Celebrating Real World Heroes – Pt 3

Logan Dress Blues2

For the past two weeks, we’ve been sharing stories between our real world heroes and the women they love.  This week, we’re going to look at it a little differently. Our story and hero this week comes from a small town in Wisconsin. Logan Artz, the only son to John and Peggy Artz, has been serving our country for a little over two years. Logan had dreams of serving his country in the area of aviation. After meeting with recruiters and discovering he had some color blindness, he was told not only would he never be able to serve in his chosen field, his opportunities in the Armed Forces were significantly limited.

Logan absorbed the information from the recruiter and ultimately decided that serving his country, in whatever capacity they would have him, was what he wanted to do. Not wanting to take the easy way out, though, he decided to join the Marine Corps, In his opinion, it was the toughest and he wanted to push himself and excel.

He shipped out for boot camp on Mother’s Day-2012.  While his mother was proud and supported his decision to join, saying good-bye on such a special day proved bittersweet.  As a close, personal friend of his Mom’s, I witnessed the heartache she felt while he was away. After having spoken to him every single day of his life for 18 years, she would now have to wait weeks before hearing the sound of his voice. His letters proved that being so far away from the only home and family he’d ever known was putting him through some serious emotional trials, just as the day-to-day tests in boot camp provided physical and mental trials. 

The bond between this family was strong, though, and Logan graduated with his proud family watching, I’d wager, with a few tears in their eyes. Their son had transformed into a man.

Me and Logan UniformEven though his marksmen scores were exceptionally high, because of the challenges with his eyesight, the Corps assigned him an administrative position in finance. That hasn’t stopped Logan from wanting to serve his country overseas. In fact, he has volunteered to deploy on several occasions.  While waiting for orders, he continues to perform his role in finance exceptionally well according to his commanding officers. In fact, he is up for a promotion by October 1st. 

Knowing that he wants to have “life after the military,” Logan obtained approval for tuition assistance and is currently enrolled in some evening college courses held on base.  He is hoping to complete his Associate’s Degree in Accounting over the next two years and, unless he re-enlists, plans on attending a University following completion of his enlistment term.  All of this, of course, provided he is not chosen to deploy. 

Heroes serve our great nation in all different capacities. Their willingness to leave their homes, families and, many times, everyone they know requires a sacrifice that not everyone is willing to give.  Knowing their son could be deployed worries his parents, but they know-whatever happens-they are so proud of the man he has become and his desire to serve the greater good of his country. Most definitely their (and our) real world hero!

Me Sonny and Logan

Celebrating Real World Heroes – Pt 2

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Today as we celebrate our real world heroes, I have another beautiful love story to share!  This story is courtesy of Holly Van Howe.  Her grandfather, Peter Paul Welko – known to Holly and the family as Grandpa Moonie, started his service to our country stateside in the Army (Calvary) before WWII.

After he was discharged, he asked the love of his life, Josephine, to marry him and spend the rest of their lives together. On the morning of December 7, 1941 Pete and Jo learned, along with the rest of America, about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Knowing what he had to be done, Pete and Jo married THAT afternoon.

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A few days later, Pete enlisted – in the Navy this time – and served as a SeaBee in the Pacific and Guadalcanal.

 

 

 

 

He served his time in the Navy and returned home to Josephine to start their family. They had two sons, Paul and Robert, and celebrated over 50 years together. 1002409_10200789951165397_1688492830_n

We salute this hero and the other brave men and women who fought to defend our country after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They put their lives on hold to protect our land. Thank you to SeaBee Peter Welko for being a real world hero!!

 

Celebrating Real World Heroes!

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This hero is a picture of one of my lovely readers, Pat Saltzgaber’s, husband.  Her hero, ABH3 Robert M Saltzgaber, Jr, served in the US Navy aboard the aircraft carrier, The Intrepid (now a museum in New York harbor). He worked on the flight deck from 1965-1968 during the Vietnam War.

In true romantic fashion, Robert and Pat were married in Feb 1968. He had been informed by Uncle Sam that he would not have to return to Vietnam. However, when he reported in after his leave, he received word that he would be shipped back to the war zone to finish his tour.

For the first seven months of their marriage, Pat waited at home for letters (which, she shares, Robert was very faithful in writing to her!) until finally in September of 1968, his time was up and he got to come home to her waiting arms.  In the first seven months of their married life, they spent only twenty-eight days together!!  Talk about love being patient and always persevering!

I’m happy to report that Pat and her hero have been married for 47 years now!  What a wonderful story of a hero and the woman he loves.  *happy sighs* I do love happily ever after!

Thank you Pat for sharing your pictures and story of your real world hero with us!

 

I’d love to hear about YOUR real world hero (or heroine for the guys!). Please feel free to comment or send the info to me and I’d love to include your story in this segment!

Killer Beach Reads

22 Summer Short Stories

22 Summer Short Stories

A short story collection published July 16th, My short story (a prequel for the Heroes of the Night Series), “Heating up the Night” is in there!

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The ABC’s of Friendship – Friends for a Season

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The ABC’s of Friendship

Part 3 – Friends for a Season

This week in our discussion on friendship, I want to share about those friends who come into our lives for only a short period of time.  In a poem, by an Unknown Author, some of the reasons for a friendship of this nature are discussed.  In part, the poem reads…

“When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.”

Often times we can’t see the “reasons” for a friendship of this nature until they are long over. I recall a very dear friend of mine that came into my life when we started attending the same church. She was much older than me, but we connected in a way I’d never really connected with anyone before. As time progressed, we shared more and more – she was definitely an A+ friend as I turned to her as my world and my marriage started to fall apart. Through her life experience, she was able to walk me through a very difficult time in my life and, I believe, her guidance helped saved my marriage. We remained friends for years after that, but then my job required me to move. Oh we promised, we’d stay in touch and we did…for a while.  Several circumstances and events occurred which caused us to grow further apart. I was hurt. I was angry. I was sad. I missed the woman I’d become so close to. Eventually, after much pain – I let her go.

I wish I’d realized the lesson about friendships for a reason  as I could’ve saved myself so much heartache by fighting to hold on to something that I needed to let go. The season was over.  Because it was a friendship that endured many years, I think it was challenging for me to say good-bye to something and someone who’d meant so much to me.

We all want and need friendships – they are part of the fabric of our lives. The important thing is to recognize when a friendship is coming to an end and be thankful for the time that this person walked along life’s path with you.

*hugs*

Nicole

The ABC’s of Friendship – Pt 2

Yin and yang

Yin and Yang

Remember in high school how you could tell who were friends based on how much they were alike? You have the cool kids, the jocks, and the nerds (just to name a few). Thankfully, as we mature, we realize that the best friends – those we want to have long-term friendships with — don’t have to be just like us. As a matter of fact, we need some differences to keep ourselves from being bored and to expand our horizons.

For the heroine in my first story, Sara, she met her best friend (of the A+ ranking) when they started work together on the same day. When she speaks of Jen in the story, she says this about her:

“Her laughter made me smile and provided a quick burst of much needed energy. We truly had very little in common, but as the Yin to my Yang, she brought balance to my life.”

Wikipedia describes the concept of yin and yang as “…concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary.” In other words, opposites attract.

How often do we find that the people we are drawn to have much in common, yet are also very different from us? I believe a lasting friendship can be formed (regardless of the number of miles between them) if the two people complement each other – like pieces of a puzzle fitting together to make a whole.

My A+ friend has a lot in common with me, yet our personalities are very different. What has that taught us? Her direct “take no crap” approach pushes me to stretch outside my comfort zone and my logic and reasoning helps her to reel it in when necessary.  Two very different pieces that work together to make each of us better people. Yin and Yang.

Do you have a yin to your yang friend? Someone who is very different from you, yet you find common ground to form a strong friendship? If you look around at your group of friends and they are just like you…maybe it’s time to branch out a little. Spread your wings and engage people who are different from you in a conversation.  You might be surprised what you learn!

Next week our discussion on friendship will look at our friends who are with us for only a season. I’ll be sharing about the friendship Melodie, the heroine from the first book in the Heroes of the Night series, had for a season with Tom and what that meant to her life.

Until next time,

Nicole

The ABC’s of Friendship

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One of the most prominent relationships a writer has to focus on, especially a romance writer, is the hero/heroine relationship. Just as important, to me, is who is going to play the role of the heroine’s best friend.  Behind every strong, real-world heroine, is an awesome best friend.

From the time we are old enough to walk, we start to understand the value of friendship. I recently heard a quote in a movie that said, “Friendship is lot rarer than love. There’s nothing guaranteed in it for anyone.”

At first, it appears to be a very extreme quote but when you stop and think about it and think about some of your experiences with friendship, you have to admit there’s some truth.  We’ve all had friendships that were one-sided, a give and take where you had to be all the give and your “friend” did all the taking.

Our friendships are a fluidic, ever-changing type of deal.  I have lots of Facebook “friends” According to Facebook, the number currently stands at 333. Plus, I have some friends that aren’t on Facebook *gasp* LOL  Out of all the “friends” I have, only a very small percentage are what I would consider “A” friends – the person I call first when anything bad or good happens, the one who knows all my secrets (and still loves me anyway!) The other 98% rank somewhere between B – Z on the friendship scale.

Over the next few blog entries, we’re going to explore the ABC’s of friendship and, as a bonus, I’ll share about the Level A friends for the real world heroines in my stories. As you consider the friendships YOU have, how would you rank your friends? Do you have more in the beginning part of the alphabet or only a select few while everyone else fills out the rest of the letters?

 

*hugs*

Nicole

Finding Balance

balance

Earlier this month, someone asked me if I was making any New Year’s resolutions.  My simple answer:  No.

Now it’s not that I don’t like to play along with the majority and adhere to the tradition of making a resolution (though history has taught me if I can make it even to the end of January, I’m ahead of the game). As I mature (i.e. get older), I’ve realized that for at least the past couple of decades, my resolution comes down to one thing:  Finding Balance

I suppose each person has their own ideas about what balance means, but for me it’s the achievement of managing the spiritual, physical, and emotional elements of my life. Only three areas, piece of cake right?

Not so much… LOL

Within those three categories are a plethora of demands, responsibilities, desires, and activities that occur on a regular basis. Unfortunately, they don’t consult with each other to make sure there aren’t conflicting demands on my time.

For example, when I focus…and I mean really focus, on a healthy life style (eating correctly, exercising, getting enough sleep), other areas undoubtedly suffer (my writing time, quality time with family and friends, and household responsibilities).  Why?  Because exercising takes time and, to get the results I need to make it worth my while, lots of time.

I also confess that I can really only focus on one or two areas of improvement in my life at a time. I’m too easily distracted to stay focused 100% of the time.

So what is the answer to finding that elusive balance?  Are you ready?

I don’t know.

(You didn’t really think after scores of self-help, time management and motivation books made the shelves that I’d be holding on to the answer to one of life’s biggest challenges, did you?  🙂 )

What I do know is that balance is worth the effort.  Every day, I start with the mantra, “And so we begin again…”  Some days I do a pretty good job, other days – not so much.

Bottom line:  Life is an evolving and ever changing set of circumstances to which we have to adapt.  It’s not easy and there will be many successes along with many failures. I try to remember that while balance is my destination, I don’t want to miss the joy of the journey. So whatever (or whoever) happens to get my attention on any given day, I want to be sure I enjoy being in the moment with that person or activity rather than focusing on what I’m NOT doing.

Best of luck to you on your trek toward balance and may you enjoy the journey each and every day!

Live, Love, Laugh

Nicole

Decisions – Decisions

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We are fresh off a huge decision making season.  From choosing the perfect gift to give our friends and family to whether or not we’ll make the dreaded new year’s resolutions for the umpteenth time to the thousands of decisions – both minor and major – we make every single day.

My mom has a saying she shared with me from the time I was a small child. Anytime I would complain about the direction of my life, or lack thereof, she reminded me. “Life’s all about choices.” Of course, this sage advice was often followed with another reminder, “You’ve made your bed…now you have to lay in it.”

I don’t know about you, but often times I take the privilege and freedom to make decisions and choices in my life entirely for granted. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “With great freedom, comes great responsibility.”  During a Facebook chat with a young woman in the Philippines recently, she was fussing about the fact her parents were making all of the decisions for her. She stressed to me that “I” got to make ALL the decisions in my life.  She’s right. I do. I reminded her (along with myself) that I also had to live with ALL the consequences as well. (I make my bed…now I have to lay in it.)

Life isn’t easy – we all know this. And unlike the characters in my fiction novels, when I make choices for them…if I don’t like it, I simply hit the backspace or delete key and try again. Unfortunately, we can’t do that in real life.

Many of our choices are simple: What do I eat for breakfast today? One spoon or two of sugar in my tea?  Many are not: Should I stay in this relationship? How can I get through to my kids? Where will I go to college?

These decisions come with far greater and longer lasting consequences (potentially good or bad) that can’t easily be undone with a stroke of some keys on your laptop and often times involve more than just ourselves.

While I’d love to be able to share some great piece of wisdom or plotting wheel to help you ensure you always make the right choices, we both know I’d be blowing smoke if I even tried. What I will share is that when plotting a book, I have to focus on both short and long term goals for my characters and their story arcs. I try to do the same in my own life. What seems horrible today…will it seem as bad when I look back on it in 5, 10, or 20 years?  Is taking the easy way out today and avoiding conflict going to serve me well in the long run?

I could go on and on, but the truth is each of us has our own set of questions we must ask ourselves to deal with the choices life gives us today. I want to close my blog with some of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs – words that remind me each day I can start anew and make fresh choices to alter – whether in a grand way or a subtle way – what the story of my life will be.

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfeld

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

The Importance of Tradition

traditions As the holiday season is upon us, it’s a time to think about traditions.  I always love hearing what traditions people grew up with and which ones they carried on to their family.  It’s satisfying … realizing something you’re doing today will be cherished enough to be repeated for generations to come.

I’ll never forget some of the holiday traditions I had growing up.  Each year, my dad, sister and I would go out and find the perfect “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree to cut down and bring home.  Mom would always have some hot chocolate waiting (and cookies sometimes) to help warm us up before the decorating started.  As was the case with all the household duties, each of us had responsibilities when it came to the tree.  Dad always got it set up in the stand and put the water in the base (important to keep the needles on a live tree for as long as possible) along with stringing the lights. My sister and I were in charge of ornaments and then mom finished it off with the icicles.

When finished, we’d turn off the lights in the living room and turn on the Christmas tree lights.  I still remember the awe and wonder I’d feel every year when the raggedy little tree we’d bring home would transform into this magical, beautiful center of attention in our living room that got me excited about Christmas morning.

As an adult, I still rememeber with fondness those times we worked together as a family to create something magical. To me, that’s what traditions do – they bring us together and help give us a sense of family – a feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Whether its the Christmas tree or Black Friday shopping or the tradition that says no matter what time you get up on Christmas morning, you can open your stocking gifts from Santa 🙂  It was our family code – it was how WE did Christmas!

Each person has different traditions they hold dear and makes us, and our families, unique and special.  So when the craziness of the holiday season threatens to overtake you, find some peace and comfort in your traditions. And, if you happened to grow up in a household that didn’t honor family traditions, there’s no time like the present to start a few of your own 🙂

As the holiday season is underway, I wish for each of you less stress, more love and laughter, and, of course, the joy of tradition!

Until next time

*hugs*

Nicole

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