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Me: Part 2

Us and boysAfter a couple of years in the country, we relocated back to Nashville where I went through two years of high school before another move to Murfreesboro, an hour south of Nashville. During my high school, I got involved in school programs, ranging from sports – basketball, track and swimming – to acting (yes, acting!) and church (I was secretary of our CYO group) and even earned a 100 hour badge as a candystriper volunteering at the local V.A. hospital.

Despite all these activities, the transition to Murfreesboro was tough since I’d left some close, wonderful friends behind during a crucial time in my teenage years to try to gain acceptance in a school where most everyone had grown up together. I processed my feelings in writing and escaped into books even more. In fact, I often got in trouble for reading off-topic in class — even honors English class.

I absolutely loved writing and felt comfortable doing so. So much so, that in college, I frequently wrote other student’s term papers along with my own.  I left school to earn a paycheck, married young and soon had a couple of children and life as a stay at home mom bringing in a little side money as a sportswriter for a local weekly paper and then working as a stringer for another local newspaper.

My tumultuous six-year-marriage ended so I entered the ranks of the 9-5 employed in customer service. A few years later I remarried a wonderful man — my best friend — and continued to work, too busy to write. I returned to school and received a B.A. (cum laude, I might add) in Mass Comm from Middle Tennessee State University. While there, I was writing for the school newspaper and as a stringer with the Tennessean, covering some random stories from a major pollution issue to the cotton crop’s prospects to tragedies such as a young boy dying from diabetes.

After graduating, I moved into a fulltime reporters role with a suburban Nashville daily paper and wrote for a few years longer before deciding a corporate communications job would be more lucrative. I simultaneously joined forces with a friend of my brothers and co-wrote a screenplay and, with my partner’s approval, wrote the subsequent novel based on the story. It gathered dust on a shelf as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged on but I’m glad to say became my first published novel, Empty Sky, which was finally published in 2014.

The art came into play this way: My two sons joined different branches of the military and served in Iraq. They both served in the infantry and both were embroiled in some of the worst fighting during our years there. My eldest, a Marine, was in Nasariyah in the beginning of the war which was described as “a Turkey Shoot, with our Marines as the targets.”  My younger son was in the mechanized infantry in Anbar Province where half-ton IEDs were the widow-makers and son-stealers.

I’ll be honest. It unbalanced me for a few years. Not that I became a raging alcoholic or ended up in an institution. Rather, I let anger and outrage over what I perceived as an egregiously ill-advised course of action eat away at me. I was bitter and intense and outspoken and not a pleasant person to be around.

Then I found art.

My sons were stateside and safe and I was able to let down my guard. With a makeshift studio beckoning, I taught myself some basics and took classes and workshops and found a community of fellow artists to paint with.  It was the release I needed and at once my soul felt so much lighter!

Technological advances sent my consulting business the way of travel agencies, and forced me to find steady employment. I did, and have since moved to Florida with my husband. Thankfully, we have a great home with a great studio and separate office where I can paint or write as is my inclination. I decided after finally publishing Empty Sky last year to take a stab at completing the sketch of another story I’d started years ago. Over this past several months I finished it. It is my sweet second novel The Gray Lady of Long Branch and it’s being released August 25.  I hope you’ll consider reading it!


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Yay, the Conference is Over! I can go back to painting again!

The weekend conference, put on for Veterans and Military Families for Progress, was a tremendous success despite modest attendance. We were able to push out a lot of great ideas, inform those veterans, military family members, vets advocates, government officials, and the news media in the audience of a number of important issues, developments, and more related to our constituents. I had a lot vested in this because the group included Pete, one of my sons and his “band of brothers” a group of seven Iraq War vets in all who served in deadly Anbar Province together. Three are purple heart recipients and one has been awarded the Silver Star. We had been fortunate to put out a financial appeal ang received donations to “sponsor” the travel expenses and attendance of these men and some of their family members. It was, in my opinion, a great investment.

We all got to listen to Congressmen, a V.A. Assistant Secretary, an Undersecretary of the Pentagon, and a White House Special Assistant too! We heard compelling stories from military family members, veterans, and healthcare providers that treat veterans and those serving, as well as educators, employers and more. The main thing is, it is over, my effort paid off, and I learned and experienced a tremendous amount during the weekend. I know my son and all his army buddies did too.

Now, though, I am spent, both emotionally and physically and I can’t wait to get back to painting! Tonight I am spending the night at my lovely friend Pat’s home, located in the area around Manassas Battlefield! It’s a wonderful quiet and peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of metro Washington, D.C. and we had a gorgeous walk in the battlefield with her black lab, Sherman. Pat, an art school graduate, showed me some of her work and encouraged me onward, noting my photography background would be helpful in composition. I took tons of photos of Sherman in the fields and Pat said she wants to paint landscape paintings incorporating him in them. I’ve promised to send her a CD of the pics. She uses her art, by the way, in her graphic design / trade show exhibit business called Showcase Portable Exhibits. Affordable trade show/ exhibit displays by a talented, great person (and fellow former Blue Star Mom!). Use her if you have the need and tell her “Moesse” sent you!