Tag Archives: independence

Independence comes with tragedy and comedy, article by Holden Robinson

Gilbert Gottfried once said, “Tragedy plus time equals comedy.”  I’m not sure if that’s true. As a gal approaching middle-age, a glorious time filled with hot flashes, aches and pains in body parts most don’t know exist, and a range of new prescription medications, I have lived through my share of tragic times.

Many of these tragedies I have shared with my family, my friends, and my nation. Some are more personal, such as watching my daughter leave home, and losing my beloved cabin in the woods, just last year. Despite my age, I have been able to hang on to a bit of naiveté, if you will. I seek the best in all I meet, and want to believe that most people are truthful, kind, and truly care about their fellow man. Sadly, this isn’t always true.

I saw this firsthand last year, when I placed my beloved home into the hands of a company that cared more about bottom-line and covering their proverbial you-know-what than providing the quality service I needed.  As a result, my sweet little cabin, with knotty pine walls that absorbed eight years of laughter and tears, was irreversibly damaged. On a snowy March evening, with seven rescue pets crammed into a Chevy Blazer, I escaped what could have been a deadly situation. Walt Disney could have turned it into a 78 minute film with a meaningful message, but in reality, it was horrifying, and left me broken.

In the days that followed, I became acquainted with a word I’d only heard in passing and read in articles. Homelessness. By all definition, I was homeless. Sure, I had a roof over my head, and better yet, I didn’t have to make any decisions at all, as my aging mother, with whom I now live, was more than happy to dictate and supervise my every move, but I was, by definition, without a home.

My heart was broken. I wasn’t sure what to do or where to turn. I didn’t know anyone who’d lost their home to a fuel oil spill. Was there a support group?  I got hugs, and kind words, and a nice letter from my insurance company that said, “Sorry we don’t cover that,” but I needed more. I needed to reach deep down inside myself to find the strength to overcome a personal tragedy.

I turned to the written word. I revisited a manuscript I had set aside while my life was a whirlwind, a delightful comedy I’d fallen in love with one word at a time, in a little corner of that now-ruined cabin, while the world around me slept. Gradually the tears stopped, replaced by laughter. As I read, rewrote, and rewrote a bit more, I found myself again, the real me, the person not defined by country, address, or the word, homelessness.

I turned a side-splitting comedy, into a side-splitting comedy with a very poignant message. I added new chapters and wrote a quote that I carry in my pocket.

We are not invisible because the world does not see us. We become invisible when we can no longer see ourselves.*

This became my personal mantra. I wouldn’t allow myself to disappear into this tragedy. I couldn’t allow it. I needed to maintain a sense of self and allow what happened to simply be something that happened. I couldn’t let it define me. By recommitting to my project, and immersing myself in its story, and in the laughter, I found joy again.

I rediscovered myself, and remembered why it is I do what I do. I write because I am the best version of myself when I am creating something that will make someone laugh, or think, or even cry. I am the best version of myself when I write about something that matters to me, and matters to others. I write for the email that I open late at night, for the few words staring back at me, “I loved your book. It really made me think about my life.”  I began writing comedy to help my best friend deal with the real-life situation which is the inspiration for my soon-to-be-released novel, Becoming Mona Lisa. I made her smile, and healed her wounds, like a literary Neosporin. It made the horror of what she endured leave less of a scar.

Like most writers, I am frequently asked why I write, when I write, and how often I write. I write a lot!  I write notes, because I am approaching middle-age, and if I don’t make a note to “take a shower,” I might forget. I leave myself a note to take my notes for the very same reason.

I write a blog about the zany world of retail, because if I said what I think, to the customer who is screaming profanities at me like a toddler who can’t get a KitKat in the check-out line, I’d be shown the door and told to never return. I like my job, and I love my co-workers.

I have a work in progress about animal rescue, because it helps me to process the evil I see, and balance it with the goodness I find in the advocacy community.

I don’t write for the money. Most of us don’t. Sure, I’d love to sell a million books, but I haven’t yet. Last year I sold enough books to cover my costs and get a sub from Subway. I broke even, and the sandwich was terrific!

Writing is therapeutic, healing, and calming, and allows us a certain amount of control in a world filled with chaos.

But mostly, at least in the last year, I have written for the laughter, for it is the laughter that healed a seriously broken heart, and perhaps making others laugh will bring in enough for two sandwiches this year.

*Quote from Holden Robinson’s Becoming Mona Lisa.


Holden Robinson

Holden Robinson is the author of The House of Roses, published 2010, and Becoming Mona Lisa, available July 2012, both by Black Rose Writing, and is the creator of the blog, Tommy’s Tool Town. Robinson lives in upstate New York, with her beloved pets, and is committed to animal rescue and advocacy.

Find Holden’s The House of Roses on Amazon.

Connect on Facebook.
For a zany look at the hysterical world of retail, visit Holden’s blog at Tommy’s Tool Town.

Opening photo by Eski_seal, Photobucket


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Blank Slates, by Vicki V. Lucas

It doesn’t surprise me that the United States of America is the place where self-publishing exploded for self-publishing contains the same ideals the founding fathers had on July 4th, 1776. On that momentous day, they created a place where people could change their destiny whether as individuals or corporately. All that is needed is motivation, creativity, and determination. Dr. Ed Feulner writes in The American Spirit,

“What really makes Americans fundamentally different is that for every American, life starts off as a blank slate.”

My great-grandparents seized their chance to fill the blank slate when they left all they had in Missouri to go west with their horses and wagons. Was it easy? Nope. In the middle of the prairies, they woke to find their horses gone. They had no one to stop by, no town to walk to, and no one to come rescue them. But a stranger rode up. Knowing the area, he led them to the horses. The people who had stolen the horses agreed to let my great-great grandparents have them if the horses came when they called. The horses came. By the way, the stranger’s name was Kit Carson. My great-grandparents didn’t make it rich in the west, but they filled their slate in their own way with amazing adventures, friends, and family.

My grandpa also rewrote his life. Always saddened at being born too late for the pioneer days, he retired early and settled in Alaska on a lake at the base of Mt. McKinley. He carried in the supplies, cut down trees, and built a log cabin. (Need I remind you he was in his fifties?) There were no roads. He could get there by walking, flying, or snowmobiling. After fifteen years, my grandpa suffered through several major heart attacks. He had to leave the wilderness and return to civilization. He entertained me for years by telling me of the adventures he had.

This pioneering, independent spirit of mine has been passed down from great-grandparents to me. They taught me that life isn’t about following the crowd. It’s about knowing what you want to do and seizing it, no matter what it costs or how long it takes. Walk two thousand miles to get there? Go hunting in negative thirty degree weather? Yes. But look at the joy from the obedience of the horses. The awe of Northern Lights filling the sky with vibrant colors. Life is only a grey shadow if it is not filled with great adventures.

While self-publishing seems a lot less tame than what my forefathers endured, I embrace it with all the American spirit handed down to me by previous generations. Self-publishing gives me the liberty to rewrite my life. I am not bound by restrictions as I once was. Each day, I am free to choose what needs to be done. And unlike many other authors, I have freedom of writing. I don’t have anyone who takes control of my stories. No one says to change the characters’ names or the theme of the book. No one says that people don’t buy certain kinds of books anymore, so write something different.

The American dream has given us the chance to chart our own lives, so does self-publishing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written for years or days – you can start where you are. If something doesn’t work for you, you can change your direction or try something completely different. Your life is yours.

It can be lonely, difficult, and overwhelming. Some days, I feel like I’m wandering in a giant prairie, never seeing the end, and then my horses are stolen. But I know I’ll overcome, just as my family did before me. I will succeed because I will persist.

Does your destiny need to be changed? Not feeling free? Are chains holding you down? Perhaps it’s time to ignite the American Spirit within you given so long ago on July 4th, 1776 and pursue your life, liberty and happiness. Wipe your slate clean and join me in the freedom of self-publishing. There’s plenty of room out here for you!


Vicki V. Lucas

I have always struggled with the question “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I received my Bachelor’s in Psychology…only to find myself with no desire to work in that field. I switched careers to Teaching English as a Second Language and obtained a Master’s from Seattle Pacific University. Thankfully, I found joy in the classroom. Teaching at universities and community colleges gave me eleven years of incredible experiences, remarkable coworkers, and unforgettable friends from many different countries. However, the distant mountains began to call, and I responded, not knowing where I was going or what my purpose was. After a year and a half of traveling through the quiet places that are left in the world, I settled in Montana with my husband and my dog. I have begun to write the stories I heard on the wind.

Connect with Vicki on her webpage, Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog.


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Publishing

Admitting a Need for Help, by Denise Hisey

Denise Hisey


The word often evokes a sense of freedom, strength and dignity. For many of us, it also implies complete self-sufficiency even when we need help.

When we are depressed about past or current situations, we usually need some form of help. Unfortunately, this is also when we are most likely to withdraw or put on a mask.

Fear and shame sometimes make it difficult to admit we have been hurt and need help.

Freedom from abuse, dysfunction and depression is obtainable ….but we must first be willing to admit we need support.

Getting to the point….

Getting to the point of admitting I needed help with my dysfunctional behavior was hard enough, but at least that was on my own terms. When I actually made an appointment to seek professional help, I felt pathetic, crazy and terrified. Mostly, though, I felt vulnerable. I had spent a lifetime carefully crafting my shield of armor to keep me safe. Even considering shedding this armor was frightening. I look back now and can see that I frantically held onto my reasons for not asking for help mainly to protect myself from feeling vulnerable. After my list of reasons, I will explain why it is important for us all to move past them.

Three Reasons I Didn’t Want to Ask For Help

1. I liked myself the way I was.

It was everyone else who had a problem. If they would only have stopped being so irritating, my life naturally would have been much more peaceful. It wasn’t my fault I got angry and threw things, screamed or punched a hole in the bathroom door. After all, it was the only way to get my family’s attention.

 2. I couldn’t afford it.

Counseling and personal growth classes cost time, energy and money. Mine was far better spent doing damage control than understanding and preventing my destructive behavior. The time I took off from work to meet with the teacher because my kid was acting out didn’t count, the hours spent arguing with my husband and kids were normal, and the peace and quiet I had at night because no one wanted to be around me was relaxing.

3. It would be depressing.

You’ve seen people in counseling. They cry, get all introspective and touchy feely. They are depressed and depressing to be around. They eat even more than before. They think just because they’re in counseling or a personal growth class everyone should do the same. They think they’ve found the cure for The Human Condition. They don’t understand there is no Human Condition; it’s just their condition. They drive you crazy and I sure didn’t want to be One of Them.

Well, it’s true, I became One of Them and am now unashamedly a proponent of personal growth, counseling and therapy. It is the only reason I am here to share my story and encourage others. We all have different levels of dysfunction and therefore need different levels of help. The list of places to get help is lengthy and varied.

The point is – if you want to get better and be better, you have to think better and do better. The only way to do this is by having someone else help you understand yourself. We can’t figure this out or fix it on our own. We aren’t wired for it. God created us to need each other. We must find someone safe to pick each other up and hold each other accountable. I’m convinced that if we try to do it ourselves, we will end up by ourselves.

Emotional chemotherapy….

Let me be perfectly honest with you, however; it’s not fun and it’s not easy. It’s like emotional chemotherapy. We’ve got to kill the deadly cells so new healthy ones have somewhere to live because they cannot co-exist. Choosing to do nothing about your anger, pain or grief is like choosing to die an emotional death. Would you say no thanks to chemo just because you knew your hair would fall out and you’d vomit for days on end? I thought not. For the same reason, I encourage you to choose emotional chemo – buy a book like “How People Grow,” sign up for “Understanding Personal Relationships” at a community college, meet with your pastor, find a therapist.

Let me assure you, the journey is worth the tears and fears. There is hope, relief and freedom waiting for you. I hope you’ll consider that you can’t do it all, but you can do something. I think you’ll be glad you did. My family and I are.

How about you? What are the reasons you have or have not asked for help?


Denise Hisey

Denise Hisey is a survivor of chronic, severe childhood abuse. Asking for help didn’t come easy, but she highly recommends it. Her memoir is still stuck in her head, but screams to be set free! She lives in Washington State with her husband and enjoys riding her motorcycle when weather allows. Her growing family is her pride and joy!

Find her blogging at Inspired 2 Ignite or reading on Goodreads.


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers