Hey, Stranger! Let Me Introduce Myself… #Hello2016

Hello

Bonjour! I hope everyone’s having a stellar new year so far.

When Anna over at Herding Cats & Burning Soup came up with this idea for a blog hop, I was pretty stoked! Basically, here’s how this one goes. In this hop, we’re to introduce you to fun, quirky things about ourselves and/or our blogs. Not the boring, obvious stuff like I’m an erotica writer who can turn practically anything into innuendo….but more random, surprising, or maybe disturbing things. PLUS, we give stuff away AND a lot of cool authors and bloggers are involved.

Is there anything better than FUN & FREE?

So here goes….

Image courtesy of Karen Shaw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Karen Shaw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My biggest fear is not blood or guts or gore…. If you want to see me get all weak, girly, and scream like someone murdered me (aka not in the good, orgasmic way)… watch me when I see a frog. I completely lose my dignity. Don’t believe? Read about it….HERE.

I don’t care what anyone thinks. They. Are. NOT. Cute!

Hospital

In a past life I worked for a hospital for several years. The tales I tell are both comical and a bit disconcerting with the strange things people have done…Check it OUT!

On a personal level?

Yup! I AM that girl that pretty much turns everything into a song. This was a little snippet from my wedding day. My sister gave me a hug, and someone said something like…”Awww, look at the sisters…” Which caused me to break into this song, and my sister to chime in. Yes, it’s a family thing. I come by it naturally.

The strange? Cause, ya know…. There had to be the strange, right?

My favorite flip flops and toe rings

My biggest insecurity body image insecurity came from my feet. I hated them with a passion. Felt they were ugly….until I met a foot fetishist who helped me view my feet in a different way. Here’s THAT story.

As for what most consider my most contradictory characteristic? I guess it’s the fact that despite writing ménage erotica, I don’t consider my very outspoken, focused belief in the Freak Flag, letting it fly to contradict my very passionate belief in Christianity and my faith. In fact, I wrote about that, too. It even got me on GirlBoner radio with August McLaughlin.

Anyway…. that’s a bit about me. Now, to tell you what I’m giving away and how to qualify.

I’m feeling generous. I’m giving away 3 books. Two are mine. (Three For All & Four One Night) The third? It’s a project I was honored enough to participate in… all about empowering female sexuality. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. The book? Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality. They are all in ebook format.

To win, I want you to share something unique and personal about yourself with me. Something that might surprise people, or maybe what you’re passionate about, or which body issues you’ve overcome. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s in the spirit of getting to know each other.

And if you want a chance at more prizes? Check out the link below and visit the other participants!

Checking In to Say I Haven’t Checked Out!

So things in my universe have suddenly gotten very “whirlwind-y,” but that doesn’t mean I’m gone or have disappeared. I promise. In fact, tomorrow will be my first day off in about 14 days and I’m looking forward to it with bated breath.

I also have some friends lined up to come by and visit with us all…and I can’t wait to share them with you, but in the meantime, here are some things that have brightened my smile and helped give me the energy I need to persist.

Yeah, so maybe I have a bit of a girl crush on Naya Rivera… Who could blame me? Santana’s effin’ hot! Of course, I’m equally in love with Rachel Barry’s voice, but who isn’t? Seriously, Lea Michele is uber talented, and despite her shitty ass year of losing her fiancé, Cory Monteith, she’s plowed on….continuing with Glee AND releasing a new album!

Then there’s this one… one of my all time fave musicians, Billy Joel, playing with Jimmy Fallon. Tell me this app is not badass! See, this is why I love working “in my real life” in the wireless technology biz. So many cool things.

This song reminds me of my sister and me when we’d sing together in our youth… And yes, these two young ladies from the tv show Nashville are sisters in real life, too. Oddly enough, it was my younger sister who tended to do the harmony when we sang, too. 🙂 And then there’s the lyrics… How uplifting to remind us that it’s the simple things that count!

Finally, although Christian Kane is (and always will be) my all time favorite Leverage member (and an awesome musician in his own right), there’s something absolutely enchanting about listening to Hardison (aka Aldis Hodge) play this particular Scheherazade solo. Yeah…with the hectic chaos that has been the last two weeks, I’ve found it soothing.

What about you guys? Anything new, fun, or just beautiful that you’ve discovered lately that you’d like to share? What’s new in your lives? I’ve missed you guys!

Senses Of Happiness

Life isn’t always easy. In fact, one of the few guarantees we have is that there will be hardships. The trick is in overcoming. Every once in a while I’ll find self doubt creeping into my head. Like you, I’m human…unless, of course you’re a machine sent by the upcoming Robot Apocalypse my buddy Austin is constantly warning us about…so, despite my usually sunny outlook, even I occasionally falter.

Well, recently another new friend wrote a post where he talked about the 5 Senses and feeling more alive. I do something similar…except I think about what makes me feel good. Usually I stick to one or two senses, but today I’ll explore them all…When I’m done, I’d love to hear what things tickle your happy senses (aka send you to your happy place).

Sight: There are a few things that do it for me, but the ones that bring on the senses of inner happiness are almost always natural.

My Dogs keeping me company while I write

My Dogs keeping me company while I write

My pups can always put a smile on my face. They love to keep me company when I’m working. So when I get stuck or frustrated, a quick look at them lying behind me will put a smile on my face.

A bird tucked into my windshield

A bird tucked into my windshield

Who doesn’t appreciate sweet surprises like this when you head back to your car? How can you not smile at the utter cuteness?

Watching the sun set (this one's at Turtle Beach)

Watching the sun set (this one’s at Turtle Beach)

Yeah, there’s something about the natural beauties…especially when coupled with spontaneity that do it for me.

Sound: There are several things that makes my heart smile. Laughing babies…High on that list.

Music, as you all know, is always big on my list… Even more so when singing with my sister. Here’s a little clip of us goofing off on my wedding day.

Smell: I’m not so complicated. There’s something about that new car smell…It’s reeks of accomplishment. Vanilla makes me feel warm and fuzzy because it makes me think of baking and family. Freshly mown grass…speaks to new beginnings.

The Jasmine at my walk up

The Jasmine at my walk up

As I’ve gotten older I’ve really come to adore the smell of jasmine… Having my own home means I can grow it right at my front walkway to greet me as I head out or come in.

My two favorite Coffee mugs

My two favorite Coffee mugs

My ultimate favorite smell in the world, though? Coffee. In fact, it’s also up there with my favorite tastes… (Don’t you love the segue?)

Taste: Party in my mouth you say? Hmmm…. Hubby makes some great desserts that make me feel good and put a smile on my face.

Hubby's Blueberry Stuffed French Toast Casserole

Hubby’s Blueberry Stuffed French Toast Casserole

Sure, combine my love for breakfast and my love for dessert. It’s bound to be a HUGE hit!

Italian Beef from Portillo's

Italian Beef from Portillo’s

Or going back home and biting into an awesome Italian Beef (and I blame Katie from Sass & Balderdash for putting this in my head today).

But my all time favorite happy food? Cheesecake…and hubby makes an amazing Pumpkin swirl (that swirl is chocolate!).

Hubby's Pumpkin Swirl Cheescake

Hubby’s Pumpkin Swirl Cheescake

Touch:Well, you all know I’m a sensualist… Yes, I love exactly where your minds all went. Yes, great sex makes me smile. But it’s some of those little things that lead up to that “Crescendo” (Heh!) that just warm me from the inside out:

  • The soft brush of velvety soft lips at the curve of my neck
  • Strong, loving arms wrapped around me to make me feel safe and keep the world at bay
  • Hard body pressed to mine, dancing me across a room (often with no music playing)
  • A sweet kiss dropped absently on my lips just because he felt like it
  • A no holds barred tickle fight (Yeah, who can resist that laughter)

So what makes you feel good? What helps you remember all the little things that go wrong don’t really matter? What helps put you in your happy place?

Evolution From Sister To Friend

Those of you who’ve been reading me for a while have heard me talk about my sister and how she helped to inspire me to chase my writing dreams.  She’s the one who wondered why I wasn’t writing in the first place.  She’s the one who got my membership to the Florida Writer’s Association…to encourage me and to push me to follow my dreams. (Oh, and she was also the one who saved us from that evil frog in the toilet)

Well, in about a week, she and her husband, along with her furbaby will be down for a visit.  I’m excited!  I love to spend time with my sister. We do all those girly things…shop, get our nails done, read by the pool. We also spend a fair amount of time singing together. We’ve been doing it our whole lives.  Where I’m the writer in the family, she’s the musician.  In fact, not only was she my maid of honor, she also sang in my wedding.

But there was a time…a long, long time ago…where she was my annoying kid sister.  She came along when I was two.  My mom says we were inseperable. In fact, I was her translator. She’d say “Oh Dear!” and I was the one who would tell my mom that she wanted “orange joice”.  Yeah…still not sure how those two translated, but apparently I had kid-sister-speak down!

And we used to move around a lot (being military brats it was a given), so there were times where all we had was each other.  Until my brother came along two years later, then my other brother, two years after that.  Oddly enough, the only two children born in the same country was me and our youngest brother.  We were both born in the Philippines.  My sister was born in California, then we moved to Germany, where my other brother was born.

It was in Germany that we first played with snow and built the biggest snowman ever! In fact, this is my sister and I with the our parents and the snow man.  My mom would be pregnant with my brother in a month or so… That nose kept falling off, so my dad had to break off a giant icicle later to make his nose.

It was also in Germany where my mom taught us all about the joys of baking.  We’d hit the forest preserve behind our house and go berry picking, then make fresh berry pies. Or sometimes it would be breads. This was also when we were very young and didn’t understand sibling rivalry.  Here’s a pic of us with our brother shortly before we left Germany to head back to the Philippines.

Life in Germany was fun.  We’d got to France sometimes on the weekends… and other times we’d chill at home.  It was then that we learned that our English vocabulary was a bit extensive for our age.  We’d been on a walk with a bunch of kids from church along with some of their parents.  As kids are prone to do, we were running instead of walking.  Well, there was giant horse turd in the middle of the road….and the conversation went something like this (I was 4 or 5 at the time):

Me: Uncle Dennis, Uncle Dennis!
Uncle Dennis: What?
Me: I just jumped over a giant pile of feces!
Uncle Dennis: You WHAT?
Me: I just jumped over a giant pile of feces!
Uncle Dennis: Oh! What do you say when you have to pee?
Me: Pee? Oh! You mean urinate?

Upon arriving back at the house:

Uncle Dennis: Josie, what the heck are you teaching your kids?
Mom: What?
Uncle Dennis: Feces? Urinate?
Mom: I don’t understand…
Uncle Dennis: Your daughter jumped over some poop and called it feces.
Mom: What’s poop?
Uncle Dennis: You know, crap, dung…POOP!
Me: Mom, he’s talking about feces.
Uncle Dennis: Who talks like that?
Pastor’s Wife (laughing): I remember when I was young we just called it #1 and #2!

And that was just the beginning.  You see, my mom was born and raised in the Philippines, so her knowledge of the English language was very technical and all from school.  She had no idea about slang, so she taught us English the way she learned it.  Our next tour was back in the Philippines.  This is where the closer than close relationship my sister and I had began to evolve.  She was very unhappy when I started going to school because it meant I wasn’t there with her anymore.  It didn’t help that people at church would tease her by telling her they were taking me away with them.  She would cry…until we told her they were just teasing.

It was also at this time when I gave her “the haircut”. Oh, yeah…  Mom really was NOT happy with me for that one.  In third world countries during this time, lice was not uncommon.  Not only did you learn in school what they looked like, you learned how to search for them.  What did I do to my trusting little sister with that knowledge?  Well…before I continue I plead “the devil made me do it”. I was playing with her hair one day when I got this brilliant idea.  Looking down into her hair, knowing how trusting she was, I thought I’d play a practical joke (I was about 8).  The tsking sounds started to come.  Lil sis got steadily more concerned until she couldn’t hold it in anymore…

Sis: What? What’s wrong?
Devil Me: Nothing  ::sigh::
Sis: Something’s wrong. Tell me!
Devil Me: You have lice.
Sis: (wailing) Oh no!  Get it out! Get it out!
Devil Me: I don’t know….
Sis: Please!
Devil Me: Ok, wait here.  I’ll get the scissors.
Sis: Thanks!
I proceeded to hack a big chunk of hair right out of the center of her head…about as close to the scalp as you can get.  Needless to say, mom was furious.  It didn’t matter to her that I’d gained my sister’s consent first.  I got my butt paddled.  Poor sis had to wear all sorts of funky hairdo’s with barettes, trying to pull hair over to cover the near bald spot I gave her.

Here is one of the last pictures taken with all four of us back in the Philippines.  I’d just finished doing a native Filipino dance for one of the school performances, so I’m dressed in local Filipino attire along with the coconut husks they use in the dance. Sis’s hair had grown back…thank goodness!

Our relationship changed again when I was about 15 years old. My sister had started dating for the first time.  In fact, she was dating my boyfriend’s best friend.  This was their first time alone together and I knew that this would probably be her first kiss.

Me: So? How did it go?
Sis: (sour face) Ok. He doesn’t know how to kiss though.
Me: What do you mean he doesn’t know how to kiss? Wasn’t this your first kiss?
Sis: Yeah.
Me: So how would you know?
Sis: Because when he kissed me he stuck his tongue in my mouth then left it there like a dead fish!
Me: (laughing hysterically) Like a dead fish? He just stuck it there and left it? Eww!
Sis: Yeah! Even I know that’s not how French kissing goes.  I’ve seen you do it often enough….
Me: Hey! I am so not looking forward to telling his best friend about this…
Sis walks away laughing…

And so the relationship began to evolve back towards friendship. Sisters are great! We laugh with each other, we cry with each other.  We push each other to reach for our dreams.  And we have each other’s backs…even when the enemy is mom.  LOL!  I will say this about the next story. Being a parent takes intestinal fortitude. Being a single parent is even harder because there’s no one to share the burden with….so understand her craziness came from fear…for me repeating her mistakes, for my life to be over before it began…I get it…but it still doesn’t change the fact that I was falsely accused.  😉

Mom: (waving a foil packet with pills in it in my face and screaming) You’re on birth control? You’re having sex? I haven’t given you permission to go on birth control!
Me: What are you talking about? I’m not on birth control. I haven’t had sex!
Mom: Then what’s this? (waves packet in my face again) Don’t lie to me! I know you’re on birth control. I’m not stupid!
Me: MOM! I’M. NOT. ON. BIRTH. CONTROL!
Mom: No? Well then whose are these? You’re on birth control.  Do you want to end up making the same mistakes I did?
Me: (yeah, a bit of a smartass) If I wanted to make the same mistakes you did, would I be on birth control?
Mom: See? I KNEW it!
Me: MOM! I swear, I’m not on birth control!
Mom: Then what’s this?
Sis: (coming from the bedroom) What is all the screaming about?
Mom: Your sister is having sex! See? (she waves packet in sis’s face) She’s on birth control!
Sis: (grabs packet from Mom’s hand) This?
Mom: Yes!
Sis: Mom! These are my cleaning enzymes for my contacts. Did you READ the label?
Mom: Oh!
Sis: Yeah. Oh!
Me: See? I told you I’m not on birth control!

I’m thankful every day for my sister.  She’s become my best friend over the years… The above song is actually a song we’ve been known to sing together. In fact, a friend recorded us singing the song together the day we were preparing for my wedding.  Maybe I’ll see if I can dig it up and put it on here for ya’ll to hear if I can find it again…. That is, if anyone is interested.

So tell me…who has been the rock in your life? The one constant…to see you through the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows? Who pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to be better than you are today? Do you have siblings? Any funny or silly stories to share?  I’d love to hear them!