When we were expecting our daughter, I had my list of names, my husband had his, but the name Chloe was the only one we had both written down.

It means verdant. Some translations say green herb, or young green shoot, and these basic definitions branch off to garden, fertility, and blooming.

Chloe was born with lungs bearing the strength of a thousand green shoots that blossomed to the tallest trees in the world. We didn’t sleep for more than a half hour at a time for months while our little green herb let her feelings be known.

And then she started school and became shy for a while, remaining quietly motivated to bring forth good things from her talents. There it was, that little bloom, that little namesake we placed upon her when she was wrapped inside my belly, quietly suffering the lessons of the playground and schoolwork and bullies; the tiniest signs of spring in a field of snow.

And then, the sharpest of thorns came. I believe junior high is The Test. No one feels like they’re enough as they go through junior high. They were my own worst years, and the terrible, no good, very-bad-day years of most people I know. If you survive it with the tiniest shred of self-esteem and a fragment of an idea of who you are, you win.

I’ve been thinking on the rough seasons lately, and on ways to tackle them. I heard someone say on the radio the other day that not good enough is better than not at all. Ten minutes of exercise is better than none. Less sugar today is better than the gallons you had yesterday. Maintaining—yes, even just keeping what you have but not increasing—your balance and core strength could mean being able to pick yourself off the floor when you’re older.

Our young green shoot who, very early on, foreshadowed her ability to paint her garden vibrant, survived the early years of school, and is becoming quite the creative force. She’s on her way to tackling the world, multiple books, multiple schools, and a plethora of ideas at a time. But no matter how big, small, vibrant or delicate her garden becomes, or what the seasons bring, it will always be enough because she’s learned the gift of resiliency, and will become what she’s designed to be.

And so will you.

March brings us a closer look at what verdant means (See my January post to read about my years-long quest). To discover along with me, follow me on IG and facebook.

A Tale of Two Loves

If you haven’t read my January post, I’m choosing a new word every month for 2023 to explore through the lenses of the arts, family, wellness and wonder. I tried resisting the expected theme for February because it will be shouted from every corner and screen and store. But, after thinking about it for a while, and considering the recent political misuse of the words, love and hate, I thought I’d take a more honest look at love than what the loudest voices tell us. So here I bring you two true stories of love.

For those not familiar, I work part time at a retirement resort. Years ago, a couple from the WW II Generation came to live several apartments away from my desk. The man, O, had been a successful rancher. His once-baked skin and wiry body told everyone how hard he had worked. His wife, K, also worked hard, but from what I understand, served quite a bit of time in the kitchen feeding the men. She became ill in her later years, and was forced to slow down. They had to leave their ranch and move into a place where they didn’t have to work so hard at their day-to-day life. O, still sound in body and mind, in order to care for his wife, traded in his manly man spurs for an apron.

I didn’t get to know K very well—she stayed in her apartment most of the time, or at least the time I worked during the swing shift. But O, a product of a time where gender roles were set in stone, gave up his tough cowboy status for that of a caregiver. I can’t imagine it was easy for either of them. No one wants to be a burden, and no one wants to exchange their heroic storybook reputation for the role of what cultural assignments at that time called the duties of the “weaker”sex (Don’t get me started on the strength it takes to be a mother).

But he did it, and managed to keep a smile on his face. One of my favorite memories is when he shared with me a recipe for the perfect biscuits. He sacrificially loved his wife. It wasn’t his cowboy years that made him a man among men. It was the time he hefted that cross upon his shoulders and cared for his wife in the ways she used to care for others.

My second story brings us H and A.

H used to come out late at night. He was quiet and didn’t talk much to those of us at the desk, but he was friendly enough, and regularly carried his telescope outside to gaze at the stars. He was very patient with all the times we had to check on him after receiving complaints about “some strange man sitting outside in the dark.” Something about his bearing makes me think he’s of the intellectual variety. I don’t know what H or A’s earlier life consisted of, but everyone knows that H loves the stars.

It seemed that he declined fairly quickly, in body and mind. Recently, he had to move over to our unit for people with failing memories. A, as independent as she still is, chose to move with him into a much smaller, controlled, locked down area of our building.

I had never seen her join him on his starlit excursions before, but being the faithful leader that she is, she sometimes brings him through the building for walks after dark where large windows with great views are plentiful. We don’t normally see those suffering with memory loss able to venture out very far at night, but I would like to ask A sometime why she does it. Is it because it’s less busy then and easier for him to balance with his walker, or is she honoring his love for a good nightscape? Maybe both.

I don’t know who wore the jeans and who wore the slacks in their more active years, or if they are even each other’s first or second loves, but every so often, A patiently walks him around when the stars have winked to life. Even when she doesn’t realize she’s seen, I’ve heard kindness come out of her in spades.

It’s not easy for many women to become the protector of her husband. While women protect their children and, often, themselves (especially modern women), they don’t normally need to protect their husbands. But A has stepped into that role, as well as being his provider and gateway to his view of the night sky. And another thing—not every partner sticks around when their loved one begins to fade away. But A, in her great sacrifice and with tremendous grace, has heaved her cross over her stately shoulders for the love of her husband. She is a woman among women.

I find it a great privilege to be able to witness how love continues into old age, especially with our current society being “in it” for quick pleasures and selfish ambitions, but ignorant—or just unwilling to see—what that finish line will look like. Love is sacrifice, no matter what kind of relationship it is. It’s a continuously active, difficult journey through learning to be unselfish and gaining perspective for the good of all. It’s a word. An action. It’s joy and pain wrapped up in a weathered bow. It’s following Christ’s example to the cross, where it reaches so far into the light it will pour out into every generation until the end of the age.

Feel free to tell us your stories of love in the comments below.

Follow me on IG and facebook for quick snapshots of love throughout February.

INTO 2023

A retiree I once knew and loved shared a piece of her story with me at work one afternoon as she whirled by in her long skirt and dangly earrings. Always busy, she was, creating art and offering her talents to the community into her eighties.

A long time ago, when she was pregnant with twins, and living her early years in the age when women mostly stayed home amidst domestic expectations, her husband passed away unexpectedly.

She had to give birth with the knowledge that she was the lone parent and provider of four. A momma. How to make it work when her plans as she knew them were doused in one cruel moment?

What was birthed, along with two healthy twins, turned out to be a renaissance. Through pain and exhaustion, she discovered abilities within her that she had to reach deep down into the darkness to discover. I wish I could remember which profession she found, but it wasn’t one that a person could just enter today without diplomas and experience.

She was a hero of the mightiest kind. She flourished in her career, and somewhere along the way became a respected and honored artist, and a beloved mother. She stayed active in her artwork as long as she was able, and while she was still flourishing at the retirement resort, had the honor of her work displayed in the local arts district downtown, and inside a bustling international airport.

She was a member of the Greatest Generation: a people forged from challenges that never stopped coming. When the retirement place was still full of them, it was like walking through a building full of Phoenixes, the ashes they rose from blown and scattered by the wind long ago.

I feel like the last few years have been a series of birth pains. It’s our time–all existing generations. The outcome could look like anything. Nothing but raw honesty will do if is to be victorius. You see, most of us haven’t been repeatedly sifted quite like the Greatest Generation, and I’m afraid we’re choking on the ashes. It looks like we’re not even done with the battle yet. This could take time to figure out.

Did anyone else feel a restlessness before COVID took hold? The arts had been on a nose dive with remake after remake in theaters. Literature followed suit, and continues to do so. AI is the latest technology used by designers, and humanity is a weakening heartbeat, steadily replacing itself with what’s easier and faster. It seems our culture has found profit to be the most revered god.

The simple act of telling the truth, or challenging someone’s opinion amidst new cultural demands can destroy a person’s life now. No redemptive creatures can come out of such an unhearing mob.

So what to do with 2023?

I’m going on an in-depth, honest exploration of the very things we’re losing ground on. I’d like to invite you to join me, and/or do your own honest exploration of the things that most trouble you. I’ve decided to study a new idea every month and see what it looks like through the lenses of The Arts, Wellness (body*soul*mind), Family, and Wonder. I’ll post about it here at the beginning of each month, and will show my discoveries on Instagram 2-3 times a week. Some of those will spill onto my facebook author page.

Anxious to recapture originality, I’m beginning January with New in a new way.

I’m planning on stearing clear of poliltics as I want to get to the root of things. On some posts I will talk about my faith, so that it remains completely honest.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Join me.

Me on Instagram.

Me on Facebook

My kids help me with my projects and it’s never boring

Art beauty books cats childhood memories children christian Christmas courage dogs dreams encouragement encouragment failures faith Faith Seekers family finding joy freedom free ebook friends God God's grace grace hope Jesus love memories miracles parenting peace perseverance purpose rest sherry rossman speculative fiction strength success superheroes travel unique Wake Wild writing YA Fiction

Greetings from the corner of chaos and art. As you might have seen in my last post this site is under construction, but it doesn’t stop my hands from working. I have a quick update and an offer for you.

First, I’m rebuilding this site because it’s time to refresh and redesign things more in keeping with my writerly direction. More to come on that later.

I had all kind of plans last year, but when the world shook up a little we ended up moving like so many Americans, which took our logical, doable family schedule and smashed it into a million stained glass pieces. The pile of debris was quite vibrant and beautiful, but a pile nonetheless. However, Goodness still leads me forward and the ink still flows.

Earlier this year my short story, Inheritance, was publishsed in Ink’d Publishing’s first anthology. Working with Ink’d was a fabulous experience. If you’re a writer or reader of short stories, I encourage you to check them out. Hidden Villains is a great collection of tales, and one that will not only entertain you, but get you thinking…

Second…….Thanksgiving approaches. To celebrate, Welcome to Velvet, AZ is on sale for .99 November 1st-8th. The characters came to me a few years before the story did and lived in my head until I wrote them into the ficticious town of Velvet. WTVAZ is one of those that wrote itself, and I believe it came to fruition for such a time as this. It’s a tale about a town that gets visited by a curse every Thanksgiving. It’s about the power of words, and how deeply they affect the characters’ lives. Written from multiple points of view to explore the mystery from several different personality types, it’s a work of the heart. Unlike my previous works, it’s darker. To write truthfully, it had to be so (For more sensitive readers I would give it a PG 13 rating).

In the meantime, I’m working on a new novel. It’s taken me longer than usual to complete it, but it’s an incredibly fun story to write and I can’t wait to bring it to you. Think teenagers, the night sky, and a magical trunk.

I also have another short story in the works….more info to follow.

Take care of yourself and I’ll see you soon.

Painting Your Portrait

I once knew a girl who was an accessory. This twenty-one year old memory surfaced this morning as I ran through the squishy ground near my home, swirls of hardening mud from our recent flood beneath my feet.

The contrast was startling: A storm can mix the earth together, spit it out and make it look like a newly painted canvas, but when a storm is finished with a human? The scars always find cracks to grow through.

Her dad needed to appear like a family man to one of his clients, so he brought his daughter to the theater with them—a highly anticipated movie in which to delight. But the experience wasn’t meant for the daughter to take part. It was a shiny lie. She sat in the seat, surrounded by the darkness of her father’s ambition. It was her only memory of going to the movies with her dad.

She developed emotional problems. A low self-esteem—all the symptoms for immediate family members of workaholics.

I worked at the boarding school where her parents shipped her to. A true introvert, she was stuffed into a roomful of bunk beds, and suffered almost as much from lack of space as she did being separated from the parents who didn’t take the time to raise her.

On more than one occasion, I broke the rules and let her slip into a private spot for some breathing room. I’m in the same needs-space club, I get it. Determined to finish the program and get back home, she always reappeared at the right time. But, as she attended regular counseling, strict discipline, and held to a high behavioral standard, what she didn’t understand was that her dad was an addict and the problem wasn’t hers to fix.

The American dream comes with a high cost, friends.

Workaholism is called the best-dressed addiction for a reason, luring everyone from the career-driven to supermoms. Don’t let anyone ever guilt you into biting off more than you can chew. A few quality projects is better than a hundred rushed ones. Feel free to park the mini van and give yourself some breathing room, ladies. In fact, if you don’t chill you will suffer, your spouse will suffer, and your kids will suffer as much or more than families of alcoholics.

I don’t like losing my momentum, but I can’t help but pause my run to take a few photos. My eyes open wider with the question again. How can the land look so freshly renovated after a storm tears it to bits, but a human cannot?

While the same spirit that runs through the earth runs through us, provides us with the same oxygen and infuses us with the same minerals, humans were given the ability to make decisions. We were given souls.

We aren’t just torn down and re-formed like a patch of earth is, we were given wills and internal moral codes to navigate with. Choices. And it’s never all about the individual. We all feel the responses of the ones closest to us in this beautifully ravaged landscape.

I pass a stagnant puddle. It stinks. Bad. Complacency is no good either. When I was a young child and wasn’t ready to give up swimming when late August rolled around, I swam in stagnant creek water. I developed sores all over my scalp that sent me to the dermatologist. It’s the same with humans. Keeping your talents to yourself produces rot.

Without hard work and adversity, a creek can’t grow and bring water to the thirsty. But too much and it floods homes and drowns the living.

But it’s okay to lose momentum sometimes. The bubbling of a creek is soothing and beautiful. It’s okay to slow down and make less money. I just bought my kids an armful of school clothes from discount stores. They’ll learn the gift of balance (eventually), and their peers will learn to deal. Designer labels, for us, is nothing but a siren’s song.

Rest. Enjoy your family.

Did you see those details in the landscape today?

Continue reading

Happy June!

Just dropping in for a quick update. First off, phew! *wipes forehead and reaches for the caffeine.* Who knew re-entering civilization after Covid would feel like the world’s to-do lists exploded? Ever since our state opened up, we’ve been slammed with parties, summer camp, event this, event that.

Have you been in Walmart? How many people can fit in one aisle? ALL of them, apparently!

But halleluiah through it all, because hugs and unmasked faces are worth it.

Right now, I’m working on my newest novel (Stars! Young adults! Mystery! A creepy attic!), while planning something different for the blog. It’s quite a challenge juggling it all with the day job and the family while we ask ourselves every day if we should pause the house hunting, or forge ahead (evidently, half the state of California is moving into AZ) while the housing market is ridiculously ridiculous (really, there are no other appropriate words).

In the meantime, Welcome to Velvet, AZ is free on kindle unlimited. If you like creepy, non-violent horror stories with a fantastical twist, this book is for you. Come one, how many Thanksgiving stories are there out there? Get yours here.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about how stories have shaped me–how they’ve changed the way I look at life, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve found as much truth in fiction as I’ve found in real life. Fiction might even be a little kinder.

Next month, I’m taking my first flight since Covid to meet the author who changed the way I look at the world. More on that later, but consider the books you’ve read and how they’ve shaped you. Feel free to share in the comments.

So Busy, so Bored

Greetings from the Desert!

I suppose an update is in order! Writing? Yes! Parenting? Every moment!

Being a follower of all the things? Heck no!

I don’t know about you, but I’m experiencing extreme boredom from the excess of repetitive things (even though these are good things):

Superhero movies, and all the other remakes upon remakes.

Back stories on reality shows (because, after awhile we become numb to the overwhelm).

Newsletters. Because who has time to read them?

ShonEjai from Pixabay

It’s like everyone is afraid to take the road less traveled.

I deleted my own newsletter…I may refurbish it and throw it back up, but for now, I don’t even read most of the ones I’m subscribed to. I can only take in so much information before the brain quits retaining anything new (the new sameness). After feeling like every expert at everything was trying to program me to follow the formula, I dug my heels into the ground for awhile.

I AM working on a little something different, though, which I’ll bring to the blog. Just because I want to stretch my wings. It’s currently in the planning stages, and may be for a bit because we’ll be buying a house with my mom (multi-generational living, here we come), and I’m dreaming of more space to create. But it’s coming, friends.

How about you?

Is anyone out there who has something a little different to share with us? Please, for all good things, share it with us in the comments: links, photos, originality–whatever is uniquely you.

My daughter, the teenage creative wonder, may be assisting me in a huge project I hope to bring to you before long. It involves lots of messiness, random locations, and the best of all–it’s something very different that I think you will enjoy.

In the meantime, you can see me most active on Instagram (sherryrossmanauthor) and my facebook author page. I might even give a special ebook gift on Thursday. Just come back here and click on Welcome to Velvet, Az in the right column.

See you on the trail less traveled!

A Meaningful Christmas

My son checks the gifts around the tree each morning to see if they’re ripe for the opening. I ask him how he can tell and he said the wrapped gifts are the ones he checks because they’re more of a mystery than the bagged ones. One is almost ripe, he says. The rest aren’t ready yet.

Despite being battered with the knowledge that we not only will we be missing our big family Christmas this year, and that I have to work for the first time since I’ve been a mom, my little guy is holding on to the joyful parts of this season. His eyes, despite some blurry days, are usually fixed on the things he hopes for.

As for me? I’m still reeling from the Monsters of 2020 that have barged inside January’s door and have kept filing in ever since. COVID. The politics, the hate, the name-calling from every side, and the decision on whether or not to get the vaccine accompanied by the criticism we all will get no matter what decision we make. Not to mention the personal challenges we’ve encountered this year.

Because of all these things, I wanted Christmas to be more meaningful this time around. Every year actually, because it seems like commercialism has become the babe born in a manger rather than the Savior of the world. There have been so many things on the to-do list since adulthood arrived that Christmas has seemed like something to briefly enjoy but also to move past so I can depressurize.

There’s no ripeness there, so little flavor. What have we neglected?

When I first learned that I had to work on Christmas disappointment clothed me. The kids hate it. Their faces crumpled when I told them, and the long-held seniority I’ve enjoyed from being at the same workplace for twenty years is no longer a thing, just like bare faces and civil conversations.

So many normal things have become dust under Monsters feet.

But then a light started to awaken in me. I work at a retirement place where people are lonely, quarantined and surrounded by COVID. The outside world throws words at them like retirees and at-risk people are in such a small percentage that they aren’t worth our covered faces. The O.W. says many callous things (although not nearly as many as before). Maybe because they’re on the safer side of the oxygen tanks and…worse. Our retirees are jailed, yet protected: Alone together—two meaningful words that have grown into Monsters themselves.

But here lies the mystery–the loss of my great seniority benefit has turned into my meaningful Christmas. It’s not about my to-do list this year (thank God), or the pressure of all the holiday stuff. I get the morning and early afternoon with my family, and the evening and half the night with my friends at the retirement place. I’ll get to watch my family open their gifts. We’ll have bacon. And then at work, I’ll probably deliver groceries or packages to those who are ordered inside their apartments for the holidays.

Monsters beware. Your giant, bitter feet are no match for the those that follow the Bethlehem Star. Christmas is about loving on all kinds of people this year, and my face –tired as it will be—may be the only one some of them see on this Holy Day. May more hearts ripen, may kindness blanket our nation. You better believe the smile underneath my mask will be visible all around those masked borders.

Merry Christmas, friends.

That Gut Feeling

Who wants to talk about something besides Covid and politics? I’ll have to say, people’s reactions to all the chaos have thrown me just as much as all the surprises, globally and personally, that 2020 brought forth. Reactions that made me stop and think—ask a thousand questions about why people respond the way they do. I’ve even done some thinking about my own responses which got me chewing on some memories and why my brain often rejects the status quo on whatever current cultural thought is expected of us.

It wasn’t a highly educated college instructor that taught me to broaden my ways of thinking. College in the ’90s was permeated with the overused and abused term open minded, which, in my experience meant that the instructor who lived by that mantra was hell-bent on stripping the values, the faith, or whatever you came to college believing from your very marrow.

(I will throw in here that some of my teachers were quite excellent, but this isn’t about the good ones either.)

No. To help stretch my mind, I needed a teacher who was so wrong, that 20+ years later I wonder if he’s still alive.

He was tall, personality-challenged, and stood in front of the class as he tried to convince us that humans had lost all instincts. That gut feelings were illogical and we used knowledge to get around in life and nothing more.

You should have heard the mothers in the room bellow at him like he had lived in a bubble his whole life. The women. Tell me, what woman hasn’t heard that small inner voice telling them that Mr. Handsome and charming and perfectly perfect by all appearances is, in fact, MR DANGER on the inside?

On my TBR pile

At first, I assumed our teacher was trying to inspire conversation, but no. Turned out that he believed it.

I still think of that teacher (if he’s still alive) as life has thrown me many opportunities to consider the matter of instinct. One in which I will probably never know the whole story.

It was close to midnight, I was a young twenty-something, married, and alone in our apartment when someone knocked on the front door. Our apartment complex was regularly visited by police and drama. It wasn’t the worst place around, but it wasn’t what I’d call the safest either.

But for some reason, I rose from my recliner at the sound of that knock. At the last second, something made me pause and grab our orange tabby, Loki—the Garfield of all Garfields–and tuck him under my arm. I swung open the door and this young blond guy I had run into a few times stood in front of me. And I knew. Despite his shiny exterior I knew his intentions were bad.

But I wasn’t afraid. I also knew, knew, that all would be well. At the sight of Loki and me standing in the doorway the guy flinched, and whatever he planned before I opened that door fell to the wood walkway beneath him like broken promises. He actually stepped back, fear filling his eyes as Loki and I stared him down.

“Uh…do you have any cigarettes?” he mumbled.
“Ok, thanks.”

That’s when I closed the door, latched it and stared at my cat. I mean, he was a force to be reckoned with but the guy had looked at my orange ball of cuteness like he was God himself.

Strange, yes? I’ve gone over this incident many times over the years, from questioning why I felt compelled to open the door at midnight to wondering what that guy saw in my cat’s eyes, or mine, and why I knew that I’d be safe while staring into what my gut told me was evil.

Some people say that instinct is a pathway to God, some say it’s something we developed when the world was primeval and every day was survival—our senses were heightened out of necessity. Maybe it’s both.

The inexperience—or ignorance—of my instructor could have proven deadly if I had thought my gut feelings were no more than paranoia–not to mention the fact that I was naive when I took his class, but not so much that I let him dull my mind. I had learned way before I took Sociology that instinct is as valuable as the air I breathe. But his disbelief has taught me to dig deeper into the enigma of instinct, adding books to my TBR pile, and to hold conversations that have been enriching to say the least.

I also wonder about the blond guy. Why did he react the way he did when he saw me and Loki in the doorway? The manifestation of my prayers, perhaps?

What do you think? How often do you take someone’s word for truth, and when do you step back to dig a little deeper?

Welcome to Velvet, Az.