch. He stayed a long time, even though we weren't feeding him. It was magic.

Mother's Day this year was all about dinosaurs. Because I love dinosaurs and my family loves me. My daughter made me this T-Rex pancake, because when your children grow up, they can do loads of cool stuff for you. 

I was a guest at Kansas City's SFF convention, ConQuesT. I was on several panels, met new people, drank a lot with my friends, and pretended that George R.R. Martin was too shy to approach me in the bar. Bless his heart. I am intimidating.

We went to a Huey Lewis/Jimmy Buffett concert. My first. It was spectacular.

Went to the drive-in for the 4th of July. Best non-Disney fireworks I've seen, plus a double feature afterward. In jammies. With snacks. You can't beat that.

We spent the night in one of the most haunted rooms in the Stanley Hotel. Though we failed to see or hear anything supernatural, we did freak ourselves out. There was also a weird moment where the front desk guy came to our room because he thought I wanted corn. I did not. But the question was--if he thought I wanted corn, why didn't he have any corn to give me?

I went to Denver to hang out with my best friend since third grade. We went to a butterfly garden, tried on squid hats, and went to the Celestial Seasonings factory. The factory was already closed, but we drank tea samples and spent money on tea-related goods. The next day we all went to the museum and saw dinosaurs. Did I mention I love dinosaurs?

Not exactly an adventure, but I bought a new car. (My daughter was using my old one, which left me stuck at home all day, every day. So, I needed a car for adventures. And sanity.) She's purple in the sunlight. I named her Iris in honor of a certain skunk ape from Monster Haven. 

We went to the Oztoberfest and watched the Oz shenanigans while eating lunch from a food truck. Then we tasted many different wines from the Oz Winery and bought several bottles. Lest you should think the Oz winery was a spontaneous side trip, you should know the bartender recognized us from several earlier trips, despite the unusually heavy crowd. Oz wine is special. It comes from the other side of the rainbow.

A lot of other things happened this year. Two of my dearest friends were married. My daughter started college. My son moved out, but started coming home most days to have lunch with me. My friends showered me with love and support. My readers were enthusiastic and patient. My brother and I grew closer through all the difficulties we shared. And as always, my husband stayed by my side no matter how grouchy, sad, or introverted I became.

So here we are, nearly at the end of the year. Not a bad year after all, was it? I looked for the good, and I found it. And in the end, I remembered where I left my smile.  I hope your year has been filled with more good than bad. And I hope you never lose your smile.

Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.

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  1. So very sorry to hear about your father...

    I do think the reindeer were magic and the whole corn episode certainly had a spooky feel to it!

  2. Thank you, Veronica. :-)

    The corn thing was just weird. I spent the rest of the trip wondering what that front desk guy was thinking.

  3. Am very sorry for your loss. Glad you got a chance to embrace so many great experiences this year, though. :)

    1. Thanks, Christine. Next year will be even better.

  4. Hugs to you and your family and huge thanks for this post. It really spoke to me!


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